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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

A series of explanation-defying questions surrounding Donald Trump’s victories in key 2016 swing states has prompted a cadre of voting rights attorneys and electronic voting machine experts to consider formally filing for presidential recounts in coming days.

These recount-justifying anomalies go beyond the discrepancies in media exit polls predicting a Hillary Clinton victory on November 8 and subsequent vote counts where Trump won states that have not backed Republican presidents for decades. Recounts could clarify or verify whether several different forms of electronic hacking could have padded state voter rolls and altered resulting counts.

Former state election directors contacted by AlterNet were extremely skeptical of the election theft theories that accompanied the troubling vote-count patterns. They added that the courts would not change election results unless there was overwhelming proof. Spokespeople for election departments in possible recount states also said their voting systems were designed to block hacking, especially after federal intelligence officials this summer said Russia hacked into two state voter registration databases (Illinois was named) and warned states to be vigilant. Russia also was reportedly behind hacks of DNC and Clinton campaign emails.

The count anomalies and possible explanations cited by the team of voting rights attorneys and electronic voting machine experts, whose experience in these issues dates back to the 2000 and 2004 elections, combined a mix of old and new threats. In some cases, known electronic voting machine vulnerabilities may have been tapped to inflate county-level vote tabulations, they said, suggesting those machines should be impounded and examined. Where Russia may have been involved, their theory goes beyond anything imagined in past elections. They posited that last summer’s Russia hacks of voter registration databases could have yielded sufficient information to create large numbers of phantom absentee ballot voters, inflating the Trump vote in certain swing states that helped win the Electoral College.

Recounts and related litigation could explore if either happened, they said. Obtaining and comparing pre- and post-election logic and accuracy reports of voting machinery might begin to trace the “older school” vote-count tampering, where countywide totals are calculated. (American elections are run by county officials.) Similarly, comparing voter lists from states hacked by Russians, such as Illinois where more than 200,000 voter files were taken, to states with very high numbers of absentee ballots, could reveal if phantom voters were put into those state’s databases, they said.

“The theory here rests not on the claim that the hackers used data from Illinois to apply for registration status and absentee ballots,” one attorney explained. “Rather, the theory is that the hackers used the data from Illinois to place fake voters into voter registration databases which they also hacked … A leading computer scientist agreed this is how it could be done.”

While other election administration experts contacted dismissed this scenario, saying post-election audits in swing states would find discrepancies between the number of paper absentee ballots cast and electronic totals assigned to that ballot category, the anomalies cited by the election integrity team represent their basis to pursue possible recounts in several midwestern states.

What follows are summaries of the scenarios and states they are studying, starting with provocative vote counts, their theories and then hurdles faced if a recount is filed.

North Carolina

Election night’s official returns had Trump beating Clinton by 178,000 votes and the Democratic Senate candidate also losing by roughy the same margin. In other races in the state, however, such as governor and attorney general, the GOP lost and there is a controversial gubernatorial recount underway in which the Republican incumbent, Gov. Pat McCrory, has accused Democrats of voter fraud.

But beyond that predictably partisan finger-pointing, what happened across the state on Election Day has become the focus of serious concern for the election integrity experts. In one Democratic epicenter, Durham County, the state’s voter registration database and e-poll books tied into it were down, prompting long lines, delays and necessitating people fill out provisional ballots. The data was also scrambled, with voter rolls in the wrong locations, people tagged as voting when they had not, and people not on lists even though they had their state registration cards. Those snafus were reported to election protection call centers.

Computer experts who have tracked electronic voting issues subsequently noticed the Florida-based contractor who managed North Carolina’s voter registration database was VR Systems. Earlier this fall, CNN reported that an unnamed Florida-based voting system vendor was hacked by the Russians. To the best of these experts’ knowledge, VR is the only Florida-based voting system vendor. It also has contracts in Virginia, New York, Illinois, Indiana, California and other states, according to the company’s website.

