Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.
Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.
I would like to contribute
Capitalizing on voter discontent and perhaps looking to broaden her political base, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein raised millions of dollars over the Thanksgiving holiday to pay for presidential election recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
On Nov. 26, 2016, a Saturday evening, Stein explained the effort on her weekly broadcast on Facebook -- and made a provocative claim about Wisconsin and the election here.
"Hello, good evening, Facebook friends, revolutionaries, citizens of the planet and of America," the Massachusetts activist and physician began on the video. Later, she declared:
"Wisconsin uses voting machines that have been outlawed. They are illegal to use them because they are so prone to tampering and hacking. They are an invitation, really, for malfeasance. Those are used in the state of Wisconsin."
Stein’s campaign told us the candidate was actually referring to California banning electronic, touch-screen voting machines, but acknowledged that the machines are not banned in Wisconsin.
Legal in Wisconsin
In 2004, California’s secretary of state banned the use of a particular brand of electronic voting machines because of security and reliability concerns and decertified others until steps could be taken to upgrade their security. Part of the concern was the touch-screen machines didn’t provide a paper trail at the time of voting.
In Wisconsin, the vast majority of voting machines are optical readers. Voters fill out a paper ballot and feed it into the machine, which then electronically records the vote.
A small percentage of votes in Wisconsin are cast on touch-screen machines -- but those in use here do generate a paper record for each ballot cast.
All voting equipment in Wisconsin has been approved by the Wisconsin Election Commission (or one of its predecessors), Kevin Kennedy, Wisconsin’s former elections director, told us.
And in order to be approved, the equipment had to first pass national testing standards. Before 2006, the equipment was tested under the auspices of the National Association of Election Directors (NASED). Since 2006, testing has been done under the auspices of the U.S Elections Assistance Commission, a federal agency.
There are no federal requirements that states must use certain machines, said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.
In other words, each state decides what’s legal.
Stein said: "Wisconsin uses voting machines that are outlawed, they are illegal."
California banned electronic, touch-screen machines. But the touch-screen machines that are used by a distinct minority of voters in Wisconsin are approved by the Wisconsin Election Commission. They’re legal.
For a statement that is false and ridiculous, we rate Stein’s claim Pants on Fire.
More factchecks on the voting process
➤ Trump said: "Wisconsin is one of several states where you can change your early ballot if you think you've made a mistake." Our rating: True. As long as you meet the deadline, several days before election day, you can "spoil" your original ballot and cast a new one.
➤ Did an election clerk in Green Bay refuse to allow early voting on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus because she "was afraid it would help Democrats," showing "outrageous partisan bias"? Half True. Yes, she was concerned about favoring Democrats, but there were other reasons, too, for not opening an early voting site.
➤ Also Half True was a claim by comedian Amy Schumer that "anyone who knows you can just" look it up to "see if you voted." Generally speaking, an individual’s voting history is a public record, though how easy it is to access can vary.
Facebook, video on Jill Stein page, Nov. 26, 2016
Email, Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney, Nov. 28, 2016
Newsweek, "Presidential recount: How it works and Clinton’s chances of success," Nov. 27, 2016
Interview, Jill Stein campaign press director Meleiza Figueroa, Nov. 29, 2016
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.