The Michigan Board of Canvassers deadlocked along party lines on President-elect Donald J. Trump's objection.
By Beth Dalbey (Patch Staff) - December 2, 2016 12:57 pm ET
Updated. Michigan's Board of Canvassers deadlocked along party lines Friday on an objection filed by President-elect Donald J. Trump's campaign to a recount of the 4.8 million votes cast by Michiganders in the Nov. 8 presidential election. That means a hand recount will proceed, barring court action, which the state's attorney general has requested.
The Board of Canvassers had said that if it deadlocked, the hand-recount would proceed. However, lawyers for the president-elect have asked the board to stay its decision, and it's unclear whether the hand-recount favored by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who requested the recount, or a machine recount favored by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, will proceed.
Recount advocates have argued that a machine recount would repeat the errors — if there were any — in the original count of the state's votes.
Johnson argues the machine recount would speed the process, save money and reduce the chances for error, the Detroit Free Press reported.
In either case, the recount can't start until Tuesday at the earliest, and it could be pushed back even farther in light of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's
The recount is already under way in Wisconsin, but Trump supporters have asked a federal court in Madison to stop it, arguing it violates their due process rights.
Earlier update: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said Friday he has filed an emergency action asking the Michigan Supreme Court to stop a statewide hand- count of the 4.8 million ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election. The recount requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein was among requests filed in three battleground states that swung the election to President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Trump's campaign has contested the recount, and the Michigan Board of Canvassers is meeting Friday morning to consider it.
“Michigan voters rejected Stein’s candidacy by massive margins but her refusal to accept that state-verified result poses an expensive and risky threat to hard-working taxpayers and abuses the intent of Michigan law,” Schuette said in a statement. “We have asked the court to end the recount which Stein is pursuing in violation of Michigan laws that protect the integrity of our elections. It is inexcusable for Stein to put Michigan voters at risk of paying millions and potentially losing their voice in the Electoral College in the process.”
Schuette, who said he filed the action in his constitutional role of representing the people of the state of Michigan, is asking the court to order the Michigan Board of Canvassers to reject Stein’s request for a statewide hand recount and claims it violates Michigan law.
Schuette’s suit explains that the Michigan statute authorizing recounts requires Stein to demonstrate that she was “aggrieved” by fraud or mistake in the counting of votes. Stein has said that she has no evidence of fraud or mistake, and Schuette argues she has not been “aggrieved in any sense of that word” after receiving only about 1 percent of the votes cast in Michigan.
Schuette also filed an emergency motion with the Michigan Supreme Court asking to bypass the Court of Appeals for immediate consideration.
Schuette’s suit also argues that Stein’s demand for a recount will be at the expense of Michigan taxpayers —she paid only about a fourth of the estimated $5 million cost — and risky as well, because the delay caused by a hand-recount puts Michigan’s votes at risk of not being included when the U.S. Congress convenes on Jan. 6 to count the states’ electoral votes.
On Thursday, attorneys for Trump also argued that Stein is not an "aggrieved" party by fraud or mistake; there is not adequate time to complete the recount by Dec. 13, the "safe harbor" date to assure Michigan electors can cast ballots when the Electoral College meets Dec. 19; and that Stein's petition wasn't properly signed and sworn.
Our earlier story: President-elect Donald J. Trump's campaign officially objected Thursday to Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request for a laborious hand-recount of the state’s nearly 4.8 million ballots. Trump was declared the winner of the state’s 16 electoral votes by a margin of 10,704 votes on Monday.
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The campaign said Michigan election officials should not grant "this lawless, insulting request."
Further, the campaign said in the objection that "voters should not risk having the Electoral College door knocked off its hinges all because a 1 [percent] candidate is dissatisfied with the election’s outcome. Given her tiny vote total, (Green Party presidential candidate Jill) Stein does not and could not possibly allege a good faith belief that she may have won the state of Michigan."
Stein filed her recount request Wednesday, along with a check for $973,250 to cover the costs to recount ballots in Michigan’s 6,300 precincts. The Green Party candidate, who received negligible support among Michigan voters, has never said her outcome would change. Rather, she has said she wants to ensure that all votes were counted.
Stein and her attorneys have acknowledged there is no evidence of fraud or impropriety but raised questions about 85,000 ballots with “blank votes” in the presidential race — more than enough to make up for the difference separating Trump and Clinton.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Wednesday the recount will cost more than $5 million, most of it to be borne by Michigan taxpayers. The state Republican party went further, suggesting costs could soar to $12 million.
The recount was expected to begin Friday, but Trump’s equest will delay it, The Detroit News reported. The state Board of Canvassers could rule on the request by 9:30 a.m. Friday, but even then the recount can't start for two business days.
Election officials in Oakland and Ingham counties had hoped to start hand-counting the ballots on Friday, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Now it appears unlikely that the recount — if it is allowed — will be completed by Dec. 10.
Trump in the past has been critical of the recount request, calling it “ridiculous” and “a scam.”
“This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than 1 percent of the vote overall and wasn't even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount," the president-elect said in a statement.
Ronna Romney McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, has called the request by Stein a “temper tantrum” that won't change the outcome of the vote.
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The recount requests came after a prominent group of election attorneys and computer scientists, including University of Michigan computer science professor J. Alex Halderman, claimed to have uncovered “persuasive evidence” that the election results in the three battleground states could have been hacked.
Stein has also made requests for recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Stein lost a bid for a hand-recount in Wisconsin, but a majority of the counties plan to pursue that option, their right under Wisconsin law. In Pennsylvania, at least six counties have received recount petitions, but the situation in the Keystone State is more complicated than in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Schuette Brief on Recount by Beth Dalbey on Scribd