The US is heading towards the potential drama of an election recount in Wisconsin after Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Saturday joined a process initiated by a third-party presidential candidate.
Donald Trump won Wisconsin by about 27,000 votes and Mrs Clinton’s campaign lawyer, Mark Elias, said she would join recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania if they were initiated too. But he said he did not expect Mr Trump’s victory to be overturned.
The Obama administration separately sought to play down questions about the legitimacy of the results.
If Mrs Clinton had won the three rust belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania she would have defeated Mr Trump by 278-260 in the electoral college. Instead he won by 290-232 with the Michigan result still not officially called.
The push for a Wisconsin recount has been bankrolled by Jill Stein, the Green party candidate, although Mrs Clinton has come under pressure from some supporters to challenge the results with her margin of victory over Mr Trump in the popular vote rising above 2m.
On Saturday Mr Elias, the Democrat’s campaign lawyer, said: “Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides.”
Writing on the website Medium.com, he added: “We do so fully aware 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.
“But regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself.”
A senior Obama administration official said: “The federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day. As we have noted before, we remained confident in the overall integrity of electoral infrastructure, a confidence that was borne out on election day. As a result, we believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”
During the campaign the Obama administration accused Russia of deploying hackers to interfere with the election process and Mr Trump repeatedly warned that the election was being “rigged”.
Ms Stein officially filed her recount request in Wisconsin on Friday afternoon. The state’s election commission said it has until December 13 to complete the recount of more than 2.9m votes.
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