Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her supporters have filed a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania claiming the state’s “national disgrace” of a voting system violates the constitutional rights of citizens. The remedy they’re seeking? A full statewide recount of the votes cast in the presidential election.
“We want to make sure every single vote in Pennsylvania is counted and is counted accurately,” Ilann Maazel, Stein’s New York attorney, said this morning during a press conference. “This is a state where the majority of voters are forced to vote with DRE machines. DRE machines are easier to hack than an iPhone.”
There is no evidence any of Pennsylvania’s voting machines were hacked.
Still, lawyers for Stein say the state’s voting process and the process to request a recount violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. It also claims the process violates the First Amendment as it “fail[s] to ensure the right to vote for all citizens.”
The campaign is seeking a forensic analysis of the state’s direct-recording electronic (or DRE) voting machines, as well as a hand recount of the paper ballots saved from about a third of the voting machines in the state. State officials say the DRE machines, which don’t have a paper trail, are secure and aren’t individually connected to the internet. Maazel contended “it’s not difficult actually to hack a machine that is not connected to the internet.”
“All of these machines have cartridges that came from a central computer system that is connected to the internet,” he said. “So of course those machines can be hacked.”
Officials in Philadelphia denied the Stein campaign’s request for a forensic analysis of the machines in the city, and the campaign has appealed that decision in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
In the lawsuit filed against the Pennsylvania Department of State, Stein’s attorneys wrote: “Voters are forced to use vulnerable, hackable, antiquated technology banned in other states, then rely on the kindness of machines. There is no paper trail. Voting machines are electoral black sites: no one permits voters or candidates to examine them.”
The federal lawsuit comes after Stein dropped her court case in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court after the judge ordered her campaign post a $1 million to cover costs — even though her campaign crowdfunded more than $7 million. That was before a scheduled hearing took place, and Stein’s attorneys dropped the lawsuit saying they couldn’t afford to post the cash.
Pennsylvania is one of three states in which Stein’s attempting a recount, though its process is likely the most complicated. A recount in Michigan begins today at noon, while the recount process in Wisconsin is still working its way through. All three states were narrowly won by President-elect Donald Trump, who took Pennsylvania by about 46,000 votes. Stein and her supporters are holding a rally outside Trump Tower this morning in Manhattan.
Stein was able to file for a recount in both Michigan and Wisconsin, but in Pennsylvania, candidates aren’t allowed to just file for a recount. Voters must file for recounts at the precinct level — which hundreds did — or a candidate must file a lawsuit in court and show probable cause of widespread voter fraud to be granted a full, statewide recount. If those smaller recounts yield anything that appears to be voter fraud, the Stein campaign could theoretically use it as evidence in their case.
In their original lawsuit, Stein’s campaign contended the elections process in Pennsylvania could have been compromised as two-thirds of the voting machines in the state are touch-screen DRE’s that they say are susceptible to hacking. However, Stein has admitted there’s no evidence that actually occurred.
They filed a state lawsuit based on several issues, including the findings of data scientist Alex Halderman, the hacks into internal DNC communications, alleged attempted hacks in Illinois and Arizona and the fact that pre-election polls differed from the results.
The Pennsylvania Republican party and the Trump campaign both opposed Stein’s state lawsuit, writing in a filing asking for dismissal that Stein’s campaign failed to prove that the elections process in Pennsylvania was compromised in any way. Maazel accused Trump and the GOP of trying to stop the Green Party from “getting to the truth.”
“The Republican party in Pennsylvania has done everything possible to prevent voters from getting to the truth,” he said, “and that’s wrong.”
The only way a statewide recount could take place other than Stein winning her lawsuit would be if the race were even closer. In Pennsylvania, votes must be recounted in races with margins less than 0.5 percent. A 0.5 percent margin in Pennsylvania this year would have been about 30,000 votes. Trump’s 46,000-vote win put him about 0.8 percent above Clinton.
Here’s the full federal lawsuit filed by Stein’s campaign: