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Allegheny County judge rejects Stein's bid to examine voting machines

Tom Fontaine
| Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, 2:15 p.m.
Voting machine coordinators Barb Harkins and Mark Lamberger work through a calibration screen on voting machines in an Allegheny County warehouse in Manchester on Monday Aug. 22, 2016.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Voting machine coordinators Barb Harkins and Mark Lamberger work through a calibration screen on voting machines in an Allegheny County warehouse in Manchester on Monday Aug. 22, 2016.
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein speaks during a news conference outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 5, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
REUTERS
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein speaks during a news conference outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

An Allegheny County judge Thursday denied Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's request to examine the county's electronic voting machines to see whether they worked properly during last month's election.

Common Pleas Senior Judge Joseph M. James' ruling is the latest chapter in Stein's legal battle against election officials in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

In a request filed Wednesday in Allegheny County, Stein's attorneys argued that Stein had a “statutory right” to examine the machines to “determine whether they were working properly and had not been tampered with.”

James, however, said in his court order that Stein's attorneys failed to provide evidence of voting irregularities in Allegheny County or show why she had statutory authority to examine the county's 4,000 voting machines.

James said county election Manager Mark Wolosik testified at a previous hearing that his department “conducted a forensic audit of 20 randomly selected machines (prior to the election) and found no evidence of tampering or malfunction,” even though his department is not required by law to do so.

Douglas E. Lieb, a New York-based attorney for Stein, said in a statement that “the court's decision is yet another reminder of the tremendous obstacles Pennsylvanians face to securing absolute assurance the election was conducted with integrity and their votes were counted.”

Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs declined to comment.

James last week granted Stein's request for a recanvass of voting machines used in 52 of Allegheny County's 1,322 precincts. The process, in which election-night results were compared Monday against data stored in the machines' memory flash cards, did not reveal any discrepancies.

The county's board of elections is expected to vote Monday to certify the Nov. 8 election results.

Stein's attorneys will be in federal court in Philadelphia on Friday to seek a statewide recount.

States have until Tuesday to certify results.

The legal maneuvers are part of a larger effort by Stein to question election results in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. She has questioned the “validity of the electoral process” in the states and raised concerns about the security of many of their voting machines and the lack of a paper trail for many votes cast.

A federal judge halted a recount in Michigan on Wednesday night after a state appeals court said Stein didn't qualify as an “aggrieved” candidate under Michigan law, while a recount in Wisconsin was more than 70 percent complete as of Thursday morning, The Associated Press reported.

President-elect Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in all three of the states.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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