Advancements in technology have already impacted the U.S. voting system, taking it from all paper to electronic ballots. Now that we live in a digital age, how close are we to online voting? There are currently four ways to vote in a U.S. election: paper ballots in person or by mail, direct recording electronic systems (DRE), ballot marking devices, and punch cards. Various companies have created phone apps and services to make it easy for people to register to vote, but actual voting in national elections cannot be done online. “Right now, any computer system on the planet can be hacked,” said Holmes Wilson, co-founder and co-director of Fight For The Future (FFTF). … In 1974, the first form of electronic voting, the Video Voter, was used in a U.S. government election and, although that method ended in 1980, its successor, the DRE voting machine, is used in many states, and it is the main method used in Texas. “The problem with these machines is that, to trust them, you had to believe that it was possible to build error-proof, tamper-proof computerized equipment, and as a computer scientist, I know that’s not possible,” said David Dill, professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford University and founder of Verified Voting. “We need to get rid of all paperless DRE’s in the U.S., and have improved auditing laws and procedures everywhere.”
How do you spread a rumor without taking responsibility for spreading it? By saying you don’t vouch for its accuracy — yet. That’s what Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., did on CNN on the topic of vote rigging. In an interview on the Situation Room, Duffy said he didn’t have evidence of “widespread problems across the country,” but he went out of his way to relay some troubling reports. “Articles that I have read, I haven’t verified them,” Duffy told host Wolf Blitzer on Oct. 27, 2016. … The claim about billionaire Soros emerged on several conservative websites. One Daily Caller report said, “Smartmatic, a U.K.-based voting technology company with deep ties to George Soros, has provided voting technology in 16 states including battleground zones like Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia.” The article noted that Smartmatic stated on its website that it “will not be deploying its technology in any U.S. county for the upcoming 2016 U.S. presidential elections.” That nuance was lost on many people. More than 125,000 signed a petition posted Oct. 21, 2016, on the White House website that said, “We the people ask Congress to meet in emergency session about removing George Soros-owned voting machines from 16 states.” To be clear, abundant evidence shows that Soros owns no voting machines in the United States.
If there is a weak spot in the voting process, it could be the practice followed in more than half the states of allowing overseas voters, including members of the U.S. military, to return their ballots online, experts say. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia permit some registered voters living outside of the U.S. to cast their pick for president by email, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Another 30 states permit the return of some ballots by fax, while five states allow ballots to be uploaded through a web portal. The changes were implemented to make voting easier, but, with polls showing increasing concerns about rigging and hacking of the system, the one area with the most vulnerability may be this relatively small cache of ballots, the experts said. Most U.S. voting electronic machines aren’t internet-enabled, meaning that they would have to be physically accessed to tamper with the results. The few that do have wireless or other network capabilities generally are paper-ballot scanners that leave a physical trail that can be checked in a recount or audit.
In late April, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) suspected that something was wrong with their network and called in the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike to investigate. A few weeks later, after routine testing, the suspicions were confirmed: The committee had been hacked by the Russians. … As DNC documents were leaked throughout the summer and into the fall, the episode put the United States on notice that Vladimir Putin’s government is intent on influencing the 2016 election, Alperovitch said during a panel discussion at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). That could mean a couple of things, he said. Russia might try to hack voting machines or it could mount a disinformation campaign to discredit the eventual results. “The fundamental objective here by the Russians is not necessarily to get one person or another elected as president,” said Alperovitch. “The fundamental objective is actually much more nefarious, which is to undermine the very idea of a free and fair election — the cornerstone of our democracy.” The decentralized nature of the U.S. vote should protect against a widespread intrusion, said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan advocacy group. Each of the 9,000 election jurisdictions across the country has its own systems and procedures, meaning no single point of failure could disrupt the tally nationwide.
The test began at 8 a.m. last Tuesday. Secretary of State Michele Reagan, four staffers and a freelance Spanish-language interpreter cast 138 votes on 40 ballots using seven touch-screen machines. The mood was jovial—until a printout showed the numbers on one machine didn’t line up with the master list of votes. Janine Petty, Arizona’s deputy state election director, scanned the printout and quickly discovered another of Ms. Reagan’s staffers had voted for two of the wrong candidates. The machine had worked perfectly, after all. Ms. Reagan jokingly admonished the sheepish staffer, telling him he should go on their fictional “Wall of Shame.” Across the country, state election officials are carrying out final tests on tens of thousands of voting machines that are part of a multistep process that delivers results in local, state and federal contests. Next week, the last of more than 120 million ballots are expected to be cast in a watershed election to determine who controls the White House, Congress and the direction of the Supreme Court.
