Jill Stein Changes Course With New Suit Seeking PA Recount

  • Request follows recount efforts in Wisconsin, Michigan
  • Green Party nominee cites unsecure machines, Russian meddling

Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein dropped a state lawsuit seeking a recount of votes in Pennsylvania and instead took her case to federal court, arguing that the state’s voting system is a “national disgrace.”

Stein, whose efforts have already triggered recounts in Wisconsin and Michigan, compared Pennsylvania’s voting machines to electoral “black sites” with software that can’t be examined by voters or candidates. She’s said the ballot review isn’t an attempt to change the outcome of the election process but instead to ensure its integrity.

“Voters are forced to use vulnerable, hackable, antiquated technology banned in other states, then rely on the kindness of machines,” Stein said in a complaint filed Monday in Philadelphia federal court. “There is no paper trail.”

President-elect Donald Trump and his allies have tried -- so far without success -- to block the recounts, saying in court filings that the effort is an attempt by a “fourth-place finisher” and a “failed Green Party presidential candidate” to undermine his presidency before it starts.

Michigan Recount

In Michigan on Tuesday, the state’s court of appeals will hear arguments in Attorney General Bill Schuette’s lawsuit challenging Stein’s recount effort.

“Her insistence on a recount despite only getting 1 percent of the vote has created chaos for our county clerks and will cost Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars,” Schuette, a Republican, said in a statement.

Trump filed papers last week in Stein’s Pennsylvania state court case saying she hadn’t provided any evidence that the state’s electronic voting machines had been hacked. Jason Miller, a spokesman for his transition team, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the new lawsuit.

The recount efforts come as Democrat Hillary Clinton leads the popular vote by more than 2 million ballots. There is no indication that the reviews -- if they are completed -- would affect Trump’s comfortable margin of victory in the Electoral College.

Trump won 306 electoral votes on Nov. 8 to Clinton’s 232. The non-partisan Cook Political Report showed Trump won Pennsylvania by about 46,765 votes, Wisconsin by about 22,177, and Michigan by about 10,704, according to vote totals updated Dec. 3. The states represent 46 electoral votes in total.

Margy Levinson, a spokeswoman for Stein’s recount effort, reiterated that the point of the challenge is “ensuring the integrity of the electoral process,” but didn’t rule out the possibility that it could impact the result in some way.

“We can’t predict what will happen,” Levinson said in an interview.

Hacking Reports

In her recount request, Stein cited the vulnerability of electronic-voting machines to manipulation and reports that senior Russian officials approved hacking of the Democratic National Committee and a top Clinton aide. Trump repeatedly called the election “rigged” before his victory and has blamed Clinton’s popular vote success on millions of illegal votes, without providing evidence.

Stein dropped the state case because the petitioners, about 100 ordinary citizens, couldn’t afford to post a $1 million bond required by the court, and she didn’t have the money to back them, according to Gregory Harvey, her lawyer in the federal suit.

“She raised millions of dollars, but my understanding is that she had to spend it all in Wisconsin and Michigan, where specific amounts are required in order to get a recount,” Harvey said in an interview. “It’s part of the problem with election system.”

The case is Stein v. Cortes, 16-cv-06287, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

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