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Lawsuits seek to block or halt Wisconsin, Michigan recounts

By on December 2, 2016

Tabulator Claudette Moll, right, from Farmington, looks over a ballot during a statewide presidential election recount Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, West Bend, Wis. (John Ehlke/West Bend Daily News via AP)

Tabulator Claudette Moll, right, from Farmington, looks over a ballot during a statewide presidential election recount Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, West Bend, Wis. (John Ehlke/West Bend Daily News via AP)

LANSING, Mich. — Supporters of Republican Donald Trump filed a federal lawsuit trying to halt Wisconsin’s ongoing presidential recount, and Michigan’s attorney general on Friday sued to stop a recount from happening in his state.

The Wisconsin lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order was filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Madison by the Great America PAC, the Stop Hillary PAC and a Wisconsin voter, Ronald R. Johnson. The legal filings contend that the recount is unconstitutional because it doesn’t satisfy equal protection requirements under the law and may not get done by the Dec. 13 federal deadline to certify the vote, putting Wisconsin’s electoral votes in jeopardy.

No court hearings had been scheduled as of Friday morning. The Wisconsin Department of Justice was reviewing the lawsuit, said Johnny Koremenos, spokesman for Attorney General Brad Schimel.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who requested both recounts and a third in Pennsylvania, has suggested that Trump and his backers would try to delay the recounts to make them hard or impossible to complete by the deadline for states to certify their election results or have their electoral votes be decided by Congress, which is controlled by Republicans. A spokeswoman for Stein’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday.

With workers in Wisconsin busy re-counting votes for a second day, Michigan’s state elections board was meeting about the Trump campaign’s request to deny Stein’s recount request.

In his request to the Michigan Supreme Court to block the hand recount, Attorney General Bill Schuette, like the Trump campaign, argued that Stein cannot seek the “frivolous” recount because she was not “aggrieved” to the point at which a potential miscounting of votes could have cost her the election. She garnered 1 percent of the vote in Michigan.

The earliest a Michigan recount could start would be next week.

In Pennsylvania, a hearing is scheduled for Monday on Stein’s push to secure a court-ordered statewide recount there. Republican lawyers filed a motion late Thursday accusing Stein of engaging in legal antics and saying her recount request endangers Pennsylvania’s ability to certify its electors by the federal deadline.

Elections officials in all three states have expressed confidence in their results. President-elect Trump won all three states by narrow margins.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker echoed that sentiment Friday, telling reporters that he doesn’t expect his state’s recount to significantly change the results.

“Anytime there’s a canvass or a recount there’s slight adjustments, but I don’t think you’re going to see a significant adjustment,” the Republican governor said.

Walker also said he’s open to changing the state’s election laws to prevent minor candidates from being allowed to request recounts. Stein finished a distant fourth in Wisconsin with a little more than 1 percent of the vote.

Trump won Wisconsin by about 22,000 votes, or less than 1 percentage point, over Clinton. Stein requested the recount which began on Thursday and had to be done by Dec. 13.

There is a “realistic risk” the recount may not be done in time of the deadline and the “chaotic rushing necessary” to meet the deadline “creates an imminent unreasonable risk of error that can lead to votes being erroneously counted, disregarded, or diluted,” the motion for a temporary restraining order in Wisconsin contends.

Michigan’s elections board on Friday was considering Trump’s request to block a hand recount of all 4.8 million ballots cast in the state. He defeated Clinton there by about 10,700 votes.

Echoing arguments made against the other state recounts, Trump campaign lawyers said Michigan’s would be impossible to finish by the Dec. 13 deadline, putting Michigan voters at risk of being disenfranchised if the 16 electoral votes were not cast.

“You’re not aggrieved if you want on a lark to foist the taxpayers” with a $5 million bill and “the elections officials to go on a wild goose chase,” attorney Gary Gordon told the board.

Stein lawyer Mark Brewer said “95 percent of what you have heard is legally irrelevant” because Stein met all the legal requirements for a recount. Noting GOP criticism that Stein has made baseless allegations of fraud or errors with machines that scan paper ballots, Brewer said: “The original source of the claim that this election was rigged is Mr. Trump.”

The first reporting of recount results was expected Friday in Wisconsin.

Recounts were not expected to flip nearly enough votes to change the outcome in any of the states.

Stein has argued, without evidence, that irregularities in the votes in all three states suggest that there could have been tampering with the vote, perhaps through a well-coordinated, highly complex cyberattack.

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