Partial recount set for Philadelphia presidential vote

Workers prepare voting machines at the Office of the  City Commissioner's warehouse the day before the recount of votes in 75 precincts was set to begin. (Brad Larrison for WHYY)

Workers prepare voting machines at the Office of the City Commissioner's warehouse the day before the recount of votes in 75 precincts was set to begin. (Brad Larrison for WHYY)

Election officials in Philadelphia will conduct a recount Friday of the presidential vote in 75 of the city’s 1,686 precincts, in response to petitions filed by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

But at a hearing Thursday morning, the city’s election board turned down the Stein campaign’s request to open up voting machines and look for digital evidence of hacking.

Philadelphia is one of several Pennsylvania counties where partial recounts are happening, the result of precinct-level recount petitions from several hundred voters recruited by the Stein campaign.

The city plans to recheck the tallies from Philadelphia voting machines in those 75 precincts.

But Stein campaign lawyer IIann Maazel argued that the campaign has a right to examine the machines, and getting inside them and their software is the only way to tell if there was vote tampering.

“If a doctor saw a patient and said, ‘Oh, you look fine, the examination’s over,’ that would be medical malpractice,” Maazel told the election board. “And for us to simply stand there and watch a re-canvassing would be election malpractice.”

Lawrence Tabas, general counsel for the Pennsylvania Republican Party, opposed a recount of any kind, saying the recount petitions were legally flawed.

The city election board ruled the re-canvass of votes will go forward, but that there’s no legal basis for the digital analysis the Stein campaign wants.

The parties will be in court Monday in Harrisburg on the Stein campaign’s formal contest of the outcome of the presidential election result.

Campaign attorneys will make the same argument that hacking could have altered the result of the election, and that a forensic examination of voting systems is the only way to tell for certain.

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