Rigged? Scientists, Lawyers Want Hillary Clinton to Demand Election Recount

Activists allege hacking or manipulation of the vote in three key states

Last Updated: November 23, 2016 @ 1:12 PM

A group of prominent scientists and lawyers are urging Hillary Clinton to challenge the results of the 2016 election, saying they’ve found evidence of hacking or manipulation of the vote in three key states.

The group,which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society director J. Alex Halderman, wants Clinton to call for a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, New York Magazine reports.

The magazine noted that overturning results in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and winning still-too-close-to-call Michigan would give Clinton an electoral college win and the presidency — but that she is “running out of time” to challenge the results.

The magazine reported said that they shared their findings with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign general counsel Marc Elias last week.

The group contends that in Wisconsin, Clinton received seven percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines, compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots, according to the magazine. They say that could have cost Clinton 30,000 votes in the state, which she lost by 27,000 votes.

There is no proof of hacking or manipulation, but the group wants an independent review to be sure.

Halderman said in a Medium post that the election results were “probably not” the result of a cyber attack, but that he doesn’t see the harm in looking into it.

“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,” Halderman wrote.

He describes one scenario in which foreign hackers could attempt to influence an election: “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.”

Nate Silver, the nation’s most prominent prognosticator, offered a quick analysis on Twitter about why the argument that Clinton could pick up more votes in Wisconsin was “probably BS.” He also said his analysis indicated little chance that Clinton would pick up votes in Pennsylvania.

“And Michigan has paper ballots everywhere, so not even sure what claim is being made there,” he wrote.