Jill Stein says she’ll ‘escalate’ Pennsylvania recount case after earlier plans to drop it
WASHINGTON– Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein said early Sunday she would “escalate” her statewide recount efforts in Pennsylvania through a federal lawsuit, after announcing she would drop it.
Stein on Saturday cited a major cost placed on voters due to a state court ruling that says the voters requesting the recount must pay a $1 million bond. But shortly after midnight Sunday Stein tweeted about plans to continue on the recount bid.
“On Monday, I will escalate #Recount2016 in PA and file to demand a statewide recount on constitutional grounds. The people deserve answers,” she wrote.
A statement from the Stein campaign shortly after said it will file a lawsuit in federal court Monday seeking a statewide recount.
“Over the past several days, it has become clear that the barriers to verifying the vote in Pennsylvania are so pervasive and that the state court system is so ill-equipped to address this problem that we must seek federal court intervention,” said Jonathan Abady, lead counsel to the Stein recount efforts. “As a result, on Monday the Stein campaign will escalate our campaign in Pennsylvania and file for emergency relief in federal court, demanding a statewide recount on constitutional grounds.”
At press conference on Monday in New York City, the Stein camp defended its efforts to press forward with the recounts, saying they were taking their suit to federal court because of the “absolutely ridiculous and obscene form of bureaucratic obstruction” that Stein said was occurring in Pennsylvania.
“It’s clear that the fix was in against a verified vote in the state of Pennsylvania,” the Green Party candidate said.
Still, Stein downplayed expectations that the recount effort would change the outcome of Pennsylvania’s vote in the 2016 election, saying instead that the effort was primarily aimed at ensuring the integrity of the voting process, discovering any irregularities, and sparking voting rights and voting infrastructure reforms.
“Whether it will change the the outcome, we don’t know, and it would be unfair to raise expectations that the outcome will change. That is not our intent,” she said. “This is about ensuring that all votes get counted and that voters can trust the system going forward.”
Stein earlier in the weekend had taken aim at procedural hurdles at the state level.
“The judge’s outrageous demand that voters pay such an exorbitant figure is a shameful, unacceptable barrier to democratic participation,” Stein said in a statement. “This is yet another sign that Pennsylvania’s antiquated election law is stacked against voters. By demanding a $1 million bond from voters yesterday, the court made clear it has no interest in giving a fair hearing to these voters’ legitimate concerns over the accuracy, security and fairness of an election tainted by suspicion.”
Stein campaign spokeswoman Jordan Brueckner later clarified Saturday that while petitioners withdrew their case for a statewide recount, recounts in hundreds of precincts in some Pennsylvania counties — including Philadelphia, Allegheny and Lehigh — will continue. The campaign is also still pushing for forensic audits of voting machine software in the state.
Stein tweeted that the expense of the recount was caused by elected leaders.
“#Recount2016 is so expensive because of elected leaders who have refused to invest in a 21st-century voting system.”
“This is about responding to the American voters who are standing up and saying, ‘We deserve an election system that we can trust, and that is accurate, that is secure against hacking, against human error, against machine error, and in which the votes are being counted.’ Because right now, it’s not clear that all the votes are being counted,” Stein said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Stein denied that the more than $6.5 million she’s raised for the recount — far more than the nearly $900,000 she collected for her 2012 presidential campaign and the $2.5 million she raised in 2016 as the Green Party nominee — is a list-building fundraising scheme.
“This money is going strictly into a segregated account which can only be spent on the recount. So, this money is entirely, will be completely used, and we’ll be lucky if we can cover the costs,” she said.
Trump disagreed, tweeting Sunday afternoon, “The Green Party just dropped its recount suit in Pennsylvania and is losing votes in Wisconsin recount. Just a Stein scam to raise money!”
Stein has spearheaded a recount effort in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — three battleground states where Donald Trump narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton.
Pennsylvania is not the only state where recount efforts are running into opposition. Michigan’s attorney general, a Republican, filed a suit to stop a recount in his state Friday and Trump supporters in Wisconsin this week have also tried to stop the recount in progress there.
Stein raised nearly $7 million to fund the recount efforts, following news that security experts alerted Clinton’s campaign to the possibility of hacks in key counties in those states.
Despite the fact there’s been no credible evidence so far of election tampering, Stein has maintained in recent interviews — including with CNN — “you cannot tell unless you’re actually counting paper votes.”
Clinton’s campaign has sent its lawyers to participate in the recount process to “ensure that it is fair to all sides,” Marc Elias, the campaign’s counsel, wrote in a post on Medium earlier this week.
Trump has dismissed the recount efforts as a “scam.”
This story has been updated.
CNN’s Eric Bradner and Steve Brusk contributed to this report.
By Caroline Kenny