State election officials around the country are woefully unprepared for a cyber disruption around Election Day. While states have spent years thinking about and planning for other types of crisis that can mess with voting — from hurricanes to power blackouts and terrorist attacks — they’ve been slow and ill staffed to develop contingency plans responsive to a hack attack that would adequately protect their systems in time for the 2016 presidential election. “They’re waking up to it, but they largely don’t know what questions to ask,” said Jeremy Epstein, a senior computer scientist at the nonprofit research center SRI International and an expert on voting mechanics. A dozen battleground state officials surveyed by POLITICO insist the voting systems themselves are safe, as nearly all parts of the balloting process take place in a secure, offline environment. But they also repeatedly acknowledged there are limits to what they can control, and they recognize they face legitimate challenges from cyber intrusions to the myriad adjacent parts that go into an election, including online registration records and publicizing vote tallies. While any manipulation of a state’s official election results is seen as unlikely, there’s little denying that an Internet disruption or hack could cause significant confusion and chaos on Election Day, a dark conclusion to an ugly election plagued by accusations of Russian cyber espionage and evidence-less allegations of vote tampering and rigging. Just last week, hackers temporarily froze a sizable chunk of the internet, a worst-case scenario that would cause serious problems around the country if duplicated on Nov. 8 — the day more than 100 million Americans are going to the polls.
National and local voting rights activists, worried about threats to casting ballots nationwide, are setting up command centers, staffing hotlines and deploying thousands of monitors to polling sites across the country to ensure voters can get to the polls. “Folks are pretty much on high alert,’’ said Scott Simpson, director of media and campaigns for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of 200 groups. “There is no election like this in modern history and we are taking every precaution that we can, within our means, to prevent intimidation and to make sure that folks know that they will be able to cast their ballots free from intimidation.’’ With talk about “rigged’’ elections in the presidential campaign and the Supreme Court’s rejection of a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, civil rights and voting rights activists say they’re concerned about possible shenanigans and roadblocks at the polls. Voting rights advocates are particularly worried about potential problems in states, mostly in the South, that used to be required to get approval or “pre-clearance” from the Justice Department before making any changes in election procedures because they had a history of discrimination at the polls. A 2013 Supreme Court decision — Shelby County v. Holder — threw out that provision. This will be the first presidential election since pre-clearance was eliminated in those states.
Donald Trump doesn’t want you to vote. At least, his lack of faith in a US electoral system he calls “rigged” suggests he thinks your vote won’t count. So why bother, right? His allegations of widespread voter fraud are baseless. But that hasn’t stopped him from calling on his supporters to monitor polling places in communities he has deems suspect. That call has led to fears of violence and voter intimidation on Election Day. Trump is none-too-subtle in describing where he thinks election fraud will go down. He told his supporters at a rally in Pennsylvania to go watch voters in “certain places” outside of their own communities, a piercing dog-whistle call to descend on non-white areas that vote heavily Democratic. And some backers have heard the summons. … These promised armies of aggro poll protectors will almost certainly amount to nothing more than a fear-inducing fantasy come Election Day, not least because strict federal and state laws protect voters from intimidation. What is likelier (and scarier) is that a fantasy is all the threat needs to be to hurt voter turnout.
National: ‘We don’t want voters to be terrified’: Officials seek to allay fears of a ‘rigged’ election | The Washington Post
In an election one side claims is “rigged” as the other was apparently targeted by Russian hackers and Wikileaks, voters may be concerned that some entity will alter the results on Nov. 8. It’s possible, according to some experts, although the likelihood of a significant attack on ballot boxes is exceedingly low. “Everything is hackable,” said Jeremy Epstein, a senior computer scientist at SRI International, a nonprofit California-based think tank. “Everything could have bugs in it.” … The District, Maryland and many counties in Virginia use paper ballots — a gold standard for election-watchers. These ballots are scanned and counted electronically, leaving behind a hard copy of each voter’s preferences. “It seems old-school, but if you have good security practices and a good ballot chain of custody . . . it’s more indelible than bits and bytes in the ether,” said Pamela Smith, president of the nonpartisan Verified Voting, a nonprofit that works for fair elections.
