Election 2017

Jill Stein files lawsuit to recount Pennsylvania votes

The suit is on behalf of at least 100 state voters.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein speaks at a rally with Bernie Sanders supporters during the 2016 Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Arena.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein speaks at a rally with Bernie Sanders supporters during the 2016 Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Arena.

Kelly Jordan-USA TODAY Sports

Jill Stein’s attempt for a Pennsylvania recount is on.

Her lawyer, Lawrence Otter of Bucks County, filed a lawsuit in Harrisburg’s Commonwealth Court at 3 p.m. asking for a full recount of every Pennsylvania county. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of at least 100 state voters who believe “that there is a legitimate and good faith basis to contest the Presidential Election in the Commonwealth.”

The filing doesn’t mean a recount will happen in Pennsylvania, but rather that a court will consider it. That’s different from Wisconsin, where Stein filed for a recount and one will take place. Her campaign says it also plans to file for a recount in Michigan. President-elect Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in all three states.

Stein’s lawyer listed several reasons for the need to contest the election: the findings of data scientist Alex Halderman, the DNC hacks, alleged hacks in Illinois and Arizona and discontinuity between pre-election polls and the results. The voters who are part of the lawsuit stated they also want a recount to determine whether any hacking of Pennsylvania’s electronic voting machines took place. 

The filing is likely the last chance for a full, statewide recount in Pennsylvania. In the Keystone State, recounts can occur three ways. The first is a mandatory recount initiated by the Secretary of State that goes into effect if a candidate wins election by 0.5 percent of the vote or less. That isn’t the case here, as Trump bested Clinton in Pennsylvania by more than a full percentage point.

The second way the state allows for a recount to occur is through a voter-initiated effort, which Stein’s campaign has raised millions of dollars to support. In Pennsylvania, three voters per precinct must sign and file a notarized petition asking for a recount in their precinct. As of about noon today, the Board of Elections in Philadelphia was expecting to receive petitions to recount about 50 of the 1,686 voting divisions in Philadelphia. Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, saw similar results today, organizers told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. County officials were unable to provide an estimate.

Wanda Murren, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, said in a statement Monday afternoon that the state is “working to gather information from the 67 counties regarding their progress in certifying election returns.” She said some counties have already certified their elections, therefore closing the five-day window to petition at the county level for a recount.

The Department of State is aware of petitions for a recount being filed in Berks, Bucks, Centre, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, but isn’t aware of how many were filed in each county.

The third way a recount can occur is if a candidate files in court and can present evidence showing there’s a probability of widespread voter fraud in the state — enough that the court would deem the state’s election results compromised. That appears to be the route Stein is taking now.

Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason released a statement at about 4:30 p.m., calling the lawsuit “totally and completely without any merit.”

“This desperate act by Jill Stein and those supporting her is a sad commentary on the failure of some to accept the results of the will of the people as reflected by their votes,” he said in the statement.

Want some more? Explore other Election 2017 stories.

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