Pennsylvania appears increasingly unlikely to have a statewide recount of its votes, diminishing the last long-shot hope by opponents of Donald Trump that a review of the ballots could overturn his election as president.
In a filing Saturday, a lawyer for Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate who initiated the recount bid in Pennsylvania — as well as similar bids in Michigan and Wisconsin — said “petitioners are regular citizens of ordinary means” and could not afford a $1 million bond payment that was ordered by Pennsylvania courts.
A lawyer for Stein’s recount campaign indicated Saturday night that they were not giving up in Pennsylvania and planned to request that the federal courts on Monday intervene to order a statewide recount.
Lawyers for Pennsylvania Republicans and Trump had asked a judge Thursday to dismiss Stein’s request, saying she had not identified any fraud or illegal activity during the Nov. 8 election.
Lawrence Tabas, general counsel of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, said Saturday that the withdrawal served as “recognition” that the Stein-led effort was “completely without merit” and that the decision to drop the case “assures that President-elect Trump will be declared the winner by the Electoral College,” which meets Dec. 19.
Earlier, Stein had criticized the $1 million bond needed to proceed with a recount.
“Thisis yet another sign that Pennsylvania’s antiquated election law is stacked against voters,” Stein said. “We will pursue every available remedy to ensure Pennsylvanians can trust what happened in this election.”
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, trails Trump by 49,543 votes in the state, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of State. As voting results were updated this week, Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania had shrunk by about 20,000 votes. Clinton would have needed to be declared the winner in all three recount states to overturn the Electoral College result.
While the statewide effort was withdrawn, a related campaign to recount votes in targeted precincts in places like Philadelphia is continuing, but it would fall far short of the statewide recount Stein had sought.
Stein has gained more traction pushing for recounts in the other two battleground states where Trump leads by narrow margins.
Elections officials in Wisconsin on Thursday began the task of recounting about 3 million votes across the state, while continuing to face legal challenges from Trump backers.
A recount is also pending in Michigan, amid a flurry of litigation, including opposition from the state’s attorney general and Trump, as well as a federal lawsuit from the Stein campaign. The review of the votes there could begin as early as Tuesday.
Stein is funding the recount bids, having collected $6.9 million as of Saturday evening. Opponents, though, are concerned that local governments, particularly in Michigan, will end up shouldering millions of dollars in costs.
Clinton’s campaign has played a muted role in the efforts, only passively participating and paying for lawyers to be present during recounts.