Jill Stein, presumptive 2016 Green Party presidential nominee, speaks at a Bernie or Bust rally during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia (Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg)

Jill Stein Changes Course With Suit Seeking PA Recount

(Bloomberg) -- 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 cannot 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. There is no paper trail,” Stein said in a complaint filed Monday in Philadelphia federal court.

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.

Trump filed papers last week in Stein’s state court case saying she was seeking a recount without providing any evidence that the state’s electronic voting machines had been hacked.

Popular Vote

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.

Margy Levinson, a spokeswoman for Stein’s recount effort, reiterated that the point of the challenge is “ensuring the integrity of the electoral process.”

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

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).