The campaign of Green Party candidate Jill Stein went to federal court in Philadelphia Monday, asking for a recount of Pennsylvania’s presidential vote and a forensic exam of the state’s electronic voting systems.
The campaign sought the same thing in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court before withdrawing that case, but its argument in federal court is somewhat different.
The filing says Pennsylvania voting system is “a national disgrace,” and that the methods available to voters seeking a recount “are labyrinthine, incomprehensible, and impossibly burdensome.”
The complaint notes in some detail that other states permit a candidate to seek a recount, but that Pennsylvania requires voters to ask for it — and, in some cases, they face confusing deadlines that aren’t even public.
The filing says the state’s procedures violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution because Pennsylvanians have less ability to ensure their votes count than residents of other states.
The federal complaint also includes the core argument in the state filings: that the state’s voting machines are outdated and vulnerable to hacking, and that there’s demonstrated evidence of foreign interference in the presidential election in the form of hacking of two state voter databases and the emails of the Democratic National Committee.
Joining the Stein legal team for this filing is veteran Philadelphia election lawyer Gregory Harvey, who just a week ago said he thought the Stein recount effort in Pennsylvania had no chance and was likely intended to bring attention to the Green Party.
Harvey told me he’d become convinced in a series of meetings and phone calls that the problems with Pennsylvania’s voting machines are real, and that Stein’s intentions are sincere.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch
While the statewide recount plea is considered in federal court, recounts and legal skirmishes continue in many counties where the Stein campaign recruited individual voters to petition for recounts in their home precincts.
A recount of machines and ballots in 75 Philadelphia precincts was undertaken, but the city board of elections turned down the campaign’s plea for a forensic audit of voting machines to look for evidence of hacking.
The campaign has appealed that issue to Common Pleas Court, and a hearing is set for Tuesday afternoon.
All these actions are vigorously opposed by state Republican Party general counsel Lawrence Tabas, who’s called the Stein campaign’s theory of foreign hacking “a Twilight Zone argument.”
“They weren’t able to show any potential issue whatsoever with respect to the machines in Pennsylvania,” he said, predicting that the campaign’s case will be quickly dismissed.