“Was the shut-down of the electronic poll book system in Durham County the result of a benign malfunction or an intentional hack?” one attorney asked. “And, if it was the latter, who was behind the cyberattack? These questions must be answered immediately, especially if the answers lead to questions about the integrity of the election process in other jurisdictions.”

Florida

Clinton was ahead in many pre-election polls, but lost in the results reported after Election Day by 120,000 votes. (Each state has a process where counties officially tally all categories of ballots and then the state certifies the results, which can take several weeks.)

As one attorney said, “Tallahassee-based VR Systems was also allegedly hacked. The company provides electronic poll books for a number of jurisdictions which communicate in real time with each county’s voter registration system. According to the company’s web site VR Systems serves almost all of Florida’s counties and 14 other states.”

Wisconsin

Election night’s unofficial returns found Trump ahead of Clinton by 27,000 votes. But Clinton won only counties using all-paper ballots, the computer voting experts said. In the counties using a mix of electronic and paper-based voting systems that President Obama won in 2012, Clinton lost by 1-2 percent. In the Obama counties using all paperless machines, she lost by 10 to 15 percent. (Five percent of the state’s 4.6 million voters, or 230,000 people, cast their ballots on paperless machines, state officials said Wednesday.)

Wisconsin also saw a record numbers of absentee ballots, with 831,000 ballots cast, which was about 30 percent of this fall’s vote. In past years, it was about 20 percent. Of that overall amount, about 134,000 were from people who mailed them in, instead of turning them in at polling places, state officials said.

The questions raised by the election integrity team are twofold. First, did old-school hacking pad Trump’s margin in counties with all-electronic voting systems? Under that scenario, paperless voting systems would be breached and totals changed. Second, was there a sizable effort to pad the absentee ballot voting with phantom voters, created from last summer’s Russian hacks into voter registration databases in other states?

Both of these scenarios would require sophisticated operations, a skeptical former state election director from another state said. Wisconsin’s paperless voting machinery is not online and isn’t programmed online, as a security precaution, meaning someone would have to access the system in key counties from the inside. Second, if hackers put fake voters into Wisconsin’s database and boosted Trump’s absentee totals, the discrepancy between returned paper ballots and electronic totals would be found in a post-election audit. On background, Wisconsin state election officials did not believe these scenarios were possible, describing many intricate steps they take to prevent election tampering.

Should any recount go forward, it is likely the first recount would be in Wisconsin, because its three-day legal window to file for a recount is expected to start in about nine day — once its 72 counties finished their tallies. Those filing would have to pay for the recount, which could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, apart from the litigation team costs and deploying trained observers.

Michigan

Election night’s unofficial returns found Trump ahead by 11,000 votes. But 87,000 ballots did not show a presidential vote, the election integrity team said, which broke a 49,000 empty-vote record from previous presidential elections. A recount could clarify if all those ballots were improperly read by the state’s optical scan voting systems, in which computers process ink-marked paper ballots. In addition, about 25 percent of Michigan voted by mail, which they said said also could have been padded with phantom voters via the Russian hack.

Michigan Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodham dismissed these scenarios. He said the 2016 missing-vote figure came from the Associated Press in New York City, not his office, and was not credible. He also said his agency, which oversees the state’s voter file and drivers’ license records, compared signatures on absentee ballots to voter registrations to validate the ballots before counting them. There was “no indication” the agency’s records had been hacked or compromised, Woodham said.

It also could be very expensive to conduct a Michigan recount, he said. The state has the most election jurisdictions in the country, with 1,500 local clerks managing 4,800 precincts. The state would charge any candidate seeing the recount, including any third-party candidate up to $125 per precinct to recount the presidential vote. There also is a two-day window to file for recounts after a state canvassing board meets November 28.

Pennsylvania

Election night returns found Trump beating Clinton by 68,000 votes. The state mostly uses older electronic voting machines with no paper trail (unlike Wisconsin, where a cash register-like paper receipt is printed). The concern is that 16 counties are still using aging countywide tabulators which Finnish computer security specialist Harry Hursti has shown can be easily hacked to change the reported results. These computers use old versions of Microsoft operating systems, which have security vulnerabilities that have never been fixed.

