Last week, the New York Magazine reported that a team of computer scientists and lawyers had reported to the Clinton campaign that “they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked.”

Ballot-boxThe story immediately went viral. The ever-present conspiracy theorists jumped all over it.

University of Michigan computer science professor J. Alex Halderman, who was quoted in the NY Mag piece, stated in a post at Medium that the reporter had gotten the point of the analysis wrong, along with some of the numbers. He noted that the important point is that all elections should be audited, and not only if you have statistics suggesting that something might be fishy.

Since then, Jill Stein and the Green Party requested a recount in Wisconsin, which was granted.  Wisconsin Agrees To Presidential Vote Recount At Third-Party Candidates’ Requests. That request was supported by the Clinton campaign, for the purposes of an audit of the vote in addition to the canvass “to ensure accuracy and public confidence in the election.” Listening and Responding To Calls for an Audit and Recount.

The Green Party has since raised funds for a recount in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Jill Stein tries to force recount in Pennsylvania. Those recounts have not yet been granted, and the Green Party is threatening lawsuits over the ground rules of the recount(s) which could delay the process.

There is a federal “safe harbor” deadline of December 13 to certify electoral votes if the recount(s) are not completed by then.

There is virtually no chance that the election results will be reversed by a recount. Recounts Rarely Reverse Election Results. This process is about auditing the election to test the experts’ report that there is “evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked.”

The egomaniacal Twitter troll Trump, who sought to undermine American’s confidence in the electoral process this year by first asserting that the GOP primaries were rigged, and then spent months asserting that the general election is rigged if he does not win, now seeks to further delegitimize and undermine the electoral process with unfounded claims unsupported by any evidence to explain his humiliating popular vote loss to Hillary Clinton by over 2 million votes. Trump Claims, With No Evidence, That ‘Millions of People’ Voted Illegally:

President-elect Donald J. Trump said on Sunday that he had fallen short in the popular vote in the general election only because millions of people had voted illegally, leveling the baseless claim as part of a daylong storm of Twitter posts voicing anger about a three-state recount push.

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The series of posts came one day after Hillary Clinton’s campaign said it would participate in a recount effort being undertaken in Wisconsin, and potentially in similar pushes in Michigan and Pennsylvania, by Jill Stein, who was the Green Party candidate.

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Claims of wide-scale voter fraud have been advanced for years by Republicans, though virtually no evidence of such improprieties has been discovered — especially on the scale of “millions” that Mr. Trump claimed.

Late on Sunday, again without providing evidence, he referred in a Twitter post to “serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California.”

[State election officials in these states have rebutted Trump’s unsubstantiated claims. Election officials in 3 states rebut Trump’s claims of fraud.]

A day earlier, Mr. Trump’s transition team ridiculed the idea that recounts were needed. “This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded,” it said in a statement, “and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused.”

That message runs counter to the one Mr. Trump sent on Sunday with his fraud claims — if millions of people voted illegally, presumably officials across the country would want to pursue large-scale ballot recounts and fraud investigations.

An excellent point followed up on by the Post’s Aaron Blake. Donald Trump is making a strong case for a recount of his own 2016 election win:

Trump was doing this to make the case that he didn’t actually lose the popular vote, which has become a Democratic rallying cry following Clinton’s loss. It’s clearly a sore spot for Trump.

But the president-elect is also, unwittingly and amazingly, calling into question the results of an election that he won nearly three weeks ago. The logical extension of his argument is that all results should not be trusted. In effect, Trump is lending credence to the very same recount effort that he criticized as superfluous.

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[I]f the system was susceptible to the kind of pro-Clinton fraud that Trump is alleging, who is to say that it wasn’t also susceptible to manipulation that might have benefited Trump? Trump’s argument is that our electoral system was vulnerable to all kinds of shenanigans that could have changed the results in specific states. Why not shenanigans instigated by Russia, which experts say aided Trump during the campaign with fake-news propaganda? Or something else? There is also no evidence of this, but apparently evidence is not required for our next president to make a charge.

Trump is alleging that these shenanigans (yes, I said it again) accrued to Clinton’s benefit, but if our system has so many holes in it, why couldn’t those holes have helped Trump in the states that mattered? If illegal immigrants can vote and there was real voter fraud in states such as California, New Hampshire and Virginia, why couldn’t these things have happened in circumstances and places that didn’t hurt Trump? Why not in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Trump won the presidency by a margin of about a point or less? If the system is that shoddy, it’s probably shoddy everywhere.

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Trump is saying that something happened — on a large scale. He’s basing this on dubious Internet sources [e.g., Alex Jones], but he’s raising doubts about results of an election that made him the president-elect. It’s hard to argue, from that point, that it’s not worth examining just how many real irregularities there are and whether they all just happened to accrue to Clinton’s benefit. This is the president-elect and the soon-to-be leader of the free world, after all, and his words are supposed to carry weight.

This is just Trump being Trump, of course. He is the president-elect, yes, but he’s also a bona fide conspiracy theorist. (Remember how Ted Cruz’s dad might have been involved in JFK’s assassination?) We can no longer dismiss his fomenting of these baseless theories as some political ploy; it’s who he is. And he’s willing to call into question anything that doesn’t show him to be the clear winner. Given that he will lose the popular vote by as much as two full points, he’s in desperate search of an excuse for this fact.

But in doing so, he’s also calling into question his win. He can’t have it both ways, and he’s letting his pride yuuuge ego get the better of him.

Way to go, America! You put an egomaniacal Twitter troll alt-right conspiracy theorist in the White House. No one should sleep safe at night. This is not going to turn out well.

UPDATE: The Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin argues that there is no more important story than the continuous stream of evidence of the president-elect’s instability. The media cannot ignore evidence of Trump’s instability — our enemies won’t.

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