Judge Orders Michigan to Begin Recount Immediately

DETROIT (CN) – A federal judge in Michigan approved an expedited recount of the state’s presidential election results on Monday morning, ordering the recount to begin at noon.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith held an unusually rare hearing on Sunday in Detroit federal court for about three hours and issued his order just after midnight on Monday morning.

The emergency request was filed by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who has also pursued recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Goldsmith’s order said a two-day waiting period prohibiting the start of a recount, following a deadlock of the state board of canvassers, would likely violate citizens’ right to vote under the First and Fourth Amendments.

“When that right is burdened, courts must engage in a careful analysis of the magnitude of the infringement and the countervailing interest of the state.” Goldsmith wrote in the eight-page ruling.

The judge said Stein faced a “credible threat” that, if the recount was delayed, it would not be completed by the “safe harbor” date of Dec. 13, which would guarantee Michigan’s votes would be counted in the Electoral College.

The cost of the recount, an issue pushed by the Republican-led opposition, was irrelevant, Goldsmith wrote, since budgetary concerns “are not sufficiently significant to risk the disenfranchisement of Michigan’s nearly 5 million voters.” Stein paid the almost $1 million fee to start the recount process, further decreasing the cost.

Goldsmith dismissed another argument suggesting federal intervention in the process would be disruptive to established state policies.

“The requested temporary restraining order would not do violence to Michigan’s scheme, which does not appear complex, and the fact that the challenge to the statute is an as-applied challenge means that, with the exception of the instant case, Michigan’s voting policy will remain intact,” the judge wrote.

Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, said in a press release, “Michigan had a fair and legal election, and all votes were counted and certified by the Board of Canvassers. Jill Stein does not have any proof of tampering or fraud…We will vigorously pursue any and all options available to us to overturn this ruling and to end this recount.”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette blasted the decision in a statement, but was happy to learn that the Michigan Court of Appeals granted him a hearing for Tuesday.

“I am pleased the Michigan Court of Appeals has chosen to take up the issue of the frivolous recount being demanded by Jill Stein. Her insistence on a recount despite only getting 1 percent of the vote has created chaos for our county clerks and will cost Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars,” Schuette said. “I am asking the Court of Appeals to rule on the side of Michigan voters and end this frivolous recount.”