US President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters on Friday moved to maintain his narrow victories in three states,pursuing legal challenges aimed at stopping the Green Party’s calls for recounts of the presidential votes there.
Lawsuits are pending in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the three "Rust Belt" states which turned their history of supporting Democrats and gave Republican Trump narrow wins in the November 8 election.
Michigan state attorney general Bill Schuette filed a lawsuit to stop a scheduled recount in his state, saying Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein received far too few votes to necessitate a recount.
"Michigan voters rejected Stein's candidacy by massive margins but her refusal to accept that state-verified result poses an expensive and risky threat to hard-working taxpayers and abuses the intent of Michigan law," Schuette said in a statement, AFP reported.
Recounting all of the state’s votes "threatens to silence all Michigan votes for president" because of an impending federal deadline to finalise the state’s results, Schuette added.
The Green Party has said its requests for recounts are aimed at ensuring the integrity of the country’s voting system and not at changing the result of the election. The party's candidate Jill Stein, who got only about 1 per cent of the vote, has said the recount campaign is not targeted at Trump or Clinton.
The outcome of the presidential race is decided by the Electoral College, or a tally of wins from the state-by-state contests, and not by the popular national vote.
Federal law requires states to resolve disputes over the appointment of electors by December 13.
The recounts, if they take place, are unlikely to change the overall outcome of the election.
Trump surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win, with 306 electoral votes, and the recount would have to flip the result to Clinton in all three states to change the overall result.
Clinton won more than 2.5 million more votes than Trump, according to the Cook Political Report.
Cost of recount
Schuette criticised Stein for the potential expense of a recount. A Schuette spokeswoman told Reuters on Friday that Stein had contributed $787,500 but it would cost some $5 million. Stein said last week that she had raised $3.5 million to cover some costs.
Michigan’s recount is set to to begin early next week, barring court action, after the state’s board of canvassers deadlocked 2-2 on Friday on a motion objecting to the recount, the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office said on Twitter.
Trump campaign’s own attorneys have moved to block the recount efforts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, according to court papers in those states, Reuters reported.
A Pennsylvania court has scheduled a hearing for Monday morning in Harrisburg.
The recount has already begun in Wisconsin but political action committee Great America PAC, that supports Trump, sued in federal court on Thursday seeking to block the recount there. The Wisconsin Republican Party has also filed a complaint over the recount effort in that state.
Lawyers for Clinton have said they would take part in the Wisconsin recount effort to ensure her campaign is legally represented, and that they would do the same if necessary in Michigan and Pennsylvania, Reuters reported.