FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday November 20, 2019
Stein: If PA continues violating settlement agreement on election integrity, Risk-Limiting Audits are “just a publicity stunt”.
Jill Stein for President Recount Team
Contact: Dave Schwab 518.610.2708 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill Stein and the 2016 recount team said today that if the state of Pennsylvania continues to violate basic election integrity principles required by the Stein v. Cortés settlement agreement, then the risk-limiting audit scheduled for November 21 in Philadelphia County will be an empty publicity stunt. The Stein recount team pointed to a report by Protect Our Vote Philly, backed by abundant evidence, showing that “Thursday’s risk-limiting audit will not be able to confirm that the election results correctly reflect the intent of the voters”.
The Stein recount team challenged the state of Pennsylvania on October 1st to decertify the ES&S ExpressVote XL voting system on the grounds that it violates the settlement agreement’s requirement of voter-verifiable paper ballots. Against public outcry and expert warnings, Philadelphia County officials purchased ExpressVote XL machines this year for use by all voters.
“The state of Pennsylvania seems to be conducting a risk-limiting audit for show in Philadelphia, even as the very experts who developed the risk-limiting audit process have been warning that the voting systems recently purchased in Philadelphia County are untrustworthy by design,” said Jill Stein. “Audits are meaningless without a paper trail we can trust, which requires voter-verifiable paper ballots as well as a secure chain of custody for those ballots. Right now elections in Philadelphia County have neither.”
As the Stein recount team notified the state in a letter on October 1st, the ExpressVote XL violates the settlement agreement’s requirement for voter-verifiable paper ballots in several ways. Instead of paper ballots, they use “summary cards” that research shows are difficult for voters to verify. Even if voters do attempt to verify the written text, what the machines count as the actual vote is not text but printed barcodes, which are impossible for voters to verify. Furthermore, the machine is designed so as to be able to alter the summary cards after the voter submits them. For these reasons, elections conducted using the ExpressVote XL have no reliable paper trail and no way to verify the election results through auditing.
To make matters worse, Philadelphia County failed to maintain a secure chain of custody of the ExpressVote XL paper records, as documented by election integrity advocates on the ground. As Protect Our Vote Philly reported, “blank ballot cards were not inventoried, and the voting equipment and the voted ballot cards were unsecured. That opens the possibility that ballot cards were altered — a possibility that would be minimized or eliminated by proper security protocols.”
As further evidence of why the ExpressVote XL shouldn’t be trusted, Stein pointed to the state’s secretive decision to hold the system’s recertification testing out of state to prevent the recount team’s voting security expert from observing, as well as the ExpressVote XL’s disastrous debut in Northampton County, where the machines were widely observed reporting incorrect tallies throughout election night.
“We don’t know why the state refuses to uphold our agreement for election integrity,” said Stein. “This should be a no-brainer for everyone who claims to believe in democracy. It’s now clear we’ll have to take the state back to court so the people of Pennsylvania can have a voting system they can trust.”