Green Party’s Jill Stein files recount request in Wisconsin

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(AP) — Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein on Friday formally requested a recount of election results in Wisconsin.

President-elect Donald Trump narrowly won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in the initial count and has a small lead in Michigan. Stein has said she plans to request recounts in the three states — all reliably Democratic in recent presidential elections — to see whether hacking may have taken place, though there’s no evidence voter results were hacked or electronic voting machines were compromised.

Wisconsin Election Commission officials don’t believe the state has ever conducted a presidential recount. They estimate the process could cost as much as $1 million, which Stein’s campaign will have to cover.

Stein’s campaign has been raising money through online appeals since Tuesday to cover the cost of recounts, with $5.2 million raised as of Friday afternoon.

Wisconsin’s unofficial election results show Trump with 1,404,000 votes, Hillary Clinton with 1,381,823 votes and Stein with 31,000 votes. Wisconsin officials have already announced a limited audit of state voting machines, but the state is less vulnerable to cyber attacks because it uses electronic machines with voter-verifiable paper trails in most counties.

“There’s no smoking gun here, but we’re saying the American public needs to have it investigated to make sure our votes count,” said George Martin, a member of the Wisconsin Green Party’s coordinating council. “We’re doing this to ensure the integrity of our system.”

Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas said Stein’s campaign filed the request Friday afternoon, ahead of the state’s 5 p.m. Friday deadline. Under state law, the state must comply with candidates’ recount requests if the candidates can present a basis for one and cover the cost if the margin between the candidates is more than .25 percent of the total votes cast.

Haas said the recount would likely begin next week and include a rigorous examination of all ballots, poll lists, absentee applications, rejected absentee ballots and provisional ballots. Federal deadlines require the state to complete the recount by Dec. 13, he said.

Wisconsin Republican Party Executive Director Mark Morgan issued a statement calling the recount request “absurd and nothing more than an expensive political stunt that undermines Wisconsin’s election process.”

Martin said Republicans’ response was expected and emphasized that the recount was about determining whether the system was secure, not who won or lost the fight for Wisconsin’s 10 electoral college votes. During a news conference in Milwaukee, Martin said Stein’s campaign would also ask for a “reconciliation” of voting records that would go beyond an audit, but he didn’t provide details.

Ross Hein, elections supervisor for the state commission, sent a memo to county clerks on Wednesday telling them to expect a recount. He said the process could be frustrating after a labor-intensive election season but that Stein was entitled to a recount under state law.

Independent presidential candidate Rocky De La Fuente also filed a recount request in Wisconsin on Friday. He got only 1,514 votes in Wisconsin.

The deadline for requesting a recount in Pennsylvania is Monday. Michigan’s deadline is Wednesday.

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