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Republicans Sue to Halt Presidential Election Recounts

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette sued Friday to block his state’s recount of presidential election results, a day after two Republican groups filed a complaint to stop Wisconsin’s ongoing recount.

(CN) – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette sued Friday to block his state’s recount of presidential election results, a day after two Republican groups filed a complaint to stop Wisconsin’s ongoing recount.

Schuette, a Republican, doesn’t believe a presidential vote recount is necessary in his state and filed an emergency complaint for a writ of mandamus in the Michigan Court of Appeals to stop the process led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

“Michigan voters rejected Stein’s candidacy by massive margins but her refusal to accept that state-verified result poses an expensive and risky threat to hard-working taxpayers and abuses the intent of Michigan law,” he said in a statement.  “We have asked the court to end the recount which Stein is pursuing in violation of Michigan laws that protect the integrity of our elections. It is inexcusable for Stein to put Michigan voters at risk of paying millions and potentially losing their voice in the Electoral College in the process.”

Schuette noted in a brief supporting his complaint that Stein did not allege she was the victim of voter fraud or massive errors, which are required to trigger a recount under Michigan law.

The filing also considers the cost to Michigan taxpayers if the recount should prevail. Although Stein will pay more than $780,000 to the Michigan Secretary of State, Schuette estimates it would cost more than $5 million to complete the recount and the delay could also jeopardize the inclusion of Michigan’s electoral votes when Congress convenes early next year.

Mark Brewer, former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party and a local attorney representing Stein, told the Detroit Free Press that Schuette’s efforts are “unprecedented interference by a partisan attorney general on a matter that should be handled routinely by the Board of Canvassers.”

On Thursday, Great America PAC, Stop Hillary PAC and Republican U.S. Sen. Ronald Johnson filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission and its administrator, Michael Haas, in Madison federal court, seeking to halt the state’s recount.

The Republicans claim there is not enough time to process the Badger State recount by the Dec. 13 “safe harbor” deadline. They say missing that deadline would violate Wisconsin voters' rights to due process and equal protection.

According to the complaint and based on the official canvass, the state elections commission, also called WEC, reported Republican Donald Trump receiving 1,404,000 votes in Wisconsin, compared to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 1,381,823 votes.

Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party picked up 106,585 votes in the Badger State and the Stein received 31,006 votes.

Stein filed the request for a recount in Wisconsin on Nov. 25. Her subsequent demand for a statewide hand recount was rejected by a Dane County judge.

Great America PAC, Stop Hillary PAC and Johnson say the Wisconsin recount violates the requirements of Bush v. Gore for recounts in presidential elections.

In Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court held that once states decide to allocate their presidential electors based on the outcome of the popular vote, "the right to vote as the legislature has prescribed is fundamental" and protected by the Equal Protection Clause, the complaint states.

"Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the state may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another,” the Supreme Court ruled.

The nation’s high court ordered an injunction against the state of Florida from carrying out a recount of the 2000 presidential election, finding that state law standards for determining whether certain ballots were valid were too vague.

"The standards Wisconsin election officials will use in conducting the recount do not satisfy Equal Protection requirements," Thursday’s lawsuit states. “As in Florida, rather than establishing detailed, specific standards for counting votes, state law more generally requires election officials to determine ‘the electors’ intent,’ so far as it ‘can be ascertained from the ballots notwithstanding the informality or failure to fully comply’ with other provisions of the election code.”

The Republican groups also claim the ballot-counting standards the WEC will be using to recount votes that were not cast on electronic voting machines are inadequate, including no guidance for election officials in determining a voter's "cross" or "other mark" indicating his or her intent to vote for that candidate.

"Because Wisconsin law lacks adequate protections to ensure that similarly completed ballots will be afforded similar treatment, both within the same county and across different counties, the recount should be enjoined to prevent further Equal Protection violations from tainting the outcome of the election," the complaint states.

The groups also claim the recount threatens to extend past the enacted "safe harbor" deadline of Dec. 13, and there is no assurance the recount can be completed within that timeframe.

According to the complaint, the statewide recount for the Wisconsin Supreme Court race between Justice David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg took about one month to complete back in 2011.

"This election, in contrast, involves almost twice as many ballots, and only half as much time in which to recount them," the lawsuit states. "Failure to satisfy this deadline will undermine the right to vote of plaintiff Johnson and all other Wisconsin voters, by leaving it to the U.S. Congress to determine whether to accept the slate of electors chosen pursuant to their votes."

Reid Magney, public information officer for WEC, declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday night.

Great America PAC, Stop Hillary PAC and Johnson are represented by Jay Heit of Herrick & Hart in Eau Claire, Wis.

Stein has raised about $6.7 million in donations for her recount effort.

Andy Olesko contributed to this report.

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