Michigan election officials seek clarity on recount

07 December 2016

Court rulings had cast an air of uncertainty over a presidential vote recount in Michigan as elections officials in the state said they were ''seeking clarity about the next steps.''

A recount of last month's election had already got underway in Michigan, one of three closely contested states where Jill Stein, the Green Party's presidential nominee, had called for fresh counts.

But conflicting legal decisions emerged late Tuesday from state and federal courts in Michigan. Stein had cited concerns about computer hacking and the reliability of voting machines, which led to legal fights with lawyers for president-elect Donald J Trump,  his campaign and his allies, who dismiss the recounts, as a needless and expensive tactic.

A panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals found that Stein, who finished a distant fourth to Trump in the election, failed to meet the state's requirements for a recount as she had no chance of winning. The panel concluded that the Michigan Board of State Canvassers ought not to have permitted a recount as Stein, in view  of her share of the vote, could not be deemed ''aggrieved,'' as required for a recount under state election law.

However, in a separate decision, also announced late yesterday, a federal appeals court rejected requests from the state's Republican Party and from Bill Schuette, the state's attorney general, to block a federal court ruling that had cleared the way for the recount to proceed more swiftly than expected. 

Meanwhile, a statewide recount in Pennsylvania would not begin at least until Friday, when a federal judge had scheduled a hearing.

Stein, who received around 1 per cent of the vote in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, said her intent was to verify the accuracy of the vote. She had suggested, offering no evidence, that votes cast were susceptible to computer hacking.

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