Michigan Republican Party leaders warned Tuesday a massive and costly statewide recount of the presidential election could drag on for weeks and cost the state its final say in who occupies the White House next year. Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s recount request, expected to be filed Wednesday afternoon, will trigger a hurried sprint to meet a Dec. 13 federal deadline for Michigan to declare a final winner in the presidential contest, GOP officials said. “If we don’t have this process over by Dec. 13, we certainly jeopardize Michigan’s electors and risk disenfranchising all of Michigan’s voters from the election,” said Eric Doster, general counsel for the Michigan Republican Party. State election officials say their reading of 19th century federal law shows the state has to finalize the election results six days before the Dec. 19 meeting of the Electoral College, when each state’s electors cast the final vote for president. Michigan gets 16 electors who are supposed to cast their votes in the state Senate’s chamber.
Mark Brewer, a Southfield attorney representing Stein, said it’s not clear the Dec. 13 date is a “hard deadline,” though he said the recount can be completed by then if it starts Friday without any interruptions. Brewer called the GOP’s warnings of mass voter disenfranchisement “wild speculation.” “There is no basis for any of that,” said Brewer, a former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party.
In the 2000 election, the U.S. Supreme Court halted the Florida recount in part because the Sunshine State had run into that year’s Dec. 12 deadline to finalize its vote. In the court’s 5-4 decision, the justices also ruled that a Florida Supreme Court recount order of ballots cast but not counted by voting machines was unconstitutional because it granted more protection to some ballots than to others.