Presidential recounts are not about changing election results. At least, that is not their primary purpose. At their core, recounts are about ensuring confidence in the integrity of the voting system.
It is unfortunate, if not all that surprising, that the two largest corporate-controlled political parties have chosen to stand in the way of these grassroots-demanded recounts—in the case of Republicans, actively blocking them in the courts; in the case of Democrats, capitulating in their refusal to push for them. In an election marked by so many irregularities, public distrust, and outright evidence of hacking, Americans deserve to know now more than ever that the election was accurate and secure.
That is the ultimate goal of this and every recount: to restore confidence in our elections and trust in our democracy.
Consider the 2004 recount, for example. As the Green Party candidate for president that year, I led efforts to organize recounts in Ohio and New Mexico, in the wake of widespread complaints about the obstruction of legitimate voters, mostly in majority-black precincts, and tampering with computer voting machines on Election Day. The Libertarian nominee Michael Badnarik supported our efforts, but the Democrats, led by nominee John Kerry, were silent.
The investigations sparked by that recount did not change who won the electoral votes in New Mexico or Ohio. They did, however, uncover glaring problems with our voting system.
A report published by the US House Judiciary Committee, spearheaded by the committee’s ranking Democrat, Representative John Conyers, found conclusive evidence that more than 100,000 voters—many concentrated in communities of color—were disenfranchised during the election. Among the irregularities caused by the intentional, illegal behavior included some 90,000 spoiled ballots, the improper purging of tens of thousands of voters by election officials, and improbably high turnout in certain counties, even surpassing 100 percent in some cases.
If this is news to you, you’re not alone. The Judiciary Committee’s findings faced a near-total reporting vacuum. The mainstream media largely swept the report under the rug—especially the Green Party’s role to initiate it—even as two Republican operatives in Ohio were convicted and sent to jail for their misconduct. Fortunately, the recounts did catch the attention of some in the political establishment, leading many officials to take greater caution regarding computer voting. Three states—California, Maryland, and Virginia—even moved to phase out or ban touch-screen voting machines altogether.