Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Michigan Recount Status - Tuesday Night (12/6)

There have been a lot of moving parts with the presidential election recount requested by Green Party Jill Stein in Michigan.  Here's an outline of recent events:
  • Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes over Hillary Clinton.  Green Party candidate Jill Stein received 51,463 votes out of 4,799,284 total votes cast in the state.
  • Michigan certified the election results November 28, triggering a 48-hour deadline for requesting a recount, and Stein petitioned for a recount on November 30.  Trump objected to the recount on December 1, and the Michigan Board of Canvassers met to consider the objection on Friday, December 2.
  • The Michigan Board of Canvassers voted 2-2 along party lines, which meant there was no action on the objection and the recount would go forward.  Michigan has a two-business-day waiting period after a decision of the Board of Canvassers before a recount begins, which allows counties to prepare for the recount.  Counties expected to begin the recount on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.
  • Recounts are conducted at the county level, by hand, and likely must be completed by Tuesday, Dec. 13, though the deadline under federal law may be later.  County election officials began preparing as soon as Stein announced her plan for a recount and have scrambled to find space and personnel to conduct the recounts, and many counties are still struggling to find volunteers to recount ballots.
  • After the Board of Canvassers' vote, Stein challenged the two-day waiting period in federal district court.  The judge held a hearing on Sunday, December 4, and issued an order in the early hours of Monday morning, requiring that counties begin the recount at noon on Monday.  
  • Earlier today (Tuesday, December 6), a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals held a hearing on Trump's suit to stop the recount, in which the Michigan Attorney General has intervened.  Shortly after the hearing ended, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in an appeal of the district court order:
In a 2-1 ruling, the federal appeals court upheld an order from U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith, who ruled that delaying the recount could jeopardize the state’s ability to complete it by a Dec. 13 deadline. 
But the panel also suggested that Goldsmith should reconsider his order if state courts ruled against Stein. 
“If, subsequently, the Michigan courts determine that plaintiffs’ recount is improper under Michigan state law for any reason, we expect the district court to entertain any properly filed motions to dissolve or modify its order in this case,” said the 6th Circuit Court opinion.
A Michigan Court of Appeals panel has ordered the Board of State Canvassers to reconsider and reject a recount petition filed by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, ruling she did not meet the qualifications for the request because she has no chance at winning the presidential election. 
The unanimous ruling, released late Tuesday, could delegitimize the statewide hand recount already underway in several Michigan counties, but the court did not explicitly order that process to stop. Separately, a federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld an order forcing the state to start the recount Monday. 
The three-judge state panel ruled Stein does not meet the definition of an “aggrieved” party necessary for a proper recount petition.

So what happens now?:

Although a ruling on federal constitutional law takes precedence over a state court ruling, Schuette said his attorneys plan to aggressively argue to stop the recount at a hearing in the Michigan Court of Appeals today, because the issue at hand is one of state law, not federal law. If there are conflicting rulings from state and federal court, the case could ultimately end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.
"Michigan law prevails," Schuette said. "You can't make up -- like the federal judge is attempting to do -- a constitutional right to a recount."
The attorney general said state law is clear that Stein can't ask for a recount because she only received just over 1% of the vote. Therefore, a recount can't overturn the result for Stein and she is not an "aggrieved" party under state law, Schuette said. 
The Michigan Secretary of State is posting recount information here.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pennsylvania Recount Status

There has been a lot of news and misinformation surrounding Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's efforts for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania.  Here are the facts:
While it is unlikely that Stein will be successful in obtaining a statewide recount, some precincts in Pennsylvania will be recounting votes cast in those precincts.  The news regarding the recount efforts is changing rapidly; stay tuned for more information.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jill Stein Requests $5 Million Recount in Michigan

