Sunday 18 February 2018

Donald Trump confirmed as Michigan vote winner, but recount challenges loom

Donald Trump claimed the Green Party is engaged in a
Donald Trump claimed the Green Party is engaged in a "scam to fill up their coffers" (AP)

Michigan officials have certified that Donald Trump won the state by a margin of 10,704 votes - out of nearly 4.8 million cast - to claim all of its 16 electoral votes.

But there is more wrangling to come on the final count after the November 8 presidential vote, with Jill Stein's Green Party serving notice that it will petition for a Michigan recount even as her party pushed forward with recount efforts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Mr Trump won by wider but still small margins.

If the results for Mr Trump hold in all three states, as expected, the president-elect would have 306 electoral votes to 232 for Democrat Hillary Clinton. It takes 270 to be elected president.

Only if the results were overturned in all three states would Ms Clinton have a claim on the presidency, and that is widely considered to be out of the question.

She is winning the national popular vote. With some ballots still being counted, she is ahead by more than 2 million, about 1.5% of the total counted so far.

Mr Trump, in a series of weekend tweets complaining about the Midwest recount efforts, said the Green Party was engaged in a "scam to fill up their coffers" and that "defeated & demoralized Dems" were joining in.

Stirring the post-election pot, he made his own unsubstantiated claim of widespread voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California, saying - without evidence - that he would have won the popular vote if millions of people had not voted illegally.

Ms Stein, who won 1.4 million votes nationwide or about 1% of the count, signalled her determination to keep pushing the Midwest recount efforts, saying that "Americans deserve a voting system we can trust".

"After a presidential election tarnished by the use of outdated and unreliable machines and accusations of irregularities and hacks, people of all political persuasions are asking if our election results are reliable," she said in a statement.

There is no evidence that voter results were hacked or that electronic voting machines were compromised.

The Clinton campaign, which declined to initiate recounts on its own, said over the weekend it would participate in the recounts requested by Ms Stein "to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides", in the words of campaign lawyer Marc Elias.

Ms Stein's campaign said she would file a petition on Wednesday for a Michigan recount, after which Mr Trump would have seven days to file objections. His margin of victory in the state was a slim 0.22% of the vote.

Michigan Republican Party chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said a recount would be "a waste of time and disrespectful to all Michigan voters".

Chris Thomas, director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections, said the recount would begin as early as Friday to meet a December 13 deadline. Under state policy, the recount will be conducted by hand.

He said election officials have heard a lot this year about "so-called fraud ... without any foundation in fact", and a recount settling that question could provide one "silver lining".

In Wisconsin, the state elections commission on Monday approved a timeline to start a recount on Thursday. Ms Stein is pushing for a hand count of the nearly 3 million ballots cast in the state, but the commission left it up to local election officials to determine the best method.

The Wisconsin request included an affidavit from University of Michigan computer scientist J Alex Halderman stating that a hand recount is the only way to determine whether there could have been a cyberattack that affected the results.

He argued that records stored in electronic voting equipment could have been manipulated in an attack.


Press Association

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