Wisconsin’s county clerks will be allowed to finish their recount of votes cast in the presidential election last month.
A federal judge in Madison on Friday rejected a request by supporters of Republican President-elect Donald Trump to halt the recount, which began last week.
The lawsuit, filed by two Political Action Committees and a Trump voter, argued the time frame for completing the recount before a federal deadline was too short and could put Wisconsin’s electoral votes in peril. The state must certify its election results by December 13 to remain under a federal safe harbor provision, which guarantees its electoral votes will be honored.
After hearing arguments for less than 20 minutes on Friday though, U.S. District Judge James Peterson bluntly said he was not convinced there was any evidence that would allow him to block the recount, and referred to equal protection arguments made by the PACs as “dead on arrival.”
Peterson also noted that there’s virtually no chance the results of the recount are likely to change the outcome of the election for Trump, who won the state by a margin of about 22,000 votes. The recount so far has only narrowed the gap between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton by a few dozen votes.
Clerks now faced a deadline for completing their recounts by 8 p.m. on Monday night. More than half of the counties in the state have already finished, and Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Mike Haas said only about 13 percent of the nearly three million votes cast in the state last month remain to be recounted.
An attorney for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who requested and paid for the recount, said they were pleased with the ruling. Attorney Debbie Greenberger said the recount is important to Democracy and the integrity of the election results.
An attorney for those challenging the recount said a decision on whether to appeal has not been made.