As expected, today Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein officially petitioned for a recount of Michigan's presidential election results.  The recount in Michigan will be conducted by hand at the county level, and local election officials are scrambling to acquire the space and personnel necessary, all at great expense to Michigan taxpayers:
Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s quest to recount Michigan’s 4.8 million ballots in an unprecedented autopsy of a presidential election could cost taxpayers more than $4 million. 
Stein formally requested Wednesday a hand recount of the state’s presidential election, a labor-intensive undertaking that is expected to begin Friday morning and could result in marathon counting sessions until the Dec. 13 deadline. 
Republican President-elect Donald Trump won by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton, getting 47.5 percent of the vote to the former secretary of state’s 47.27 percent. Stein received 51,463 votes or about 1.1 percent. 
The Green Party nominee’s attorneys left a $973,250 check at the state Bureau of Elections to cover Stein’s legally required fees for seeking a recount of 6,300 precincts.
While the total cost of the recount is not yet known, it is estimated to be at least $3 million and as much as $12 million:
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Wednesday the recount cost could total $5 million, leaving the state and county governments on the hook for the remaining $4 million. 
Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel blasted the request as a “reckless attempt to undermine the will” of Michigan’s voters. She noted Stein and her lawyer, Mark Brewer, have provided no evidence of vote fraud. 
“Jill Stein made her 1 percent temper tantrum official and will waste millions of Michigan taxpayers’ dollars, and has acknowledged that the recount will not change anything regarding the presidential election,” McDaniel said. 
Cost estimates for the recount have varied wildly between Johnson’s estimate of up to $3 million to Michigan GOP attorney Eric Doster’s estimate of $12 million, the cost of a full statewide election.
While recounts are useful and necessary tools for checking the accuracy of election results in close races, where no fraud or irregularities are suspected (as in North Carolina's gubernatorial race recount where irregularities have been found or are suspected in several counties), they can be misused as a political and publicity tool at the expense of taxpayers' funds and local election officials' time.  Such misuse is, unfortunately, the case with the Michigan recount.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

RNLA Calls Upon Clinton Campaign to Condemn and Stop Recounts

RNLA officially called upon the Clinton campaign to condemn plans by the Green Party to hold recounts of the presidential election results in several states:
The Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) calls upon the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to stand down and condemn the recount effort in Wisconsin and possibly other states. We are extremely disappointed by the change of heart of Secretary Clinton in deciding to participate. This is an unprecedented effort to divide our country.  
RNLA President Larry Levy said: “The alleged concerns that the recount is to ensure every vote is properly counted is ludicrous. If that were true, why aren’t they seeking recounts in every state or at least include New Hampshire where Secretary Clinton won by a scant 2,736 votes or other states with narrow Democrat wins? This effort diverts attention from the critical work of President-elect Trump and his team to form a new Administration and to be prepared to lead America forward on day one.”  
The recount is pointless, a waste of resources, a squandering of taxpayer funds, and flies in the face of the long tradition of accepting results. Do not take our word for it. Look at the past statements of Secretary Clinton and her lawyer. Further, RNLA agrees with the Obama Administration in its opposition to the recount.  
1. Previously, Secretary Hillary Clinton called the very thought of not accepting the election results “horrifying.” . . . 2. To be clear, there is no doubt about the election results. This is why the Clinton campaign decided previously not to pursue the recount. . . . 3. The Obama Administration also agrees that there is no basis for a recount . . . .
Whatever the fundraising and publicity goals of the Green Party are, Secretary Clinton and her campaign should not approve them.  As her running mate Sen. Kaine said the day after the election, "Nobody — nobody had to wonder about Hillary Clinton, whether she would accept an outcome of an election in our beautiful democracy."