National: Federal and state law enforcement officials concerned About Risk of Violence as Election Day Nears | NBC
Trump supporters held up Clinton “target practice” posters at a rally in Florida Monday, with a bulls-eye framing her face. Two days earlier in Virginia Beach, one Trump backer hoisted a plastic Hillary Clinton head on a stick, while others waved target signs. And several weeks ago, two armed Trump supporters protested outside the congressional campaign office of a rural Virginia Democrat, in what they said was a gesture of solidarity with closet supporters of Trump. Federal and state law enforcement officials say such incidents have heightened their concerns about violence in the final two weeks of the long and bitter Presidential campaign, and well beyond that if Donald Trump loses and refuses to accept the vote as legitimate. “There is a motivated army of ‘fingers in their ears’ supporters of his who believe he’s giving them license to behave badly, and license not to except the findings of the 9,000 bipartisan polling jurisdictions around the country,” one senior federal law enforcement official told NBC News.
National: Some Voting Machines Are Flipping Votes But That Doesn’t Mean The Election Is ‘Rigged’ | NPR
Vote flipping. The stories and conspiracy theories have begun. In every recent election, there have been reports of voters pressing one candidate’s name on a touch-screen machine, only to have the opponent’s name light up instead. It can be unnerving for voters and often leads to allegations that the machines have been “rigged” to favor one candidate over another. Enter election 2016, when the word “rigged” is more politically charged than ever. In the first few days of early voting, there are already scattered reports of vote-flipping machines in North Carolina, Texas and Nevada. … So what’s going on? Are the machines rigged? No, says just about every voting technology expert. “If you were actually trying to rig an election, it would be a very stupid thing to do, to let the voter know that you were doing it,” says Larry Norden, with the Brennan Center for Justice in New York.
Panelists at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum discussed the vulnerability of U.S. election systems to cyber threats Thursday. … Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a non-partisan NGO that promotes the transparency and accuracy of elections, opened the forum with an overview of technology in U.S. elections. According to Smith, technology used in elections, such as voting machines or electronic paper ballot scanners, is vulnerable to hackers. … Smith also described two hacker breaches in the voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois, which showed that the attacks were not limited to foreign countries. According to Smith, while a foreign power altering vote counts to the point of changing the winner remains improbable, the vote count could still be altered. “This is not so much theoretical at this point. This is happening,” Smith said.
As we move forward, online voting seems shimmeringly imminent, particularly because virtually everything we do, we already do online. But voting is far different than banking, shopping, and communicating. It’s trickier and more complex. However precariously, voting in the United States is hoisted up as an essential part of the political system. In theory, casting ballots gives ordinary citizens a means of control—change is always just one election away. It’s crucial for voters to believe that the mechanisms through which their views are delivered are legitimate, and if those mechanisms are tinkered with or updated, that trust should be preserved. As it stands, there are legitimate concerns involved with current and near-future voting technology. There’s still a long way to go, and with something as vital as voting, there is an infinitely small margin for error. … “You need physical security for your ballots,” Pamela Smith, Verified Voting’s president, says. “Let’s say you return a ballot by email. You’ll have a printed record, but it might not match, if something happened with it in transit.”
National: Entangled in the rigging: Do Trump’s calls for poll watchers constitute incitement? | The Economist
When Donald Trump recently asked his supporters in Ohio to keep an eye out for voter fraud on election day, his plea came with a knowing suggestion: “When [I] say ‘watch,’ you know what I’m talking about, right?” Mr Trump’s worry that the election will be “rigged” has inspired repeated calls for volunteers to serve as poll watchers in cities including Philadelphia, Chicago and St Louis. At a recent rally in Pennsylvania, he had this to say: “You’ve got to go out, and you’ve got to get your friends, and you’ve got to get everybody you know, and you gotta watch the polling booths, because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania, certain areas”. It would be a shame, Mr Trump said, to lose the White House “because of you know what I’m talking about.” What Mr Trump seems to be talking about is scores of black and Latino voters who are unfriendly to his candidacy and—purportedly—not eligible to vote. With little more than a hunch that “of course…large scale voter fraud” prevails in “certain communities”, Mr Trump ignores studies belying the claim. A review of 12 years of allegations turned up just 10 cases of confirmed fraud. Another study found 31 cases of voter impersonation out of a billion votes cast from 2000 to 2014. There are no signs that Democrats are coordinating a national strategy to harness voter fraud to steal the election.
