Was the Election Hacked? Will We Find Out?

November 23, 2016

“We cannot sit on the sidelines as a party and let allegations against a foreign government interfering in our election process go unanswered because it may have been beneficial to our cause,” – Republican Senator Lindsay Graham

We know from the Chief of the National Security Agency that Wikileaks releases during the campaign were part of a “conscious effort by a nation-state to to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”
So that would make the media an accessory in a deliberate distortion of the election.

But, was the election directly hacked, as well?

Maybe. Maybe not.
Is planetary survival enough of a reason? Do “mainstream”  journalists even care?

UPDATE: This piece in the Washington Post adds caution:

Reached by email, Halderman pointed us to a statement he’d written at Medium. It’s a lengthy examination of how vote-tallying systems have been rigged or manipulated in the past, but the most important line (for our purposes) is this one:

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.

Still leaves the WikiLeaks interference, confirmed by NSA, very much alive.

You can contact the Department of Justice and demand investigation here.

Center for Investigative Reporting:

A team of activists is urging Hillary Clinton to challenge election results in three key swing states, according to a report published today in New York Magazine.

The team, which reportedly includes civil rights lawyer John Bonifaz and University of Michigan computer science professor Alex Halderman, says they’ve discovered evidence that votes were hacked or manipulated in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, according to New York Magazine’s report. In Wisconsin, Clinton appears to have received a lower percentage of votes in counties that relied solely on electronic voting machines – a discrepancy that could have cost her as many as 30,000 votes, and the state itself.

Without more detail, it’s impossible to judge the team’s claims. But one thing is clear: Halderman is credible and trusted among his peers.

He has a history of demonstrating how voting technologies – in Washington D.C.Estonia and Australia, to name a few – are less secure than authorities hope.

In DC, he and a team of students hacked the city’s pilot internet voting system in less than 24 hours, altering ballots and spying on voters. The team left a calling card: When voters cast their ballot online, the computer played the University of Michigan’s fight song, as our recent story into election hacking showed.

“Halderman is very credible, and if he says there are anomalies that deserve investigation, they should be investigated,” wrote Rick Hasen, a professor of Law and Political Science at UC Irvine, on his Election Law Blog.

Since President-elect Donald Trump began publicly decrying the possibility of a rigged election in campaign rallies and on Twitter this fall, experts have been quick point out how difficult it would be to launch a large-scale hack on America’s voting infrastructure. Across the country, more than 9,000 jurisdictions are free to adopt their own voting practices and technologies. Such a patchwork, they say, is nearly impossible to target head-on.

“While no system is 100 percent hack-proof, elections in this country are secure – perhaps as secure as they’ve ever been,” said David Becker, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research, said at a House hearing in September. “To manipulate election results on a state or national scale would require a conspiracy of literally hundreds of thousands, and for that massive conspiracy to go undetected.”

Halderman disagrees. “Becker is wrong,” he told me in an email earlier this month. “Even though the machines aren’t connected to the Internet, their software can potentially be attacked through a stuxnet-style attack that spreads via the memory cards that are used to load the ballot design.”

“This is more complicated than attacking an online voting system that is directly connected to the Internet,” he added. “But it’s within the capabilities of nation-state attackers, and it would not require a large conspiracy.”

Huffington Post:

A group of computer scientists and election lawyers are urging Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to challenge her election loss, saying they have evidence the results in three key battleground states were compromised.

According to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, the activists say electronic voting systems in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania produced discrepancies that hurt Clinton.

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.

Clinton needed to win all three states for an election victory. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania went for Donald Trump by the smallest margins of all the states that he won. The race in Michigan hasn’t been certified, but the state is likely to go to Trump. A Clinton win in all three states would give her enough Electoral College votes to claim the presidency.

The activists, who have not spoken publicly about their findings, presented their evidence to Clinton’s campaign team last week. An aide to Clinton told HuffPost the campaign is “not saying anything yet.”

Some data scientists and political statisticians, including FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver and The New York Times’ Nate Cohn, cast doubt on the claims, which compared voting in counties that used paper ballots with those that used electronic machines. Silver and Cohn said the suspicious results disappear when controlling for demographic factors like race and education.


Graham, who has sparred openly with Trump, his former rival in the presidential primary, is proposing that Congress hold a series of hearings on “Russia’s misadventures throughout the world” – including whether they were involved in “hacking into the DNC.”

“Were they involved in cyberattacks that had a political component to it in our elections?” Graham said.

If so, Graham said, “Putin should be punished.”

U.S. officials allege that Russia was involved in the hack on the Democratic National Committee that resulted in the release of sensitive emails ahead of the election.

