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Recount halted in Michigan, Wisconsin’s nears completion

AP and WiG reports

A recount of Michigan’s presidential votes that began on Monday ended last night after a federal judge set aside his earlier ruling that set the recount in motion.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith acted after the state appeals court said Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who requested the recount, doesn’t qualify as an “aggrieved” candidate under Michigan law.

Donald Trump won Michigan by a razor-thin margin of 10,700 votes out of about 4.8 million ballots cast.  More than 20 counties so far were recounting ballots, and more were scheduled to begin today.

Goldsmith said Stein raised serious issues about the integrity of Michigan’s election system. But he said she offered “speculative claims” and “not actual injury.”

No one expected the recounts requested by Stein in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to change the outcome of the election, but Goldsmith’s ruling effectively ended any chance of that happening.

Klein said in the beginning that the recount was not intended to help Clinton. “These recounts are part of an election integrity movement to attempt to shine a light on just how untrustworthy the U.S. election system is,” she posted on a website to raise money for the effort.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Elections Commission reported yesterday that the recount here is more than 70 percent complete, with more than 2.1 million votes out of the nearly 3 million cast already recounted. So far, Clinton has gained just 82 votes on Trump, who won the state by more than 22,000 votes.

The last statewide recount was of the Supreme Court election in 2011.

The Pennsylvania recount request remains up in the air. U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond has scheduled a hearing on the issue for Friday. Republican leaders have joined Trump in opposing it, saying it threatens Pennsylvania’s ability to certify its election before the Dec. 13 federal deadline.

But vote totals already have changed in Pennsylvania since Election Day. An update on Tuesday that included provisional ballots that had not been counted previously showed Trump’s lead over Clinton had shrunk from 71,000 to about 44,000 out of more than 6 million votes cast.

That margin is barely shy of Pennsylvania’s 0.5 percent trigger for an automatic statewide recount.

Although Stein and the Green Party pushed for the recounts, Clinton — under pressure from her supporters — joined the effort. Clinton won the popular vote by a substantial 2.7-million vote margin.

Also fueling concern about the integrity of the Nov. 8 election was an alarming series of hacks targeting Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails throughout the last weeks of the election.

Wikileaks turned over what it considered to be damaging emails to mainstream media, which shared them with the public. Federal officials pinned blame for the hacking on Russia, whose leaders have a cozy relationship with Trump. Russia previously tried to interfere with the outcome of an election in Ukraine.

There was also a complicated Russian-backed system exploiting social media to spread outrageous lies about Clinton. The stories were sometimes published by major news outlets.

Under current law, election officials in most states don’t have systems for checking whether results were changed using malware.