Calling it a “fishing expedition,” Pennsylvania election officials on Thursday asked a federal judge to throw out a Green Party-backed lawsuit that seeks a recount of paper ballots cast in the Nov. 8 presidential election and an inspection to determine whether election software was hacked. The state attorney general’s office, representing Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, a Democrat, attacked the recount effort by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein as an effort to undo the presidential election won by Republican Donald Trump. Stein lacks the necessary standing to challenge the election result because any change will not make her the winner, the state’s lawyers wrote. It is “rank speculation” to suggest that Russian hackers somehow flipped the vote, they wrote. And Stein’s challenge is based on unfounded suspicions and acknowledges that it’s possible no evidence of hacking even exists, because sophisticated malware can be designed to disappear after carrying out its task.
“In other words, the plaintiffs want to audit machines even though they concede that there may be no evidence of anything when they look,” Attorney General Bruce Beemer wrote in the 29-page filing. “This is the epitome of a fishing expedition and cannot be sanctioned in the context of a presidential election and a last minute attempt to derail Pennsylvania’s election results.”
The federal lawsuit is part of a broader effort by Stein to recount votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states with a history of voting for Democrats for president and where Trump narrowly beat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Stein got about 1 percent or less in each of the three states.
A hearing is scheduled for Friday in the Pennsylvania case. The federal deadline to certify the vote is Tuesday. Trump and the state Republican Party have also opposed a recount or examination of software. A GOP lawyer, Lawrence Tabas, said Thursday that Stein’s team is trying to “delay and obstruct” the Electoral College vote on Dec. 19.