Wednesday, November 23, 2016


While I have long thought (scroll to the bottom) that our elections were, to use the adverb of the cycle, 'rigged', particularly in the Democratic primary to the disadvantage of Bernie Sanders by the DNC, and have long considered our voting machines to lack proper transparency and should be dispensed with in favor of a paper ballot that can be verified by both voter and auditor ... it seems to me like this won't be going anywhere, as with Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

 You've probably noticed the story and the Tweeting and all by now.  Emphasis in bold is mine.

Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump, New York has learned. The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked. The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.

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.

Couple of things to note before we continue: it's been a week and this is just now leaking out, the deadlines for recounting are fast approaching, and ... you know ... the Russians.

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.”

A circumstantial case.  The White House is not encouraging -- indeed may be quietly discouraging -- the effort.  And the highest authority on the record so far is Huma Abedin's sister

Rick Hasen explains the situation and the nuances best, but if you like conspiracy theories, this guy -- who claims to dislike them himself (that has an "I'm not a racist, but" ring to it) -- is there for you.  I'm more of an Occam's Razor man myself: the polls screwed the pooch.  Don't expect the Department of Justice to respond to your phone calls urging an audit of the election, either.

Before the election, the department promulgated extensive, real information on the topic and asked those with complaints to report them. They would investigate voter intimidation, election practices that discriminated or other violations of federal law, and would still do so.

But they would do it based on actual evidence of violations, rather than intensity of griping over the result.

I suspicion we'll have all moved on by this time next week.  And don't forget that there are a lot of bars open on Thanksgiving.

Update: Vox and Pajiba are both likewise skeptimistic. And Gadfly in the comments points to Philip Bump, who closes the case.

Update II: (Thanksgiving morning, about 3:43 a.m. CST): Well, I'll be goddamned.  Looks like we will be talking about this next week.


Gadfly said...

Halderman has a follow-up and says that whoever leaked to Sherman overinterpreted Halderman's comments;

joshuaism said...

And yet Jill Stein is now running with this. I guess she's having second thoughts about Trump being better than Clinton for the job.

Gadfly said...

I've got a look at Halderman's piece on Medium that was linked by Bump. Halderman sounds like a neolib Clintonista trying to have his cherry-picking cake and eat it, too.