Jill Stein recount charade is over. Fini. Kaput.
A federal judge has put the final nail in the Jill Stein recount campaign, denying Stein's motion for a court-ordered recount in Pennsylvania, citing, among other things, the "judicial fire drill" that ensued after Stein "inexcusably waited well past the eleventh hour" in her legal filings.
Judge Paul Diamond, a 2004 George W. Bush appointee, emphasizes in his 31-page opinion, which thoroughly dissects the Stein recount case, the consequential nature of the charges brought by Dr. Stein:
There can be no more serious challenge to an election than the suggestion that the votes cast were dishonestly recorded. Yet, "Plaintiffs have not made out even the possibility – much less the likelihood" – that any vote tampering occurred in Pennsylvania during the 2016 election.
The Stein recount group initially sought a complete count of all paper ballots and a "forensic examination" of a sample of voting machines, but during last Friday's hearing before the judge, their demands were scaled down to:
... a hand recount of all paper ballots of one precinct in each of the seventeen paper-ballot Counties and a forensic review of the election management systems of six Counties, including Philadelphia.
In his opinion, the judge holds that Stein lacks "standing" to file suit and notes further that "the only relevant fact unknown to Plaintiffs before the election was its outcome."
In denying the mandatory recount motion, the judge concludes:
Dr. Stein has repeatedly stated that she has sought a Pennsylvania recount to ensure that every vote counts. Granting her later than last minute request for relief, however, could well ensure that no Pennsylvania vote counts. Such a result would be both outrageous and completely unnecessary; as I have found, suspicion of a "hacked" Pennsylvania election borders on the irrational.
In a telling comment regarding the state's argument that the Stein campaign does not have standing, the judge observes of Stein:
Remarkably, Plaintiffs did not respond. Even though Dr. Stein was present and could have testified as to why she is an aggrieved party with standing to seek a recount, she was not called.
In a further indication of amateur-hour legal work, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the judge says a Stein expert witness "knew virtually nothing" about the state's electoral practices and procedures.
The end of the statewide Pennsylvania recount (a handful of county- and precinct-level recounts are still pending), and the certification of the vote, follows the decision of the Michigan State Supreme Court last Friday to deny an appeal of an earlier court ruling that ended the Michigan recount last week.
In a sequence of state and federal court rulings last week, a Michigan state court had "found Stein had no legal standing to request the recount."
Michigan's high court on Friday ruled 3-2 against the Stein recount appeal, meaning that:
... [t]he Michigan Secretary of State said Friday that because the recount was halted before it was finished, the results certified on Nov. 28 stand.
Stein was required to pony up $973,000 for the Michigan recount, based on a formula in Michigan law, but the Michigan secretary of state "has said the actual cost could be $2 million or more." How that shakes out financially, now that the recount has been stopped, remains to be seen.
Michigan legislators have moved forward with the one way to stop interlopers like Jill Stein from usurping legitimate recount laws and procedures.
Jill Stein could be on the hook for millions of dollars to cover the cost of a Michigan election recount if a Republican-sponsored bill is enacted into law.
HB 6097 would require candidates more than 5 percent of the vote behind the winner to pay the entire actual cost of a statewide recount, and it would be retroactive to the beginning of 2016.
The bill was passed out of a Michigan House committee last week, with the bill's sponsor commenting:
This legislation would protect taxpayers from frivolous recounts. Candidates should have the right to ask for a recount, but they should have the responsibility to pay for it, especially if the outcome is unlikely to change.
In Wisconsin, where Stein paid $3.5 million in advance to start the process, the recount was finished and the vote certified on Monday:
The numbers barely budged in Wisconsin after nearly 3 million votes were recounted. Trump picked up a net 131 votes and the final results changed just 0.06 percent.
Wisconsin Republican governor Scott Walker said the recount shows that it is "very clear the vote was legitimate." The governor added that "the recount placed a burden on local election clerks who were busy with other year-end duties."
With a Tuesday deadline looming for states to certify their votes in advance of the December 19 electoral college vote, the Jill Stein recount charade is finally over.
Dr. Stein clothed her self-centered recount in platitudes like "election integrity" and "representation for all," meanwhile fleecing vulnerable Democratic voters reeling from a devastating loss.
Stein walks away with a substantial fundraising stash, a valuable mailing list, and likely an IOU for carrying Hillary Clinton's water on the recount.
The rest of us walk away from Dr. Stein's mockery of electoral fairness with a disconcerting sense that a fringe candidate has gamed the system to no good end.
As for the recount charade itself, a variation on T.S. Elliot's words comes to mind:
This is the way the recount ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.