In One County, 4,000 People Showed Up to Vote But Didn’t — Or Did They?

Stein’s Team Pleads the Case for a Recount in Pennsylvania: Too Little, Too Late?

Jill Stein in Pennsylvania, pushing for recount Photo credit: WhoWhatWhy

More than 4,000 voters in a single Pennsylvania county headed to their local polling places on Election Day, stepped into the booth and, at the moment of decision, seemingly cast their vote for no one, records show.

Not for President-elect Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton. Not for Gary Johnson nor Jill Stein.

Nor did they pick a single candidate for US Senate, Congress, state attorney general, state legislature, or town supervisor.

Yet machine records confirm that these Montgomery County voters went to the trouble of showing up. They then either decided to withhold their vote or something prevented their votes from being recorded.

This mountain of so-called No Votes, regarded as “implausible” by Stein’s legal team, is now at the heart of her appeal for a recount of Pennsylvania’s presidential race that awarded the state’s 20 delegates to Trump.

Maazel said that a “juvenile password structure” and “antiquated technology,” make these machines — used around the state and in much of the country on Nov. 8th — especially penetrable by hackers and malware.

With a federal judge promising a ruling Monday morning — and a Tuesday deadline bearing down on Pennsylvania to certify the results — Stein’s lawyers say that the No Votes suggest that machines tabulating the vote simply wiped them from their memory.

In all, Montgomery County’s election records show that 4,087 ballots out of nearly 450,000 cast there were registered as No Votes. Montgomery, a suburban community of 750,000 north of Philadelphia, supported Clinton over Trump by 21 percentage points.

“Thousands of votes almost certainly did not count,” said Stein’s chief lawyer on the case, Ilann Maazel, at a hearing Friday in Federal District Court in Philadelphia.

Maazel said that a “juvenile password structure” and “antiquated technology,” leave these machines — used around the state and in much of the country Nov. 8th — especially penetrable by hackers and malware. His assertion was dismissed as a pipe dream by an expert witness provided by the state attorney general.

“It’s as likely that androids from outer space are living amongst us,” Michael Shamos, a onetime voting machine inspector for Pennsylvania, testified. “It’s possible, but not likely.”

Weeks ago, Pennsylvania loomed as a possible linchpin in the recount effort, but with the recount in Michigan halted and Wisconsin winding down, Trump’s hold on the election is secure. And a significant shift in the results are unlikely in Pennsylvania, where Trump leads Clinton by more than 68,000 votes.

Instead, Stein and her lawyers say that the rights of voters are at stake and that a recount and forensic testing of machines might reveal weaknesses in the equipment.

Asked what Stein would do if the probe revealed evidence of hacking, Maazel said after the hearing, “We’re not there yet.”

The hearing, lasting two-and-a-half hours, starkly framed the issues that have played out as well in Wisconsin and Michigan, with Stein’s side pointing to irregularities, and attorneys for the state and Trump saying the recount movement is fueled by paranoia and dismay over the outcome.

“The majority of voters voted for Donald Trump in Pennsylvania,” said Trump’s lawyer, Lawrence Tabas. “The [Stein people’s] disappointment in that result is driving them.”

Judge Paul Diamond criticized Stein’s lawyers for “creating a legal fire drill” by waiting until Nov. 28, the last day possible, to submit a request for a recount. If the results are not certified by Tuesday, the vote could be thrown to the state legislature, or more dramatically, Pennsylvania’s electoral votes could be discarded, as if the election there never happened.

Jill Stein in Pennsylvania, pushing for recount Photo credit: WhoWhatWhy

Jill Stein in Pennsylvania, pushing for recount
Photo credit: WhoWhatWhy

While Stein’s lawyers argued that thousands would lose their vote without a recount, the judge, along with Tabas, said that the votes of millions would be imperiled if the Tuesday deadline was missed, just seven days before electors in every state meet to cast their votes for president and vice-president.

Mindful of this, Maazel proposed a scaled back, two-tier approach. He called for a deep forensic dive into DRE machines in six of the state’s 67 counties and a hand recount of just one percent of the ballots in 17 precincts — roughly 250,000 votes — where so-called optical scanners were used to tabulate paper ballots.

The scramble to beat the clock began in the courtroom, with Diamond asking the two sides to huddle to determine how long the assessments would take. They agreed the effort could likely be concluded in a “long” day and a half, just before time runs out.

Still, the judge offered only small hope to Stein’s lawyers that he would allow a recount to go forward, saying they had not supplied any proof that a single machine had been hacked or a ballot tampered with.

“You’re risking disenfranchising six million voters versus speculation,” he said.

Breakdowns that somehow transformed more than 4,000 ballots into No Votes went mostly undetected by voters who left the booth thinking their selections had been registered. But hundreds of voters discovered the mistake within moments, when the machines recorded they had shown up but kept returning their ballots with no votes cast. In the following days, many of these voters embarked on a tortuous bureaucratic trail, said Maazel, the Stein lawyer.

They were shunted from one office to the other as they tried to submit a petition to have their ballot counted, and those who persisted were confronted with filing fees of as much as $500 or ultimately told they had missed a deadline. Most, Maazel said, just gave up.

Because petition deadlines varied wildly from town to town and because towns did not formally post them, voters in this predicament were deprived their constitutional right to protection against disenfranchisement, Maazel said.

Shamos, the attorney general’s expert witness and a computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said that Pennsylvania’s tabulation methods, lacking a centralized computer, were impervious to a bad actor trying to hack into it by altering the software.

“Tell me how one would introduce malware into a significant number of machines to change the result,” he said. “No one has.”

Attackers, he said, would have to lie in wait for four months as machines were readied and tested before being brought to polling places a few days before the campaign.

“They would have to break seals and apply counterfeit seals,” he said. “No one would have unfettered access.”

He acknowledged that typical voting precincts — such as schools, churches and libraries — often went unguarded, even in the days leading up to the election.

Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer-science professor, testified for the Stein side that there were two basic ways Pennsylvania’s machines were vulnerable to hacking, either by physically tampering with a computer chip or by transferring infected files from one machine to another on ordinary flash drives.

He said that while it was “significantly likely” pre-election forecasts were wrong, “it was not much less likely that there was a cyber attack.”

“Putting myself into the role of attacker, with all its vulnerabilities, I would hack Pennsylvania,” he added.

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14 responses to “In One County, 4,000 People Showed Up to Vote But Didn’t — Or Did They?”

  1. thud says:

    You can’t have a recount without proof of hacking. You must have a recount to begin to find proof of hacking. There’s a name for that catch.

  2. David S says:

    It is important to present the illusion that the government operates with the consent of the citizenry. That this election had the lowest voter turnout in quite some time only underscores how support and consent are diminishing. That people would be counted without the burden of possibly voting against the status quo seems quite plausible. That this many people showed up to cast a vote for any of the 4 most noted clowns running is the great mystery of this election season.

  3. ignasi says:

    Are voting machines the last “free territory of corruption”?

  4. Randy Divinski says:

    So about 1% of those voters had their votes unrecorded. And the other 99% have no way of knowing whether their votes were ACCURATELY recorded, or flipped to another candidate. And there is no possible remedy or method of verification in either case. (That’s called a “show election” everywhere else in the world.)

  5. Josh Mitteldorf says:

    Gee, Russ – there are lots of things that WWW might have said that didn’t make it into this article.
    – You might offer a little background on Michael Shamos and the role he has played as apologist for corruptible voting machines for the last 12 years.
    – That the “seals” on the chips in which Shamos puts so much stock were never inspected. In fact, here in Philadelphia, Green party inspectors of the recount asked to see the seals inside the voting machines, and were denied.
    – That tens of thousands of people in Philadelphia alone (85%D, 15%R) were given provisional ballots that were ultimately rejected; that Stein’s team asked to see the rejected ballots and the Courts ruled that they were not part of the recount. They then asked for a count of how many there were, and the (Democratic) Election Commission would not divulge that information.
    – That the paperless, push-button voting machines that 70% of PA still uses have been considered and discarded by many states and internationally by all major democracies.
    – That, despite Shamos’s shameless and empty declaration, there is a broad consensus of independent computer specialists who have looked at America’s voting system that it is easily corrupted. And among American state, Pennsylvania has one of the least verifiable systems.

