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Friday, August 18, 2017

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday rejected a request by supporters of President-elect Donald Trump to stop a vote recount in Wisconsin, where the Republican won by more than 27,200 votes in the Nov. 8 election, the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper reported on Friday.

Wisconsin is one of three states where Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who finished fourth in the presidential poll, sought recounts. Even if recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were all to go ahead, they would be extremely unlikely to change the outcome of Republican Trump’s win over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Great America political action committee and Stop Hillary PAC had both gone to court last week to halt the recount, which is more than 80 percent complete, the State Journal said.

“The recount is an inherent part of what ensures the integrity of elections,” the newspaper quoted U.S. District Judge James Peterson as saying at Friday’s hearing.

Although Clinton won the national popular vote, by 2.6 million according to the latest count, she lost to Trump in the Electoral College, the 538-person body chosen state-by-state that actually selects the president.

Trump, who won a projected 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232, takes office on Jan. 20. Neither Stein nor Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson won any Electoral College votes.

Federal law requires states to resolve disputes over the appointment of Electoral College voters by Dec. 13.

The three “Rust Belt” states narrowly supported Trump. The New York businessman and former reality TV star who has never previously held public office won by more than 68,000 votes in Pennsylvania and about 11,600 votes in Michigan, according to state figures.

In Pennsylvania, a federal judge was scheduled to hear arguments on Friday to begin a recount. In Michigan on Wednesday, a federal judge halted the recount in its third day by siding with a state appeals court that found Stein did not have grounds to mount the challenge.

Stein asked the Michigan Supreme Court to hear an appeal. She said the recount was aimed at reinforcing the integrity of Michigan’s voting system, while Trump supporters called it a waste of money.

Two justices on Thursday disqualified themselves from the case because Trump had listed them as possible nominees to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, according to court documents.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Grant McCool)

IMAGE: A voter wears a shirt with words from the United States Constitution while casting his ballot early as long lines of voters vote at the San Diego County Elections Office in San Diego, California, U.S., November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake