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US judge rejects Jill Stein bid for Pennsylvania recount

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - 07:21

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The recount effort by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in three crucial US states neared an end on Monday, after weeks of legal wrangling yielded only one electoral review in Wisconsin.

[NEW YORK] The recount effort by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in three crucial US states neared an end on Monday, after weeks of legal wrangling yielded only one electoral review in Wisconsin.

A US judge in Pennsylvania rejected Ms Stein's request for a recount and an examination of that state's voting machines for evidence of hacking in the Nov 8 election won by Republican Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin election officials said on Monday they had completed their recount. The full numbers were expected to be available within hours, though it appeared they would largely affirm the election's results.

Ms Stein, who finished fourth in the election, challenged the results in those two states as well as Michigan, where the state's top court on Friday denied Ms Stein's last-ditch appeal to keep a recount going. All of those traditionally Democratic strongholds supported Mr Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

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Even if all three recounts had taken place, they were always unlikely to change the outcome.

Ms Stein argued that the use in many Pennsylvania districts of electronic voting machines with no paper trail left the system vulnerable to hacking.

In a 31-page opinion, US District Judge Paul Diamond in Philadelphia said it "borders on the irrational" to suspect hacking occurred in Pennsylvania. He also emphasised that the deadline to certify the state's electoral votes is Tuesday, making it impossible to hold a recount in time.

While there is no evidence of large-scale voting machine hacking, US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia targeted Mrs Clinton in a series of cyberattacks on Democratic Party groups. Mr Trump has questioned those reports.

In response to Mr Diamond's ruling, Ms Stein said in a statement that Pennsylvanians' right to have their votes counted had been "stripped from right under them." As of Monday morning, the Wisconsin recount was 95 per cent complete and had narrowed Mr Trump's lead over Mrs Clinton by only 25 votes.

Mr Trump won Wisconsin by more than 22,000 votes, Pennsylvania by more than 44,000 votes and Michigan by more than 10,000 votes, according to the latest figures.

Despite winning the national popular vote by more than 2 per cent, Mrs Clinton would have had to sweep those states to win the presidency under the US Electoral College system, which assigns electoral votes state-by-state rather than by overall national totals.

REUTERS

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