DETROIT – Michigan’s presidential recount suddenly became uncertain Tuesday as a state appeals court said the Green Party candidate’s poor showing disqualified her from seeking a second look at the votes.
Meanwhile, the fate of a statewide recount push in Pennsylvania must wait at least until Friday, when a federal judge has scheduled a hearing.
President-elect Donald Trump narrowly defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in both states and Wisconsin, which started its recount last week. The recounts requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein were not expected to change enough votes to overturn the result of the election.
Stein, who received about 1 per cent of the vote in all three states, says her intent is to verify the accuracy of the vote. She has suggested, with no evidence, that votes cast were susceptible to computer hacking.
Here’s what’s happening in each state and in Nevada, where a partial recount of the race was requested by independent presidential candidate Roque De La Fuente:
Trump had widened his victory margin over Clinton in Wisconsin by 146 votes, with 23 of the state’s 72 counties having finished their recounts as of Tuesday. In those counties, Trump gained 105 votes and Clinton dropped 41 votes.
Trump defeated Clinton in Wisconsin by about 22,000 votes.
A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for Friday in a lawsuit filed last week by a Trump voter and two super PACs seeking to stop the recount.
A recount that started Monday might end after the state appeals court said Stein has no standing to have the votes recounted. The court said she finished fourth in the election and doesn’t qualify as an “aggrieved” candidate under Michigan law.
The court ordered the state election board to reject her recount petition. The board meets again Wednesday.
Attorney General Bill Schuette said the decision means the recount “must stop.” But Stein’s attorney, Mark Brewer, insisted the recount isn’t over.
The ruling came a day after U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ordered an immediate statewide recount of roughly 4.8 million ballots. Eight counties have started, including the largest, Wayne County.
But Goldsmith’s decision dealt with the timing of the recount, not whether Stein had standing. Schuette said he would ask Goldsmith to set aside the ruling in light of the state court’s decision.
Trump won Michigan by about 10,700 votes over Clinton.
Also Tuesday, a Republican-controlled committee in the Legislature approved a measure that would require candidates who lose by more than 5 percentage points to pay 100 per cent of the estimated recount cost. The bill would apply to Stein, though Democrats questioned the legality of changing the rules “in the middle of the game.”
U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond in Philadelphia on Tuesday scheduled a hearing Friday on the request for a recount. The Republican Party and Trump warned that the case threatens Pennsylvania’s ability to certify its election before the Dec. 13 federal deadline. Stein’s team hasn’t produced evidence of hacking, but calls Pennsylvania’s election system “a national disgrace.”
Also Tuesday, Pennsylvania election officials updated the state’s vote count to show that Trump’s lead over Clinton had shrunk to about 44,000 out of more than 6 million votes cast. That is still shy of Pennsylvania’s 0.5 per cent trigger for an automatic statewide recount. A state spokeswoman said 15 provisional ballots remain uncounted.
A partial recount is underway in Nevada at the request of De La Fuente, who finished last with a fraction of 1 per cent of the vote. He paid about $14,000 for the recount to provide what he called a counterbalance to the recounts sought by Stein. Most of the 92 precincts being re-counted are in the Las Vegas area, with eight of the precincts in four other counties. If the sample shows a discrepancy of at least 1 per cent for De La Fuente or Clinton, a full recount will be launched in all 17 Nevada counties. Clinton defeated Trump in Nevada by 27,202 votes, out of 1.1 million votes cast. Nevada Secretary of State spokeswoman Gail Anderson said the recount will be finished by the end of this week.
Associated Press writers Ed White in Detroit; Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.