Pa. court sets hearing for Stein recount petition

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Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein contends the Nov. 8 election was "illegal."

HARRISBURG - The Green Party-backed push for a recount of Pennsylvania's presidential election results will get its day in court.

Commonwealth Court has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. Monday in Harrisburg to consider the recount effort pushed by former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, according to a court order Tuesday.

Stein's campaign helped coordinate a legal challenge this week seeking the statewide recount, contending the Nov. 8 election was illegal and its results inaccurate.

It cited as evidence research by computer scientists pointing to potential hacking of electronic voting machines, as well as numerous news reports of hacking, possibly by foreign governments, into email accounts associated with the Democratic National Committee and the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.

In scheduling Monday's hearing, the court order said little about the proceeding. But it said "a conclusive decision" on the matter must be reached by Dec. 13, the deadline for Pennsylvania's electors to declare who wins the state's 20 electoral votes.

The recount petition was filed Monday on behalf of at least 100 Pennsylvania voters.

Election-law experts said they expect lawyers for Stein's campaign will need to produce concrete evidence of election irregularities to bolster their case for a recount.

"I would expect that the court, in order to hold this up, will need to see more than what was contained in their pleading," said one, Kathleen Jones Goldman, a Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney lawyer who chairs the Pittsburgh chapter of the Republican National Lawyers Association but has no role in this case.

Stein has raised upward of $6 million to finance recount efforts in three key states - Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan - that sealed President-elect Donald Trump's victory over Clinton. A Wisconsin recount could begin Thursday.

Clinton lost by less than 100,000 votes in all three states, which have a recent history of backing Democrats.

Republicans have decried the effort in Pennsylvania as an act of desperation by a failed campaign. They have also promised to challenge any recount efforts.

Pedro Cortes, who as Pennsylvania secretary of state serves as the state's top election officer, has said repeatedly that there has been no evidence of voter irregularities on Election Day.

Besides the Commonwealth Court petition, Stein's campaign is helping organize recount efforts at the precinct level in at least a half-dozen counties across the state.

A spokesman for Stein's campaign said Tuesday that such requests have focused on six of the state's vote-rich counties, including Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, and Allegheny. It will be up to judges and elections officials in those counties to act on the petitions.

In all, 260 precinct-level recount challenges have been filed, the campaign said, with that number expected to rise. Pennsylvania has 9,163 voting precincts.

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