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Jill Stein requests Wisconsin recount, alleging hackers filed bogus absentee ballots | US news | The Guardian

theguardian.com – Jill Stein requests Wisconsin recount, alleging hackers filed bogus absentee ballots The Green party candidate’s filing cites the sharp increase in absentee voters rather than the expected focus on electronic voting in the key state  and

video – Jill Stein calls for recount in order to verify US election result

Jill Stein has requested a full recount of the presidential election in Wisconsin, alleging that foreign hackers could have skewed the result by obtaining the state’s voter database and then filing bogus absentee ballots.

Stein, the Green party’s candidate in the presidential election, formally filed for a recount with Wisconsin authorities shortly before the state’s 5pm deadline on Friday. She also planned to request recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania in the coming days.

Wisconsin’s election board agreed on Friday to the statewide recount. The process, including an examination by hand of the nearly 3 million ballots tabulated in the state, is expected to begin late next week after Stein’s campaign has paid the required fee, the Elections Commission said.

The state faces a 13 December federal deadline to complete the recount, which may require canvassers in Wisconsin’s 72 counties to work evenings and weekends to finish the job in time, according to the commission.

The Wisconsin filing, a copy which was obtained by the Guardian, focuses on a “significant increase in the number of absentee voters as compared to the last general election”. It had been thought that it would instead focus on the scale of Donald Trump’s victories in counties using only electronic voting.

“This significant increase could be attributed to a breach of the state’s electronic voter database,” Stein said in her petition regarding the rise in the number of absentee ballot filings. Trump won a narrow victory in the state against Hillary Clinton, surprising pollsters.

The 64-page recount filing contains an affidavit from J Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan’s centre for computer security, who is an expert on election integrity.

“One explanation for the results of the 2016 presidential election is that cyberattacks influenced the result,” Halderman writes in his five-page account.

Halderman said the hacking theory was “plausible” because other cyberattacks took place during the election campaign, some voting machines used in the US are highly vulnerable, and skilled hackers could change the result and “leave no outwardly visible evidence”.

Could Jill Stein’s vote recount change the outcome of the election?

Stein had raised more than $5m to fund her recount campaign. The deadlines for Michigan and Pennsylvania are next week.

Her move to challenge the counts has split opinions, with some energized by the thought it has potential to show defeated Democrat Clinton is the rightful election winner, and those who see Stein’s intervention as an expensive gimmick to promote the Green party.

The fundraising site explained that Stein’s campaign “could not guarantee” any of these states would have a recount. “We can only pledge we will demand recounts in those states,” the site said.

Amid questions from some quarters about how the money would be used, the site said: “If we raise more than what’s needed, the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform.”

Earlier on Friday, Stein said she was acting due to “compelling evidence of voting anomalies” and that data analysis had indicated “significant discrepancies in vote totals” that were released by state authorities.

“We do not have a smoking gun,” Stein told CNN. “On the other hand, we have a system that invites hacking, tampering and malfeasance.”

She said her campaign had no direct evidence voting systems had been hacked – something independent experts have also been skeptical about. And Stein insisted the recount was not meant to block Trump, the surprise election winner, from becoming president.

Stein has frequently expressed disappointment in Clinton, and the day before the election described the Democratic nominee as a “warmonger” and said a victory for the former secretary of state would be “a mushroom cloud waiting to happen”. Those comments led to Stein being condemned by elected members of the Green party in Europe.

“Both of the candidates were at the highest level of distrust and dislike in our history and in my view, we as voters deserve a voting system that we can believe in,” Stein said on Friday. “And to my mind, having a verified vote is just a first step”.

Stein launched the campaign amid wider calls to recount or audit election results. Groups of academics and activists were concerned that foreign hackers may have interfered with voting systems.

These groups have called on Clinton to intervene. She is leading in the popular vote by more than 2.1m votes, a lead which is expected to grow. But Trump won narrow victories against Clinton in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin earlier this month and was declared the victor in Michigan on Thursday – sealing his electoral college win.

‘We do not have a smoking gun,’ Jill Stein has said. ‘On the other hand, we have a system that invites hacking, tampering and malfeasance.’
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‘We do not have a smoking gun,’ Jill Stein has said. ‘On the other hand, we have a system that invites hacking, tampering and malfeasance.’ Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Stein launched her fundraising effort on Wednesday afternoon and quickly surpassed the initial $2m fundraising goal by early Thursday morning, prompting her campaign to raise the goal to $4.5m. After crossing that threshold, the campaign increased the goal to $7m.

These funds will be used to file recount requests and for attorney’s fees, according to Stein’s campaign manager, David Cobb. He said $1m was needed for Wisconsin, $600,000 for Michigan and $500,000 for Pennsylvania. The rest of the money is expected to go to legal fees associated with the recount.

Adam Parkhomenko, national field director for the Democratic national convention and a longtime Clinton aide, said he did not support Stein and “never will”, but: “I support democracy and the right to count every vote. And kudos to her for leading on this.”

US elections are so dominated by Democratic and Republican candidates that third-party candidates like Stein are more often seen as representing protest votes than a person with a legitimate shot at the White House. But these votes can greatly affect the race.

For instance, Stein’s total votes in Michigan and Wisconsin were greater than the gap between Clinton and Trump, as were votes for the other major third-party candidate, Libertarian Gary Johnson.

And while it cannot be assumed that Stein voters would have voted for Clinton if Stein had not been on the ballot, it is a sensitive issue in such a tight race.

“I really wish Jill Stein had not waited until after the election to be so concerned about a few thousand votes tipping the election to Trump,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior policy adviser to Barack Obama.

He criticized the fundraising campaign as a “wasted” effort and said funds could be better used to help Democrats in smaller, local races.

There was more energy around third-party candidates in 2016 because of the unpopularity of the main party candidates. Yet in the past two days, Stein’s recount campaign has raised more money than she did in the entirety of the presidential campaign. As of 19 October, Stein had raised $3.5m for her presidential race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

 

Sorgente: Jill Stein requests Wisconsin recount, alleging hackers filed bogus absentee ballots | US news | The Guardian

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