Green Party leader Jill Stein's plan to launch a vote recount of 4.8 million ballots in Michigan may be dead in its tracks as two lawsuits – one brought by President-elect Donald Trump and the other by the state's attorney general – threaten to quash it.
"Today I am filing suit to stop Dr. Jill Stein's frivolous, expensive recount request," Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said on Friday (2 December. The top Michigan lawyer wrote on Twitter that he has "filed an emergency motion with the state's Supreme Court to bypass the Court of Appeals."
The rare move would kick the case directly up to the state's Supreme Court and quickly decide if Stein's petition for a recount should be honoured. Schuette is a Republican eyeing to run for governor in 2018.
"It is inexcusable for Stein to put Michigan vote[r]s at risk of paying millions and potentially losing their voice in the Electoral College," he wrote.
Stein filed the paperwork for the third and final recount she is spearheading on Wednesday (30 November). So far she has raised $6.7m of a $9.5m goal for recounts in the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where Trump won by a combined margin of just 107,000 votes.
In Michigan, Stein said her rationale for requesting the recount was driven by the fact that 84,000 ballots cast had not selected anyone for president. "That is quite an unusual number," she told a Detroit radio station, calling it a "red flag" for errors of tampering with electronic voting machines.
The Trump campaign's lawyers are also trying to block Stein's by-hand recount. They called the Green Party leader a "bottom-dwelling candidate" who, because she only received 1% of the vote, is not "aggrieved" enough to warrant a recount. They also argued that the recount could not be carried by the 13 December deadline.
Voters in the Electoral College, which actually votes the president to power, will cast their ballots on 19 December — officially giving Trump the presidency. Early this week, Trump claimed voter fraud in three separate states. It lead some of his supporters to falsely believe millions of illegal voters cast ballots in the election. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
A new study by statisticians and political scientists at Dartmouth College picks apart the claims made by both Trump and Stein. Their work did not "uncover any evidence consistent with Trump's assertions about widespread voter fraud." And it also did not "observe any striking abnormalities" in the vote in Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin.
Stein's recount campaign came up against further hurdles early this week in Wisconsin when the state refused to recount the vote by-hand. She is now suing the state to make that happen as she suspects electronic voting equipment could be tainted.
Some cybersecurity experts and statisticians are backing Stein's campaign, after they said hacks carried out by Russian intelligence affiliates over the summer could lead to a compromised election.
"Verifying the vote through this recount," Stein argues, "is the only way to confirm that every vote has been counted securely and accurately and is not compromised by machine or human error, or by tampering or hacking."