In Pennsylvania, November 23 is the last day the Secretary of the Commonwealth can order a recount. It’s also possible to initiate a recount on a precinct-by-precinct basis, as long as a petition is prepared with at least three electors for that precinct, said Marybeth Kuznik of VotePA.us, and a $50 per precinct fee is paid. The window for that petition, however, is within the five days after the counties complete their official canvass. In rural counties, that is quickly approaching.

Next Steps?

The election integrity team understands that any recounts will require the assembling of the necessary funds and infrastructure under an extremely tight time frame. They know their efforts may not pan out, but feel they have no choice but to try to find ways to explain what happened on November 8, especially in states where what they’re seeing doesn’t seem right based on their years of tracking the machinery of elections.

IMAGE: An elections official demonstrates a touch-screen voting machine at the Fairfax County Governmental Center in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S. on October 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

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Copyright 2016 The National Memo

65 Responses to A Fair Election? Serious Questions Arise About Trump Vote Totals In Key Swing States

  1. Pacifier Alert!!!!
    More whining from the alt-left which now controls the Democrat party with an iron fist! When will it end?
    Waaaaaaa!!! I want my pacifier!

  2. Given the unscrupulous character of partisan-politics, especially in light of the GOP perennially trying to make it harder for other members of society to vote period, it is reasonable to assume that the GOP should be suspected in tampering. That coupled with known Russian interventions at different stages of the electoral season demands an investigation.

  3. Had Trump lost we would be hearing nothing but “Voter Fraud” stories but since he won voter fraud didn’t happen. I’m pretty sure that in the 2012 election there was voter fraud in Ohio on the part of the Republicans. When Obama won the state there were republicans running around like their hair was on fire trying to figure out how it happened.

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  5. One of the things I fear most in our public discussion of politics is the tremendous inertia that tradition creates. We had an election; the winner was announced; now we talk about transition teams, and the losers scrutinize their strategy. Nowhere is there room for simple but crucial questions, like, who actually won? How do we know this? If there is any serious question about who won, what is the mechanism for checking that the announced results are accurate? There have been serious questions about accuracy since Florida in 2000. HAVA was supposed to modernize vote collection and tabulation, but since 2004, has been seen as a likely source for vote tampering. In the increasingly paranoid political atmosphere, we desperately need some credible facts about how safe our elections are, and what should be done to correct some obvious flaws. This is an excellent year to have a serious discussion of these matters, since the announced victor in the presidential election has produced major street demonstrations. Lots of people are upset already–let’s use this moment as the starting point for a serious investigation of how we conduct this most crucial operation in a democracy: how we select leaders.

  6. Quit your crying and while were at it let’s count all the illegal votes that came from illegal aliens who wanted the gravy train to keep rolling.

    • You give yourself away when you omit the apostrophe from “we’re” and place it correctly in “let’s.” I will not be returning to discuss gravy trains.

    • Do you have proof of illegal aliens voting? Or are you just regurgitating the same echoes expressed by other churlish conservative-minded people?
      Your parents entered the country by force as immigrants, carving a new life out of the Indigenous people of this land. How easily you forget your history and take for granted the privilege you and your peers flaunt with disdain and with an air of pompousness—much like Emperor Trump does.
      Your gravy train will be running out—God Willing.

      • Are you REALLY that naive Aaron to think that there were NO illegals voting in our election? With the ridiculous voter ID laws making it easy why would you doubt it?

        My grandparents entered by force? Through the turn styles at Ellis Island? Neither I nor my ancestors forced anyone out of their land. While it was an egregious act committed 600 years ago the Indians have gotten over it. Could you find it in your heart to do the same when in fact it was your own people who enabled the slave trade in the first place. Preach to your own about ending the stereotype that in many cases has prolonged the prejudice that remains today. If you put away your own prejudice and give the man a chance I think you will see he will be a president for ALL Americans.

