Recount underway in Kent, Ottawa, Kalamazoo counties

Posted at 12:13 PM, Dec 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 13:50:29-05

MICHIGAN — The presidential recount effort is officially underway in a handful of West Michigan counties Tuesday.

Dozens of volunteers and election workers packed into the second floor of the Wyoming Department of Public Safety Tuesday to being the process in Kent County.

Early Monday morning, a federal judge ordered a hand recount of Michigan's presidential results to begin by noon Monday, rejecting an effort by Michigan state officials to wait two business days before starting to hand-count roughly 4.8 million ballots. The move increases the chances that the state could complete the count ahead of a Dec. 13 deadline.

Ingham and Oakland counties were the first to begin the process.

Kent, Ottawa, and Kalamazoo counties were scheduled to begin on Tuesday with remaining counties following a staggered schedule.

Kent County clerk Mary Hollinrake said this recount is a massive undertaking and knows that cost to taxpayers remains a top priority.

"We get $125  for each precinct we complete, so by the end of today,  we will have laid out a lot of money and we are hoping to get reimbursed for all of that," she said. "It’s not based on what my expenses are, it’s based on how many precincts we manage to recount, so we want to get started so we can recount, so the taxpayers pay as little as possible for this.”

President-elect Donald Trump narrowly defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in both states and Wisconsin, which started its recount last week. The recounts requested by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein were not expected to change enough votes to overturn the result of the election.

The Michigan Republican Party has filed for an emergency stay on the decision in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Michigan's Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette also this week joined that federal lawsuit to stop the recount.

Both Schuette and Trump previously asked Michigan's State Court of Appeals to block the recount following the federal court ruling. It remains unclear if Stein's federal victory effectively kills the cases at the state level.

During a roundtable Tuesday with reporters in Detroit, Schuette said he didn't believe Stein met the qualifications to request a recount.

"Michigan law needs to prevail here, yhis federal takeover is absolutely wrong, and it's unjust," Schuette said. "Michigan is very clear and we have a very transparent statute to qualify for a recount... you have to be an injured party, an aggrieved party."

Stein, who received about 1 percent of the vote in all three states, says her intent is to verify the vote's accuracy. She has suggested, with no evidence, that votes cast were susceptible to computer hacking. But her campaign has maintained it does not expect to change the election outcome but rather "protect voter integrity."

The Associated Press and FOX 17s Josh Sidorowicz contributed to this report.