Pennsylvania Election Law Cited by Commonwealth Court; Stein Then Withdraws Election Contest


by Sharon Rondeau

pa-election-code-header(Dec. 4, 2016) — On Saturday, December 3, various news outlets reported, based on documents released by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had withdrawn her election contest of the results of the November 8 presidential election.

Her challenge in that jurisdiction is now considered “closed” by Per Curiam order.

The documents pertaining to the now-defunct case have been relocated from the home page of the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System website to a subsection titled “News and Statistics,” subsection “Cases of Public Interest.”

In a statement released Saturday evening, Stein cited what she described as “antiquated election law” and an inability or unwillingness to post the $1 million bond ordered by the court on Friday, December 2.

Although having raised over $7 million at that time, Stein characterized “voters” as the victims of the court’s bond requirement and alleged lack of “interest in giving a fair hearing” to Pennsylvanians’ “concerns over the accuracy, security and fairness of an election tainted by suspicion.”

Stein has thus far shown no evidence of any tampering, hacking or stuffing of ballot boxes, among other possible forms of election fraud, in Pennsylvania.

In a direct entreaty to would-be supporters last week, Stein asked that Pennsylvania voters file petitions for recounts in their districts, notwithstanding that no voter had reportedly claimed “fraud or error,” in accordance with Section XVII, 1701, a.1, (2) i.) of Pennsylvania election law, within five days of the election as is mandated.

Last week, Stein reported that “recounts” in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were “funded” based on the donations she had received at the time, but Pennsylvania law precluded any county from performing a recount since they must be citizen-initiated, duly sworn and accompanied by a $50 “bond,” and follow a specific time table, the deadline for which had already passed.

Stein claims she received her now more than $7 million from “over 130,000 small donors.”

In its bond order, the court referenced “Pennsylvania Election Code, Act of June 3, 1937, as amended, P. L. 1333, 25 P. S. § 3459.”

On Thursday, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and Electors for Trump/Pence filed a brief objecting to Stein’s election challenge on the grounds that her lawsuit was submitted “on the last possible day for filing,” November 28 and that she had failed to show evidence that the election results were unreliable.

The order reveals that Stein’s attorney had requested a $25,000 bond, while electors for Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who were declared the presidential and vice-presidential winners in Pennsylvania in the early hours of November 9, asked the court to demand a $10 million bond.

The Republican Party failed to cite, however, that Stein’s lawsuit was not submitted with the statutorily-required five sworn citizen affidavits for an “election contest,” as Jander reported on Friday.  “Only five properly verified petitions are necessary to confer jurisdiction. The notarizations attached to some verifications are also not sufficient to confer jurisdiction, but Stein’s lawyers have attempted to obscure the technical deficiency. The verifications with notarizations attached are also not sworn statements sufficient to subject petitioners to perjury charges, as is required to avoid the case being dismissed with prejudice, since the deadline to file has now passed and they cannot cure the fatal defect, as was confirmed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,” Jander wrote.

Mainstream media reports did not cite Pennsylvania’s election law, which states that in order for a “recount” of votes in a particular district to take place, three registered voters who cast votes in the election must submit affidavits stating that they believe an error or some other type of irregularity occurred during the voting process.

Section 1404 (b) of the law mandates that:

The county board, before computing the votes cast in any election district, shall compare said registration and enrollment figures with the certificates returned by the election officers showing the number of persons who voted in each district or the number of ballots cast. If, upon consideration by said return board of the returns before it from any election district and the certificates aforesaid, it shall appear that the total vote returned for any candidate or candidates for the same office or nomination or on any question exceeds the number of registered or enrolled electors in said election district or exceeds the total number of persons who voted in said election district or the total number of ballots cast therein, or, if it shall appear that the total number of partisan votes returned for any candidate or candidates for the same office or nomination at any primary exceeds the number of electors registered or enrolled in said district as members of that political party, or exceeds the total number of persons belonging to that party who voted in said district or the total number of ballots of that party cast therein, in any such case, such excess shall be deemed a discrepancy and palpable error, and shall be investigated by the return board, and no votes shall be recorded from such district until such investigation shall be had, and such excess shall authorize–(a) the summoning of the election officers, overseers, machine inspectors, and clerks to appear forthwith with any election papers in their possession; (b) the production of the ballot box before the return board, and the examination and scrutiny of all of its contents, and all of the registration and election documents whatever, relating to said district, in the presence of representatives of each party and candidate interested who are attending the canvass of such votes; and the recount of the ballots contained in said ballot box, either generally or respecting the particular office, nomination, or question as to which the excess exists, in the discretion of the return board; (c) the correction of the returns in accordance with the result of said recount; (d) in the discretion of the return board, the exclusion of the poll of that district, either as to all offices, candidates, questions, and parties, or as to any particular offices, candidates, questions, or parties as to which said excess exists, if the ballot box be found to contain more ballots than there are electors registered or enrolled in said election district, or more ballots of one party than there are electors registered or enrolled in said district as members of that party, or more ballots than the number of voters who voted at said election, or more ballots of one party than the number of voters of that party who voted at said election; (e) a report of the facts of the case to the district attorney where such action appears to be warranted.

Last week, Stein asked would-be supporters of her “recount” efforts to file affidavits in their local jurisdictions, but the law dictated that the time frame for filing any request for a recount was November 21, days before Stein announced that she would challenge the election results in the three aforementioned states.

The state of Wisconsin billed her $3.5 million which she reportedly paid by wire transfer last Tuesday.  A recount began on Thursday which has left the results virtually unchanged.

Since last Monday, Ren Jander, JD, has posted considerable analysis of Stein’s attempts to force a “recount” of votes in Pennsylvania, basing his conclusions on the 1937 code and its subsequent amendments. In posts on Thursday and Friday, respectively, Jander referenced Pennsylvania case law which found election challenges deficient when they were submitted untimely or otherwise outside of compliance with the law.

He further found Stein’s lawsuit, or election “contest,” to be “fraudulent.”  However, “recounts” are reported by CNN to be taking place in Philadelphia, Allegheny and Lehigh Counties which by law are “statutorily time-barred.”

On Saturday night, Jander wrote of Stein’s Pennsylvania withdrawal, in part:

“Unless I see that all of the county recounts, either before the election boards, or courts of common pleas have also been dismissed with prejudice, I intend to follow through tommorow, on exposing everything in my report discussed here earlier today.” [sic]

On Sunday morning, various outlets reported that Stein will file a federal lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on Monday seeking a “statewide recount” “on constitutional grounds.” The filing may coincide with her declaration of a forthcoming “announcement” to be made in front of Trump Tower at 10:00 a.m. Monday morning.

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