Experts Quietly Asking Clinton Camp to Press for Probe Into Election Results

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Experts Quietly Asking Clinton Camp to Press for Probe Into Election Results

Meanwhile, Clinton's popular vote lead over Trump now surpasses two million

An advocate for the recount says it will "lead to strengthened electoral integrity." (Photo: Penn State/flickr/cc)

As Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote now passes the 2 million mark, a group of computer scientists and election lawyers has reportedly pressed her campaign team to petition for recounts in three battleground states—Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—because the election results may have been compromised as a result of hacking or manipulation.

New York magazine wrote Tuesday evening that the group, which includes John Bonifaz, an attorney, voting rights expert, and co-founder and director of Free Speech for People; and J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan and director of Michigan's Center for Computer Security and Society, has thus far only privately lobbied the Clinton team, making a call last Thursday to campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign general counsel Marc Elias.

As CNN sums up, the group told "the Clinton campaign they believe there is a questionable trend of Clinton performing worse in counties that relied on electronic voting machines compared to paper ballots and optical scanners, according to the source" briefed on the call.

New York further explains:

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.

In addition to overturning the results in that state, an Electoral College win for Clinton would mean overturning the results in Pennsylvania and securing the Electoral College votes from Michigan. (Michigan's results are not yet final.)

Halderman writes Wednesday in a post at Medium: "Recounting the ballots now can only lead to strengthened electoral integrity."

He expands on the cybersecurity problems with voting machines, and writes:

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.

The deadline to request a recount for Wisconsin is Friday, Pennsylvania's is Monday, and Michigan's is next Wednesday.

Also among those making the call for a ballot audit "to ensure that the machinery of democracy worked" are advisors on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Ron Rivest, also an institute professor at MIT, and Philip Stark, associate dean of mathematical and physical sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. They wrote last week at USA Today: "Did human error, computer glitches, hacking, or other problems change the outcome? While there is, as yet, no compelling evidence, the news about hacking and deliberate interference makes it worth finding out."

FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver, however, has discounted the arguments in a series of tweets:

Meanwhile, the Cook Political Report shows Wednesday that Clinton's popular vote lead over Donald Trump surpasses 2 million. Clinton now has 64,227,373 to Trump's 62,212,752. As Politico noted, Trump tweeted following his win: "The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play." That marks a shift in attitude from a tweet in 2012 after Barack Obama's reelection when he said, "The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy."

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