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Saturday, December 16, 2017

By David DeKok

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) – Green Party candidate Jill Stein late Saturday vowed to bring her fight for a recount of votes cast in Pennsylvania in the U.S. presidential election to federal court, after a state judge ordered her campaign to post a $1 million bond.

“The Stein campaign will continue to fight for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania,” Jonathan Abady, lead counsel to Stein’s recount efforts, said in a statement.

Saying it has become clear that “the state court system is so ill-equipped to address this problem,” the statement said “we must seek federal court intervention.”

The Stein campaign said it will file for emergency relief in the Pennsylvania effort in federal court on Monday, “demanding a statewide recount on constitutional grounds.”

The bond was set by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania a day after representatives of President-elect Donald Trump requested a $10 million bond, according to court papers.

The court gave the petitioners until 5 p.m. local time (2200 GMT) on Monday to post the bond, but said it could modify the amount if shown good cause. Instead, Stein’s campaign withdrew.

“Petitioners are regular citizens of ordinary means. They cannot afford to post the $1,000,000 bond required by the court,” wrote attorney Lawrence Otter, informing the court of the decision to withdraw.

Stein, who garnered about 1 percent of the presidential vote on Nov. 8, has also sought recounts in Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump won narrow victories over Democrat Hillary Clinton in all three states, part of the industrial heartland of the country until manufacturers started leaving for Mexico and other low-wage countries.

Trump and his allies have attempted to stop the initiatives in the states, calling the recount effort a “scam.” Clinton’s campaign has said it would take part in the recounts.

“The judge’s outrageous demand that voters pay such an exorbitant figure is a shameful, unacceptable barrier to democratic participation,” Stein said in a statement. “No voter in America should be forced to pay thousands of dollars to know if her or his vote was counted.”

Stein said she planned to announce “the next step” in the recount effort on Monday at a previously scheduled news conference at Trump Tower in New York City.

She said recounts already under way in some Pennsylvania counties would continue. The state’s election commission had approved recounts in 75 precincts where voters requested one, but refused to allow a full forensic audit of voting machines.

Even if all the recounts were to take place, the overall election outcome would not likely change. The race is decided by the Electoral College, or a tally of wins from the state-by-state contests, rather than by the popular national vote.

Trump surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win, with 306. Recounts would have to flip the result to Clinton in all three states to change the result.

In the popular vote, Clinton had more than 2.5 million votes over Trump, the independent Cook Political Report said.

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Chris Michaud in New York; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Bill Rigby, Tom Brown and Nick Macfie)

IMAGE: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks at a campaign rally in Chicago, September 8, 2016.   REUTERS/Jim Young