US District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled on Wednesday that there was no reason to move forward with a recount of November’s presidential election ballots in Michigan, ending Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s recount efforts in that state.
Judge Goldsmith’s decision to end the recount highlighted the fact that, as a candidate with just 1 percent of the vote, Dr. Stein was not an aggrieved party. Goldsmith also argued that despite claims of potential tampering, there was no evidence to show that it had been an issue this election.
"To date, plaintiffs have not presented evidence of tampering or mistake. Instead, they present speculative claims going to the vulnerability of the voting machinery – but not actual injury," wrote Goldsmith in his ruling.
Nearly 5 million ballots were cast in Michigan, and surprised many when it went red on election night. On Tuesday, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that there were no grounds for a recount. Goldsmith announced on Wednesday that he saw no reason to go against a state court ruling.
Wednesday’s decision came as the culmination of a nearly month-long legal squabble between Republicans, who claimed that a recount would be costly and unnecessary, and Democrats and Green Party members, such as Stein.
Michigan is just one of many states that have gone through the recount process in the month since the election. Stein is also the driving force behind recount efforts in hotly contested Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Following the election, Stein raised $6 million to spur recounts in all three states. Had all three states voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton instead of Republican Donald Trump, Mrs. Clinton would have had sufficient electoral votes to win the election.
In Wisconsin, where Stein filed for a recount on Nov. 25, data and election experts noticed that Clinton got fewer votes in counties that used electronic voting machines instead of paper ballots, sparking concerns that election hacking might have occurred. Yet with more than 70 percent of Wisconsin’s recount complete, only 82 votes have been added to Clinton’s totals.
In Florida, three Florida voters also voiced concerns about the election results earlier this month, and demanded a hand recount of the ballots, citing concerns about election machine hacking.
The Christian Science Monitor’s Ellen Powell reported earlier this month on the Florida voters’ claims, and the changes that security experts suggest to ensure computer security during the elections.
The first change that David Jefferson, a computer scientist who is an expert on voting and election issues, recommends is for every district to use paper ballots.
“That means scrapping electronic voting machines that do not produce a durable paper record,” Dr. Jefferson writes in an email to the Monitor. “And it means no internet voting of any kind.”
Software bugs, along with limited training and resources, mean that electoral officials do not have the tools to protect against fraud on their own.
Pennsylvania US District Court Judge Paul Diamond has scheduled a hearing on the state’s election results for Friday, Dec. 9, a date that Trump says is dangerously close to the Dec. 13 election certification cut-off. Current ballot counts thus far show that Clinton trails Trump by less than 50,000 votes, which is a slim lead, but not slim enough to trigger a mandatory recount.
Only one state, Nevada, is conducting a recount not spearheaded by Stein. Candidate Roque De La Fuente, who received less than 1 percent of the state’s more than a million ballots, requested Nevada's recount.