HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – In front of the Christmas evergreen tree in the Capitol Rotunda, Green Party supporters carried signs and even broke into a chant.
“Count every vote. Count every vote. Count every vote,” the roughly two dozen shouted in unison.
The Green Party admits it has no specific evidence that every vote wasn’t properly counted in Pennsylvania during the recent presidential election. But they argue in a federal lawsuit, filed Monday in Philadelphia, that the state can’t prove that every vote was counted.
The suit calls voting systems in Pennsylvania, “a national disgrace.” It takes aim at what it calls Pennsylvania’s antiquated and hackable voting machines and wants a judge to order a forensic audit of the equipment.
“So we could see if those are trustworthy numbers or we could see if the machine is malfunctioning or not,” said Carl Romanelli, Pennsylvania recount coordinator for the Jill Stein campaign.
A vast majority of voting machines in Pennsylvania have no paper trail, critics say, with no backup to audit the computers and the humans who control them. Election officials can’t go back and check the machines’ accuracy against hard-copy votes.
“We are basically placing a neon sign above Pennsylvania elections saying, ‘hackers come play here, we don’t check’,” said Dr. Candice Hoke, a professor at Cleveland State University and co-director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection.
The state mostly dismisses the criticism and the court challenge. Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, a Democrat, is confident the election was on the up and up and that Donald Trump won Pennsylvania fair and square. In a statement he said, in part, “the department is confident that any recount, whether at the precinct level or statewide, would result in no significant difference in the vote count.”
But the Green Party ralliers reject the “just trust us” response. They insist that Pennsylvania’s voting systems are vulnerable to hackers even if it wasn’t exploited this time.
“To act like it isn’t possible, to act like we don’t need to worry our pretty little heads about it, is absolutely childish. We, of course, should worry,” said Pat LaMarche, the Green Party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate and a Cumberland County resident. “It doesn’t make us a bunch of grumpy little gusses to want to know for sure what happened, it makes us citizens.”
“I don’t care where the votes end up. I just want to know that we can count them properly and if we could learn anything from this year, it’s let’s fix it for the future,” Romanelli said.
In two weeks, electors will meet in capitols across the country, including Harrisburg, to make Trump’s victory official. If the federal courts are to act, and it’s unclear if they will, they’d have to move quickly.