Saturday, Jill Stein, former Green Party presidential nominee, came to Detroit to discuss the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision to halt a state recount of votes in the 2016 election to a crowd of about 20 people.
“Do we have a voting system we can trust?” she asked the crowd.
Stein’s recount initiative has gained national attention and support after raising over $7 million to conduct a recount process in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — three states where President-elect Donald Trump narrowly won. Though former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did not initiate the recount, her campaign expressed support for the process. All three states would have to be flipped to Clinton for the overall election outcome to change.
However, the Michigan Supreme Court ended the recount effort in Michigan last week after complaints the recount would waste taxpayer money, because Stein came fourth in the state and there was a slim chance of the recount changing the outcome for her campaign. The recount in Michigan was expected to cost from $2 million to $5 million. Stein gave less than $1 million, given the requirement to pay $125 for each precinct in the state. Individual counties would have had to provide the remaining funds to finish the recount.
At the rally Saturday, Green Party member Anita Bell tearfully explained the conditions of polling stations in Wayne County — where she said ballot boxes were secured by duct tape or made from trash cans.
Bell also criticized those who stated Detroit was expected to be disorganized, accusing them of discriminating against the city.
“We are not going to take that as an excuse,” she said. “Because some people have that racist idea that Blacks are incompetent, corrupt or both, and so they can’t get an election right. Hot mess. Hot mess.”
Stein said other problems Detroit had during the election included broken scanners and unsecure conditions at the polls. According to Stein, the U.S. Civil Agency estimated that communities of color are 900 percent more likely to face election disturbances, such as a vote being misread or thrown away.
In Detroit, 59 percent of votes were considered uncountable in the recount due to problems with the ballots and old voting machines.
“We need to count every vote and make sure every vote counts. And that means we have to put an end to this de facto Jim Crow election system,” Stein said.
Stein said she thought Clinton should have filed for a recount, acknowledging there was little chance Michigan would have turned out as a Green Party state. However, Trump only beat Clinton by a 10,704 votes in the state, so Clinton filing for a recount could have made a more significant difference.
Stein also criticized the two-party presidential debates and said there was not much talk of policy and little variety for people to choose from.
In response to Michigan’s choice to end the recount, Stein said she hopes to continue working with Michiganders and the Green Party for more secure voting procedures.
In particular, she said she hopes to fight a recent bill passed in the Michigan House that would institute more extensive voter identification laws. According to the Detroit Free Press, a majority of Michigan Republicans supported the bill, arguing it would create more security and less fraud, while Democrats opposed the bill and said it discriminated against many in Detroit and Wayne County who vote without photo ID.
Pontiac resident Linda Hasson, holding a “Jim Crow is Alive in Michigan” sign, said she was concerned about the “gang mentality” in Michigan. She said many officials and residents in Michigan tend to fight for their own interests and not for the support of the state.
“I don’t have the money to hire an attorney for millions of dollars,” she said. “All I have is my vote.”
Green Party member Lou Novak said the local fight was over after the shutdown of the recount and he is now hoping to focus his work on Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The future in Michigan, he said, is more uncertain, but he hopes to continue to secure voter safety in the state.
“We are trying to see (that the stricter voter ID law) isn’t passed by our governor, which will be a rather difficult fight given our political climate,” he said. “But also making sure other legislation are represented and addressing the issues that were raised during this recount.”