President-elect Donald J. Trump and his allies have filed separate legal challenges in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in a suddenly robust effort to stop the presidential election recount efforts there. None of the challenges immediately derailed the recounts in those states, but they promised to complicate them with more legal wrangling by Mr. Trump, groups supportive of him, state officials and Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate. Ms. Stein initiated the recounts and a successful fund-raising drive after suggesting that voting machines were susceptible to hacking. On Friday, Mr. Trump filed a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Appeals in an attempt to block the recount there, which had not yet begun. “If the Bureau of Elections moves forward with the recount, it will waste the State’s scarce resources, create a logistical nightmare for counties across the State, and assure that Michigan’s Electoral College voters will not be counted,” the filing said. Bill Schuette, Michigan’s attorney general, filed a separate lawsuit in a bid to halt the recount, saying that it put the state’s voters at risk of “paying millions and potentially losing their voice in the Electoral College in the process.”
Following Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the presidential election, voter security experts began privately discussing their concerns about whether the results might have been tampered with, according to John Bonifaz, the founder of the National Voting Rights Institute. The election had taken place against a backdrop of warnings from the US government that Russian hackers were “scanning and probing” the election systems of American states, and were behind the theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Eight days before the election, the White House had used an emergency hotline to warn Russia against further interference. “I was getting calls from members of the election integrity community, so I joined them and began looking at possible discrepancies myself,” Bonifaz said in an interview. Several concerns emerged. Trump appeared to have performed particularly well in Wisconsin counties only using electronic voting. There seemed to have been a sharp increase in the number of ballots cast in Michigan that left the presidential field blank. Electronic voting systems had briefly faltered in one North Carolina county on election day.
How might a foreign government hack America’s voting machines? Here’s one possible scenario. First, the attackers would probe election offices well in advance in order to find ways to break into their computers. Closer to the election, when it was clear from polling data which states would have close electoral margins, the attackers might spread malware into voting machines in some of these states, rigging the machines to shift a few percent of the vote to favor their desired candidate. This malware would likely be designed to remain inactive during pre-election tests, do its dirty business during the election, then erase itself when the polls close. A skilled attacker’s work might leave no visible signs — though the country might be surprised when results in several close states were off from pre-election polls.
State-sponsored cyber-attacks seemingly intended to influence the 2016 Presidential election have raised a question: Is the vulnerability of computerized voting systems to hacking a critical threat to our national security? Can an adversary use methods of cyber-warfare to select our commander-in-chief?
A dedicated group of technically sophisticated individuals could steal an election by hacking voting machines key counties in just a few states. Indeed, University of Michigan computer science professor J. Alex Halderman says that he and his students could have changed the result of the presidential election. Halderman et al. have hacked a lot of voting machines, and there are videos to prove it. I believe him.
Halderman isn’t going to steal an election, but a foreign power might be tempted to do so. The military expenditures of a medium-size country dwarf the cost of a multi-pronged attack, which could include using the internet, bribing employees of election offices and voting machine vendors, or just buying voting machine companies. It is likely that such an attack would not be detected, given our current election security practices.
What would alert us to such an attack? What should we do about it? If there is reason to suspect an election result (perhaps because it’s an upset victory that defies the vast majority of pre-election polls), common sense says we should double-check the results of the election as best we can. But this is hard to do in America. Recount laws vary with each state. In states where it is possible to get a recount, it often has to be requested by one of the candidates, often at considerable expense.
In the recent election, it is fortunate that Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein, citing potential security breaches, recently requested a recount of the 2016 presidential vote in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and plans to do so in Michigan. Donald Trump unexpectedly won these three states by very narrow margins, and their recount laws are favorably compared with some of the other swing states.
