Allegheny County voting machine recanvass yields ‘no change to the results’

The recanvass did not involve a forensic analysis of voting machines, which voters also requested.

Members of the Elections Division staff and watchers participate in the December 2016 recanvass of the 2016 presidential election.

Members of the Elections Division staff and watchers participate in the December 2016 recanvass of the 2016 presidential election.

Sarah Anne Hughes / The Incline
Sarah Anne Hughes

Updated, 2:20 p.m.

Monday morning’s recanvass of voting machines by Allegheny County’s Elections Division was uneventful.

There was “no change to the results” that will be presented to the Board of Elections for certification next week, Elections Division Manager Mark Wolosik told reporters.

The review of voting totals in 52 precincts was requested by at least three voters in those districts. In the affidavits they filed with the county, voters also requested a forensic analysis of the machines.

That didn’t happen Monday, but there is a possibility it could take place — if Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein succeeds in federal court.

Here’s how the recanvass worked: Watchers from parties on the ballot (including the Constitution Party, which ran Darrell Castle as a presidential candidate) were given printouts showing vote totals from the 52 districts. (See a map here.) The numbers on the printouts were pulled from internal flash cards in the machines.

County Manager of Balloting and Returns David Voye, meanwhile, read vote totals from paper tapes printed from the machines on election night.

David Voye, manager of balloting and returns, read vote totals from a paper tape on Dec. 5.

David Voye, manager of balloting and returns, reads vote totals from a paper tape.

Sarah Anne Hughes / The Incline

The reconciliation of numbers didn’t reveal any discrepancies, save for one explained in advance: In Pittsburgh 11-12 — which is in Highland Park — one voting machine wasn’t closed properly on Election Day.

Only machines from 52 voting districts were recanvassed. Of the 1,322 precincts in the county, those were the only districts where at least three voters signed an affidavit requesting a recount or recanvass.

“We won only a very limited recount,” said Green Party watcher Joy Sabl. Monday’s recanvass showed that “machines are internally consistent. It doesn’t tell us much more than that.”

Another Green Party watcher was visibly upset that absentee and emergency ballots were not recounted Monday. That was not requested in the voters’ affidavits.

In addition to a recount or recanvass of electronic voting machines, voters in their affidavits did ask for a “forensic analysis of the software and media inside the machines, to determine whether the machines have been hacked or tampered with.”

According to Wolosik, the Board of Elections didn’t approve that part of the request on Nov. 28, when it gathered to certify election results but instead pushed the meeting to Dec. 12 in order to consider the affidavits.

The Stein campaign is still trying to force a statewide forensic analysis of voting machines and recount of all paper ballots, now through a federal lawsuit filed this morning.

“This is a state where the majority of voters are forced to vote with [direct recording electronic] machines. DRE machines are easier to hack than an iPhone,” Stein attorney Ilann Maazel said at a press conference this morning.

Allegheny County uses iVotronic direct recording electronic machines countywide, per Wolosik.

Another attorney for Stein, Doug Lieb, sent a letter to Wolosik on Sunday requesting a forensic examination “at the campaign’s expense and under the supervision of the Elections Division.” Lieb represented Stein in Allegheny County Common Pleas court Friday in a challenge to the recount.

Lieb wrote to Wolosik:

At the hearing on Friday, you testified about the importance of ensuring that the firmware associated with the system is in good working order and is in fact the same version of the firmware certified for use in the machines. That is why Allegheny County admirably chooses to conduct pre-election checks of the firmware on a random sample of its DRE machines sixty days before every election. You also testified that this process is neither logistically nor financially burdensome. Forensic experts agree. We are asking for an essentially similar process to the one you conduct before the election to occur on a larger sample of machines, at the expense of Dr. Stein’s campaign, and after the election to ensure the integrity of the vote with certainty.

Lieb continued that the Stein campaign has “top computer experts ready to [examine the DRE voting system], on one day’s notice, under the careful supervision of the Elections Division.”

“Between a voter and the election result is the DRE system. The system must be examined.”

County attorney Allan Opsitnick denied Lieb’s request, according to Chris Potter of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.