Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is growing. She is roughly 30,000 votes behind Donald Trump in the key swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin, a combined gap that is narrowing. Some of her impassioned supporters are urging her to challenge the results in those two states and Pennsylvania, grasping at the last straws to reverse Trump’s decisive majority in the Electoral College. In recent days, the supporters have seized on a report by a respected computer scientist and other experts suggesting that Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the keys to Trump’s Electoral College victory, need to manually review paper ballots to ensure the election was not hacked. “Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack?” J. Alex Halderman, a computer-science professor at the University of Michigan who has studied the vulnerabilities of election systems at length, wrote on the online-publishing platform Medium on Wednesday as the calls based on his conclusions mounted. “Probably not.” More likely, he wrote, pre-election polls were “systematically wrong.” But the only way to resolve the lingering questions would be to examine “paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states,” he wrote.
Tellingly, the pleas for recounts have gained no support from the Clinton campaign, which has concluded, along with outside experts, that it is highly unlikely the outcome would change even after an expensive and time-consuming review of ballots.
But that has not quieted some Clinton supporters, who see the inequity of her growing lead in the national popular vote, which is now more than 2 million votes, or 1.5 percent of all ballots cast, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which regularly updates its count as states continue to tally and to certify votes.
Since there is no effort to review the paper ballots — which exist in Michigan and Wisconsin, but only in parts of Pennsylvania — conspiracy theories about the 2016 election may live on for years. After U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russia of trying to influence the election by stealing and publishing emails from the Democratic National Committee and a range of other institutions and prominent individuals, the United States went on high alert to determine if there was any attempt to sabotage the vote count. So far, no one in the Obama administration has indicated there is any such evidence.