Michigan Vote Recount Halted by Federal Judge

DETROIT (CN) – A federal judge late Tuesday ended a recount of the presidential vote in Michigan, hours after a state appellate court said the recount should never have been started in the first place.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith was not moved by arguments from Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s lawyers, who a “distorted interpretation of the text” of Michigan laws regarding the definition of the word “aggrieved” and how the Michigan Court of Appeals applied it to her. Nor did he believe Stein has a “constitutional right to a recount independent of the state statutory scheme.”

“It is at least arguable that the Michigan Legislature intended to confine costly and disruptive recounts to cases where a losing candidate stood a reasonable chance of changing the outcome of the election,” Goldsmith wrote. “That is certainly the typical petitioner for a recount, and nothing has been placed in the record to suggest that the Legislature may have had in mind a petitioner simply wishing to confirm the voting results, notwithstanding the absence of any reasonable likelihood of changing the result.”

Stein pushed for the recount despite having no chance of winning the presidency, saying instead she wished to examine the voting system. Her performance in the election was used against her in arguments made by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and Michigan Republicans at a hearing.

“The issues that plaintiffs raise are serious indeed. The vulnerability of our system of voting poses the threat of a potentially devastating attack on the integrity of our election system. But invoking a court’s aid to remedy that problem in the manner plaintiffs have chosen – seeking a recount as an audit of the election to test whether the vulnerability led to actual compromise of the voting system – has never been endorsed by any court, and would require, at a minimum, evidence of significant fraud or mistake – and not speculative fear of them. Such evidence has not been presented here.” Goldsmith wrote.

On Monday, Goldsmith issued an order to immediately start the recount. The Sixth Circuit upheld that order late Tuesday.

However, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion shortly after that said Stein did not receive enough votes to qualify as an aggrieved party under Michigan law. Goldsmith held the hearing Wednesday morning to reconsider.

Although Stein received approximately 50,000 votes, it was argued that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lost the state by less than 11,000 votes and therefore could be the rightful winner.

Of the votes recounted in Michigan before the order, several hundred precincts were rife with flaws in Wayne County and deemed ineligible for a recount. Neighboring counties Oakland and Macomb also encountered inconsistencies on smaller scale. Several counties were prepared to move forward with their recounts in the next few days.

Stein is also seeking recounts in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.