National: At ‘Poll Watcher Training’ Class, Republicans Trade Rumors, Fears of Fraud | Wall Street Journal
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been raising hackles for weeks about a “stolen” election, and on Wednesday morning, in a suburban public library in northern Virginia, more than two dozen Republicans heeded his call. The group had signed up for a “poll watcher training” class through the local Republican Party. They were mostly retirees, all white, except for one woman from India. Many said they appreciated Mr. Trump’s dire predictions of election fraud in defiance of a number of GOP leaders and elected officials who say he is undermining voter confidence. Experts say fraud, particularly impersonating voters, is scarce, and Mr. Trump has offered no evidence for his claims. “Very clearly there is going to be massive voter fraud, and it will definitely be to ensure Hillary Clinton wins,” said Penny Hendrix, a 52-year-old stay-at-home mom in Fairfax Station. “I’ve been concerned about this for some time, and Trump bringing it up is raising awareness.”
U.S. voting rights advocates scored a string of courtroom victories this year that rolled back some of the nation’s most restrictive voting laws. Now they face another challenge: making sure those rulings are not undermined by officials who oversee elections at the local level. With early voting already under way ahead of the Nov. 8 election, local officials in several states are trying to enforce restrictions that have been suspended or struck down in court, civil rights advocates say. In some cases, the action appears to be the result of bureaucratic confusion. In other cases, they appear to be actively resisting the law. “There are still too many places where voting is going to be difficult and confusing, not easy and straightforward,” said Leah Aden, senior counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The foot-dragging by local officials adds another element of uncertainty to what already promises to be a volatile election.
Voting rights advocates are preparing for a “perfect storm of chaos” on Election Day — and not just because a hurricane has already affected registrations in some key battleground states. Reports of voter disenfranchisement have already cropped up during early voting, the advocates say. Some Texas election officials are implementing a voter ID law that a federal appeals court struck down as discriminatory. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he fears the election will be rigged and urged voters to “go out and watch the polls,” prompting fears of voter intimidation among minorities, particularly. This will be the first presidential election since 1964 without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a key enforcement provision in the civil rights law that required certain states to check any election changes with the Justice Department. Because of that decision, the DOJ says it will send poll observers to far fewer states that have a history of disenfranchising voters this year. The department monitored 28 jurisdictions in 18 states in 2014 and 51 jurisdictions in 23 states in 2012.
The Democratic National Committee has requested that a federal judge block efforts by the Republican National Committee to coordinate with Donald Trump as he calls for poll watchers amid claims the election is “rigged” against him. That tactic, the DNC alleges, violates a more than 30-year-old legal agreement meant to keep GOP operatives in line at the polls. Mr. Trump has said Hillary Clinton will defeat him only if voter fraud and other illicit activity at polling places takes place, catapulting the issue of ballot security issues to national attention. While evidence to support those arguments is largely lacking, 43 percent of Trump’s pledged voters say they’ll believe the Republican candidate was cheated out of the election if he loses, according to a Wednesday poll from USA Today/Suffolk University. Some fear that claims of a “rigged election” may spur overzealous Trump supporters to engage in activities that could constitute illegal voter intimidation tactics. Now, Democrats are saying that GOP involvement in any such tactics could violate a 1982 consent decree that bars Republicans from using strategies that intimidate minority voters, and Republicans are trying to steer clear of Trump’s assertions.
As residents in many states begin voting, a new round of legal skirmishes is emerging over rules for casting ballots, a potential harbinger of disputes to come. In Texas, voting-rights advocates have urged state officials to address reports that several counties opened the state’s early voting period on Oct. 24 with incorrect signs indicating that voters must show photo identification to cast a ballot. A court order issued in August required the state to make exceptions for people who couldn’t reasonably obtain one of the types of ID the state required. Some locations have acknowledged making initial errors. “There’s no excuse for that, and I own up to it,” said elections administrator Jacquelyn Callanen in Bexar County, home to the city of San Antonio.
National: Battleground states still fighting over voting laws, potential Election Day confusion | The Washington Post
Two weeks from Election Day, a number of battleground states are still fighting over voting laws and whether voters have been adequately informed about an array of changing and sometimes complex rules. An unprecedented number of states have put stricter election laws in place since the last presidential race. And in several cases, those laws were overturned by the courts or are still caught up in litigation, creating the potential for widespread confusion. In some states, such as North Carolina, the rules in place during the primary races have changed for the general election. A federal court in Texas has ordered the state to reissue voter education materials that were misleading to residents. And in the Texas county that includes Fort Worth, voting rights advocates pointed to an email from Republican officials warning election workers in “Democrat-controlled” polling locations “to make sure OUR VOTER ID LAW IS FOLLOWED.” The note did not explain that polling places are supposed to allow people without the correct identification to cast a ballot if they show other documents, following a federal appeals court’s ruling that the Texas voter-ID law discriminates against minority voters.
The Democratic National Committee asked a judge to block the Republican Party from supporting efforts to discourage minorities from voting based on Donald Trump’s claims that the presidential election is “rigged.” In a preemptive strike against what it called a coordinated effort to intimidate voters, the Democratic Party’s governing body alleged Wednesday that the Republican National Committee is violating a court order in a case that started 35 years ago. The RNC is supporting Trump’s recruitment of so-called watchers at polling places, which is in breach of consent decrees going back to 1982 that forbid the group from engaging in ballot-security measures, according to a filing in federal court in Newark, New Jersey. The DNC said the watchers are really intended to deter registered voters from casting ballots.
Rigged elections. Vigilante observers. Angry voters. The claims, threats and passions surrounding the presidential race have led communities around the U.S. to move polling places out of schools or cancel classes on Election Day. The fear is that the ugly rhetoric of the campaign could escalate into confrontations and even violence in school hallways, endangering students. “If anybody can sit there and say they don’t think this is a contentious election, then they aren’t paying much attention,” said Ed Tolan, police chief in this seaside community, which decided to call off classes on Election Day and put additional officers on duty Nov. 8. School officials already are on edge because of the shootings and threats that have become all too common. They point to the recent firebombing of a Republican Party office in one North Carolina county and the shooting-up of another with a BB gun as the type of trouble they fear on Election Day.
With less than two weeks until the election, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has amped up charges that the election is “rigged” against him. His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has warned at rallies about voter fraud “around the country.” While voter fraud is rare — one study found just 31 credible claims of fraud amid more than a 1 billion ballots cast since 2000 — a few instances of voter fraud and voting irregularities have been found ahead of the election. At the same time, there have been accusations of voter suppression across the U.S., as civil rights groups have said Trump’s instructions to supporters to “go check out” polls in “certain areas” are a call to monitor minority votes. Here’s a recap of reports of possible election interference that have surfaced so far. The most prominent recent example of alleged voter fraud has been in Indiana, where the head of state police said last week that an ongoing investigation of a voter registration project turned up evidence of fraud. The group under investigation, the Indiana Voter Registration Project, submitted 45,000 voter registration applications this year from citizens who are racial minorities. Indiana State Police Supt. Douglas Carter said authorities had found examples of fraud. Carter did not share details of the nature of the alleged fraud nor how many instances of it had been found.
Voting is democracy’s most fundamental right and responsibility and recent federal court rulings say you have a constitutional right to post photographs of yourself doing it. More than a dozen states have laws on the books that bar voters from photographing their ballots or even showing their ballot to another person. In the era of camera-equipped smartphones and social media, states have interpreted those laws to prohibit ballot selfies. Some states have gone a step farther and actually passed laws barring voters from posting photos of themselves at their polling stations. But in just the past four weeks, a federal appellate court in Boston and a federal trial judge in East Lansing have found laws prohibiting ballot selfies to violate the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.
The rulings came quickly this past summer in a steady drumbeat that pleased progressives and disappointed conservatives. A strict voter identification law in Texas—blocked. A North Carolina law that required voter ID, which reduced early voting and changed registration procedures—struck down for not only having discriminatory effects but also for having been passed with a racially discriminatory motive. North Dakota’s voter ID law—blocked because of bias toward Native Americans. Under an election law in Wisconsin, one federal district judge ordered an affidavit procedure for those without ID; days later, another district judge struck down provisions that limit early voting and increase residency requirements. The string of recent rulings deals serious blows to measures advanced by many Republicans in the name of election integrity, while others view them as discriminatory. The rulings indicate that “there is a limit in how far states can go in rolling back voting rights before the courts are going to step in,” says Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine School of Law and the founder of the authoritative Election Law Blog. “Still, this is an ongoing battle,” he says. “The one thing we know for certain is these battles won’t be over when the 2016 election is decided. They will go beyond that.”