Graham is one of the Senate’s leading foreign policy experts and his scrutiny of Putin comes as Trump’s desire for closer ties with Russia has drawn deep concern from the national security establishment.

“Here’s what I would tell Republicans: We cannot sit on the sidelines as a party and let allegations against a foreign government interfering in our election process go unanswered because it may have been beneficial to our cause,” Graham added.

The South Carolina senator acknowledged differences with Trump – “clearly, me and the Donald have issues,” he said – but he offered an olive branch to “do everything to help him, because he’ll be commander in chief in dangerous times.”

“He wants to reset with Russia. Maybe he can do it. But here’s my view about Russia: They’re a bad actor in the world and they need to be reined in,” Graham said.


12 Responses to “Was the Election Hacked? Will We Find Out?”

  1. Tom Bates Says:

    Why not stop foaming at the mouth and actually look at why you lost. It is actually pretty simple, under the republic you have to win in a majority of the states not just in some. There is a reason for that, the founding fathers knew the mob was a bad thing for the country, it still is. You have to convince enough states voters that you are for them, you have not done that.

  2. Tom Bates Says:

    Incidentally look a the last paragraph. Graham is insane. You cannot reign in Russia, it has nuclear missiles, submarines, a huge army, a large air force. Reigning them in starts WWIII. You can work with the Russian leaders to redo relations starting with Syria as we both have interests in the region. Simply killing Assad on the demand of the zionists who have bought Graham is not the way to do that. Obama could kill the leader of Libya as that guy had no nuclear weapons, you notice Obama does not do that with Kim of North Korea as the guy has nuclear weapons. That is the force the world sees from the USA, if you have nuclear weapons you have power to influence the USA just like say Pakistan, if you do not the USA walks over you like it did in Panama and Grenada.

    • toby52 Says:

      Russia is a country full of alcoholics with a autocrat leader who has plundered the country with his oligarchic henchmen. They are to be respected in proportion to their moral and physical force in the world, but that is considerably less than that of the USA, or China. Vladimir Putin has to be confronted with a solid western alliance, not with a weak-kneed “Let’s be bro’s”. People have friends, countries have interests. The interests of the USA and Russia conflict in many places – in Europe, and in the Middle East, where the same Iran that threatens the existence of Israel is a Russian ally.

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    Bates is no better with “rein/reign” than he is with “graph/graft”, just as he can’t seem to get on topic and stay there. The topic here being the hacking of the election. Once again, Bates jumps in early with an attempt to distract us from that.

    (And I have to laugh at the huge irony of Bates calling anyone “insane”)

  4. Gingerbaker Says:

    We have had extremely serious discrepancies between exit polls and election results, both in the Democratic primary (none on Republican side – imagine that) and in the Presidential election.

    Anywhere else in the world these would be rioting in the streets over such a thing. Exit polls anomalies vs vote counts is how the the International community determines election fraud.

    In the U.S., though hardly a peep. This is completely nuts. We need election integrity, and it is extremely easy:

    You use no electronic voting machines, only paper ballots, which are counted publicly one by one.


  5. Lionel Smith Says:

    Hacking aside there could be other reasons for regarding the Trump vote with suspicion.

    Greg Palast on Here’s what we do now – a personal note

    Being right never felt so horrid.
    “This is the story of the theft of the 2016 election.
    It’s a crime still in progress.”
    So opens my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
    And on Election night I waited for the returns to make a fool of me.
    Instead, the returns made the fool a President.


    Trump not only lost the popular vote by millions — he did not legitimately win the swing states of the Electoral College.
    Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Ohio: every one was stolen through sophisticated, and sickeningly racist vote suppression tactics.
    If you saw my report for Democracy Now! on election morning, it revealed that Ohio GOP officials turned off anti-hacking software on voting machines, forced Black voters to wait hours in line (while whites had no wait).
    And, crucially, I confirmed that purged tens of thousands of minority voters on fake accusations they’d voted twice.

    This is way more serious than ‘hanging chads’, although that was the beginning of a fresh assault by climate contrarians and now one of those, Monckton, has come out of the woodwork again at Carbon Brief Another has been joining in trying to muddy the waters using derogatory arguments (mathturbation as Tamino puts it, look for article ‘Frankly Not’) against climate models.

  6. toby52 Says:

    I do not believe the election was hacked – Nate Silver looked at the data and says the voting machine versus paper difference can be explained by rural versus urban minority voters.

    However, the election must be seen to be above suspicion, and Hillary Clinton would be performing a public service by demanding a recount.

    Since Donald Trump was the first to question the integrity of the electoral process, he would hardly be in a position to protest. He should welcome the recounts, I am sure. 🙂

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