LANSING, Mich.—Supporters of Republican Donald Trump filed a federal lawsuit trying to halt Wisconsin’s ongoing presidential recount, and Michigan’s attorney general on Friday sued to stop a recount from happening in his state.
The Wisconsin lawsuit and motion for a temporary restraining order was filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Madison by the Great America PAC, the Stop Hillary PAC and a Wisconsin voter, Ronald R. Johnson. The legal filings contend that the recount is unconstitutional because it doesn’t satisfy equal protection requirements under the law and may not get done by the Dec. 13 federal deadline to certify the vote, putting Wisconsin’s electoral votes in jeopardy.
No court hearings had been scheduled as of Friday morning. The Wisconsin Department of Justice was reviewing the lawsuit, said Johnny Koremenos, spokesman for Attorney General Brad Schimel.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who requested both recounts and a third in Pennsylvania, has suggested that Trump and his backers would try to delay the recounts to make them hard or impossible to complete by the deadline for states to certify their election results or have their electoral votes be decided by Congress, which is controlled by Republicans. A spokeswoman for Stein’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday.
With workers in Wisconsin busy re-counting votes for a second day, Michigan’s state elections board was meeting about the Trump campaign’s request to deny Stein’s recount request. The board deadlocked, with both Republican members voting to prevent the recount and both Democrats voting to allow it, meaning it will begin Tuesday or Wednesday unless the courts intervene.
In his request to the Michigan Supreme Court to block the hand recount, Attorney General Bill Schuette, like the Trump campaign, argued that Stein cannot seek the “frivolous” recount because she was not “aggrieved” to the point at which a potential miscounting of votes could have cost her the election. She garnered 1 percent of the vote in Michigan.
In Pennsylvania, a hearing is scheduled for Monday on Stein’s push to secure a court-ordered statewide recount there. Republican lawyers filed a motion late Thursday accusing Stein of engaging in legal antics and saying her recount request endangers Pennsylvania’s ability to certify its electors by the federal deadline.
Trump won all three states by narrow margins over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Stein has argued, without evidence, that irregularities in the votes in all three states suggest that there could have been tampering with the vote, perhaps through a well-coordinated, highly complex cyberattack.
Elections officials in the three states have expressed confidence in their results. Even if all three recounts happen, they aren’t expected to flip enough votes to change the outcomes in any of the states.
In the lawsuit seeking to halt the recount in Wisconsin, which started Thursday, the plaintiffs say there is a “realistic risk” that it may not be completed by the deadline and that the “chaotic rushing necessary” to meet the deadline “creates an imminent unreasonable risk of error that can lead to votes being erroneously counted, disregarded, or diluted.
Trump defeated Clinton in Wisconsin by about 22,000 votes, or less than 1 percentage point. His margin of victory in Michigan was even slimmer, at about 10,700 votes out of 4.8 million cast.
Echoing arguments made against the other state recounts, Trump campaign lawyers said Michigan’s would be impossible to finish by the deadline, putting Michigan voters at risk of being disenfranchised if the 16 electoral votes were not cast.
“You’re not aggrieved if you want on a lark to foist the taxpayers” with a $5 million bill and “the elections officials to go on a wild goose chase,” attorney Gary Gordon told the board.
Stein lawyer Mark Brewer said “95 percent of what you have heard is legally irrelevant” because Stein met all the legal requirements for a recount. Noting GOP criticism that Stein has made baseless allegations of fraud or errors with machines that scan paper ballots, Brewer said: “The original source of the claim that this election was rigged is Mr. Trump.”