A hearing is expected in U.S. District Court in Detroit Sunday to decide when a recount of Michigan presidential election ballots can begin. Green Party candidate Jill Stein filed suit against state election officials in federal court in Detroit late Friday in the latest in a raft of lawsuits over her request for a recount of Michigan’s presidential election vote. Barring a court injunction, the hand recount of about 4.8 million Michigan ballots is likely to begin Wednesday, though it is possible it could get under way late on Tuesday, state Director of Elections Chris Thomas said Friday. Thomas made that determination after the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked, 2-2, on president-elect Donald Trump’s objections to Stein’s request for a recount — meaning the recount proceeds. Thomas said that under state election law, officials must wait two business days after ruling on Trump’s protest, before starting the recount. But in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Stein says that delay is unreasonable and violates equal protection and due process rights guaranteed under the Constitution, “effectively denying the right to vote” if the recount is not completed in time to meet federal deadlines. The court announced late Saturday night that it would hear the case in a rare Sunday hearing. The 10:30 a.m.case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith.
Nevada: Secretary of state has final say in calling statewide recount of Nevada presidential vote | Las Vegas Review-Journal
A recount of ballots in select precincts from five Nevada counties sought by a last-place presidential contender will not automatically trigger a statewide recount, even if the stipulated 1 percent discrepancy is found, a state election official said Wednesday. Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, who came in dead last in Nevada with 2,552 votes in the Nov. 8 general election, filed for a recount Tuesday just minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline to do so. He paid a fee of $14,154.98 to finance the effort to recount ballots in 93 precincts, or 5 percent of the total. Under state law, if a discrepancy of 1 percent or more is found in either the votes received by the person requesting the recount or the person who won — Democrat Hillary Clinton in this case — a new counting of all ballots cast in that race can be ordered. But it is not mandatory or automatic. “State law gives the secretary of state some discretion on when a person who requests a recount is entitled to a full statewide recount,” elections deputy Wayne Thorley said. “The secretary of state will need to review the results of the sample recount of 93 precincts before making any decisions on a full statewide recount.”
A federal judge was asking skeptical questions Sunday about Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request to order the immediate start of a presidential recount in Michigan. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith asked Stein attorney Mark Brewer to explain what the harm is in waiting until Wednesday, as planned, especially after Brewer conceded that the recount could still likely be completed by Dec. 13 if started Wednesday, though it would take more money and resources. To get a court order, Stein must show she will suffer “irreparable harm” if the recount doesn’t start immediately. Lawyers for the Michigan Republican Party argued that there can be no irreparable harm, if the recount can still get done with a Wednesday start. “I think the hearing should be over, based on that admission,” attorney Gary Gordon of Lansing, who has represented Trump and the Michigan Republican Party, told the judge about Brewer’s statement.
North Carolina: Durham elections board denied extension on Monday recount deadline | News & Observer
The Durham County Board of Elections on Friday unsuccessfully requested an extension of the state’s deadline to recount 90,000 votes – arguing the recount can’t be completed by Monday evening. Later Friday, the State Board of Elections denied the extension. “State Board officials have been working with Durham County officials to ensure the recount is conducted as expeditiously as possible,” agency spokesman Patrick Gannon said. “At this point, the State Board office does not believe an extension beyond Monday night is necessary.” The Durham board met Friday morning to discuss the State Board of Elections order that it complete a recount by 7 p.m. Monday. Durham wanted that deadline extended to Wednesday because it expects it will take that long to run 90,000 ballots through its tabulating machines if it begins Sunday morning.
A Green Party-backed campaign changed its strategy to force a statewide recount of Pennsylvania’s Nov. 8 presidential election, won by Republican Donald Trump, and said late Saturday night that it will seek help in the federal courts, rather than the state courts. The announcement that it would seek an emergency federal court order on Monday for a recount came hours after it dropped a case in the state courts. “Make no mistake — the Stein campaign will continue to fight for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania,” recount campaign lawyer Jonathan Abady said in a statement issued around 11:30 p.m. “We are committed to this fight to protect the civil and voting rights of all Americans.” In the statement, Abady said barriers to a recount in Pennsylvania are pervasive and the state court system is ill-equipped to address the problem.
