2016's Biggest Turkey Isn't Just Trump-- But The Whole Process
There's no way to know what Jill Stein's voters would have done had they not voted for her. Maybe they wouldn't have come to the polls at all. Maybe they would have written in Bernie or voted for Trump. Or maybe they would have voted for Hillary. In Wisconsin, if all 30,980 voters who cast ballots for Stein would have cast them for Clinton, Clinton's total would be not 1,382,210 but 1,413,190. Trump's total is 1,409,467. Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes would have gone to Clinton. In Michigan 50,700 votes went to Stein. In fantasy world, adding those vote's to Clinton's 2,268,193 puts Clinton at 2,318,893. Trump's at 2,279,805. 16 more electoral votes for Hillary. In Pennsylvania, 20 electoral votes are going to Trump because his 2,912,941 votes are 68,236 more than Hillary's 2,844,705 votes. Stein got 48,912 votes in the Keystone State-- would would give Hillary... not enough. Trump would still have won Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes... and the presidency.
Tuesday, New York published a much-discussed piece by Gabriel Sherman on the likelihood that Hillary actually won Wisconsin and possibly Michigan and Pennsylvania as well and should be President-elect now. Computer experts and election lawyers are urging Clinton to ask those states for a hand-count of the ballots, believing "they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked," wrote Sherman.
Last Thursday, the activists held a conference call with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign general counsel Marc Elias to make their case, according to a source briefed on the call. The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots. Based on this statistical analysis, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes; she lost Wisconsin by 27,000. While it’s important to note the group has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review-- especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee.Yesterday, University of Michigan Computer Science Professor J. Alex Halderman clarified the views attributed to him by Sherman.
According to current tallies, Trump has won 290 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232, with Michigan’s 16 votes not apportioned because the race there is still too close to call. It would take overturning the results in both Wisconsin (10 Electoral College votes) and Pennsylvania (20 votes), in addition to winning Michigan’s 16, for Clinton to win the Electoral College. There is also the complicating factor of “faithless electors,” or members of the Electoral College who do not vote according to the popular vote in their states. At least six electoral voters have said they would not vote for Trump, despite the fact that he won their states.
The Clinton camp is running out of time to challenge the election. According to one of the activists, the deadline in Wisconsin to file for a recount is Friday; in Pennsylvania, it’s Monday; and Michigan is next Wednesday. Whether Clinton will call for a recount remains unclear. The academics so far have only a circumstantial case that would require not just a recount but a forensic audit of voting machines. Also complicating matters, a senior Clinton adviser said, is that the White House, focused on a smooth transfer of power, does not want Clinton to challenge the election result. Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri did not respond to a request for comment. But some Clinton allies are intent on pushing the issue. This afternoon, Huma Abedin’s sister Heba encouraged her Facebook followers to lobby the Justice Department to audit the 2016 vote. “Call the DOJ…and tell them you want the votes audited,” she wrote. “Even if it’s busy, keep calling.”
How might a foreign government hack America’s voting machines to change the outcome of a presidential election? Here’s one possible scenario. First, the attackers would probe election offices well in advance in order to find ways to break into their computers. Closer to the election, when it was clear from polling data which states would have close electoral margins, the attackers might spread malware into voting machines in some of these states, rigging the machines to shift a few percent of the vote to favor their desired candidate. This malware would likely be designed to remain inactive during pre-election tests, do its dirty business during the election, then erase itself when the polls close. A skilled attacker’s work might leave no visible signs-- though the country might be surprised when results in several close states were off from pre-election polls.I can imagine that a few specific counties in Michigan (like Macomb), Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida were very lightly hacked by Putin or Chevron or Mercer or the 400 pound man in his room and that Trump didn't win the electoral vote after all. WhatI can't imagine that there is any circumstance that could turn the election around at this point, since would be the spark that started a (real, shooting) civil war. (And remember who has the guns, amigos. In any case, Jill Stein is trying to collect the $2.5 million she needs to finance a recount in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. That seems nice of her. The money is pouring in at a shocking rate. She has the legal standing to get the recounts called. This thing never seems to end, does it? I woke up this morning and found the recount fund had gone to $2,979,458.09. Apparently people really want a recount. Just as this post was published, I looked again: $4,122,486.70! Nice goin'!
Could anyone be brazen enough to try such an attack? A few years ago, I might have said that sounds like science fiction, but 2016 has seen unprecedented cyberattacks aimed at interfering with the election. This summer, attackers broke into the email system of the Democratic National Committee and, separately, into the email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, and leaked private messages. Attackers infiltrated the voter registration systems of two states, Illinois and Arizona, and stole voter data. And there’s evidence that hackers attempted to breach election offices in several other states.J. Alex HaldermanJ. Alex Halderman In all these cases, Federal agencies publicly asserted that senior officials in the Russian government commissioned these attacks. Russia has sophisticated cyber-offensive capabilities, and has shown a willingness to use them to hack elections. In 2014, during the presidential election in Ukraine, attackers linked to Russia sabotaged the country’s vote-counting infrastructure and, according to published reports, Ukrainian officials succeeded only at the last minute in defusing vote-stealing malware that was primed to cause the wrong winner to be announced. Russia is not the only country with the ability to pull off such an attack on American systems-- most of the world’s military powers now have sophisticated cyberwarfare capabilities.J. Alex HaldermanJ. Alex Halderman Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked. But I don’t believe that either one of these seemingly unlikely explanations is overwhelmingly more likely than the other. The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence -- paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, nobody is ever going to examine that evidence unless candidates in those states act now, in the next several days, to petition for recounts.