Presidential election recount efforts came to an end Monday in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with both states certifying Republican Donald Trump as the winner in contests that helped put him over the top in the Electoral College stakes.
Trump's victory in Wisconsin was reaffirmed following a statewide vote recount that showed him defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 23,000 votes. Meanwhile, a federal judge issued a stinging rejection of a Green Party-backed request to recount paper ballots in Pennsylvania's presidential election and scan some counties' election systems for signs of hacking.Green Party candidate Jill Stein successfully requested and paid for the Wisconsin recount while her attempts for similar statewide recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan were blocked by the courts.Stein got only about 1 percent of the vote in each of the three states, which Trump narrowly won over Clinton. Stein argued, without evidence, that voting machines in all three states were susceptible to hacking. All three states were crucial to Trump's victory, having last voted for a Republican for president in the 1980s.The numbers barely budged in Wisconsin after nearly 3 million votes were recounted. Trump, a billionaire New York real estate mogul, picked up 131 votes and won by 22,748 votes. The final results changed just 0.06 percent.Stein said she was disappointed not all Wisconsin counties did hand recounts, although most did. She said the goal of the recount was never to change the outcome but to validate the vote and restore confidence in the system."The recount in Wisconsin raised a number of important election integrity issues that bear further assessment and serious action to ensure we have integrity and confidence in our electoral system," she said, without naming what they were.Wisconsin Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen said before certifying the recount results there was no evidence of a hack.In Pennsylvania, state officials certified the results of the election in the hours following the decision by U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond.Trump beat Clinton in the state by about 44,000 votes out of 6 million cast, or less than 1 percent, according to the final tally after weeks of counting provisional and overseas ballots. Green Party voters had petitioned some counties to do partial recounts, affecting few votes, county officials said.Diamond said there were at least six grounds that required him to reject the Green Party's lawsuit, which had been opposed by Trump, the Pennsylvania Republican Party and the Pennsylvania attorney general's office.Suspicion of a hacked Pennsylvania election "borders on the irrational" while granting the Green Party's recount bid could "ensure that no Pennsylvania vote counts" given Tuesday's federal deadline to certify the vote for the Electoral College, wrote Diamond, an appointee of Republican former President George W. Bush."Most importantly, there is no credible evidence that any 'hack' occurred, and compelling evidence that Pennsylvania's voting system was not in any way compromised," Diamond wrote.He said the lawsuit suffered from a lack of standing, potentially the lack of federal jurisdiction and an "unexplained, highly prejudicial" wait before filing last week's lawsuit, four weeks after the Nov. 8 election.The decision was the Green Party's latest roadblock in Pennsylvania after hitting numerous walls in county and state courts. Green Party-backed lawyers argue it was possible that computer hackers changed the election outcome and that Pennsylvania's heavy use of paperless machines makes it a prime target. Stein also contended Pennsylvania has erected unconstitutional barriers to voters seeking a recount.A lawyer for the Green Party members said Monday they were disappointed and unable to immediately say whether they would appeal."But one thing is clear," said the lawyer, Ilann Maazel. "The Pennsylvania election system is not fair to voters and voters don't know if their votes counted, and that's a very large problem."A federal judge halted Michigan's recount last week after three days. Trump won Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes out of nearly 4.8 million votes cast.
MARC LEVYSCOTT BAUER