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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.