A federal judge Friday denied an emergency halt to the recount of the presidential vote in Wisconsin, allowing the process to continue until a Dec. 9 court hearing at least. There is no need to halt the recount just yet because it will not do any immediate harm to Republican President-elect Donald Trump or his supporters, U.S. District Judge James Peterson wrote in a three-page order that called for both sides in the case to lay out written arguments before he takes any action. Citing the case that cleared George W. Bush’s path to the presidency, Trump supporters had filed a lawsuit early Friday to stop Wisconsin’s recount and safeguard the president elect’s Nov. 8 victory here.
Austria: Vying for Their Own Election Upset, Austrian Populists Forge Ties to Trump Allies | Wall Street Journal
Senior politicians from Austria’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party celebrated the upset victory of Donald Trump at an election-night party in Trump Tower in New York. This Sunday, when their nation goes to the polls, they will be hoping for an improbable presidency of their own. Mr. Trump’s win has energized populist politicians across Europe who echo his criticism of immigration, free trade and international institutions and calls for improved ties with Russia. But nowhere, perhaps, is the jubilation as great as in Austria, where the Freedom Party now sees years of quiet efforts to establish ties with conservative Republicans in the U.S. paying off just as its own candidate stands on the verge of the Austrian presidency. The party’s Norbert Hofer is running neck-and-neck with center-left candidate Alexander Van der Bellen in the polls ahead of Austria’s runoff presidential election on Sunday. Mr. Hofer’s victory would give the Freedom Party—long ostracized for its xenophobic rhetoric and past links to former Nazis—the Austrian presidency for the first time.
Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh, who once vowed to rule the tiny West African nation for “a billion years”, said he had accepted his shock election defeat on Friday, 22 years after seizing power in a coup. Voting on Thursday against Jammeh was a rare show of defiance against a leader who has ruled by decree and who rights groups say crushes dissent by imprisoning and torturing opponents. In an address broadcast by Gambian state-owned radio on Thursday evening, Jammeh said he would not contest the poll results showing opposition candidate Adama Barrow had won, which had been announced earlier in the day. “If (Barrow) wants to work with us also, I have no problem with that. I will help him work towards the transition,” Jammeh said, before later saying that he planned to move to his farm after leaving office following a handover in January.
When Italians vote on a much-awaited popular referendum on Sunday, they will also be deciding the fate of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s government—and expressing the country’s appetite for change. The ballot is ostensibly over Mr. Renzi’s proposal to overhaul Italy’s legislature. But with his popularity waning and the economy stalled, it has become a make-or-break vote on the premier himself and his vision for a nimbler and faster-growing Italy. A loss would likely drive Mr. Renzi from office and usher in a period of instability amid growing support for a large populist party. Italy’s referendum kicks off a momentous electoral year in Europe, where populist parties are expected to do well. On the same day as the Italian vote, Austrians go to the polls to elect a new president, in a race that could install the country’s first right-wing populist head of state since World War II. Support for anti-establishment parties is surging in France and Germany, too, both of which have elections next year.
As allegations of vote rigging and manipulation continue to plague the 2016 election, one developer is heading straight to the source to investigate—the source code, that is.Regardless of what state you live in, one common denominator is direct recording electronic (DRE) machines. While some states use paper ballots and only five states (Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, South…
National: There have been just 4 documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election | The Washington Post
Three weeks ago, the votes of more than 135 million Americans were counted, and Donald Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 presidential election. It was a surprising result, given that polling in the run-up to the election suggested that Hillary Clinton’s support in the Midwest would assure she could hit 270 electoral votes. That support didn’t exist when it came time to vote, and that was that. It seemed very likely as Nov. 8 approached that Donald Trump was poised to reject the result, regardless of which states fell into which candidate’s column. For months, he’d been alleging that voter fraud was rampant and that his supporters needed to police the polls. Rather amazingly, he has picked up the same thread after the election, charging that Clinton won the popular vote (by 2.5 million votes and counting) solely because of fraudulent ballots. There wasn’t evidence of widespread voter fraud before the election. There isn’t evidence of widespread voter fraud afterward, either. In fact, there’s not evidence of even modest voter fraud.
