Michigan Republicans File Emergency Motion To Halt Recount As Another Major Snag Emerges

The Michigan Republican Party filed emergency motions with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals early on Tuesday, seeking a stay of a federal judge's order that started a statewide presidential recount in Michigan on Monday and asking for an "en banc" review of that order by all the judges of the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati. As the DFP notes, normally, appeals go to a three-judge panel of the court. A stay from the 6th Circuit would halt the Michigan recount until appeals judges have a chance to review Monday's order by U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith.

The question for the appeals court to consider, lawyers for the Michigan GOP said, is whether Green Party candidate Jill Stein is constitutionally entitled to a statewide recount "without any evidence that the election was affected ... by fraud or other impropriety."  The party gave notice Monday it would appeal the ruling Goldsmith made after a rare Sunday hearing in Detroit. It's not clear whether or how quickly the 6th Circuit will take up the case.

Goldsmith cited a threat that unless the recount started at noon Monday, there was a credible threat that Michigan votes would not be counted, because the recount would not be completed by Dec. 13 – a deadline set out in federal law that guarantees the electors Michigan certifies for the electoral college will be accepted by Congress.

Republicans argue Stein, as a fourth-place finisher to President-elect Donald Trump, has no grounds to request a costly recount, that she waited too long to request the recount, and that the federal courts shouldn't be getting involved in a question of state law.

Meanwhile, in a separate report by the Detroit News we learned that in a parallel development the Michigan recount hit a major snag today, as Wayne County officials indicated that as many as half of Detroit’s precincts may not be eligible to participate in the recount. Under Michigan law, a precinct can't be recounted if the poll book and ballot box numbers don't match, unless there is a valid explanation. In such cases, the results from the original election night tally stand.

In the clip below, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum explains how entire voting precincts may be non-recountable in the presidential election recount that began Monday in Ingham and Oakland counties.

The officials announced that they are not yet able to reconcile 392 of the 662 precincts in heavily Democratic Detroit. A total of 610 out of 1,680 precincts in Wayne County cannot currently be reconciled. Comments by Detroit officials suggested that nobody is quite sure how to proceed in light of the widespread problems:

“It’s not good,” conceded Daniel Baxter, elections director for the city of Detroit.

 

He blamed the discrepancies on the city’s decade-old voting machines, saying 87 optical scanners broke on Election Day. Many jammed when voters fed ballots into scanners, which can result in erroneous vote counts if ballots are inserted multiple times. Poll workers are supposed to adjust counters to reflect a single vote but in many cases failed to do so, causing the discrepancies, Baxter said.

Baxter stated his belief that when they are actually able to open the boxes of ballots and do a manual count, they will in fact match in most of the precincts:

Even so, Baxter said it’s unlikely all 392 of the city’s precincts with mismatched numbers will be disqualified from a recount. The city is in contact with elections officials at the state of Michigan and Baxter predicted the numbers will match when the ballot boxes are re-opened for the recount, which starts Tuesday in Wayne County at Cobo Center.

 

“It’s a challenge, but we’re confident the ballots will match,” Baxter said. “I don’t think it’s going to be 100 percent, but it never is with a recount.”

 

County reports obtained by The Detroit News, though, indicate canvassers were provided no explanation for why the numbers didn’t add up in those precincts. They certified the results of the election anyway.

Between the GOP challenge and the discovery that many Detroit precincts will not be able to participate in the recount, the hopes of Green Party candidate Jill Stein that the recount will end up throwing Michigan’s Electoral College votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton have likely suffered a death blow. Detroit and surrounding areas went heavily for Clinton, and are the only reason the state of Michigan was even close, as most of the rest of the state went solidly for Trump.