89.1 WEMU

Michigan Ballot Recount Suspended

Dec 8, 2016

"Vote Here" Signs
Credit Tom Hagerty / flickr.com

A state elections panel meets this morning to deal with a court order to end the recount of ballots cast in Michigan’s presidential election.  


Michigan’s statewide recount of ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election is on hold – maybe for good.  

A federal judge lifted his order that the state continue with the recount until it’s completed.  The judge said he was following the lead set by the Michigan Court of Appeals, which ruled Green Party nominee Jill Stein had no right to seek a recount.  That’s because she came in a distant fourth place with just one percent of the vote and had no hope of winning.    

State elections officials had already arranged to pause the recount if US District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith dissolved the order.  Next, the Board of State Canvassers will meet Thursday morning to comply with the appeals court decision to end the recount, which has been underway since noon on Monday.

President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign, the Michigan Republican Party, and state Attorney General Bill Schuette have been battling to shut down the recount.  Schuette said Stein’s request was frivolous.  

“I think Jill Stein is trying to engage us in a snipe hunt,” he said.  “She is trying to manipulate the process and the fact is she has no chance of winning.” 

The Stein campaign said the recount was aimed at testing whether Michigan’s optical scan voting machines were hacked or tampered with.  And, while there was no evidence of that, Stein campaign attorney Mark Brewer, a former state Democratic chair, said the recount has already revealed problems with the security of storing ballots after Election Day.  That’s made many precincts impossible to recount.  

“I’ve seen that before in recounts I’ve done, but this seems on a much bigger scale,” he said.  “Of course, this is the first time we’ve done a state recount since the 1950s, so we’re getting some sense at least of the statewide problem.” 

A letter signed by 23 members of the Michigan Senate asks Schuette to look into the problems, most prevalent in Detroit and Wayne County among the counties that have started recounts.  Schuette said he has not seen the letter.   

The Stein campaign still hopes the Michigan Supreme Court will intervene to re-start the recount.  But the elected court has a Republican majority, including Justices Robert Young and Joan Larsen, who are on President-elect Trump’s list of potential US Supreme Court nominees. 

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org