Anti-Trump forces are preparing an unprecedented assault on the Electoral College, marked by a wave of lawsuits and an intensive lobbying effort aimed at persuading 37 Republican electors to vote for a candidate other than Donald Trump. It’s a bracing stress-test for an institution that Alexander Hamilton envisioned as a safeguard against popular whims, and a direct challenge to the role that the Electoral College has evolved to play in picking the president: constitutional rubber stamp. Behind the overt anti-Trump push is a covert agenda: If the courts establish that individual electors can switch allegiances, supporting candidates other than those who win their states, it would inject so much uncertainty into the process that states may be willing to junk the Electoral College in favor of a popular-vote winner.
More than a thousand absentee ballots mailed in for the general election were not counted. Despite lingering questions about the process, elections officials will once again push for an all mail-in election. When Always Investigating looked into ballot irregularities for the primary election, we found out several hundred ballots were invalidated over missing or mismatched signatures. For the general election, that more than doubled. Despite that rate, all-mail-in voting is a real possibility. This week, the Hawaii Elections Commission prepares for its first meeting since the election to go over what went right and wrong. The agenda includes an all-mail initiative they’re backing at the Legislature again this year.
Maine: Without evidence, LePage tells lawmakers he can’t attest to election tallies | Bangor Daily News
Gov. Paul LePage has sent newly elected legislators to Augusta a form letter saying he “cannot attest to the accuracy” of Maine’s recent election results, but doesn’t cite any specific evidence of fraud, and no major voting problems were reported in the state. The letter, which was posted on social media by Democratic lawmakers on Thursday, turned a mere formality into a political statement, with the Republican governor doubling down on past doubts about the integrity of Maine’s election system. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat, said LePage is “continuing that widespread mythology of widespread voter fraud,” saying Maine saw only isolated cases of voting issues on Election Day, none of which amounted to fraud. “I think the integrity of the election is absolutely not in question,” Dunlap said. “I’ve asserted that a hundred times, and I’ll assert it another hundred times.”
Donald Trump asked the state of Michigan on Thursday to reject Jill Stein’s request for a recount of the presidential election. Attorneys for the US president-elect argued in a filing to Michigan election officials that Stein was not entitled to the recount and that it could not be completed in time before the state must cast its electoral college votes. “Michigan should not grant this lawless, insulting request, and its voters should not risk having the Electoral College door knocked off its hinges, all because a one-percent candidate is dissatisfied with the election’s outcome,” Trump’s filing said. Trump accused Stein of creating an “electoral farce” and claimed that she “aims to sow doubts regarding the legitimacy of the presidential election”. Stein, who has also filed for recounts in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, described Trump’s move as an “attempt to undermine democracy” and assured supporters that the recount would go ahead.
Saying that Michigan should not grant “this lawless, insulting request,” the campaign of President-elect Donald Trump filed an objection Thursday afternoon to a request to recount nearly 4.8 million votes cast for President in Michigan. Michigan’s “voters should not risk having the Electoral College door knocked off its hinges all because a 1% candidate is dissatisfied with the election’s outcome,” the objection stated. “Given her tiny vote total, (Green Party presidential candidate Jill) Stein does not and could not possibly allege a good faith belief that she may have won the state of Michigan.” The objection will put a hold on any recount of votes until the state Board of Canvassers can rule on the objection at a meeting scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday. Once that ruling is made, Chris Thomas, director of the state Department of Elections, said the recount can’t start for two business days, which could mean a recount won’t start until next week. The recount had been scheduled to begin on Friday in Oakland and Ingham counties and continue throughout the weekend in the state’s largest 19 counties. All the weekend work has been postponed until the objection is resolved. State elections officials said it hoped to finish a recount by Dec. 10, but the legal filing puts that schedule in jeopardy.
