Capitalizing on voter discontent and perhaps looking to broaden her political base, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has raised millions of dollars to pay for presidential election recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
On Nov. 26, Stein explained the effort on her weekly broadcast on Facebook — and made a provocative claim about Wisconsin and the election in that state.
“Hello, good evening, Facebook friends, revolutionaries, citizens of the planet and of America,” the Massachusetts activist and physician began on the video. Later, she declared:
“Wisconsin uses voting machines that have been outlawed. They are illegal to use them because they are so prone to tampering and hacking. They are an invitation, really, for malfeasance. Those are used in the state of Wisconsin.”
It seems like something more serious than a recount would be underway if outlawed voting machines had been used to help Republican Donald Trump win the White House.
Stein’s campaign told us the candidate was actually referring to California banning electronic, touch-screen voting machines, but acknowledged that the machines are not banned in Wisconsin.
Legal in Wisconsin
In 2004, California’s secretary of state banned the use of a particular brand of electronic voting machines because of security and reliability concerns and decertified others until steps could be taken to upgrade their security. Part of the concern was that the touch-screen machines didn’t provide a paper trail at the time of voting.
In Wisconsin, the vast majority of voting machines are optical readers. Voters fill out a paper ballot and feed it into the machine, which then electronically records the vote.
A small percentage of votes in Wisconsin are cast on touch-screen machines — but those in use there do generate a paper record for each ballot cast.
All voting equipment in Wisconsin has been approved by the Wisconsin Election Commission (or one of its predecessors), Kevin Kennedy, Wisconsin’s former elections director, told us.
And in order to be approved, the equipment had to first pass national testing standards. Before 2006, the equipment was tested under the auspices of the National Association of Election Directors (NASED). Since 2006, testing has been done under the auspices of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, a federal agency.
There are no federal requirements that states must use certain machines, said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.
In other words, each state decides what’s legal.
Stein said: “Wisconsin uses voting machines that are outlawed, they are illegal.”
California banned electronic, touch-screen machines. But the touch-screen machines that are used by a distinct minority of voters in Wisconsin are different and are approved by the Wisconsin Election Commission. They’re legal.
For a statement that is false and ridiculous, we rate Stein’s claim Pants on Fire.
PolitiFact.com is a project operated by the Tampa Bay Times, in which reporters and editors from the Times and affiliated media outlets “fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups.” The Star Tribune opinion pages periodically republish these reports.