Monday, November 28, 2016

Stein's Recounts Are Not About the Election Results

The current recounts of the presidential election requested or planned by Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party are not about ensuring the integrity of the election outcomes:
RNLA President Larry Levy said: “The cynical and false narrative being pushed by Jill Stein and the Green Party that they are trying to ensure all votes were properly counted is nothing more than an effort to undermine our democracy and proud history of peaceful administration change through contested elections. Ms. Stein doesn’t concern herself with any contests won by Secretary Clinton, including the razor thin margin she enjoyed in New Hampshire, rather she is attempting to disrupt the Electoral College vote for Donald J. Trump in an un-American and vulgar attempt to delegitimize the next President chosen by the American people. And Secretary Clinton’s support for this effort is a disgrace that exposes the hypocrisy she practices.  
“We cannot and will not stand silent in the face of this malicious effort to undermine our democracy. Join the Republican National Lawyers Association and all people of good will in fighting this insidious attack and show the world that democratic elections still count in America.”  
RNLA Board of Governors Member John Ryder further explained: “A recount does not shift more than a few hundred votes unless there are allegations of irregularities or vote fraud. There are no such allegations in this case.”
Dr. Stein has said in multiple interviews that she is not attempting to change the outcome of the election through her recount requests.  But she, with the support of Hillary Clinton, is putting states and election officials through an expensive process in a fool's errand to accomplish a victory through the press that liberals could not accomplish at the polls. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

RNLA Supports Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General

The RNLA released a statement today strongly supporting the selection of Sen. Jeff Sessions as President-elect Trump's nominee for Attorney General
The Attorney General serves as the chief law enforcement official for the federal government, leads the Department of Justice, and represents the United States in important legal matters. It is vital that the Attorney General be both a talented administrator and an excellent lawyer with immense respect for the rule of law. 
Senator Sessions is uniquely qualified to serve as Attorney General. He has served as a U.S. Attorney, as Attorney General of Alabama, and as longtime Senator from Alabama. As Attorney General, Sen. Sessions will re-introduce commitment to the rule of law and equal application of the law to the Department of Justice, which has become highly politicized over the past eight years. His experience in the Senate and in state government gives him a deep understanding of federalism and the separation of powers. 
"Senator Jeff Sessions is a committed conservative, skilled lawyer, and proven leader who will be an outstanding Attorney General of the United States. To underscore President-elect Trump's comments, Senator Sessions has a 'world-class legal mind.' He upholds the Constitution and will faithfully and fairly enforce our laws and ensure a fair and even-handed administration of justice," said Kimberly Reed, Co-Chair of RNLA. 
We applaud President-elect Trump for his excellent selection and look forward to the Department of Justice being led by Attorney General Sessions.

Monday, November 21, 2016

DOJ's Civil Rights Division Actions Since October 15, 2014, May Be Void

Hans von Spakovsky recently published a commentary calling into question the validity of all Vanita Gupta’s official actions. Ms. Gupta is the acting head of the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and apparently has been working in violation of federal law for more than a year and a half. The result—it may render all the official actions Ms. Gupta has taken during her entire tenure, including lawsuits, demand letters, and hires, “void” and of no effect.
Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, when an office that requires Senate confirmation becomes vacant, “the first assistant to the office of such officer shall perform the functions and duties of the office temporarily in an acting capacity subject to the time limitations of section 3346.” The time limitation set by that section is 210 days…. But it also stipulates that if an acting officer violates this time limitation, all actions taken by that individual “shall have no force or effect.”
[Ms. Gupta] was appointed on Oct. 15, 2014, by President Barack Obama “to lead the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.” It describes her as the “chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States.”…The official Justice Department press release from that same day states that Gupta will “serve as principal deputy assistant attorney general and acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division” (emphasis added).
Obama never formally nominated anyone to fill this post after Gupta was appointed. Consequently, Gupta has remained the designated acting assistant attorney general since that designation was made on Oct. 15, 2014. That means her 210 days of being able to hold the acting position expired on May 13, 2015, 18 months ago. 
The bottom line is that the Obama administration appears to have blatantly violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act precisely because it didn’t want to comply with the confirmation requirement for Gupta. It has treated her as the head of the Civil Rights Division from the very first day she was hired and officially named as the acting assistant attorney general.
Hans von Spakovsky concludes by arguing that those groups targeted by Ms. Gupta’s Civil Rights Division might have a valid defense, under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, as a means of avoiding actions rendered against them.