There have been a lot of moving parts with the presidential election recount requested by Green Party Jill Stein in Michigan. Here's an outline of recent events:
- Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes over Hillary Clinton. Green Party candidate Jill Stein received 51,463 votes out of 4,799,284 total votes cast in the state.
- Michigan certified the election results November 28, triggering a 48-hour deadline for requesting a recount, and Stein petitioned for a recount on November 30. Trump objected to the recount on December 1, and the Michigan Board of Canvassers met to consider the objection on Friday, December 2.
- The Michigan Board of Canvassers voted 2-2 along party lines, which meant there was no action on the objection and the recount would go forward. Michigan has a two-business-day waiting period after a decision of the Board of Canvassers before a recount begins, which allows counties to prepare for the recount. Counties expected to begin the recount on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.
- Recounts are conducted at the county level, by hand, and likely must be completed by Tuesday, Dec. 13, though the deadline under federal law may be later. County election officials began preparing as soon as Stein announced her plan for a recount and have scrambled to find space and personnel to conduct the recounts, and many counties are still struggling to find volunteers to recount ballots.
- After the Board of Canvassers' vote, Stein challenged the two-day waiting period in federal district court. The judge held a hearing on Sunday, December 4, and issued an order in the early hours of Monday morning, requiring that counties begin the recount at noon on Monday.
- Earlier today (Tuesday, December 6), a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals held a hearing on Trump's suit to stop the recount, in which the Michigan Attorney General has intervened. Shortly after the hearing ended, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in an appeal of the district court order:
In a 2-1 ruling, the federal appeals court upheld an order from U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith, who ruled that delaying the recount could jeopardize the state’s ability to complete it by a Dec. 13 deadline.
But the panel also suggested that Goldsmith should reconsider his order if state courts ruled against Stein.
“If, subsequently, the Michigan courts determine that plaintiffs’ recount is improper under Michigan state law for any reason, we expect the district court to entertain any properly filed motions to dissolve or modify its order in this case,” said the 6th Circuit Court opinion.
- This evening, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the Board of Canvassers must reconsider and reject the recount petition:
A Michigan Court of Appeals panel has ordered the Board of State Canvassers to reconsider and reject a recount petition filed by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, ruling she did not meet the qualifications for the request because she has no chance at winning the presidential election.
The unanimous ruling, released late Tuesday, could delegitimize the statewide hand recount already underway in several Michigan counties, but the court did not explicitly order that process to stop. Separately, a federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld an order forcing the state to start the recount Monday.
The three-judge state panel ruled Stein does not meet the definition of an “aggrieved” party necessary for a proper recount petition.
So what happens now?:
- The Michigan Board of Canvassers is meeting at 9:30 on Wednesday morning.
- Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is planning to file a motion to dissolve the order requiring the recount to start Monday.
- Stein may appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. If she does, she is seeking to have the two Michigan Supreme Court Justices on Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees disqualified.
- There are significant questions of federal-state law and jurisdiction at issue in the court cases:
Although a ruling on federal constitutional law takes precedence over a state court ruling, Schuette said his attorneys plan to aggressively argue to stop the recount at a hearing in the Michigan Court of Appeals today, because the issue at hand is one of state law, not federal law. If there are conflicting rulings from state and federal court, the case could ultimately end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.
"Michigan law prevails," Schuette said. "You can't make up -- like the federal judge is attempting to do -- a constitutional right to a recount."
The attorney general said state law is clear that Stein can't ask for a recount because she only received just over 1% of the vote. Therefore, a recount can't overturn the result for Stein and she is not an "aggrieved" party under state law, Schuette said.The Michigan Secretary of State is posting recount information here.