By Julia Harte and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump’s transition team on Monday pushed back against an effort to recount Nov. 8’s presidential election votes, calling the effort “nonsense,” but offering no evidence to back a weekend Trump tweet alleging millions of illegal votes.
With the clock winding down for voters and candidates to seek recounts in states across the country, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein requested a recount in Pennsylvania on Monday just hours before the state’s deadline.
Filing in Pennsylvania three days after she filed a similar request in Wisconsin, Stein’s campaign said she would file a similar request in Michigan by its deadline on Wednesday.
Following Trump’s stunning victory in the presidential contest, talk of recounts has swirled, with the Republican president-elect adding a surprise twist to the discussion.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that “serious voter fraud” occurred in California, New Hampshire, and Virginia, states won by his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
All three states rejected Trump’s claim.
The White House said on Monday there has been no evidence of widespread election fraud in the presidential contest.
Still, Wisconsin officials on Monday prepared to launch a recount of the state’s more than 25 million votes, following Stein’s request last week, a move that was joined by Clinton’s lawyers.
“If nothing else, this will give us a very good audit,” Mark Thomsen, the chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said on Monday. “It’s going to reassure Wisconsin voters that we have a fair system, that we’re not counting illegal votes.”
A statement on the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s website said the recount was scheduled to begin on Thursday and had to be completed by Dec. 13.
Stein’s campaign has raised the money needed to pay filing fees for recount requests in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. But she still aims to raise $800,000 more to cover fees for attorneys and other personnel needed to oversee the recount, said an official with her campaign.
The official said any funds left over would be disbursed according to Federal Elections Commission guidelines.
California voters still could request recounts there. But the deadline for requesting a recount in New Hampshire has already passed and the margin of victory in Virginia was larger than what is necessary for a recount to occur, according to election officials in those states.
New Hampshire’s deputy secretary of state, David Scanlan, said there was no evidence supporting Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud. “Voter fraud does occur, but it occurs in isolated instances,” he said.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla called Trump’s allegations unsubstantiated and Virginia Commissioner of Elections Edgardo Cortes said they were unfounded.
(Additional reporting Emily Stephenson; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis)