In its first show of public support for efforts questioning the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s victory, Hillary Clinton’s campaign said it is supporting a request by members of the Electoral College for an intelligence briefing on foreign intervention in the presidential election. “The bipartisan electors’ letter raises very grave issues involving our national security,” Clinton’s former campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement on Monday. “Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed. Each day in October, our campaign decried the interference of Russia in our campaign and its evident goal of hurting our campaign to aid Donald Trump,” he said. “Despite our protestations, this matter did not receive the attention it deserved by the media in the campaign. We now know that the CIA has determined Russia’s interference in our elections was for the purpose of electing Donald Trump. This should distress every American.”
National: Senate and House Leaders Call for Inquiry of Russian Hacking in Election | The New York Times
The top two Republicans in Congress said on Monday that they supported investigations into possible Russian cyberattacks to influence the American election, setting up a potential confrontation with President-elect Donald J. Trump in his first days in office. “Any foreign breach of our cybersecurity measures is disturbing, and I strongly condemn any such efforts,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, adding, “The Russians are not our friends.” Mr. McConnell’s support for investigating American intelligence findings that Moscow intervened in the election on Mr. Trump’s behalf could presage friction between the Republicans who control Congress, and who have long taken a hard line against Russia, and the president-elect, who has mocked the findings. Mr. McConnell also went out of his way to address Mr. Trump’s claim that the C.I.A. could not be trusted because of flawed intelligence before the Iraq war. “Let me say that I have the highest confidence in the intelligence community,” Mr. McConnell said, “and especially the Central Intelligence Agency. The C.I.A. is filled with selfless patriots, many of whom anonymously risk their lives for the American people.”
The recount effort by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in three U.S. states came to an end on Monday, after weeks of legal wrangling yielded only one electoral review in Wisconsin that favored Republican winner Donald Trump. A federal judge in Pennsylvania rejected Stein’s request for a recount and an examination of that state’s voting machines for evidence of hacking in the Nov. 8 election won by Trump. Meanwhile, Wisconsin election officials said on Monday they had completed their 10-day recount after finding that Trump’s margin of victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton had increased by 131 votes, bringing Trump’s total lead to 22,748. “The final Wisconsin vote is in and guess what – we just picked up an additional 131 votes. The Dems and Green Party can now rest. Scam!” Trump said on Twitter. Stein, who finished fourth, challenged the results in those two states as well as Michigan, where the state’s top court on Friday denied Stein’s last-ditch appeal to keep a recount going. All of those traditionally Democratic strongholds supported Trump over Clinton. Even if all three recounts had taken place, they were unlikely to change the outcome.
Editorials: Recounts should be the norm, not the exception | Carsten Schürmann & Jari Kickbusch/Los Angeles Times
Jill Stein, her supporters and a group of experts struggled mightily to get proper recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. They were accused of paranoia and of simply wasting time. Why is it so difficult, and so controversial, to get the results of a U.S. presidential election inspected and verified? Audits should be mandatory in all states; in fact, they’re part of the foundation of a healthy democracy. Recounts not only are important for finding proof that voting machines were misconfigured or hacked. In a meaningful recount, evidence representing the voter’s intent is compared against the published vote totals. Even if a recount proves that everything went as intended, it’s a way to reassure the public — especially the losing side — that the announced winner of the election is legitimate. A recount is comparable to checking the receipt before leaving the local grocery store. Some check, some don’t, but overall, we all agree that the ability to check a receipt is worth the paper it is printed on.
A federal judge has rejected a request for an immediate injunction in lawsuit by two presidential electors in Colorado filed as part of a strategy to block Donald Trump’s election. The ruling — by Bill Clinton appointee Wiley Daniel — delivers a crushing blow to the Hamilton Electors, a group of Electoral College members pursuing a strategy to convince presidential electors across the country to unite behind an alternative candidate to Trump. Daniel’s ruling rejected an effort by Polly Baca and Robert Nemanich — two Democratic electors in Colorado — to immediately prevent the enforcement of a state law that forces them to cast their electoral votes for Hillary Clinton when the Electoral College meets next week. Baca and Nemanich hoped that a favorable ruling would undermine similar statutes in 28 other states, including 14 where Trump won. The attorney for the electors, Jason Wesoky, has signaled to the court that he’ll still pursue litigation in the matter.
Georgia: Kemp questions DHS claim that no hacking attempt was made | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
While the U.S. Department of Homeland Security claimed last week that there was no attempt to hack into the state’s election computer system, Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office maintains it’s too soon to know if that’s true. A senior DHS official told Kemp last week that there was no attempt to hack Georgia’s network, but did acknowledge an agency employee left an electronic paper trail that might make it appear something nefarious was afoot. Kemp’s office said Monday that federal officials cannot say that with certainty. “After contacting our office late this afternoon, DHS has still not been able to confirm the origin or intent of this attack,” David Dove, Kemp’s chief of staff and legal counsel, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This was a reconnaissance scan that raised red flags with our vendor’s counter-threat unit.”
Iowa Democrats on Saturday cracked open the door toward allowing voters to participate in future Iowa presidential caucuses by absentee ballot. The Iowa Democratic Party Caucus Review Committee, meeting in Des Moines, discussed preliminary recommendations to the state party leadership to update the caucus process. Among the draft proposals would be to create a new process to allow more people to participate despite work conflicts, disabilities, out-of-state travel or the need for child care. “I think it’s a great way to expand access,” committee member Marcia Nichols of Des Moines said. “I think you are including people who are 24/7 workers, you’re including people who just can’t get to caucuses because of their physical limitation,” she said.
Michigan’s elections bureau ordered an investigation Monday into substantial ballot discrepancies in a small portion of Detroit’s voting precincts, after the discovery of a polling place where 300 people voted but only 50 ballots were properly sealed in a container. Since learning of the issue last week during Michigan’s presidential recount, state officials have learned of similar “significant mismatch” problems at roughly 20 of Detroit’s 490 precincts, said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. He said there is no reason to think votes were not counted and the differences would not have affected Republican Donald Trump’s narrow victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the state. Clinton won 95 percent of Detroit’s vote. Detroit elections officials told the state that in the one precinct, the 250 missing ballots were left in the tabulator bin, “but we want to verify this,” Woodhams said. It was not immediately clear what caused the inconsistencies in other precincts.
Nebraska’s voting equipment is becoming outdated and needs to be replaced to ensure elections run smoothly, county officials and advocates said Monday. Election commissioners from Douglas, Sarpy, Lancaster and Hall counties raised the concern in a legislative hearing but told lawmakers they’re waiting until Nebraska officials decide whether to switch to statewide mail-in voting. Nebraska’s election system faces challenges because many of the state’s smallest counties can’t afford the technology upgrades. Some county voting machines rely on antiquated technology, such as 1990s-era Zip drives, to help tabulate votes. Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse said one of the machines in his office stopped working on election night 2016, and others experienced problems. Kruse said his county’s commissioners generally support a switch to statewide mail-in voting, which would reduce costs and save storage space that’s required for precinct voting machines.
There will be no recount of paper ballots in Pennsylvania, a federal judge ruled Monday. US District Judge Paul Diamond rejected a request backed by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein to recount paper ballots and scan some counties’ election systems for signs that the 2016 presidential election in Pennsylvania, where Donald Trump won by a narrow margin, was hacked. In his 31-page decision, Judge Diamond wrote there existed at least six grounds that required him to reject the Green Party’s lawsuit, writing that the suspicion that the election was hacked “borders on the irrational.” The recount bid, he said, could “ensure that no Pennsylvania vote counts,” as Tuesday is the federal deadline to certify the vote for the Electoral College.
Utah: After long election lines, lawmaker looking to back off universal mail-in voting | The Salt Lake Tribune
After long lines at polling places and complaints from voters, state Rep. Craig Hall says he will sponsor legislation to get rid of the universal vote-by-mail system in most of Utah’s counties. The vote-by-mail program was in place in 21 of the state’s 29 counties this year — the other eight did traditional voting at polling places — but tens of thousands of voters didn’t take advantage of the mail-in voting and instead flooded the few polling places that were open on Election Day. The result: People waited in two- to three-hour lines to cast their ballots, delaying results and leading to widespread frustration. Now, Hall, a Republican from West Valley City, which saw some of the longest Election Day lines, said he will sponsor legislation to go back to the way elections used to be — when voters could request a mail-in or absentee ballot, but the default was for voters to participate in early voting or go to their polling places on Election Day.
Wisconsin: Completed Wisconsin recount widens Donald Trump’s lead by 131 votes | Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin’s historic presidential recount ended Monday resulting in a net gain of 131 votes for President-elect Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton, the Wisconsin Elections Commission said. Trump added 844 votes to his total for the Nov. 8 election, while Clinton added 713. Overall, the commission said, voters cast 2.976 million ballots. The recount resulted in a net increase of 837 ballots. “Completing this recount was a challenge, but the real winners are the voters,” Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen said in a statement after signing off on the statewide results. “Based on the recount, they can have confidence that Wisconsin’s election results accurately reflect the will of the people, regardless of whether they are counted by hand or by machine.” The last statewide recount, in a 2011 Supreme Court race, resulted in a net change of 312 votes for the top two candidates out of 1.5 million ballots cast.
According to City of Ashland Cyber Security Consultant Eric Ellason and Bayfield County Director of Information Technology Paul Houck, both municipalities have seen an unusual amount of traffic coming to their sites from Russia. Ellason, who owns and operates SlickRockWeb, Inc., an Internet services firm in Ashland, has contracted with the City of Ashland to operate the city’s website. Ellason provides cyber security services to firms across the country, as well as remediation work for hacked websites. “With all of the talk about Russian involvement in the elections, it prompted me to go and look at the traffic recorded at the city’s website,” he said, That curiosity about what kind of traffic the city’s website was getting from Russia and other eastern European countries led to an unexpected result. “On most websites you are always going to get a little bit of traffic there, and every day there is always somebody looking for a security issue, so you are always going to see a baseline of traffic that is always a little suspect. Most of the time they don’t find anything, they are just trolling for security flaws,” Ellason said. “When I separated out just Russian traffic, there was a huge spike from about March 15 of this year.”
The president-elect of the Gambia has demanded that Yahya Jammeh step down immediately, as African leaders prepared to fly in and persuade the country’s autocratic leader to reconsider his refusal to accept defeat and resign. After 22 years in power in the west African nation, it came as a surprise to many when Jammeh, an autocratic leader who had said he would rule for “a billion years if Allah willed it”, accepted defeat in a televised call to Adama Barrow, the leader of the opposition coalition. However, a week later he declared that the vote was “fraudulent and unacceptable” and vowed to take the matter to the country’s supreme court. Barrow and his coalition said Jammeh’s plans were “illegal” and he should resign. Barrow said he was relying on four senior African presidents due to arrive in the country on Tuesday to persuade Jammeh to reverse his pledge to nullify the election and retain power.
In the murky world of intelligence, it isn’t that often that anyone has crystal clear, absolutely certain, 100 percent guaranteed advance knowledge of a forthcoming operation. But in Europe right now, there is one prediction that everyone is happy to make: In 2017, the Russian government will mount an open campaign to sway the German elections. We know that the Russians can do it. The CIA has confirmed that Russian cyberhackers procured material from the Hillary Clinton campaign that appeared, via WikiLeaks, at key moments in the election. Hacked emails became part of a successful trolling campaign to discredit Clinton (and continue to inspire hysteria in the form of Pizzagate, the bizarre conspiracy theory that just won’t die); during the campaign, Trump frequently repeated lines lifted directly from Russian propaganda, including threats that Obama “founded ISIS” and Clinton would “cause World War III.” Similar campaigns involving hacks, violent rallies and dark conspiracy theories have worked in other countries, including Georgia, Poland and Ukraine. Risky on the face of it, the U.S. operation did no harm to Russia’s interests. On the contrary, the pro-Russian candidate won; business looks set to continue as usual.
Veteran leader Nikola Gruevski’s nationalist VMRO-DPMNE won 51 out of 120 seats in Macedonia’s parliament in a snap poll on Sunday that is expected to end a two-year long crisis that brought his government down. The nationalists are now in a good position to form a government with their old partner, the Albanian DUI despite their losses. Overall, Albanian ethnic minority parties lost out to the social democrats, suggesting an easing of ethnic strains. Preliminary results issued by the State Election Commission showed opposition Social Democrats had won 49 seats in the election, brought about by Gruevski’s resignation over a wiretapping scandal.