The chaos in Michigan continues this evening, as does its recount — but not for long. A federal judge that ordered an immediate start to the recount early Monday morning has vacated that order, just a few hours after the state board voted to reject Jill Stein’s petition:
BREAKING: Federal judge lifts order that had allowed Michigan's recount, effectively ending it.
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 8, 2016
This caps off a long day of chaos. The state’s Board of Canvassers voted to reject Jill Stein’s petition to comply with a state appellate court order that scolded the board for letting it start in the first place. That 3-1 decision ordered all counties put their recounts on hold by tomorrow morning, while they waited to see whether the federal judge would comply with a 6th Circuit ruling that essentially tells him to butt out of the question of qualification:
Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers on Wednesday ordered elections officials to halt the presidential recount on Thursday morning if a federal judge allows the statewide recount to end.
The panel of two Republicans and two Democrats voted 3-1 on a motion that could pause the recount in the event Detroit U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith lifts his previous order that forced the recount to begin mid-day Monday.
The Board of State Canvassers has a 9:30 a.m. meeting Thursday and the order was designed to prevent election workers from starting to recount ballots Thursday morning in more than 30 counties if there’s a likelihood that the board will vote to end the recount altogether.
Goldsmith’s order makes their ruling effective immediately. Even the 3-1 decision came from drama and chaos. The board originally thought they’d get a ruling from Judge Mark Goldsmith this morning, and then after a brief recess around noon ET. Goldsmith instead decided to take the matter under advisement and issue a written decision later … which came a lot later than most had guessed.
Here’s the brief order from Judge Goldsmith:
Stein’s attorneys have filed an appeal at the state Supreme Court, as well as a demand that two of the justices recuse themselves because they appeared on Donald Trump’s list of potential picks for the federal Supreme Court. That would still leave a 3-2 Republican majority on the court, so that’s not going to go anywhere. Goldsmith’s ruling was really the last straw.
It didn’t come early enough to prevent a little amusing drama from the board. By 4 pm, the state board had recessed a couple of times, but finally the Republican members had had enough and wanted an order that complied with the state appellate court. Democrats wanted to adjourn until Goldsmith ruled, but after a 2-2 deadlock on adjournment, Democrat Julie Matuzak threw in the towel and voted to end the recount — but she wasn’t very happy about it:
Democrat Julie Matuzak voted with the Republicans: "It was clear they were going to hold us hostage here until they got their way." https://t.co/tRBv1jrmoy
— Chad Livengood (@ChadLivengood) December 7, 2016
“Hold us hostage” could also describe the way the Stein recount is holding up the Michigan electors too, at least theoretically. In the hearing earlier today, Attorney General Bill Schuette’s team argued that Goldsmith should require Stein to pay a $5 million bond if he forces the recounts to continue, to cover the costs of this futile exercise. Stein’s attorneys objected on the basis that Michigan’s cost estimates lack foundation, but they’re certainly costing something. Meanwhile, the state legislature plans to take up a bill tomorrow that will require Stein to pay the whole cost of the recount, plus the GOP majority plans to pass a voter-ID bill to answer Stein’s foundationless claims of fraud. The first effort is moot, but don’t bet on the legislature dropping the second.
For the record, the results of the recount showed only minor changes:
Ingham County completed its presidential election recount Wednesday, with Hillary Clinton gaining a net increase of 65 votes over President-elect Donald Trump.
Clinton’s vote total increased by 138 in Ingham County, while Trump gained 73 more votes than were recorded on Election Night, according to the county’s recount report.
Ingham had over 133,500 votes cast in the presidential election, and had Hillary Clinton ahead of Donald Trump 60.88%/33.23%. The percentage split on the additional votes found is almost identical to that in the original count in the county. It’s a change of 0.158%, a little on the high side for recounts, but the 65-vote difference is hardly a threat to Trump’s overall lead of 10,704 votes.
Meanwhile in Wisconsin, the recount keeps demonstrating its futility. The state released its Day 7 cumulative results, and precincts that reported 65.89% of the original Election Night results have completed their work. The net change has been the addition of 1,036 votes, with Hillary leading in those by 82. That leaves Hillary with 22,535 votes to make up with the remaining 34.1% of the vote, which is as likely as Jill Stein getting an additional 2 million. Thus far in the WI recount, the results have changed by 0.0535% … not exactly a dramatic finish to the election.