Stein recount campaign files motion to enforce PA settlement agreement, decertify unverifiable voting machines

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Posted by Dave Schwab 2297pc on November 26, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday November 26, 2019

Jill Stein for President Recount Team

Contact: Dave Schwab

PHILADELPHIA – Jill Stein and the 2016 recount team filed a motion today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to enforce the settlement agreement in Stein v. Cortés by ordering the PA Department of State to immediately decertify the ES&S ExpressVote XL voting machine. 

Leading election integrity experts including Dr. J. Alex Halderman agree that the deeply flawed ExpressVote XL violates the 2018 settlement of the Stein recount lawsuit guaranteeing all Pennsylvania voters the right to voter-verifiable, auditable paper ballots by the 2020 election. Recent developments such as the ExpressVote XL’s disastrous debut in 2019 local elections underscore the urgency of decertifying and replacing these untrustworthy machines as soon as possible.

“Instead of listening to the widespread public outcry against the unreliable ExpressVote XL, including from leading national election integrity experts, Pennsylvania officials have insisted on ramming these machines through in a secretive, heavy-handed process,” said Stein. “They’ve left us no other option but to ask the court to enforce our settlement agreement to ensure that Pennsylvania voters have a voting system they can trust in time for the 2020 elections.”

The motion by Stein et al. lists multiple ways the certification of the ExpressVote XL violates the agreement for voter-verifiable, auditable paper ballots:

First, instead of paper ballots, the machine uses receipt-like “summary cards” that are difficult for voters to verify, as shown by research and recent experience in local elections. The Department of State itself refers to the paper used by the ExpressVote XL not as a “paper ballot”, but a “vote summary record”. 

Second, even if a voter does check the text printed on their summary card, what counts as their vote is not the text but printed barcodes, making it impossible to verify their actual vote. The state of Colorado recently banned voting systems that use barcodes, citing concerns that they make voter verification effectively impossible.

Third, due to a design flaw the machine can be programmed to change a voter’s card after they submit it, meaning there’s no reliable paper record of the vote, and therefore no way to verify the election results through auditing.

J. Alex Halderman, a nationally-recognized expert on voting system security designated by Stein et al. to observe the certification of new voting machines, submitted a supporting declaration detailing numerous ways a hacked or malfunctioning ExpressVote XL machine could undetectably alter election results. Halderman concludes, “With a paper ballot system, a robust post-election audit can correct any computer-based error or fraud. This is not possible with the ExpressVote XL, because it would be feasible for malware to cause the paper records to differ from voters’ actual votes. If hacking compromises the paper records, a post-election audit will arrive at the same wrong result.”

“After the ExpressVote XL’s disastrous debut on Election Night, when it was observed reporting incorrect vote totals in Northampton County, we offered the state one last chance to do right by voters by voluntarily decertifying the machine,” said Stein. “It’s even more troubling to consider that these flawed machines could swing elections to the wrong winners in less obvious ways that observers might not even notice.” 

The ExpressVote XL was used in Philadelphia and Northampton counties on November 5 and has been selected by Cumberland County. Because of the settlement, all Pennsylvania counties are required to upgrade to certified voting systems by 2020. Most of the counties that have selected new systems have chosen hand-marked paper ballot systems.

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. The Stein v. Cortés settlement agreement has been a critical step forward in Pennsylvania, and has helped raise the bar for the nation. We will keep fighting as long as it takes for a voting system we can trust, that is accurate, secure and just.”

View the Motion to Enforce the Settlement Agreement

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