Federal judge halts presidential recount in Michigan

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 8:49pm

Tuesday night, a federal judge halted the 2016 presidential election recount in Michigan, which Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein requested a few weeks ago. 

Several complaints and objections were filed against Stein’s request in both state and federal court charging that the recount was a waste of taxpayer dollars — under Michigan law, counties have to pay for the costs of recounts not covered by a filing fee — because absent mass fraud, Stein has no chance to swing the results in her favor.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the Board of State Canvassers never should have permitted the recount in a 3-0 decision shortly after the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a prior decision from U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith’s order to start the recount.

However, that ruling was overturned by Goldsmith on Wednesday, who dissolved his prior decision to uphold the hand count recount of the 4.8 million ballots. An appeal is expected to follow.

The overhaul of the decision came after Goldsmith listened to hours of arguments on whether the recount in Michigan is warranted. Opposing parties argued Stein would be wasting taxpayers’ dollars since she has no chance of winning a state in which she came fourth.

The recount in Michigan was expected to cost anywhere between $2 million to $5 million — Stein’s campaign gave just under $1 million to the effort under a state requirement that she pay $125 for every precinct in the state. The remaining funds necessary to complete the recount will be shouldered by the individual counties.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Stein’s attorneys plan to contest this ruling, and have said thus far the recount has shown numerous voting problems across the state. Her attorneys also said Stein qualifies as an aggrieved party, the requirement in the state to file, if she was a candidate in an election strewn with mistakes and fraud.

Keenan Pontoni, a part of Recount Michigan, Stein’s formal organization overseeing the recount efforts, said in an interview that Stein wants this recount not just for herself but for Michiganders who deserve a just voting system.

“We believe Americans deserve a voting system they can trust and this election has been affected by unreliable voting machines,” he said. “Too many Americans of every political party have too many questions about the integrity of the voting system. Our goal is to ensure that our voting system is accurate, secure and that our election has integrity.”

Stein has also filed for a recount in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — all of which were narrowly won by President-elect Donald Trump and were crucial in securing his majority in the Electoral College. In Michigan, Trump was able to swing the state red even though a Republican hadn’t won the state’s electoral votes since 1988. He won by a margin of 10,704 votes.

Stein has said she believes the use of outdated and unreliable machines could have had an effect on the results of such a historic election. 

The push for a recount originally stemmed from a group including J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan professor of electrical engineering and computer science. The group, made up of computer scientists and election lawyers from around the country, lobbied 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton heavily to pursue recounts in the three swing states.

Halderman, who is the director of the University’s Center for Computer Security and Society, has said he believes there is substantial evidence that these aforementioned states’ results could have been manipulated or hacked, and questioned the results coming from counties who relied on electronic voting machines instead of paper ballots or optical scanners.