House OKs recounts only if candidates have chance to win

By David Eggert
Associated Press

LANSING (AP) — Political candidates could ask for a recount only if they have a reasonable chance of winning under legislation approved by the state House in response to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's recount bid last year.

The bill was passed 98-10 last week with bipartisan support in the GOP-led chamber and was sent to the Senate.

It would define who is considered an “aggrieved” candidate eligible to ask for a recount of ballots. It would codify a state appeals court ruling, which ultimately led to Stein’s recount being halted.

Under the measure, a candidate would be required to be able to allege a good-faith belief that he or she “would have had a reasonable chance of winning the election” but for fraud or mistake.

Stein sought the recount despite winning one percent of the vote.

She questioned the accuracy of the vote and suggested that votes were susceptible to hacking.

Sein also mounted recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, other states where Republican Donald Trump narrowly defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The House vote was the second time this year that legislators have sought to prevent a repeat of a Stein-like recount.

A bill approved by the Republican-controlled Senate, which is pending in the House, would double a losing candidate’s fees to recount votes if he or she is down by more than five percentage points.

House Elections and Ethics Committee Chairman Aaron Miller, a Sturgis Republican, said the bill approved Wednesday is a “common-sense reform”" and he expects both measures to eventually be enacted.

The sponsor of the House legislation, Republican Rep. Jim Lilly of Ottawa County’s Park Township, said it would eliminate “ambiguity” in the law that let Stein “obstruct the election process and cause an expensive legal battle.”

Stein initially paid $973,000 and was reimbursed $632,000 because a full recount did not occur. Counties that participated in the recount received Stein’s $341,000, while state costs were not reimbursed.