Jesse Jackson joins calls for presidential election recount

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Rev. Jesse Jackson, speaking at the Rainbow PUSH Thanksgiving day meal, said he supports a call for a recount of presidential ballots in several states. | Lauren FitzPatrick/Sun-Times

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime champion of voting rights, said Thursday he supports efforts spearheaded by the Green Party to force ballot recounts in several key states.

Citing a 2 million vote lead in the popular vote by Democrat Hillary Clinton, who lost to Republican president-elect Donald Trump in electoral votes, Jackson noted that only tens of thousands of votes separated them in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He also pointed to precinct changes in North Carolina he believed suppressed the vote among Democrat-leaning African-Americans.

“When you do not protect the vote, it becomes suppressed,” Jackson said Thursday, following a Thanksgiving meal served at the South Side headquarters of his Rainbow PUSH organization. “We are convinced that between suppressed vote and the popular vote, it could affect the ultimate outcome of this election.”

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has raised several million dollars to pay for recounts in those three states. The Clinton campaign has yet to comment.

“We join in those groups’ call for a recount,” Jackson said. “We want an open, free, fair federal election. We’ll accept the outcome as long as it’s free and fair.”

A group of election lawyers and data experts has asked Clinton’s campaign to call for a recount of the vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to ensure that a cyberattack was not committed to manipulate the totals. There is no evidence that the results were hacked or that electronic voting machines were compromised. Deadlines to ask for a recount in those three states are fast approaching.

The group, led by voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, contacted the Clinton campaign this week. That call, first reported by New York Magazine, raised the possibility that Clinton may have received fewer votes than expected in some counties that rely on electronic voting machines.

Recounts, which are often costly and time-intensive efforts, would likely only be initiated if the Clinton camp pushed for one, though Wisconsin independently announced that it would conduct an audit of its vote.

Contributing: Associated Press

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