PHILADELPHIA (WTXF/AP) - Calling Pennsylvania's election system "a national disgrace," Green Party-backed lawyers asked a federal judge on Monday to order a recount of the state's Nov. 8 presidential election result, won by Republican Donald Trump.
A federal lawsuit filed in Philadelphia called for a recount and a forensic examination of the aging electronic voting machines used in most Pennsylvania counties, saying both are necessary to determine whether the election results were manipulated by hackers.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is spearheading a recount effort in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, states where Trump won narrowly over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The lawsuit said Pennsylvania's paperless voting machines make it a prime target for hacking, citing the election-season email hacking of the Democratic National Committee and attempts to breach election systems in other states.
"The Pennsylvania election system is a national disgrace. 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. Voting machines are electoral black sites: no one permits voters or candidates to examine them," the suit said.
Pennsylvania elections officials have said there is no evidence that hackers tried to manipulate the vote.
"The current machines worked perfect on November 8th," Lehigh County elections chief Tim Benyo emailed Monday. "No issues out of the ordinary."
An updated count Friday by state election officials showed Trump's lead shrinking to 47,750 over Clinton, out of 6 million votes cast, as more counties finished counting overseas ballots and settled provisional ballot challenges. That is still shy of Pennsylvania's 0.5 percent trigger for an automatic statewide recount. Stein drew less than 1 percent of the votes cast.
Final counts are outstanding in some counties, but there are not enough uncounted votes to change the outcome, officials said.
The Pennsylvania Department of State declined comment on Stein's lawsuit, as did an attorney for the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
Speaking to reporters Monday morning, Stein attorney Ilann Maazel was unable to offer evidence Pennsylvania's election had been hacked. But he contended the state's elections system is so insecure that a forensic examination of a sampling of the machines is the only way to know for sure that votes weren't altered.
"There are millions of voters out there who have worries, and they have good reason to be worried. So let's get to the bottom of this," he said.
Some poll workers and voting activists have long complained the electronic machines are prone to crashing, vulnerable to hacking and lack a paper backup.
The machines store votes electronically and can produce a paper record of the overall tally after polls close. But there is no way for individual voters to confirm their choices were recorded accurately in the first place.
Pennsylvania is one of 14 states that make exclusive or partial use of electronic voting machines without a paper backup. Of 23,725 machines certified for use statewide, 22,123 record votes electronically and leave no paper trail, according to the Department of State.
In 2006, a group of voters sued Pennsylvania to bar the use of paperless electronic voting machines, contending they were unreliable, lacked adequate safeguards against vote tampering and violated a state law requiring "a permanent physical record" of each vote.
Nearly a decade later, in 2015, the state Supreme Court dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs had not shown that so-called "direct-recording electronic" machines are more susceptible to fraud or tampering than other kinds of voting systems.
The lawsuit filed Monday names state elections officials and said Pennsylvania's barriers to a recount violate voters' constitutional rights. It also asked the federal courts to give the plaintiffs "reasonable time to do a thorough, forensic examination" of a sampling of state voting systems.
Over the weekend, Green Party-backed voters dropped a state court lawsuit that had sought to force a statewide recount of the presidential election, citing the court's order that they post a $1 million bond. But Green Party-backed efforts to force recounts and analyze election software in individual precincts continued.
Elsewhere, a federal judge in Michigan ordered a hand recount to begin by noon, and the recount is underway in Wisconsin.
Trump narrowly defeated Clinton in all three states and the recounts were not expected to change enough votes to overturn the result of the election.
But Stein said her intent is to verify the accuracy of the vote. She has suggested, with no evidence, that votes cast were susceptible to computer hacking.
She has also scheduled a rally and news conference for Monday morning outside Trump Tower in New York.
These are details from Wisconsin and Michigan, plus Nevada where independent presidential candidate Roque De La Fuente requested a partial recount:
The recount began Thursday and continued over the weekend, with little change so far in the unofficial results as reported on election night. A federal lawsuit was filed late last week by a Trump voter and two super PACs seeking to stop the recount. The judge rejected a request to halt the recount while the lawsuit is pending and scheduled a hearing for Friday. State and local election officials have all said they don't expect Clinton to surpass Trump in Wisconsin, where he won by about 22,000 votes.
A federal judge late Sunday night in Detroit ordered a statewide hand recount of roughly 4.8 million ballots to start by noon Monday. Trump won the state by about 10,700 votes, or two-tenths of a percentage point, over Clinton.
Stein argued that a law is unconstitutional that requires a break of at least two business days after the Board of Canvassers' final action on a recount request. Judge Mark Goldsmith found that Stein had "shown the likelihood of irreparable harm" if the count was delayed even by two days and rejected the state's arguments about the cost to taxpayers.
Trump defeated Clinton by 10,704 votes, or two-tenths of a percentage point, in Michigan. Stein received about 1 percent of the vote.
Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette, the Trump campaign and super PACs have filed separate lawsuits asking state courts to prevent the recount, arguing that Stein, as the fourth-place finisher, is not "aggrieved" because she has no chance of winning in a recount.
A recount of a sample of ballots has begun in Nevada, at the request of De La Fuente. Clinton won in Nevada, and De La Fuente finished last. But De La Fuente requested and paid about $14,000 last week for the recount, which he called a counterbalance to the review sought by Stein in Wisconsin. Nevada Secretary of State spokeswoman Gail Anderson said late last week that the recount of ballots from Carson City and Douglas, Mineral, Nye and Clark counties should be completed by Friday. If the sample shows a discrepancy of at least 1 percent for De La Fuente or Clinton, a full recount will be launched in all 17 Nevada counties. Clinton won the state by 27,202 votes over Trump, out of 1.1 million votes cast.