    A little digging into the past would reveal the sordid history of American voting systems, especially since computerization of state systems after the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Google “Rob Georgia” or “Mike Connell” or “Clint Curtis”. The theft of E2016 didn’t come out of nowhere.

    • russbaker says:

      Mr Muddledorf, take a look at the byline, please. Where does it say “Russ”? If you’re going to play expert, start by addressing the reporter who wrote this.

  6. Fred Jones says:

    Poor Jill America Won You Lost no matter how many times you count to 10…MAGA Trump 2016 and Beyond

    • Josh Mitteldorf says:

      troll

    • Jeff Clyburn says:

      How will America win with Rex Tillerson as SoS? How will America win with Jeff Sessions as AG? Please share. I look forward to your response.

    • Mick Grosz says:

      It wins in two ways. First we will have people in these offices who believe in rule of law and America. Second this may drive you lunatic liberals to either hide in your parents basements or commit suicide. America wins either way.

    • Jeff Clyburn says:

      Vague and unrelated. Do you have anything of substance that actually answers the quesiton? How does America benefit by having a climate change denier as its top diplomat? How does America win when its top law enforcement officer wants to deny rights to certain citizens?

    • Mick Grosz says:

      Climate change is a power grab and wealth redistribution, nothing more nothing less.

    • Randy Divinski says:

      What does Exxon CEO know or care about “rule of law”? He cares about all-power-to-the-corporations. What does segregationist know or care about “rule of law”? He cares about imposing the racism of the Old South on the nation.

    • Mick Grosz says:

      You are totally insane. Take your meds and go back to your parents basement and suck your thumb. My hope is that you are just clinically insane not criminally insane.

    • Jeff Clyburn says:

      So you don’t have anything of actual substance, and instead are just playing from the same tired conservative playbook of ineffectual insults and hitting an escape hatch. That’s what I thought. … It is amusing that you feel you know more than 98% of climate scientists, though. I seriously doubt you even understand the difference between weather and climate.

    • Mick Grosz says:

      I do understand the same old BS you liberals spew. We are all racist, homophobic, xenophobic, deniers, and everything else bad while you are compassionate, intellectual caring people. You are bigoted, l condescending, pseudo intellectual parrots. I am tired of your lying BS and will call you out on it anytime. You are an idiot.

    • Martin Schmid says:

      Ignorance is strength!

    • grumpy says:

      Rex Tillerson, who is personal friends with Putin, will personally make 140 milllion dollars by ending the sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Then he will use the $500 billion deal to drill the Arctic. They have worked hard to melt the Arctic. They don’t care about coastal communities. They want to drill! That’s why Putin prefers Trump.

    • Fred Jones says:

      Your not keeping up eco dude. Drill Baby Drill…

    • Fred Jones says:

      Watch the real news .Not the crap your looking at . Keep up Your lost 8 years of your life following fake news . Enjoy the next 8 years I will

    • Jeff Clyburn says:

      Ah yes… “Draining the Swamp” … by first deepening it. Your hero and his minions have already moved to eviscerate Congressional oversight. … You’re going to get the exact opposite of what Trump promised on most every issue, and he used your gullible vote to get it. … It is amusing watching RW trolls mobilize to suggest it’s somehow the left that is responsible for “fake news,” when their own high priests of privatization and segregation perfected the strategy long ago.

    • thud says:

      Poor Fred actually thinks he stands to be a part of Lord Trump’s America. Well perhaps I’m wrong. Are you one of the upper 0.1%?

    • Fred Jones says:

      Poor wannabe thud. Keep sucking mooslum boys ass. You will enjoy his going away party.. You are the last one invited.. America won You lost LMAO at another one of the gang . Come on down and hang with the boys. Got you a front row seat.

    • thud says:

      Oh look out! !!Satan is hiding under your bed! Lord Trump ain’t gonna save you even if you serve him. Your beloved is a psycho. This won’t end well.

    • Fred Jones says:

      Your still playing ball thud . Wanna go for number three mooslum boy. Try again I Bring your playdough an puppies. I am dying here. LMAO f