Top Republican leaders in the Michigan Legislature are backing a strict voter identification proposal, setting the stage for potential passage in the session’s final two weeks. The House Elections Committee on Thursday advanced a three-bill package that would require voters to provide photo identification at their polling place or within 10 days of casting a provisional ballot on Election Day. “It solves the opportunity for voter fraud,” said House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, who intends to put the plan up for a floor vote. “Voter fraud is something that’s very difficult to be able to identify, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t protect the right to vote.” The proposal includes provisions allowing low-income voters to obtain a free birth certificate copy for the purposes of obtaining an ID, which is “great,” said Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo. “But the problem with all this is, it’s used to restrict the vote, that’s what the purpose of this is,” he said. “It’s about making sure (we) can keep certain people from the polls, folks who can’t otherwise obtain get IDs.”
A Grand Rapids lawmaker has introduced legislation that would force leaders of the Michigan presidential recount effort and those requesting future statewide recounts to pick up the entire tab. State Rep. Lisa Pothumus Lyons, R-Alto, introduced the bill Thursday, which includes a retroactive date of Jan. 1, 2016. “The number grows every single day. It started out as $100,000 to $2 million. Now I’m gearing $4 million to $5 million,” said Lyons, referring to the estimated cost of the proposed recount. Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s campaign has picked up the first $900,000 and then some, but taxpayers may have to foot the rest of the bill. Republicans are asking, for what? “The candidate who is asking for the recount acknowledges that the outcome will not change, especially for her,” said Lyons.
Durham County must complete a recount of 90,000 votes by 7 p.m. Monday, according to a State Board of Elections order issued late Thursday. The state board voted 3-2 along party lines Wednesday to order a machine recount of votes cast during early voting in Durham County, backing a request from Republicans and Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign. The three Republicans on the board voted for the recount, saying that the late addition of the 90,000 votes to the statewide tally on election night constituted an “irregularity.” The state board’s decision overturned the Durham County Board of Elections, also controlled by Republicans, which had rejected the recount request as baseless. The recount could finally settle the governor’s race between McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper, the state’s attorney general.
Pennsylvania: Philladelphia allows recount, rejects forensic audit of voting machines | Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia city commissioners have agreed to recount some ballots cast in the city, as requested by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, but rejected a forensic audit of how those voting machines work. The commissioners, in a brief meeting Thursday, agreed to start recounting on Friday ballots in 75 divisions after Stein’s campaign filed at least three affidavits for each division from voters there asking for a recount. They rejected requests for seven other divisions. Philadelphia has 1,686 voting divisions. Ilann Maazel, an attorney for Stein’s campaign, told the commissioners the state Election Code allows for an examination of the machines. Citing examples of hacking of elections computer systems in Illinois and Arizona, along with the Democratic National Committee’s emails, he said a forensic audit of Philadelphia’s voting machine software was the only way to determine whether they had been hacked. “To examine means to look inside,” Maazel said.
Philadelphia will recount ballots cast in 75 voting precincts on Friday, marking the first major success of Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s push to audit the state’s presidential election results. On Thursday, county election officials approved 75 of 82 voter petitions. In those precincts, voting machines will be recanvassed–essentially running them again to review the vote totals. An undetermined number of paper absentee, emergency and provisional ballots from those precincts will also be recounted. “It’s not a great number (of ballots),” Deputy Commissioner Fred Voigt said. “Keep in mind that something like 700,000 votes were cast in Philadelphia County. You’re talking (1,686) polling places. This is a speck.” Less than 5 percent of the county’s total precincts will be subject to the recount. According to Pennsylvania Department of State data, Hillary Clinton received 563,275 votes countywide compared to 105,876 for Donald Trump. Stein, meanwhile, received 6,486, slightly less than 1 percent of the total number cast.
Attorneys for President-elect Donald Trump have moved to block the vote recount in Pennsylvania, adding to complaints filed to stop similar proceedings in Michigan and Wisconsin. “Despite being no more than a blip on the electoral radar, Stein has now commandeered Pennsylvania’s electoral process, with an eye toward doing the same to the Electoral College,” the complaint filed Thursday states. “There is no evidence — or even an allegation — that any tampering with Pennsylvania’s voting systems actually occurred.” The filing comes on the heels of the Trump camp’s complaint reported earlier Thursday in Michigan dismissing Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s claims of impropriety during the 2016 presidential race, and a day after the the Wisconsin Republican Party logged a complaint with the Federal Election Committee arguing that Stein was seeking to benefit Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton.
