Green Party candidate Jill Stein continued her quest Monday for a recount of the presidential election results in the three key states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, but was thwarted Monday by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which rejected her request to require a count by hand.
Stein quickly responded that she would sue and also filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania to force a recount there. Her supporters began filing recount requests at the precinct level in the Keystone State, where initial results showed Republican Donald Trump ahead of Democrat Hillary Clinton by 70,638 votes.
Stein — who received just a tiny piece of the vote in Michigan — plans to ask for a recount there on Wednesday, according to Mark Brewer, former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party and lawyer for Stein.
Michigan's Board of Canvassers certified its election results Monday afternoon, showing Trump won the presidential race by a 10,704-vote margin over Clinton.
The certification made the election results official, but it also started the 48-hour clock for Stein to seek a recount.
Stein, who has raised more than $6.3 million online to pay for recounts, says she’s not requesting the recounts because she thinks they will change the outcome of the presidential race. Instead, she said in a video on her Facebook page, that she picked the three states where the vote was the closest to ensure the integrity of the election.
The Clinton campaign announced Saturday that it will participate in the Wisconsin recount to ensure fairness. Trump called the effort a "scam" aimed at filling the Green Party's "coffers."
The states must complete their recounts by a Dec. 13 deadline set by the federal government. The big deadline is Dec. 19 when all of the states' electors must meet to cast their Electoral College votes. States that miss those deadlines risk not having their electoral votes counted.
In Michigan, Trump would have the right to object to a recount, with the State Canvassers deciding the issue, an election official said Monday.
Chris Thomas, director of the Bureau of Elections, said he doesn't think Trump could argue there should be no recount at all, provided Stein pays the required fee and raises the prospect of a mistaken count or fraud. Instead, Instead, Trump could argue about what form the recount should take, Thomas said. Attorneys representing Trump said Monday they favor a machine recount, which they said would be more efficient than a hand recount, which Stein is expected to request.
And though dates for objections and hearings could push the start of any recount well into December, Thomas said election officials are planning to start a recount this Friday and work through the weekend, dealing with any objections as they come in.
Unless Stein wins her lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court, officials in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties would decide on their own whether to do their recounts by hand. That could mean some counties perform recounts by machine and some by hand.
Citing the results of a 2011 statewide recount that changed only 300 votes, Elections Commission chairman Mark Thomsen, a Democrat, said this presidential recount is unlikely to change Trump's win in the state.
"It may not be 22,177," said Thomsen, referring to Trump's lead over Clinton in the vote count. "But I don’t doubt that the president-elect is going to win that."
Meanwhile, Trump alleged in a tweet that there was “serious voter fraud” in Virginia, New Hampshire and California and blamed the media for not reporting on it. No evidence of fraud was given, and Tom Rath, former New Hampshire attorney general, fired back via tweet that "there was no fraud, serious or other in this election in NH. There just wasn't."
Thomsen dismissed Stein's claims of problems with the Wisconsin vote as unfounded and misleading. But he directed his toughest criticism to Trump's unsupported allegations, leveled on Twitter, that millions of people voted illegally nationwide, calling them "an insult to the people that run our elections."
Contributing: Paul Egan and Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, and Will Cummings, USA TODAY.
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