US judge halts Michigan presidential vote recount


US District Judge Mark Goldsmith on Wednesday evening lifted a temporary restraining order preventing officials in Michigan from stopping a recount of votes in November 8 presidential elections, thus paving the way for the process to be stopped, local media reported.

Goldsmith justified his ruling by saying that Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who had requested the recount, had failed to qualify as an “aggrieved” candidate under state law, as she had no realistic chance of winning the recount. The judge however recognized that Stein had raised serious issues about the integrity of the election system.

Stein, who is pursuing recounts in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, won just 1 percent of the vote nationally. She has claimed that some voting machines used in the states were vulnerable to hacking and could have been manipulated, though she brought no evidence to support the claims.

Jill Stein (Picture-Alliance/AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

Stein claims results might have been manipulated

After the hearing on Wednesday, Stein told The Detroit Free Press that the recount so far appeared to be revealing problems in Michigan’s election process, particularly in low-income, minority communities.

Narrow wins for Trump

The three states were expected to have been won by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but in the end she narrowly lost them to Donald Trump. 

Clinton won the popular vote over Trump by 2.7 million, but has fewer votes in the Electoral College, which determines the final result. The College is to cast its ballots on December 19.

Trump has slammed Stein’s campaign for recounts as a fundraising scam for her party. So far, $7.3 million (6.78 million euros) have been donated toward a goal of $9.5 million toward the recounts, according to Stein’s campaign website.

No change so far

So far, the recount in Wisconsin has given just 82 votes more to Clinton with the process more than 70 percent complete. Trump won the state by more than 22,000 votes.

USA Michigan Präsidentschaftskandidat Donald Trump (Reuters/C. Allegri)

Trump has denounced the recount drives

In Pennsylvania, election officials on Tuesday updated the state’s vote count to show that Trump’s lead over Clinton had shrunk to about 44,000 out of more than 6 million votes cast – still shy of a 0.5 trigger for an automatic statewide recount.

A partial recount is also underway in the state of Nevada at the request of independent presidential candidate Roque De La Fuente. Clinton won the state over Trump by 27,202 votes out of 1.1. million votes cast. If the sample shows a discrepancy of at least 1 percent for De La Fuente or Clinton, a full recount will be launched across the state. The current recount is due to be finished by the end of this week.

tj/kms (AP, dpa)