The Green party candidate Jill Stein has broadened her push for election recounts to Pennsylvania even as a senior electoral official in Wisconsin said he did not expect that state’s recount to overturn Donald Trump’s win.
Ms Stein has become the main force behind a drive for recounts in rust belt states that helped Mr Trump win the White House — an effort Hillary Clinton’s campaign has joined in Wisconsin, while saying it does not expect it to change the election’s outcome.
On Monday, the Green party candidate’s campaign manager said that she was taking legal steps to initiate a recount in Pennsylvania, according to US media, three days after she successfully initiated a recount in Wisconsin.
A few hours earlier, the head of Wisconsin’s election commission played down expectations that the recount of the state’s presidential vote would deny US president-elect Trump his victory there.
But Mark Thomsen, the Democrat who chairs the Wisconsin Elections Commission, also criticised Mr Trump for tweeting on Sunday that he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”.
He said at a press conference that the recount may alter Mr Trump’s margin of victory in Wisconsin, which currently stands at 22,177. “But I don’t doubt that the president-elect is going to win that vote.”
With other Wisconsin officials dismissing suggestions that voting equipment had been tampered with, Mr Thomsen said: “We’re going to look back when this recount is completed and find the system worked well.”
He added: “I think it is most unfortunate that the president-elect is claiming there are huge problems with our system, and that is feeding [these] conspiracy theories.
“To say people are counting illegal votes, from my vantage point, is an insult to the people running our elections . . . We’re going to play this out and I’m confident the president-elect is going to win.”
In Pennsylvania, the Stein campaign filed a legal petition that it said would allow it to pursue a full statewide recount if recounts at precinct level uncovered irregularities or voter tampering.
At the weekend, Mark Elias, Mrs Clinton’s campaign lawyer, said that the Democrat would participate in recounts if they were initiated by others to ensure “the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides”.
But he said that he did not expect Mr Trump’s victory to be overturned, noting “that the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states, Michigan, well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount”.
Officials in Michigan concluded on Monday that Mr Trump had won the state and its 16 electoral votes by just over 10,000 of the nearly 4.8m ballots cast.
Michigan was the last state to announce the results of the election, nearly three weeks after the vote, and took Mr Trump’s electoral college tally to 306 votes, to Mrs Clinton’s 232.
The Obama administration has sought to play down questions about the legitimacy of the election results.
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