Jill Stein, who ran for president as the Green Party candidate, has filed paperwork to request a recount of the votes in Wisconsin just under the deadline, and has raised more than $5 million to fund other recount efforts in the battleground states of Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Donald Trump's margin of victory over Hillary Clinton was narrow in all three states, which were expected to vote Democratic, and the results have become the focus of speculation — based on little proof — that the vote may have been tampered with. Stein acknowledged those fears in her statement announcing the recount drive on Wednesday.
"After a divisive and painful presidential race, reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts are causing many Americans to wonder if our election results are reliable," Stein said. "These concerns need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified. We deserve elections we can trust."
The state elections commission administrator said Stein filed the request about an hour and a half ahead of Friday's 5 p.m. deadline, The Associated Press reported. The effort is estimated to cost $1 million. Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, have collected more than $5.2 million as of Friday.
Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas said that it received petitions from Stein's campaign and from Rocky Roque De La Fuente, another candidate.
“We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice,” Haas said in a press release. “We plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks next week and anticipate the recount will begin late in the week after the Stein campaign has paid the recount fee, which we are still calculating.”
The official vote tally for all 72 counties in Wisconsin had 1,404,000 votes for Trump, 1,381,823 for Clinton and Stein with 31,006.
County boards of canvassers may need to work nights and weekends to meet a federal deadline of Dec. 13 to complete the recount.
"Now that we have completed funding Wisconsin's recount (where we will file on Friday) and funding Pennsylvania's recount (due Monday), we will focus on raising the needed funds for Michigan's recount (due Wednesday)," Stein said on her website earlier Friday.
Stein said her initial fundraising goal was $2.5 million, but her campaign website now says she's trying to rise $7 million, which would pay for the fees for filing costs, attorneys and statewide recount observers.
Wisconsin GOP Executive Director Mark Morgan called the move "absurd" and "nothing more than an expensive political stunt that undermines the election process," the AP reported.
Stein's move follows a New York magazine report that some computer scientists have been urging Democrat Hillary Clinton to ask for the recount in the three states. The article questioned the deviation in election results from predictions in polls.
J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, confirmed on Medium that he had been in touch with the Clinton campaign but said his views had been misrepresented and it was "probably not" true that the election was hacked.
"I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than the election was hacked," he wrote.
But he also said that the only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result was to examine the paper ballots and voting equipment in the three states.
President-elect Donald Trump beat Clinton with 290 electoral votes to Clinton's 232, with Michigan outstanding. Clinton has a lead of more than 2 million popular votes.
Halderman, who also is director of Michigan's Center for Computer Security and Society, wrote that many states continue to use voting machines that are known to be insecure and that can be infected with vote-stealing malware. Checking the paper record in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan would allow voters to be confident the results were counted correctly, he wrote.
"Examining the physical evidence in these states — even if it finds nothing amiss — will help allay doubt and give voters justified confidence that the results are accurate," Halderman wrote.
An article on Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website, which predicted the race incorrectly, cast doubt on concerns about tampering with the electronic voting machines. Demographics explain the results, Carl Bialik and Rob Arthur wrote.
"We've looked into the claim — or at least, our best guess of what's being claimed based on what has been reported — and statistically, it doesn't check out," they wrote.
During the Wisconsin recount, candidates may have representatives present to raise objections during the process, and have the right to appeal in court within five business days after the recount is completed.
The deadline to request a recount in Pennsylvania is Monday and Wednesday in Michigan.