[Update 12:56 AM 12.2.16 - can inform my readers that the Trump team is fully aware of this blog's analysis and research. Thanks to those responsible. A top crew of attorneys are getting ready for battle. Keep the comments coming with info you think is relevant. This is now a legal war. Part 2 in the morning.]
Pennsylvania statutory code and case law perfectly agree that no viable "recount" petitions have been filed in Pennsylvania, so all must be quashed. The various counties that have delayed their certifications of the election - so that these time-barred petitions may improperly proceed - are grossly misinterpreting the Pennsylvania Election Code, which required all initial recount/recanvass voter-petitions to have been filed in Pennsylvania no later than November 21, 2016. Recounts are dead. Book it.
"Jurisdiction to resolve election disputes is not of common law origin but is founded entirely upon statute and cannot be extended beyond the limits defined by the General Assembly. See In re Granting Malt Beverage Licenses, 331 Pa. 536, 538, 1 A.2d 670, 671 (1938)." Rinaldi v. Ferret, 941 A.2d 73 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2007).
This means that if the deadlines have passed, they are gone forever. And they are. The case cited above, Rinaldi v. Ferrett, is a recent holding of the Commonwealth Court, the same court Jill Stein has filed her election contest in. I suggest you read that case top to bottom so as to fully comprehend the following part:
"As noted above, our jurisdictional case law informs of two principles, both relevant here. First, only those procedures specified by the Code invoke the jurisdiction of the board or court and, second, those provisions are strictly construed and such jurisdiction will attach only if they are followed in all respects. Without the first principle, the second would be rendered meaningless. Consequently, Rinaldi's petition was fatally defective..."
Now look at the footnote (7) attached to that quote:
"[T]he failure to strictly follow the procedural requirements under the Election Code renders Rinaldi's petition fatally flawed so as to deprive common pleas of jurisdiction..."
As we shall see, all voter initiated recount petitions failed miserably to strictly follow the procedural requirements under the Election Code and are also fatally flawed.
There are exactly two ways to petition for a voter-initiated recount or recanvass. (A recount examines paper ballots, whereas a recanvass examines machine/electronic votes.) Let's revisit the Rinaldi case for a perfect explanation:
"In considering the jurisdictional objection to Rinaldi's petition, we note the procedures and associated requirements provided in the Election Code for challenging the accuracy of a vote count. First, a request to the board of election for a recount may be made pursuant to Section 1404(e) of the Code, 25 P.S. § 3154(e), which particularly pertinent to the present case, calls for filing of a petition by at least three voters who verify by affidavit that an error has been committed in the computation of the returns."
Article XIV of the Election Code contains one of two ways voter-petitioners can initiate a recount/recanvass. Section 1404(e) requires a petition before a county board of elections by at least three voters who verify by sworn affidavit to facts they claim show an error has been made in the computation of returns. This method of filing would had to have been filed by November 15th, 2016, according to the statute, which states:
"Whenever it shall appear that there is a discrepancy in the returns of any election district, or, upon petition of three voters of any district, verified by affidavit, that an error...has been committed therein,...the county board shall at any time prior to the completion of the computation of all of the returns for the county, summon the election officers of the district, and said officers, in the presence of said board, shall conduct a recount or recanvass of all ballots cast."
According to Section 1404(f) of the Code, the computation of the returns of each county must be submitted to the Secretary of the Commonwealth by 5 P.M. on the Tuesday following the election. This year, that statutorily critical date fell on November 15th. A petition to recount before the county election boards under 1404(e) had to be filed "at any time prior to" 5 P.M. on November 15th.
Therefore, every petition for recount filed before the county boards after that date is now time-barred forever, including Allegheny County, Philadelphia County, etc. No exceptions. The county boards are powerless to entertain any recount petitions as of November 15th at 5 P.M. More from Rinaldi on this:
"Rinaldi's petition was addressed to the board of elections, not to the court of common pleas. Therefore, we consider it to be a request for a recount pursuant to Section 1404(e) of the Code, 25 P.S. § 3154(e). However, it is accompanied by unnotarized verifications by only Rinaldi himself and James Peperno. Thus, the petition is flawed in the number of elector verifications and in the form of those verifications. Hence, we conclude that the petition does not satisfy the procedural requirements..."
