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Montco judge shuts down presidential vote recounts

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's move to to recount the presidential vote in 78 of Montgomery County's precincts has been blocked bu a county judge. (D. Ross Cameron/AP Photo)

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's move to to recount the presidential vote in 78 of Montgomery County's precincts has been blocked bu a county judge. (D. Ross Cameron/AP Photo)

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Bernard Moore yesterday rejected the plea of Green Party candidate Jill Stein to recount the presidential vote in 78 of the county’s precincts.

It was perhaps the first chance for Stein’s lawyers to make the argument in a Pennsylvania court that voting machines are vulnerable to hacking — and the surprising results of the election suggests a recount and forensic exam of voting equipment are in order.

“We know this was an election process that was subject to foreign interference,” Stein campaign attorney Ilann Maazel argued in court. “We also know that hackers infiltrated voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois, and they stole voter data in those states.”

Republican Party of Pennsylvania general counsel Lawrence Tabas countered that the Stein claim is fanciful, and that the hundreds of petitions filed by voters for recounts in their home precincts were legally flawed.

In Montgomery County, Tabas and county solicitor Nicole Forzato argued, the petitioners failed to pay the required $50 fee, making them invalid.

In fact, the petitioners paid much large filing fees, because the county election board officials told them their petitions had to be filed in court, where the prothonotary fee is $250.

The Stein petitions presented no specific evidence that vote tallies were wrong, or that any cyber-hacking occurred. Its pleading made the case that it’s plausible, and the only way to know for sure is to order a recount and forensic examination of voting machines and tabulating equipment.

Moore dismissed the petitions without explanation, and Tabas mocked the Stein campaign’s case afterward in an exchange with reporters.

“It absolutely a ‘Twilight Zone’ argument to say that because the pre-election day polls didn’t match up with the result that a possible explanation is some foreign government hacking the machines,” Tabas said.

The ruling was a setback but not fatal blow to the Stein effort.

There may be recounts in other counties, and a hearing on a statewide recount is set for Monday in Harrisburg.

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