Election 2017

Philadelphia judge won’t let Jill Stein forensically examine voting machines

“There is absolutely no evidence of any voting irregularities,” the judge wrote.

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

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

Kelly Jordan-USA TODAY Sports

Updated at 2 pm

Jill Stein’s Pennsylvania recount attempt continues to sputter, with a Wednesday ruling from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas denying her request to have the city’s electronic voting machines examined.

The request to forensically study the machines was considered by her lawyers to be one of the best ways to determine the validity of the votes, and they had previously said they thought they had a chance in court. The city’s Election Board had already refused to let Stein’s computer experts examine the machines.

Judge Abbe F. Fletman wrote in her decision that Stein basically missed her chance to examine the machines. Stein and any other candidate legally had the opportunity to monitor tests of the machines administered by the Election Board the before, during and after the election, she wrote, and could have even made independent tests during the election process provided the testing didn’t interfere with the tabulation of votes. She noted Stein and her associates did not make clear whether they took advantage of these opportunities, and wrote that state law doesn’t allow for more independent testing as requested by Stein.

“This is especially true when, as in this case, there is absolutely no evidence of any voting irregularities,” Fletman wrote. “To the contrary, the elected and appointed officials charged with safeguarding our voting system uniformly maintain its integrity.”

This court action was slightly different from the recount that already took place in Philadelphia. Over the weekend, the city recounted electronic votes and paper ballots from 75 of Philadelphia’s 1600-plus voting districts. Hillary Clinton ended up with five more votes from paper ballots that were not detected by an optical scanning system, and City Commissioner Al Schmidt said the recount turned up no evidence of possible hacking or fraud.

“The court’s decision will deny voters the chance to know the truth about this election,” Stein lawyer Ilann Maazel said in a statement. “The only way we’ll know if this was a secure and accurate election is if we’re able to do a full forensic analysis of these machines, which experts testify are easily hacked, have been hacked by college students in a lab setting, and are banned in California and other states. The federal courts will now have a chance to do right by the people of Pennsylvania and order such an analysis.”

For now, Stein still has another course to continue pushing for a recount: the federal courts. A hearing has been scheduled for a judge to hear her arguments Friday in Philadelphia.       

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