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Judge orders immediate start of Michigan vote recount

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People wait to cast their ballots at Oakman Elementary School in the US presidential election on November 8, 2016 in Dearborn, Michigan. (Photo by AFP)

A US federal judge has ordered Michigan election officials to conduct a recount of presidential ballots to begin at noon on Monday.

In the order issued on Monday morning, District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith, a Detroit-based judge appointed by President Barack Obama, also insisted the state to "assemble necessary staff to work sufficient hours" to complete the recount by a December 13 federal deadline.

The ruling comes after Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein filed for a recount in the state, which Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton narrowly lost to Donald Trump, the president-elect.

But, Trump filed a lawsuit on Friday in the Michigan Court of Appeals, seeking to block the recount. His objection triggered a provision in state law that would have delayed the beginning of the recount until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Goldsmith said a state law that requires a two-business-day waiting period to begin a recount is likely in violation of voting rights, according to reports.

"Plaintiffs here have shown a credible threat that the recount, if delayed, would not be completed by the 'safe harbor' day," wrote Goldsmith.

 "The fundamental right invoked by Plaintiffs — the right to vote, and to have that vote conducted fairly and counted accurately — is the bedrock of our Nation,” he wrote.

“Without elections that are conducted fairly – and perceived to be fairly conducted – public confidence in our political institutions will swiftly erode,” the judge added.

Stein had also filed for recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in addition to Michigan — the three traditionally blue states that the president-elect won with a razor-thin margin.

However, the Stein campaign dropped a ballot recount bid in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

Stein’s lawyer Lawrence M. Otter withdrew the lawsuit filed with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, saying, "Petitioners are regular citizens of ordinary means. They cannot afford to post the $1,000,000 bond required by the Court."

A day earlier, a federal court in Wisconsin denied an emergency halt to the recount of the presidential vote, after two pro-Trump political action committees  filed a request for a temporary restraining order seeking to stop the voter recount.

US District Judge James Peterson on Friday afternoon denied the motion to halt the recount, saying there would be no harm in the process to continue until a December 9 court hearing at least.


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