On Thursday, the first candidate-driven statewide recount for a presidential election in 16 years began in Wisconsin, a state that Donald Trump barely won by less than a percentage point over Hilary Clinton, even after polls had predicted Clinton to take the state.
MADISON, Wis. — Using a famous legal precedent, supporters of Donald Trump filed a federal lawsuit Friday to stop a recount of the presidential vote in Wisconsin and safeguard the president-elect’s Nov. 8 victory here.
The lawsuit contends, in part, that the state’s recount process is unconstitutional because ballots aren’t treated equally in all cases — a standard established in the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court case that halted a recount in Florida and left George W. Bush as the winner of that year’s presidential race with Al Gore.
The challenge was brought in federal court in Madison on Friday by the Great America PAC and Stop Hillary PAC, which also argue that the recount runs the risk of preventing Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes from being counted. State elections officials have said they’re committed to finishing the recount by a federal Dec. 13 deadline to ensure that doesn’t happen.
The recount began Thursday after Green Party nominee Jill Stein — who received 1% of the vote in the Nov. 8 election — paid $3.5 million to force the state to re-tally nearly 3 million presidential votes across Wisconsin. It’s considered highly unlikely that the recount would affect Trump’s 22,000 vote win over Hillary Clinton in the state.
“Jill Stein is clearly not entitled under statute to a recount and for the state board to allow it would be a massive waste of taxpayer resources in violation of the plain reading of the statute,” Eric Beach, co-chairman of Great America PAC, said in a statement.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission said Friday that local clerks and canvassing boards should keep up their race to finish the recount.
Matthew Brinckerhoff, the lead attorney for Stein’s recount effort, said the campaign would seek to intervene in the case to help defend the recount.
“Citizens in Wisconsin and across the country have made it clear that they want a recount and deserve to see this process through to ensure integrity in the vote,” he said in a statement.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, a Republican, is reviewing the lawsuit, a spokesman said.
Also Friday, Michigan GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette asked the Michigan Supreme Court to block a recount of the presidential vote that Stein is separately seeking in that state.
In addition, Gov. Scott Walker said Friday he would consider limiting the ability of candidates to ask for recounts in Wisconsin.
“I think a lot of people no matter where they sit on the political spectrum kind of scratch their head on why someone would ask for a recount when they came in fourth,” Walker said of Stein, who finished behind Trump, Clinton and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
“I think we should call it for what it is and really it’s just a fundraising scheme for the Green Party,” Walker told reporters. “It’s perfectly legal. It’s their right to do that. They’re paying for it. The taxpayer’s not paying for it. The only real concern I have is that for a lot of these clerks, local clerks, they’re already busy.”
State law allows any candidate to request a recount, but he or she must pay for it if the loss is more than 0.25% of the vote. Walker did not provide specifics on what kind of changes to the law he would consider.
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