Judge denies Jill Stein request for audit of Philly voting machines

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Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein waves to supporters as she leaves a news conference outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A Philadelphia judge has denied Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's request for a forensic audit of voting machines used in the city.

Common Pleas Court Judge Abbe Fletman, in a written opinion issued Wednesday, said Stein "is mistaken" in her claim that the state Election Code gives her a right to the audit she requested.

Stein had appealed a vote by the Philadelphia city commissioners last Thursday, denying her request for an audit.

The commissioners did allow a recount requested in 75 of the city's 1,686 voting divisions, which found no discrepancies in the voting machine results.

Ilann Maazel, an attorney for Stein's campaign, repeated in a hearing Tuesday claims already made in other Pennsylvania counties and in a federal filing, that voting machines used here are "extremely vulnerable" to computer hacking.

Fletman, in that hearing, pressed Maazel on whether Stein's campaign had any evidence to suggest Philadelphia's machines had been hacked.

Maazel had none to offer, but noted the U.S. government has said hackers from outside of the country had attempted to hack voting systems in Illinois and Arizona and had obtained access to emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Maazel, in a statement from Stein's campaign after Fletman's ruling was issued, said "The court's decision will deny voters the chance to know the truth about this election."

In Philadelphia, a central computer system is used to program cartridges, which are inserted before the election into the voting machines. Those cartridges, after the election, are plugged back into the central system to tally the votes. The so-called "closed system," from the programming of the cartridges to the machines to the tabulation of votes, is not connected to the internet or other computers.

Stein wanted the computer code used in the central system to be copied and examined by her technical experts.

Deputy City Solicitor Benjamin Field argued Tuesday that the recount results for the 75 divisions showed no problems with the election results.

Stein's campaign had representatives present during that recount.

"There is no evidence to suggest that Philadelphia's elections were anything but secure," Field said.

brennac@phillynews.com

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@ByChrisBrennan