Recount looms in Michigan as Trump officially wins state

Posted at 6:15 PM, Nov 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-28 18:41:30-05

LANSING, Mich. (AP/WXMI) — Nearly three weeks after Election Day, officials certified Monday that Donald Trump won the state by 10,704 votes out of nearly 4.8 million to claim all of its 16 electoral votes.

The final vote tally—one of the slimmest in Michigan's history—is nearly equal to the 10,800 seating capacity of the Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids, for comparison.

But there's more wrangling to come on the final vote count for this oh-so-contentious campaign and on the surface it doesn't appear to be coming from Trump's closest opponent Hillary Clinton.

Jill Stein's Green Party served notice that it would petition for a Michigan recount even as her party pushed forward with recount efforts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Trump won by somewhat wider but still small margins.

Should the results for 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 Clinton have a claim on the presidency, and that is widely considered to be out of the question.

With some votes still being counted, Clinton continues to lead in the popular vote by more than 2 million, about 1.5 percent of the total counted so far.

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, Trump 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.

Stein, who won 1.4 million votes nationwide or about 1 percent of the count, signaled her determination to keep pushing the Midwest recount efforts, saying that "Americans deserve a voting system we can trust." As of Monday, she had raised $6.2 million to finance recounts, according to her campaign website.

"After a presidential election tarnished by the use of outdated and unreliable machines and accusations of irregularities and hacks, people of all political persuasions are asking if our election results are reliable," she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

At a cost of $125 per precinct, a manual recount in each of Michigan's 83 counties would cost Stein upwards of $800,000, election officials said. However, the cost could exceed $900,000, at which point taxpayers could be forced to make up the difference, Chris Thomas, director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections, said.

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

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

Mark Brewer, hired by the Jill Stein campaign to lead recount efforts in Michigan.

"The goal is to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the election," said attorney Mark Brewer, the former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, who has been retained by the Stein campaign to lead the Michigan recall effort.

"We want to make sure that every vote counts."

The recount would have to be completed quickly with county canvassing boards working through weekends in order to meet a Dec. 13 deadline. The presidential electors meet Dec. 19 to officially cast votes, Thomas said, and federal law requires a certain time period between certification and voting.

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

Romney McDaniel called on Clinton to denounce Stein's efforts.

"[Stein] is prolonging our election process, she is disenfranchising the voters of this election and it’s going to cost our state money and time when we know the result will remain the same.”

Thomas said the recount could begin as early as Friday to meet a Dec. 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."

While Brewer said his team had no proof of voter fraud when asked, he said the campaign in the coming days was preparing to detail evidence of flaws in the system that could lead to potential instances of fraud.

“There’s the possibility of fraud and manipulation," he told reporters. "The only way to eliminate that is to do a manual recount."

In Wisconsin, meanwhile, the state elections commission on Monday approved a timeline to start a recount on Thursday. 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.

Stein's Wisconsin recount 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.

Trump has seven days to respond and potentially challenge a recount request, even if Stein pays the required fee and raises the prospect of a mistaken count or fraud. Attorneys representing Trump and the Michigan GOP said Monday they favored a machine recount over Stein's hand recount in the name of efficiency and accuracy.

FOX 17s Josh Sidorowicz contributed to this report