A computer science professor from the University of Michigan explains how a Michigan recount filed by Jill Stein’s campaign could reveal tampering with voting machines.
DETROIT — A three-hour hearing in federal court in Detroit has ended on Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request for an immediate start to a presidential recount in Michigan, with a federal judge saying shortly after 4 p.m. ET he would soon issue his decision in writing.
Stein wants U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith to order the recount to start immediately, or Monday morning. She argues a waiting period set out in Michigan law that will result in the recount likely starting Wednesday morning is unconstitutional, because it endangers the voting rights of Michigan residents.
Under Michigan law, state officials must wait two business days after hearing objections to a recount petition before they can start counting. That is to allow for court review of how the Board of Canvassers ruled on the objection to the recount request. On Friday, the board deadlocked 2-2 on President-elect Donald Trump’s objection to Stein’s recount request, meaning Trump’s objection was rejected. A two-business-day wait from Friday means the recount would start late Tuesday at the earliest, and more likely on Wednesday morning.
Despite assertions from lawyers for the Michigan Board of State Canvassers and the Michigan Republican Party that the question of whether a recount is needed is irrelevant to whether Michigan’s waiting period is constitutional, the hearing got into arguments about whether Michigan’s voting machines could have been hacked, and whether any such hacking could have affected the outcome.
Mark Brewer, an attorney for Stein, told Goldsmith an unusually high undercount — ballots with no vote for president — of eight per precinct, is “sufficient to change the result” of the election, in which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Michigan by 10,704 votes.
Until now, Stein has said she wasn’t expecting to change results, but wanted to test the integrity of the system against possible mistakes or fraud.
Brewer’s assertion that the outcome could change in Michigan caused Gary Gordon, who has represented Trump and the Michigan Republican Party, to question whether Brewer, a former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, was acting for Stein or for Clinton.
Hayley Horowitz, another Stein attorney, said hacking attacks on the Democratic National Committee and the emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, show there is someone with both the motive and ability to try to change the election outcome.
Lawyers for the state board and the Republicans said that’s nothing but speculation and all Michigan’s votes were counted.
Gordon argued Michigan’s voting machines are not connected to the Internet and are secured in such a way that “the gremlins and the martians and the Russian hackers” can’t get to them.
Goldsmith asked Brewer to explain what the harm is in waiting until Wednesday, as planned, especially after Brewer conceded that the recount could still likely be completed by the Dec. 13 deadline if started Wednesday, though it would take more money and resources.
To get a court order, Stein must show she will suffer “irreparable harm” if the recount doesn’t start immediately. Lawyers for the Michigan Republican Party argued that there can be no irreparable harm, if the recount can still get done with a Wednesday start.
“I think the hearing should be over, based on that admission,” Gordon told the judge about Brewer’s statement.
Also, state officials disclosed at the hearing that the state election results, showing Trump as the victor, have already been certified and Gov. Rick Snyder has already certified the Trump electors and sent that information to Washington, D.C. Denise Barton, an attorney representing the Board of State Canvassers, said that means the “safe harbor” requirement that electors be certified six days before the electoral college meeting on Dec. 19, has already been satisfied.
Michigan’s electoral votes are guaranteed to count, except in the unlikely event that a recount shows Trump did not win Michigan’s 16 electoral votes, in which case another set of electors could be certified and sent to Congress, she said.
Brewer argued it was Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette who warned Michigan’s electoral votes could be at risk if the recount is not completed by Dec. 13.
“That is what brought us here,” Brewer told the judge. “The only way to eliminate that risk is to start the recount immediately.”
But Gordon said Republican officials have been counting on state law that said they had two days to object to Friday’s Board of Canvassers ruling in court. If the recount goes ahead immediately, Stein’s people will have a great advantage, because they will have their hundreds of volunteers ready, and the Republicans won’t, Gordon said.
The logistics of a statewide recount are so great, “it’s kind of like Eisenhower invading Europe on D-Day,” Gordon said. “It’s a logistical nightmare.”
Stein filed suit against state election officials in federal court in Detroit late Friday in the latest in a raft of lawsuits over her request for a recount of Michigan’s presidential election vote.
As the election recount debate lingers in Michigan, a similar effort is now headed to federal court in Pennsylvania, where Stein’s campaign is pushing for a statewide recount of votes in the presidential election on constitutional grounds. The campaign is seeking legal intervention from the federal courts after dropping its case in Pennsylvania’s state courts, arguing the state courts were ill-equipped to handle the issue.
“We are committed to this fight to protect the civil and voting rights of all Americans,” Jonathan Abady, lead counsel for the Stein recount campaign, said in a statement. “Over the past several days, it has become clear that the barriers to verifying the vote in Pennsylvania are so pervasive and that the state court system is so ill-equipped to address this problem that we must seek federal court intervention.”
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