US & Canada

Trump supporters challenge recount bid in Rust Belt states

Tabulators work on recounting presidential ballots in Madison, Wisconsin. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A recount is currently under way in Wisconsin

US President-elect Donald Trump's supporters are moving to block election recount efforts in the states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The legal motions are designed to halt Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein's request for a ballot review.

In Wisconsin, a federal court rejected a request to immediately stop the recount, but allowed a lawsuit to proceed.

Even if the recounts take place, they are unlikely to change the poll result.

Ms Stein, who says her campaign is focused on ensuring the integrity of the US voting system, has questioned why Mr Trump is "afraid" of a recount.

On Friday, Michigan's Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a motion in the state Supreme Court to block a potential recount in the Midwestern state.

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Media captionDr Jill Stein: The US election system is "insecure"

He said it could cost taxpayers "millions", but Ms Stein called the move a "shameful" attempt to undermine democracy.

Mr Trump's team filed a complaint a day earlier with Michigan's elections board to block a recount of all 4.8 million ballots cast in the state, which he won by 10,700 votes.

Lawyers for Mr Trump argued that Ms Stein cannot seek a recount in Michigan because she took just 1% of the state's vote.

The Michigan elections board was deadlocked in a vote over the Trump campaign's request on Friday, which will allow the recount to begin on Tuesday or Wednesday unless there is legal intervention.


Could recounts change election result?

  • The Green Party-backed recount campaign is focused on three states that Mr Trump won - Wisconsin (by 22,177 votes), Michigan (10,704 votes) and Pennsylvania (71,313 votes)
  • According to federal law, all recounts have to be concluded within 35 days of the election, which is 13 December
  • All three states account for 46 votes in the Electoral College, enough to tip the election to Mrs Clinton if they moved from Mr Trump's column to hers - but this is viewed as highly unlikely
  • For Mrs Clinton to be declared victor would require a swing of more than 100,000 votes across three states - a move that would dwarf all previous recount results

Read our recount explainer.


In Wisconsin, supporters of Mr Trump, including the Great America PAC, the Stop Hillary PAC and voter Ronald Johnson, filed a federal lawsuit and requested a temporary restraining order to stop the Wisconsin recount hours after it began on Thursday.

Their lawsuit argued that the recount threatened the due process rights of those who had voted for Mr Trump and would likely contain errors as officials rush to meet this month's deadline.

Federal law requires states to resolve the disputes by 13 December.

One of the state's 72 counties had already completed the process by Friday - Mrs Clinton gained a single vote over Mr Trump.

Later on Friday, US District Judge James Peterson rejected the motion to halt the recount, saying there would be no harm in allowing it to proceed while the state was preparing its defence.

The judge said a hearing on the issue would be held on 9 December.

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Media captionWhat do Trump supporters want from their new president?

Mr Trump eked out a victory over his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin by about 22,000 votes, or less than 1%.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump's lawyers have also filed a complaint to stop the Green party candidate's bid for a voter recount in Pennsylvania.

"Despite being no more than a blip on the electoral radar, Stein has now commandeered Pennsylvania's electoral process, with an eye toward doing the same to the Electoral College," the complaint filed on Thursday said.

"There is no evidence - or even an allegation - that any tampering with Pennsylvania's voting systems actually occurred."

A court hearing is scheduled on Monday regarding Ms Stein's effort to secure a statewide recount in Pennsylvania, where Mr Trump won by a margin of 67,416 votes.

Ms Stein, who is funding her recount bid through public donations, said in a statement: "Verifying the vote is a common-sense procedure that would put all concerns around voter disenfranchisement to rest.

"Trump's desperate attempts to silence voter demands for recounts raise a simple question: why is Donald Trump afraid of these recounts?"

She contends her challenges are meant to ensure that voting machines were not hacked in the election, but there has been no evidence to prove otherwise.

Some critics have claimed Ms Stein is trying to garner more national attention while building a donor database by raising money for the recount effort.

Mrs Clinton, who lost to Mr Trump, has kept silent on the matter.

But a lawyer for her said last week that though the campaign has not found any evidence of hacking or attempts to alter the voting process, it would co-operate with Ms Stein's recount efforts.