A federal judge appointed by President Barack Obama has ordered a hand recount of 4.8 million ballots in the state of Michigan. The order was issued past midnight during the pre-dawn hours of December 5. Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has succeeded in getting recounts considered in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, while Hillary Clinton’s campaign has decided to participate as well.
The decision came even though the balloting for Michigan was called in favor of Donald Trump on November 28, twenty days after the general election. Trump won by a bare margin of 11,000 votes. Michigan has sixteen Electoral College votes.
A full recount of the ballots in Michigan is believed to be impossible by the December 13 deadline. There has been no evidence offered of fraud. In addition, Michigan uses paper ballots instead of electronic voting machines (as is the case in Pennsylvania) that can be remotely hacked.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled in favor of Stein, who wanted to allow election officials to circumvent a two-business-day waiting period that would have delayed the start of the recount until December 7. He ordered that the recount “shall commence and must continue until further order of this court.”
“Defendants shall instruct all governmental units participating in the recount to assemble necessary staff to work sufficient hours to assure that the recount is completed in time to comply with the ‘safe harbor’ provision,” of federal election law, Goldsmith wrote.
Federal election law requires a period of “safe harbor” for presidential electors before the presidency is finalized on December 19. If any of the states' recounts are incomplete by December 19, the decision to confirm the president-elect goes to Congress. Since Congress is controlled by the Republican caucus, the confirmation of Donald Trump is assured. Some observers contend that the real purpose of the recount is to cast a shadow on the legitimacy of Trump's electoral victory.
Stein’s lawyer Mark Brewer successfully argued that her case is intended to underscore the integrity of the Michigan ballot and that the required two-day waiting period violated the candidate’s rights to due process and equal protection.
Local jurisdictions throughout the state have already prepared for the recount, having hired extra staff to handle the load. Even while Stein has garnered more than $7 million to pay towards the recounts in the three states, it is expected that any overages will be paid by tax payers.
A partial recount has been ordered in Nevada. In any event, the various recounts are not expected to alter the outcome already decided. Goldsmith was confirmed by the Senate in 2010 in a 89-0 vote.