Federal Judge Pumps the Brakes on Michigan Recount, Says Jill Stein Has No Legal Standing

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Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Just three days after ordering the state of Michigan to begin its recount of votes cast for president last month, a federal judge ended it on Wednesday, arguing that Green Party-candidate Jill Stein has no valid standing to request another look at the ballots.

According to the Detroit Free Press, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith moved to halt the three-day recount after a Michigan Court of Appeals determined that Stein, who finished fourth overall in the presidential race, never had a shot at winning and therefore wasn’t an “aggrieved” candidate.

“Because there is no basis for this court to ignore the Michigan court’s ruling and make an independent judgment regarding what the Michigan legislature intended by the term ‘aggrieved,’ plaintiffs have not shown an entitlement to a recount,” Goldsmith wrote of Stein and her supporters in his eight-page opinion.

Goldsmith’s ruling seemed to echo the sentiments of several Michigan Republicans, who argued that there was never any evidence of Russian hacking or tampering with Michigan ballots that led to Donald Trump’s victory, as Stein previously claimed.

“To date, plaintiffs have not presented evidence of tampering or mistake,” the judge wrote. “Instead, they present speculative claims going to the vulnerability of the voting machinery — but not actual injury.”

Goldsmith went on to note that the potential for fraudulent activity wasn’t enough to allow the recount to proceed. Additionally, the Detroit Free Press reported that state Republicans reportedly convinced the judge that a recount of over 75,000 ballots could cost taxpayers a whopping $5 million. Their claims seemed to influence his decision, which further dims the hopes of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s supporters.

“We are deeply disappointed in Judge Goldsmith’s ruling today, which gives deference to partisan state judges in Michigan who are attempting to block the state’s recount simply because of the person who made the request, without regard for the integrity of Michigan’s electoral system,” Stein’s attorneys, Hayley Horowitz and Jessica Clarke, said in a statement.

“The history of this country is one where federal courts step in to protect the constitutional voting rights of all Americans, especially when they are under attack in the states,” they added. “Well today, they are under brutal attack. Backed by Michigan Republicans, Donald Trump — who himself has repeatedly alleged widespread voter fraud and a ‘rigged election — suddenly sees no need for a routine verification of the democratic process in Michigan.”

In late November, Stein quickly raised over $4 million to fund a recount in three states (Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) where Clinton narrowly lost to Trump. Her push for a recount came amid urgent warnings from well-respected computer scientists who claimed that results in those three states were vulnerable to manipulation or hacking. Clinton needed to win those states in particular in order to snag enough electoral votes to win the election.

“After a divisive and painful presidential race, reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts are causing many Americans to wonder if our election results are reliable,” Stein said in a statement last month. “These concerns need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified.

“We deserve elections we can trust.”

According to The Guardian, a court hearing for a possible recount in Pennsylvania is set to take place on Friday, Dec. 9. Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s recount, which began last week, has president-elect Trump ahead of Clinton.

The Electoral College is expected to convene and cast its votes for president on Dec. 19. If the voters choose to go against their respective states and vote in favor of Clinton, they could possibly flip the results of this year’s presidential election.

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