The basement room was cleared of pens with blue or black ink, items that could mar paper ballots. Anyone wearing a coat was told to leave it in the hallway, in case something nefarious was hidden underneath. Water bottles, purses and keys were placed on the floor, leaving the large plastic tables smooth and uncluttered. And at 9 a.m., with the brisk rap of a county clerk’s wooden gavel, the first recount of the 2016 presidential election was underway in Wisconsin, with another recount pending in the neighboring battleground state of Michigan. For the next 12 days, election officials across all 72 counties in Wisconsin will work days, nights and weekends to recount nearly three million ballots, an effort initiated and financed by Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, who has suggested that voting machines in the state could have been hacked. Very few people expect that the recount will reverse the outcome of the election. President-elect Donald J. Trump triumphed here over Hillary Clinton by 22,177 votes, and in Michigan by 10,704 votes, a margin that a lawyer for Mrs. Clinton, Marc Elias, said had never been overcome in a recount. Legal challenges to the vote in Pennsylvania, where Mr. Trump leads by 70,638 votes, are also underway.
Wisconsin: Recount begins in Wisconsin, and it feels like Election Day again | Minneapolis Star Tribune
In the St. Croix County government building, just across the river from Minnesota, Thursday felt a bit like Election Day. Once again, county officials lugged in the heavy machines used to count ballots, set up a table for people to check in and prepared to brief a team of elections workers about the long day that lay ahead. Shortly after 9 a.m., after she’d ensured that everyone and everything was in place — the ballot counters, the political-party observers, the coffee pot and doughnuts — St. Croix County Clerk Cindy Campbell welcomed the 30 or so people gathered in the county’s board room. “This is a recount for the president of the United States,” she said. “It’s something I thought I’d never say, but we’re doing this.” Recount operations began across Wisconsin’s 72 counties on Thursday, following a request from Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who is footing the bill for the nearly $3.5 million effort. It is the first statewide recount prompted by a candidate since 2000, when Florida carried out a much-watched recount to settle the race between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. Over the next 12 days, officials will recount nearly 3 million ballots.
Wisconsin: New evidence finds anomalies in Wisconsin vote, but no conclusive evidence of fraud | Walter R. Mebane, Jr./The Washington Post
Did the outcome of voting for president in Wisconsin accurately reflect the intentions of the electors? Concerns have been raised about errors in vote counts produced using electronic technology — were machines hacked? — and a recount may occur. Some reports involving statistical analysis of the results has been discussed in the media recently. These analyses, though, rely on data at the county level. Technology, demographics and other important characteristics of the electorate vary within counties, making it difficult to resolve conclusively whether voting technology (did voters cast paper or electronic ballots?) affected the final tabulation of the vote for president. For this reason, I have examined ward-level data. Wards are the smallest aggregation unit at which vote counts are reported in Wisconsin, and many wards have fewer than 100 voters. My analysis, which relies on using election forensics techniques designed to identify electoral fraud, reveals some reasons to be suspicious about vote patterns in Wisconsin. To be very clear, my analysis cannot prove whether fraud occurred, but it does suggest that it would be valuable to conduct an election audit to resolve such concerns definitively.
Gambia’s election Polls closed at 1700 on Thursday when officials began the process of counting the marbles that voters had cast for one of three presidential candidates. Voters on Thursday queued at polling stations all day to place a marble in one of three coloured ballot drums – green for President Yahya Jammeh, grey for Barrow and purple for the third candidate – former ruling party deputy Mama Kandeh. Gambian officials say the system is designed to avoid spoiled ballots and to simplify the process for illiterate voters. State Television announced results from two constituencies outside the capital Banjul showed a slight lead for Jammeh and opposition leader Adama Barrow close behind. Gambian authorities had cut the internet, barred international calls and sealed land borders. The election poses the first serious challenge to President Yahya Jammeh since he seized power in a coup 22 years ago.