Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein raised more than $4.5 million by Thursday night to fund election recounts in three key states over claims the vote could have been manipulated or hacked.
Stein reached her original $2.5 million goal Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after starting the fundraiser and ahead of the Friday deadline to cover filing fees for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — swing states that went to Donald Trump in the presidential election. Had those states been declared for Hillary Clinton, she would have passed the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidency.
The Stein campaign said money beyond the filing fees would go toward covering attorney costs associated with a recount, which they estimated would be an additional $2 million to $3 million.
Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2 million, but Trump secured 306 electoral votes to take the presidency. The margins were especially close in Michigan, where the secretary of state on Wednesday said that Trump led by 10,704 votes. In Wisconsin, he won by about 27,000.
On Tuesday, New York magazine reported that a group of academics and election lawyers believed election results in the states could have been manipulated or hacked — by enough of a margin that Clinton could have won. Though there was no proof of a hack, the group lobbied the Clinton campaign to seek a recount and independent review, New York reported.
The Clinton campaign has not commented on the matter, and other election experts have been skeptical that a recount would show different results. But on Wednesday, Stein's campaign launched a fundraising effort to review the integrity of the election, particularly where machine-counted voting machines were used.
"Our effort to recount votes in those states is not intended to help Hillary Clinton," the campaign said. "These recounts are part of an election integrity movement to attempt to shine a light on just how untrustworthy the US election system is."
The campaign set a deadline of 4 p.m. CT on Friday to raise the $1.1 million filing fee for a Wisconsin recount, $500,000 for Pennsylvania, and $600,000 for Michigan. Because donations were going through a campaign, donors are limited to giving $2,700 each. State chapters of the Green Party also began to take donations for the recount effort, allowing donors to give more.
"This is about more than the results of this one election," Stein wrote in an email soliciting donations. "This is about protecting our democracy and ensuring that 'We the People' can have confidence in reported results. I do not have confidence in the reported results and donated to help make sure our votes were counted accurately on election day."
Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
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