The second way to initiate a voter-petition recount is via Article XVII. Let's go back to Rinaldi:
"[A] request may be made to common pleas for a recount/recanvass of the votes. Such a request must be made within five days after completion of the board's computation and, most relevant to the present case, must be made by a petition verified by three qualified electors of the district and accompanied by a cash deposit or bond.5"
The footnote (5) attached to this text goes deeper into the statute:
"A petition for recount directed to common pleas is subject to the requirements of Sections 1701-1703 of the Code, 25 P.S. § 3261-3263...It shall not be necessary for the petitioners to specify in their petition the particular act of fraud or error which they believe to have been committed, nor to offer evidence to substantiate the allegations of their petition..."
There's a lot going on here, so let's break it down. Article XVII recount/recanvass voter-petitions also require three voters, but the standard of filing here is easier to meet than in Article XIV, since no affidavit alleging specifics needs to be attached. Article XVII only requires a good faith belief that there was fraud or error in the computation, but the petition must be filed before the court of common pleas in your county, not before the board of elections. The deadline is also longer, five days after November 15th. But regardless, this bird flew on November 21st, and she isn't coming back either.
I'm just curious about the substance of these petitions being filed haphazardly all over Pennsylvania. I haven't heard one report concerning a voter-initiated petition filed before the board of elections in any Pennsylvania county that included an affidavit by voter-petitioners setting forth actual facts alleging specific errors were made in the counting of votes. So, these petitions before the county boards are not only time-barred, but they further fail to meet the statutory requirements if they did not attach sworn affidavits.
So why are counties such as Allegheny and Philadelphia purporting to have jurisdiction? The county boards most certainly do not have jurisdiction to entertain these petitions. And if they do, it will signal a rogue election hijack is underway.
I know that the word "certification" is bouncing between many ears right now, because you've been terribly misled by the press, pundits, partisans and amateur election law specialists who all got it wrong, or simply lied to you. It's been floated out to the public that a voter-initiated petition can be brought before the county boards or courts as long as the petitions are filed any time before the county has certified its election results. We've all heard that Allegheny County has decided to hold off its certification until the recount petitions are adjudicated.
Bunk. Complete utter bunk. Fed to you by a rotten tube filled with lies.
There is actually another deadline in the Pennsylvania Election Code that allows a recount/recanvass petition right up until the county officially certifies its election returns. But that later deadline pertains to secondary recount/recanvass petitions which are only allowed to be filed after the initial Article XIV or XVII recount or recanvass has revealed fraud or error in the votes being recounted. It then may be necessary to recount in further precincts that were not included in the original petitions. This would require a secondary petition to recount, and the deadline for those secondary petitions ends when the county board finally certifies its election returns. That deadline cannot be used to initiate a petition to recount before the county board or courts of common pleas.
Initial petitions had to be filed this year before 5 P.M. on November 15th or by November 21st. If you failed to do so, you are now too late. If you did file on time, however, and your petition to recount was successful, then you were granted a recount or recanvass, and if that revealed fraud or error, you may then issue a secondary petition to open more precinct ballot boxes, or recanvass more machines in extra precincts. These secondary petitions must be filed, however, before the final certification of election results in your county.
This secondary deadline is found in the statutes at, 25 P.S. § 3263(b):
"(b) No order or decision of the court under the provisions of sections 1701 and 1702 of this act, shall be deemed a final adjudication regarding the results of any primary or election, so as to preclude any contest thereof under the provisions of this article, and no such order or decision shall affect the official returns of any election district, unless a petition to open the ballot boxes or to recanvass the votes on a voting machine or an electronic voting system shall have been presented before the certification of the returns of the county by the county board, or unless a contest shall have been instituted in the manner provided by this article."
