The Philadelphia City Commissioners have agreed to recount some ballots cast in the city, as requested by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, but rejected a forensic audit on how those voting machines work.
The commissioners, in a brief meeting Thursday, agreed to start recounting on Friday ballots in 75 divisions across the city, after Stein’s campaign filed at least three affidavits for each division from voters there asking for a recount.
They rejected requests for seven other divisions. Philadelphia has 1,686 voting divisions.
Ilann Maazel, an attorney for Stein’s campaign, told the commissioners the state Election Code allows for an examination of the machines. Citing examples of hacking of elections computer systems in Illinois and Arizona, along with the Democratic National Committee’s emails, he said a forensic audit of Philadelphia’s voting machine software was the only way to determine if they had been hacked.
“It’s the only way,” Maazel said. “To examine means to look inside.”
Lawrence Tabas, general counsel for the Pennsylvania Republican Party, countered that Stein’s campaign had an opportunity for a public inspection of the city’s voting machines before the election and chose not to attend.
Tabas cited an Oct. 20 statement from Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, a Democrat, who said the state’s “voting systems are secure” and the machines are not connected to the internet or to each other.
“There is no opportunity to hack these machines,” Tabas said. “There is no opportunity to corrupt them.”
Stein’s campaign has not offered proof of election tampering, instead relying on affidavits from computer scientists who put forward the theory that voting machines are vulnerable to hacking.
Tabas also accused the Stein campaign of “cherry-picking” some divisions in the city for recounts.
Maazel insisted Stein would support a full recount of every ballot.
Stein won 6,486 votes in Philadelphia, or .95 percent of the ballots cast.
Stein won .82 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania and 1 percent nationwide.
Republican nominee Donald Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania by 1.1 percent, a key victory in his election as the next president.
A judge in Montgomery County on Wednesday rejected a request from Stein to recount ballots in 72 of 425 ballots there.
Stein is also pursuing recounts in other Pennsylvania counties and in several other states.
In Bucks County, a judge will hear arguments Tuesday in Doylestown on whether to grant a recount of votes cast on Election Day in 24 of the county’s 304 precincts.
Stein’s campaign also filed a petition Monday in Commonwealth Court, seeking a judicial order for a recount. That petition will have a hearing in Harrisburg Monday.
Tabas, after Thursday’s hearing in Philadelphia, predicted Stein will fail.
“They are simply doing this for purposes to delay the inauguration of the next president because they’re not happy with the outcome,” Tabas said.
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