Stein recount campaign demands PA protect right to paper ballots, decertify unverifiable voting machines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2019
Jill Stein for President Recount Team
Contact: Dave Schwab 518.610.2708 schwab@jill2016.com

PHILADELPHIA - Jill Stein and the 2016 recount team announced today that they have served notice to the state of Pennsylvania that the ES&S ExpressVote XL voting machine, recently recertified by the state, violates the terms of the settlement agreement in Stein v. Cortés. This 2018 settlement of the Stein recount lawsuit guarantees all Pennsylvania voters the right to voter-verifiable, auditable paper ballots by the 2020 election. Against public outcry and expert warnings, Philadelphia County has decided to purchase ExpressVote XL machines for use by all voters. The state has 30 days to respond, after which the plaintiffs can ask the federal court that brokered the agreement to enforce it.

“The ES&S ExpressVote XL violates our agreement in several ways and should never have been certified,” said Stein. “Instead of paper ballots, they use ‘summary cards’ that are difficult for voters to verify, research shows. Even if voters do verify the written text, what counts as your vote is not the text but printed barcodes, making it impossible to verify your actual vote. The state of Colorado recently banned barcodes for counting votes for the common-sense reason that humans can’t read barcodes. Even more troubling, these machines can be programmed to change your ballot after you submit it, meaning there’s no reliable paper record and no way to verify the election results through auditing.”

Emily Cook, a plaintiff in Stein v. Cortés, said, “Cumberland, Northampton and Philadelphia Counties should make haste to acquire better voting systems, as we have done in Montgomery County.”

When Pennsylvania voters recently petitioned the state to revisit the certification of the ExpressVote XL, testing was carried out in a Colorado lab, circumventing the agreement’s requirement that Stein’s expert representative Dr. J. Alex Halderman be allowed to observe all on-site testing for certification purposes. “The state locked out our expert, violating both the spirit and the letter of our agreement.  This was a red flag that the state was not serious about upholding the agreement in good faith,” said Stein. Election integrity advocates across the state have also criticized the state’s recertification of the ExpressVote XL for its unprecedented level of secrecy.

Stein also noted that election integrity advocates, led by Protect Our Vote Philly, have been vocally opposing the purchase of the ExpressVote XL in Philadelphia since the beginning of the procurement process. Among other reasons, it violates the requirement for voter-verifiable, auditable paper ballots in the Stein v Cortés agreement; it is much more expensive than alternative systems; and every single test voter in the state’s own disability access study was unable to verify their vote.

Stein concluded, "Many reforms are needed to fully restore confidence in our broken elections - including an end to voter suppression and gerrymandering, the adoption of open debates, public financing of elections, ranked choice voting and a national ban on hackable, insecure voting machines. In the meantime, the Stein v Cortés settlement agreement has been a critical step forward in Pennsylvania, and has helped raise the bar for the nation. We must not allow this progress to be rolled back by unaccountable, undemocratic, backroom decisions squandering taxpayer dollars on expensive, insecure and needlessly complex voting machines. We look forward to working with grassroots community groups to defend our right to voter verifiable paper ballots as a key step towards elections we can trust. If the state refuses to  uphold our settlement agreement by decertifying the ExpressVote XL, we’ll have to ask the court to enforce it.”

Click here to open a copy of the complaint letter sent to the PA Department of State.


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