Election 2017

The Philly recount is done, and it didn’t help Hillary much at all

Jill Stein, who asked followers to petition for the recount, got no new votes.

Pennsylvania voting machine and 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

Pennsylvania voting machine and 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The great Philadelphia recount has ended, and Hillary Clinton got five more votes than she had in her previous total.

Donald Trump’s number stayed the same, as did the totals for Independent candidate Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein after the City Commissioners Office recounted votes in 75 of Philadelphia’s more than 1600 voting divisions. The recount had been launched by 250-plus Philadelphia residents answering the call of Stein, who asked for three petitioners in each of Pennsylvania’s voting district to file recounts to assist in her attempts to get a statewide recount through a Commonwealth Court and then Federal Court lawsuit.

Stein’s camp had planned on using the district-level recounts as possible evidence for hacking or fraud. The recount turned up no instances of fraud or hacking here, City Commissioner Al Schmidt said, emphasizing the difficulty of hacking voting machines that aren’t connected to the internet.  

“We have very primitive voting machines here,” he said. “Our voting system is only vulnerable to individual cases of voting fraud, as we’ve seen. Whenever it does occur it would be someone going in and voting for somebody else or an election board manually adding votes, which is an entirely different thing than hacking.”

The five extra votes for Clinton, he said, came from paper provisional or absentee ballots that were undetected by the optical scanner that counted votes in the days following the election. Schmidt said this can happen when people don’t mark their choices clearly on paper ballots or, ridiculous as it sounds, use a green highlighter instead of a pen or pencil.

“People do ridiculous things,” he said, “all the time.”

The markings that went undetected by the optical scanner were picked up by the manual recount.

The recount began Friday, first with the electronic machines. Representatives from the Green Party and the Democrats and Republicans were present. The City Commissioners Office did a recount of the paper ballots Sunday, and that’s when Clinton picked up the additional five votes. A recount had also been requested for the Pat Toomey-Katie McGinty Senate race. McGinty ended up with four more votes than previously and Toomey with one more. Some other Democratic candidates received one more vote   

Most of the 75 districts were in Center City or the Greater Center City areas, which even for Philadelphia standards are overwhelmingly Democratic.

Stein’s federal lawsuit was filed this morning. Unless she prevails at that level and a statewide recount is enacted, Philadelphia is done totaling votes for the 2016 Presidential election.   

“The law provides for it,” Schmidt said of the local recount. “And it’s our job to do what the law provides regardless of its merits.”

Want some more? Explore other Election 2017 stories.

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