2016 Recount: Jill Stein Cannot File Direct Request For Recount In Pennsylvania, Must Take It To Court

Jill Stein posted to her Jill2016 website that she had raised enough money to “file” for a recount in Pennsylvania. However, the Green Party candidate left out some key details about the filing of recounts in Pennsylvania that many of her supporters likely would have wanted to know before donating. For example, candidates cannot file a direct request for a recount in the state and instead must appeal the election in court.

According to the Recount 2016 initiative and donation page posted by failed Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, the Stein/Baraka Green Party Campaign launched an effort to ensure the “integrity of our elections.” Stein noted that she was hoping to raise funds via grassroots efforts to “demand” that recounts take place in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. She claimed “data” has suggested a need for recounting “machine-counted” votes in these particular states, which also happen to be states that Trump unexpectedly beat Clinton.

Stein’s fundraising efforts immediately sparked the interest of Clinton supporters as it played on the hope that Hillary still had a chance at the presidency. Should all three states be overturned in a recount, Clinton would have enough electorates to win the election. However, Stein did not make the recount process clear for her donors. Her outline makes it sound as though a candidate can simply file for a recount if they raise enough funds for the filing fee.

While the filing fee and request is all that is needed in Wisconsin, her second state “funded” is much more complicated. Pennsylvania does not allow candidates to file a direct request for a recount, according to the Pennsylvania Election Code. Instead, the filing fee is simply the amount needed to appeal the results.

Penn by Jessica McBride on Scribd

“While candidates cannot file a direct request for a recount, they may appeal the order or decision of any county board regarding the computation or canvassing of the returns of any primary or election, or regarding any recount or recanvass thereof. During the appeal process, the court may determine that a recount is necessary.”

Per Pennsylvania regulations, there is only one way remaining for Jill Stein to get a recount in Pennsylvania and it is a complicated process. BillyPenn reports that Stein would have to file for a court appeal and present a “prima facie case” showing that voter fraud took place. While prima facie has a lower burden of proof threshold than “beyond reasonable doubt,” it is still significant. Stein would have to prove in court that fraud was “probable.” This is going to be very difficult given that even the computer specialists recommending the recount say there is no proof of hacking or fraud.

In fact, the Medium reports that Clinton’s own legal team headed by Marc Elias has noted that Clinton’s team “had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology.” The Obama administration echoed that by stating that the government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber-activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day. According to Newsmax, Obama is standing behind the results which indicate that Trump won the election, saying the election was “free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”

Elias also noted that in even the closest margin state, Michigan, Trump’s win “well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount.” Therefore, Elias says that is why Clinton herself did not pursue a recount effort. However, since Stein has funded and initiated the effort, Elias says that Clinton will participate to ensure fairness.

Stein has maintained that the effort is not designed to overturn the election results, but rather to ensure transparency in the voting process. Stein has even criticized Clinton for joining her efforts so late in the game, calling her “on-again, off-again about democracy.”

The deadline to file an appeal in court for Pennsylvania is on Monday, November 28. Stein has said she is “filing” but has given no further details about the efforts. Should she file, the next step would be to prove her “prima facie” case in court.

What do you think? Should Jill Stein have been more clear about the election recount proceedings when requesting donations from her supporters?

[Featured Image by D. Ross Cameron/AP Images]