Throughout the campaign, Donald Trump has issued dire warnings of foul play on Election Day. “I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged,” he told supporters in Ohio. “I’m telling you, November 8, we’d better be careful,” he cautioned Fox News. “I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us.” Trump’s remarks might seem like a cynical ploy to mobilize his base, or to set the stage for an aggrieved backlash should he lose to Hillary Clinton. In fact, however, the U.S. election system really is vulnerable—though not in the way Trump claims. In July and August, Russian intelligence services hacked voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona. But as menacing as foreign agents meddling with U.S. databases may seem, the biggest threat to the sanctity of the vote is the voting machines themselves. Like so much of America’s crumbling infrastructure, the systems we rely on to tabulate our votes fairly and accurately are in dire need of an overhaul. In thousands of precincts, the outcome of the election rides on equipment that’s outdated, prone to errors, and difficult or impossible to repair.
Republican candidate Donald Trump has made the insistent claim that the US presidential elections are being “rigged,” but experts say massive voter fraud is highly unlikely in a system as decentralized as the United States. “There are a lot of safeguards in place that would preclude that from happening, from federal laws to local and state laws as well,” said Jo-Renee Formicola, a political scientist at Seton Hall University. … Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a civic group that advocates for clean elections, says safeguards against fraud are greater now than they were in 2012 and 2014. Still, electronic voting machines could be a weak link. “That’s perhaps one area where we might be concerned about leaving these questions to little towns and cities that may not have the technical sophistications of the federal government, but it would then require hacking multiple places if you are trying to build up,” said Clopton.
National: No, there is no evidence that thousands of noncitizens are illegally voting and swinging elections | Los Angeles Times
As Donald Trump maintains his incendiary attacks on the legitimacy of the election, one of his favorite themes has been the claim that the results will be tainted by the votes of millions of people in the U.S. illegally. “They are letting people pour into the country so they can go ahead and vote,” he said this month, in a meeting with the head of the union representing border patrol agents. “And believe me, there’s a lot going on,” Trump said at a rally. “People that have died 10 years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting.” Part of the Republican-led crackdown on supposed voter fraud, battles over measures to guard against noncitizen voters have percolated for years in election offices, state legislatures and federal courtrooms. Records in these fights show that small numbers of noncitizens do end up registered, and a few have cast votes. However, no one has uncovered evidence of thousands of noncitizen voters — and no evidence has emerged to support Trump’s theory of a coordinated effort to throw an election by stuffing the voting rolls with ineligible immigrants. “What we have seen are errors,” said Dale Ho, director of the voting rights project of the American Civil Liberties Union. “There’s not a horde of people trying to break into this country so they can vote.”
The prospect of election night drama seems to dwindle with each new round of polling. But Donald Trump, perhaps trying to author a campaign cliffhanger, is determined to provide Americans with at least a measure of “suspense” on November 8. Barring a remarkable turnaround — “Brexit times five” as Trump put it last week — Americans will begin their post-election Wednesday with a President-elect Clinton on the horizon. But whether her opponent sees fit to embrace defeat and publicly concede is mostly immaterial. “It doesn’t have any independent legal effect,” said Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine professor who runs the popular Election Law Blog. “If he concedes or he doesn’t concede, the votes totals will be what they will be.” Recounts are triggered automatically in 20 states and the District of Columbia when the margin of victory is sufficiently narrow, according to different laws in each of those states. The parameters vary — in Florida and Pennsylvania, it’s a margin of 0.5% or less of the total vote, while Michigan requires a deficit of 2,000 votes or less.
Republican and Democratic camps are gearing up for the possibility of heated legal battles on Election Day, preparations that have taken on additional urgency following GOP nominee Donald Trump’s charges that the election will be rigged against him. Mr. Trump’s campaign is leaning on the Republican National Committee and state parties for recruiting lawyers and other legal preparations. Democratic officials and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, meanwhile, are preparing to address any potential voter intimidation and to help people navigate tighter voting rules in several GOP-led states. Building an extensive legal network has become more of a priority for political campaigns since Bush v. Gore. Lawyers are needed to respond to unexpected complications as voters go to the polls and to stay on top of any potential recounts in the event of razor-thin victories. However, since the disputed 2000 presidential election, there have been few major issues with election administration, and there is no evidence that significant election fraud has taken place.