Now let's visit another Commonwealth Court case to see how this all plays out in the real world. The case is, IN RE GENERAL ELECTION FOR TP. SUP'R, 152 Pa.Commw. 590, 620 A.2d 565 (1993). The following quote is extensive, but perfectly tailored to explain all of the above:
"We next address Electors' Petition to Open Ballot Box and Recount Votes. At this juncture a brief overview of the Election Code would be helpful. Article XIV of the Code, Section 1404, regulates the procedure for counting the votes and correcting the returns. 25 P.S. § 3154. The term "return" when used in the Code, generally refers to a sheet showing the total individual votes cast for all candidates at that polling place or district...Section 1701 provides for the opening of ballot boxes, 25 P.S. § 3261; Section 1702 provides for the recanvassing of voting machines...Section 1703 was amended in 1982 to require that a petition to open a ballot box or to recanvass a voting machine must be filed no later than five days after the completion of the count. 25 P.S. § 3263(a)(1). If error or fraud is discovered the court must allow the parties another five days to file petitions to open other ballot boxes or recanvass machines before it makes final certification. 25 P.S. § 3263(a)(2). If additional petitions to recount or to recanvass are filed under this five-day provision, the court may allow, upon petition, additional boxes to be opened or machines to be recanvassed. These additional ballot boxes must be opened within four months after the election. 25 P.S. § 3261(f). If voting machines were used, the additional machines must be recanvassed within twenty days of the election. 25 P.S. § 3262(c). In both cases the action must be taken before the court makes final certification. 25 P.S. § 3263(a)(2). Final certification of the returns, however, precludes the filing of further recount or recanvass petitions.
"The Electors would have us find that, based on Section 1701(f) of the Election Code, an initial petition to open and recount may be filed within four months of the election. However, this argument misapprehends the function of this provision of the Code. The controlling time limitation, found in Section 1703 of the Code, requires that an initial petition to open and recount must be filed "no later" than five days after the completion of the canvassing of the returns...Electors failed to comply with this provision, mandating the denial of their petition.
"The Electors' interpretation of the four-month provision would render the five-day time limit for filing the initial petition to open a ballot box and for a recount completely superfluous. Such a reading of the statute contradicts the Rules of Statutory Construction which direct our Court to give effect to all provisions of a statute. Statutory Construction Act of 1972, 1 Pa. C.S. § 1921.
"The statute clearly requires that a petition to open a ballot box and for a recount, standing alone, must be filed no later than five days after the completion of the computation of the returns. Chase Appeal, 389 Pa. 538, 133 A.2d 824 (1957). Of course, had a previous recount petition been filed and the court found fraud or error, the Electors would have had five days after the court's ruling in which to file this petition, assuming the petition was still within the four-month limit. However, there was no previous petition filed or five-day extension granted."
So there you have it all. This final paragraph of the Commonwealth Court's holding confirms everything I have explained above. The deadlines for filing voter-initiated recount petitions in Pennsylvania have passed. Since none were timely filed, there was no recount that revealed any fraud or error in the vote count. Therefore, the secondary petition deadline that ends when the county certifies its votes is not at all relevant to the petitions now being perpetrated all over Pennsylvania by cohorts of Jill Stein.
Should any county board or court of common pleas actually grant a recount, it will be an act of revolution and anarchy, a judicial coup d'etat.
But let's not end on a paranoid note. This final quote - from IN RE GENERAL ELECTION FOR TP. SUP'R - leads nicely into the forthcoming part 2 of this Jander Research report:
"The only other way the Electors could have petitioned to have the box opened later than five days from the completion of the computation of the returns, would be if the Electors had properly instituted an election contest."
For homework in preparation for part 2, please read the following case in it's entirety, as it perfectly illustrates why Jill Stein's complaint to contest the Pennsylvania election must fail: IN RE PHILA. MAYORALTY ELECTION CONTEST, 11 Pa. D.&C. 3d 381 (1979).
[To be continued in part 2: JILL STEIN'S PENNSYLVANIA ELECTION CONTEST FILING IS STATUTORILY DEFECTIVE AND MUST BE DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.]
Written, analyzed and researched by Ren Jander.