Recount starts in Michigan after judge finds that delaying would violate Michigan voters' rights

Posted at 8:48 AM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-05 08:48:42-05

 The Stein campaign was delivered a victory early Monday morning, when a federal judge in Michigan granted the campaign’s emergency request to immediately start the statewide recount. Writing in an opinion issued just after midnight, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said a state law requiring a two-business day waiting period to start the recount likely violates voting rights. “The fundamental right invoked by plaintiffs – the right to vote, and to have that vote conducted fairly and counted accurately – is the bedrock of our nation,” the opinion read. Michigan’s recount is now set to begin at noon Monday.

Monday’s recount comes despite extraordinary efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to obstruct a just and verified vote at every turn. The Board of State Canvassers deadlocked Friday on a legal maneuver by Trump to block the recount, which cleared the way for the recount to proceed. Two other suits are still pending, one filed by the Attorney General of Michigan against his own Bureau of Elections and one from Trump himself.

“Despite all the obstacles that Donald Trump and his cronies in the political establishment have thrown in the way of this democratic process, we are excited to be pushing forward with the recount set to begin on Monday,” said Dr. Jill Stein. “The State of Michigan was ready to begin the recount on Friday after it rejected a GOP objection; the judge’s late-breaking decision on Sunday, invoking the foundational right of our democracy, underscores the necessity and importance of a fair and accurate recount. Eighty percent of Americans were disgusted with this election, and many people resonated with Donald Trump's assertion as a candidate that the election was rigged. Now 62% of Americans, including a plurality of his own voters, believe Donald Trump would be calling for a recount if he had not been declared winner. The American people are clamoring for a voting system that we can trust - and to bring about that system, we must conduct this recount on behalf of all citizens to verify the vote and earn public confidence in our elections.”

At the center of Michigan’s recount – initiated by Jill Stein and backed by grassroots support from Michigan and across the country – is the fact that there were 75,335 “under-votes” in the state, which are ballots that were counted but didn’t register a vote for President when scanned and counted—about 70% more than in 2014. Many of these are in Oakland and Wayne Counties, which include Detroit, raising the very real possibility that communities of color may have been disenfranchised by an erroneous counting of the votes. The number of under-votes exceeds by several-fold Trump's margin of victory in the state.

“People have long been raising the alarm about voter suppression. According to a U.S. Civil Rights Commission report, voters of color are at massively increased risk of having their votes misread or simply tossed out by human error or by badly maintained and poorly calibrated machines in underserved communities. It is past time that we stand firm and ensure that the hard-fought, hard-won right to vote in these communities is truly respected. Now more than ever, we must fight to have an accurate, secure, and just voting system in which all Americans can trust that their voices are heard. We will not give in to intimidation, legal manipulations, or bureaucratic obstruction,” said Stein.

Despite these red flags, Trump and his allies continue to do all they can to disrupt this process:

Trump Objection to Recount
On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers submitted an objection with election officials to reject a recount that was set to begin Friday, arguing that a recount could “risk having the Electoral College door knocked off its hinges.” Despite the Trump campaign repeatedly labeling the recount a “waste of money,” Trump’s own legal objection added confusion and costs to the process, risking delaying the start of the recount up to five days and pushing increasing costs onto taxpayers. Dr. Stein’s request for a recount, on the other hand, was immediately authorized by the state’s bipartisan election board after she filed Wednesday. The Board of State Canvassers denied Trump’s objection on Friday, but the objection nonetheless caused a threat of a delay in the recount.

Attorney General Lawsuit
Friday morning, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette joined Trump’s efforts and moved to entirely halt the presidential recount. While the AG claims he’s not working with Trump, his brief has large sections essentially lifted from Trump’s objections that were filed on Friday. The Board of State Canvassers and the Director of Elections have all expressed their willingness and readiness to go forward with the recount. On Friday, the Board deadlocked 2-2, along party lines, over Trump’s objection, meaning the objection was denied.

Donald Trump Statewide Lawsuit
Following the Board of State Canvassers decision to move forward with the recount on Friday, Trump joined his ally, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and filed yet another legal action on Friday in the Michigan Court of Appeals that very closely mimics the suit brought by Schuette.