        • Are you really so biased and jaundiced as to suspect trouble as soon as “alien” is mentioned? You live in a world of fear, Jim. You’re surrounded by visions your own insecure mind has fashioned. That’s your “reality”, Jim—it’s not naivete. Logic and insight don’t allow naive thoughts to enter the mind, Jim. You should learn to cultivate and develop those qualities.

          • It’s “trouble” if they’re breaking our laws by voting in the first place. Do you not see this?

          • Have you seen any illegal aliens voting, Jim? Get sensible and objective for once in your life. You don’t have much time left on this earth Jim, yet you cavort about in blissful ignorance making up scenarios and not building up the necessary spiritual qualities you’ll need in the next world. Worrying about who’s an alien, who may be voting illegally, and stereotyping aren’t “virtues”, Jim.

            Did your parents teach you anything besides thinking of your own well-being??? Were they self-centered like you??

          • I see that it is a non-issue but as soon as someone can supply some evidence, not just the bluster of a blowhard like Trump, I’ll take it very seriously.

        • How was it that your grand-parents were able to go through Ellis Island turn stiles, Jim? Did the indigenous people sign a pact giving them permission to enter, as you are asking we do for immigrants today? Was the way made possible as a result of wholesale raping, killing and herding of Indigenous people off their land to make way for your grand-parents eventual arrival?
          You’re too slow-witted to understand how America came to be in order to allow for you and your forebears to settle here and to take over.
          Everything you are privileged to enjoy came at someone else’s experience. Jim.

          That’s what being a “Mr. Charlie” implies. Read some history, Jim, and not according to Steve Bannon or David Duke’s view of history.

          • Let me give you a brief history lesson since you have a problem with history, lack insight, and don’t fully comprehend what has transpired in America.
            On my mother’s side, her ancestors were forced to come here, and on part of my dad’s side, they too were forced to come here—some from Europe and some from Africa as well.
            As for others who came voluntarily, they’re possessed of a humility to not be presumptuous about their fortune to be able to settle here. Unlike you, they have a conscience and don’t take the forced removal of indigenous people for granted, and don’t arrogantly presume, as you do, that Native Americans have “moved on” and accept their humiliation and mistreatment.

            Someday, you might be able to connect with the Christianity you purport to believe in. In the meantime, concentrate on mulling over what the authors here write about, do some homework, reflect, and try to live up to the ideals of Jesus and not to the standards of the GOP and Trump.

            Jim, you’re an incurious and imperious fellow—a by-product of being conservative. (Being incurious and insensitive are depraved qualities which are acutely present in many of today’s conservatives).

        • Get money back in peoples pockets and see how fast the haters come to like Trump. He really does want to be liked by all, his ego demands it. Problem is, in trying to please all he might wind up pleasing no one. At the end of the day populist leaders dont succeed, they have to choose who they please and never mind the rest.

          Trump has a problem he never faced before. As president of a company you pay people to respect you, they have no choice. President of a country, you have to earn it and how will he do that? Im not sure, but he will try.

          But thats all on a good day and we are not on a good day. We’re on the edge of civil war even without Trump and though i’ve given him a chance with my vote it may be for not unless he is Superman.

          • It’s all about the economy Box, for sure. It would be hard to believe many of these numskulls will admit it however. His ego demands that he succeeds first and foremost I think. I’m impressed on how quickly he’s moving along and like his picks so far.

            He will earn it by making choices that see immediate results on some levels. I can’t figure out now that the election is over why these people won’t come together like we have in past elections. He has said he will be a president for ALL people! But you’re right, we will see but to get where he’s gotten in this election period alone he just may be Superman.

          • “His ego demands that he succeeds first and foremost” Uh, almost. His ego demands that he will claim success or say that he was treated unfairly.

            “now that the election is over why these people won’t come together like we have in past elections.” Oh, like they did with Obama. LOL.

          • They did….at first. Then the apology tour began, then he denounced the police for arresting his friend before knowing the facts, then began his divisive agenda en route to unseating Jimmy Carter as the worst president in American history

          • I disagree. I saw the GOP and racists, not necessarily the same people, resist and try to block him from day one and continue that to they very end. GOP refusal to even consider his nominee for SCOTUS should be sufficient cause for removal of them all from office for dereliction of duty.

