Election Law

US judge stops Michigan recount, finds no constitutional right to recount absent miscount evidence

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Gavel and election buttons

Citing a Michigan appeals court ruling and federal case law, a federal judge has ordered a stop to the recount of presidential votes in Michigan.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith of Detroit ruled (PDF) on Wednesday evening, report the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, the New York Times and the Associated Press.

Lawyers representing Green Party candidate Jill Stein had argued the Michigan Court of Appeals had interpreted the word “aggrieved” incorrectly when it ruled Stein didn’t satisfy the definition of an aggrieved candidate entitled to request a recount.

The state appeals court had ruled that a candidate has aggrieved status only if he or she could state in good faith that, but for mistake or fraud, the candidate would have a reasonable chance of winning an election.

“Plaintiffs offer cogent reason to challenge the Michigan court’s conclusion,” Goldsmith wrote, “but none leads to the conclusion that the Michigan court disregarded or plainly misread the legislature’s intent.”

Stein’s lawyers had also asserted she had an independent constitutional right to a recount independent of the state statutory scheme. Goldsmith also rejected that argument. Stein had presented no evidence of tampering or mistake, and there is no case law recognizing an independent federal right to a recount in the absence of actual deprivation of voting rights, Goldsmith said.

Stein’s lawyers are appealing the state appeals court ruling to the Michigan Supreme court.

Meanwhile, a recount in Wisconsin is more than 70 percent complete, and it has given Hillary Clinton an additional 82 votes, according to the AP story. And in Pennsylvania, a federal judge has scheduled a Friday hearing on Stein’s recount request. A partial recount in Nevada, initiated by presidential candidate Roque De La Fuente, is ongoing.

Related article:

ABAJournal.com: “In late-night ruling, federal judge orders hand recount in Michigan”

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