DETROIT – A federal judge who ordered Michigan to begin its recount effectively ended it on Wednesday, tying his decision to a state court ruling that found Green Party candidate Jill Stein had no legal standing to request another look at ballots.
The ruling seals Republican Donald Trump’s narrow electoral victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in Michigan.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith agreed with Republicans who argued that the three-day recount must end a day after the state appeals court dealt a blow to the effort. Stein, who finished fourth in Michigan on Nov. 8, didn’t have a chance of winning even after a recount and therefore isn’t an “aggrieved” candidate, the appeals court said.
“Because there is no basis for this court to ignore the Michigan court’s ruling and make an independent judgment regarding what the Michigan Legislature intended by the term ‘aggrieved,’ plaintiffs have not shown an entitlement to a recount,” Goldsmith said of Stein and allies.
It was Goldsmith’s midnight ruling Monday that started the recount in Michigan. But his order dealt with timing – not whether a recount was appropriate. More than 20 counties so far are recounting ballots, and some are finished.
Earlier Wednesday, the Michigan elections board said the recount would end if Goldsmith extinguished his earlier order.
Stein got about 1 per cent of the vote in three states where she’s pushed for recounts – Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump narrowly won all three.
Stein insists she’s more concerned about the accuracy of the election. She alleges, without evidence, that the elections may have been susceptible to hacking.
“They present speculative claims going to the vulnerability of the voting machinery – but not actual injury,” Goldsmith said.
A court hearing will be held Friday on a possible recount in Pennsylvania. Wisconsin’s recount, which started last week, has increased Trump’s margin of victory over Clinton thus far.
Clinton needed all three states to flip in order to take enough electoral votes to win the election. Trump has 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232; 270 are needed to win. Michigan has 16 electoral votes, Pennsylvania has 20 and Wisconsin has 10. Electors convene Dec. 19 across the country to vote for president.
Associated Press writer David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, contributed to this report.