25 November, 2016
Calls for a recount of ballots in the American presidential election grew louder this week as Hillary Clinton increased her lead in the popular vote.
News media say Clinton, the candidate of the Democratic Party, lost the election to businessman Donald Trump, the Republican candidate. They say he will win more electoral votes than the former Secretary of State.
Trump is busy forming a new government. Political experts say a vote recount is unlikely to keep him from being sworn-in as president on January 20th, 2017.
Clinton won the popular vote – winning more than 2 million more votes than Trump, according to the Cook Political Report.
But in the United States, the candidate who wins the most votes does not always win the presidency. If Trump wins, as appears likely, he would be the fifth person to become president after losing the popular vote.
Electoral College Decides
The 538-member Electoral College decides the presidential election, not the popular vote. Electoral College members are chosen state-by-state -- based on which candidates win the most votes in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
As of this week, Trump has 306 Electoral College votes, while Clinton has 232. Trump's number had been 290 until Michigan election officials announced on Friday that he won the state by 10,704 votes.
That was the closest presidential election in Michigan's history. More than 4.7 million people there marked ballots in the November 8 vote.
Experts Speak to Clinton Campaign
Last week, Clinton campaign head John Podesta spoke with lawyers and computer scientists who urged him to ask for a recount in three states: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
They said it is possible that voting machines could have been attacked to affect the results. Trump's lead in the three states was 1.2 percent, according to The New York Times newspaper.
If Clinton, instead of Trump, won those three states, she would end up with 274 Electoral College votes, enough to win the presidency.
The experts, mentioned in a New York Magazine story, said their findings show Clinton's support dropped seven points in areas that used electronic voting machines. Those machines, the experts said, are more open to hacking.
So far, the Clinton campaign has not reacted to calls for a vote recount. But another presidential candidate, Jill Stein, began raising money required to finance recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
As of Friday, she had raised $5 million. That is enough, the Stein campaign said, to start recounts in all three states.
Stein, the Green Party candidate, won a little more than one percent of the popular vote. A statement on her website said the recount is not meant to help Clinton, whom Stein criticized during the election. It is "about protecting our democracy," the Stein campaign said.
Still, it is very unlikely her recount efforts will keep Trump from winning the presidency, according to Nate Silver, a political expert. He operates the website FiveThirtyEight.
Silver told VOA it is unlikely unlawful activities affected the election results. He said the differences between districts using electronic voting machines in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin could be explained by race and education levels. He said they are the two factors that most closely predicted voting in the 2016 presidential election.
Two Democratic Electoral Collect Members Say Vote Conscience
The 538 members of the Electoral College are set to officially choose the next president on December 19.
Two Democratic members of the Electoral College called on members to vote their conscience, even if that means going against the wishes of voters in the states they represent. They said that Trump lacks the skills necessary to serve as president.
But so far, there are no signs enough Electoral College members will change their votes to keep Trump from winning.
Before Election Day, Clinton, who had been expected to win, promised to accept the election results. Trump, who had said he thought cheating might affect the results, refused to make such a promise.
"We are a country based on laws, and we've had hot, contested elections going back to the very beginning," Clinton said, before the voting. "But one of our hallmarks has always been that we accept the outcomes of our election."
The last person to lose the popular vote but win the presidential election was Republican George W. Bush in 2000. He lost to Democrat Al Gore that year by 547,000 votes.
I'm Bruce Alpert.
Joshua Fatzick reported on this story for VOANews. Bruce Alpert adapted his story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
mention - v. to talk about, write about, or refer to
hack - v. to secretly get access to the files on a computer or network in order to get information, cause damage or change results
conscience - n. the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being either morally right or wrong
contest - v. to challenge
hallmark - n. an important tradition