Jill Stein pushes against new Philadelphia voting machines
HARRISBURG – Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein wants Pennsylvania to block Philadelphia from using new touch-screen machines the state is buying ahead of the 2020 election and threatened court action Wednesday if it doesn’t do so promptly.
Northampton County plans to use the same machines as Philadelphia, agreeing to buy them in May after 2½ hours of debate mostly over the security of the machines.
Stein’s demand means that she and a group of plaintiffs could take the state to federal court, where they filed an agreement last year to settle their lawsuit over vote-counting in 2016’s election.
Stein and the other plaintiffs made the request in writing to Pennsylvania’s Department of State, which oversees elections.
“We must protect our vote and we must protect the authenticity of our vote,” Stein told supporters during her announcement Wednesday in front of Philadelphia’s federal courthouse.
The department has 30 days to respond, and on Wednesday did not say whether it would decertify or consider decertifying the machines.
The lawsuit accused Pennsylvania of violating the constitutional rights of voters, saying its voting machines in 2016 were susceptible to hacking and barriers to a recount were pervasive.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration settled the lawsuit in part by affirming a commitment it made previously to push Pennsylvania’s counties to buy voting systems that leave a verifiable paper trail by 2020.
But Stein said that Pennsylvania’s certification last year of the ExpressVote XL touchscreen system made by Omaha, Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software violates that agreement, in part because the machine does not meet the agreement’s requirements for a voter-verifiable paper ballot.
Election-integrity advocates view the machines as less secure than systems that tabulate voter-marked paper ballots. In addition to Philadelphia and Northampton County, Cumberland County agreed to buy or lease the machines.
With warnings of Russian efforts to interfere in 2016’s elections, Pennsylvania was under particular scrutiny because the vast majority of its more than 20,000 electronic voting machines used that year stored votes electronically without printed ballots or other paper-based backups that could be double-checked.
Former presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks Wednesday outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, saying she wants Pennsylvania to block Philadelphia from using touch-screen voting machines.