            Who was the worst president is also an opinion. My vote would be W Bush followed by Reagan. I expect Trump to eclipse both of them.

          • “Get money back in peoples pockets and see how fast the haters come to like Trump.” That would be true if it happened but the only pockets Trump will put money into will be his own and his family’s and some for the billionaires and shysters in his circle.

            “Respect…President of a country, you have to earn it and how will he do that? I’m not sure, but he will try.” well he could stop lying so much, that would help. an apology to the Gold Star parents he insulted might get him a few points.

    • Your absolutely right recounts would identify any undocumented persons who illegally voted. So your on board with the investigation, Jim, right?

        • article: “Here’s credible evidence that a hostile superpower with a history of rigging other country’s elections and which has interfered with this one may have done more still.”

          you: “I don’t care about that! What about all the brown people voting?!?”

  7. When I see young voters on streets protesting Trump’s win, my heart aches a lot. They came out in drove to vote for someone they knew will deal with climate change, money to pay for their studies etc.etc. These issues touchs them a lot. It is their future and this election must not be stolen from them. Fair and clean result is what is needed now. Contrary to that, protesting need to continue to demand a fair election and fair results. Investigation is very essential in this issue.

      • Everyone’s money would pay for their studies. Because society as a whole benefits from it’s people being educated. The only time someone shouldn’t want an educated public is if the education is somehow going to be preventing the 1% from having all the power.

        And yes, I would gladly pay into a system of taxes that would contribute to my children’s college education, the same way I pay into the taxes that contribute to their basic education. Publically funded state colleges should be available, especially if entry level jobs are going to require a 4 year degree.

  8. Obama went in public to tell illegals there would be no repercussions if they voted. He has no power to do that, it was a desperate act and sends the entire lawful voter framework into chaos as Registrars would have to struggle with untold numbers of people showing up to vote who are not supposed to vote. I wonder how many did?

    • And just how exactly would undocumented, unregistered illegal aliens obtain and cast a ballot? And for that matter, do you even have any proof that illegal aliens voted en masses during this past election? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so either

    • “Obama went in public to tell illegals there would be no repercussions if they voted.” Of course you can supply evidence of that, right?

  9. Amazing premise here, so the accusation now is that the polls were right and the vote count is the lie and now we are supposed to reverse the count to match the lying polls? All the universe doesnt know insanity like this.

    • If you knew anything about statistics you’d know that exit polls are extremely accurate. They show that Clinton won the key battleground states.

    • No, insanity is that we still utilize and outdated, antiquated, and obsolete system such as the electoral college. Only in America can a candidate lose the popular vote by 2 million some odd votes and still win. People are upset, and rightfully so, that depending upon where they reside their vote will carry less weight than that of a voter in a “swing state.”
      So please, enlighten me as to why the electoral college is necessary.

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  11. During the election of Barack Obama in 2008, journalists from all over the world descended on the state of Ohio. It had nothing to do with history being made with the election of the first black president. No indeed. What attracted worldwide press was Ohio’s crooked elections. I know, because I live in Ohio. And, as long as I live, I will never what went down in Ohio in 2000 and 2004. It was simply a coup. And it wasn’t subtle. It was blatant criminality. So much so, all you needed was a pencil and paper to expose it. The whole world knew what the Mainstream Media in America, to this day, has subverted, and refuses to cover. The so called most powerful democracy in the world’s quashed the will of its own people with stolen elections. America was no grand display of democracy at all. It is a paper tiger. The election of Donald Trump proves it. His ascendancy to the highest office in the land reveals that America’s so called democratic institutions are catastrophic failures.

    In spite of numerous well produced and directed documentaries on election fraud, the subject remains absent from Mainstream Media.

