Michigan AG Tries to Stop the Recount

Michigan’s Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a lawsuit to prevent a recount of the presidential vote. He has several complaints, but one of them is just odd.

“Although [Green Party candidate Jill] Stein had the ability to request a recount from the moment the polls closed on November 9, 2016, she waited an additional three weeks — until the last possible minute under Michigan law — to do so.

The New York Giants used to have a head football coach named Tom Coughlin who expected his players to be in team meetings five minutes early and would fine them if they were later than that. This caused a big blow-up with his All-Pro defensive end, Michael Strahan, when he got fined for showing up right on time. They eventually settled their dispute and won a Super Bowl together, but they weren’t dealing with a binding legal document.

I don’t know how you go into court and argue that the plaintiff is out of line for filing their complaint on the last day it was legally allowable to do so. I don’t know how you even put something like that in writing.

Some of his other arguments aren’t much better. He says that Stein’s recount petition should be rejected because she didn’t get that many votes. That’s not how the law works. He says it will cost more than she’s forced to pay, but that’s not her problem. He says that they don’t have time to do a recount, but that’s not her problem, either.

Maybe he has a better case than I’m laying out here, but it seems like he’s just doing a lot of whining without much of anything legal to back him up.

I’m sure his position is politically popular, since most Michiganders probably don’t want to pay any taxpayer dollars for a recount that is unlikely to change the result of the state’s election, let alone the overall one. But that doesn’t mean that it will hold up in court.

Now, I suppose that there might be a legitimate issue if a hand recount will take so long that it will prevent Michigan’s electors from being certified on December 13th. They need to be certified six days before they convene on December 19th and make their selections for president. If they cannot be certified, it’s possible that Michigan’s votes won’t be counted, but even that would not change the outcome of the election. Still, a state court might weigh the threat of total disenfranchisement higher than the threat of inaccuracy.

But that would only argue against a hand recount. And whether she’s entitled to a hand recount is a matter of statutory language and interpretation, not special pleading.

Just for clarity, Clinton is currently down in the certified Michigan vote by just under 11,000 votes. In Pennsylvania, yesterday, they finished counting all the provisional ballots from Philadelphia County, and it added 24,000 votes to Clinton’s total, bringing her deficit there down from about 70,000 to about 46,000.

There shouldn’t be any provisional ballots left to count in Michigan since they already certified their vote, but I did notice when 24,000 votes suddenly turned up out of Philly that no one seemed to be talking about. That’s more than her current deficit in both Michigan and Wisconsin.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.