    Hacking Democracy
    (2006)

    Bush Family Fortunes: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
    (2004)

    Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (2002)

    Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections
    (2008 Documentary)

    Free for All!
    (2008 Documentary)

    A Little Light’ll Do Ya: Defending Democracy in America
    (2005 Documentary)

    Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story

    (2008 Documentary)

    Citizen Koch
    (2013 Documentary)

    Gerrymandering
    (2010 Documentary)

    Stealing America: Vote by Vote
    (2008 Documentary)

    Electoral Dysfunction
    (2012 Documentary)

    • Liar. It was the Democrats who had the machinery in place to steal the election through Ohio in 2004. The MSM waited on John Kerry to give the signal, but he instead did the right thing, and threw in the towel.

      Nicholas Stix, Uncensored

      • Really? Then what about the machines that were shown to have tabulated two votes for Bush for every one for Kerry? Also, remember the chairman of Bush’s reelection committee in Ohio was the same man who owned the company that provided Ohio’s paperless voting machines.

  12. Instead of wasting your time trying to push this rope up a hill, I suggest you use that time to work on your greetings and salutations. Good Morming President Trump,… Greetings O’ Wise One, President Trump…. Thank you, Lord and Master Trump…

    Work on it, You may swallow your tongue the first time or two but it will get easier with practice. President Trump, Lord and Master, President Trump, Lord and Master, Pres……

    • So let me get this straight, after 8 years of bashing Obama and mockingly calling him “The Chosen One” or whatever other nonsense you hair brained malcontents have thought up you now suggest that other address Trump in such a manner albeit seriously?
      And where in the hell do you get off demanding that the democrats suddenly kowtow to the wishes of the GOP? Just how hypocritical can you fools be? It’s funny how now that the GOP has secured the presidency they have all of a sudden embraced the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, imploring the democrats to shut up, stop whining and give Trump a chance given the fact that you obstructionist clowns spent 8 years doing everything within your power to thwart Obama at every turn. God you’re like spoiled, bratty children that have to always get their way. But hell, say the democrats DO give Trump a chance and cooperate with his administration, what’s to stop the GOP from playing partisan politics and steadfastly refusing to cooperate the next time a democrat assumes the office of president? Face it, you’re all just a bunch of shameless hypocrites that revel in the stench of their own hypocrisy.

  13. Shades of 2000! You’re trying to steal another election, after the fact.

    Be careful what you wish for. A real audit would show that Hillary Clinton only won the popular vote through massive voter fraud, which Barack Obama publicly exacerbated, with his call for illegal aliens to commit voter fraud.

    Nicholas Stix, Uncensored

    • Uh yeah, it’s just too bad for you hat the only people caught engaging in voter fraud during this past election were those voting for Trump. And no, HRC will have LEGITIMATELY WON the popular vote by 2-3 million once all the votes are counted. Good grief, what is it with the GOP and their proclivity towards outright lying?

  14. of course the polls were wrong, no one would admit they were voting for Trump because the pollster would call them a racist, plus if you were a union member and voted for Trump, your house would be set on fire by the union. Finally for every 20 republicans polled, they polled 30 democrats. also take away the 3million illegal alien votes, and it was even more of a landslide, And by the way the trump victory was matched by substantial republican gains in state legislatures.

    Suck it up, buttercup.

    • I’m not a “buttercup.” I’m a decorated combat veteran who actually cares about the integrity of our elections. If, after all this, it is shown that Trump still won fairly, so be it. But as long as there is clear evidence that Russia has violated America’s sovereignty without firing a shot, I am concerned. And Donald Trump, with his financial dealings with Russia should be concerned, too, if he wants to hang on to any shred of credibility.

      • Agree with all except that Trump does not have even a shred of credibility to lose. Only idiots believe his lies and, bet on it, most will continue to do so no matter what.

    • Electoral college winner’s total:
      1984—525
      1980—489
      1988—426
      1996—379
      1992—370
      2008—365
      2012—332
      *2016—306*
      2004—286
      2000—271
      Trump won in the 44th biggest landslide out of the past 54 elections. Pretty epic

      “take away the 3million illegal alien votes” Utter nonsense, but even if true (NO EVIDENCE AT ALL) would just mean a tie for the popular vote.

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