J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan professor of electrical engineering and computer science, is currently leading a group of computer scientists and election lawyers from around the country who are urging 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to call for a recount in three swing states won by President-elect Donald Trump — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
While Clinton hasn't moved forward on filing for recounts, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein has filed for a recount and filed a petition in Wisconsin last Friday with the state's Election Commission to have all votes recounted. Stein plans to file petitions in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well. Stein’s actions now leave many Clinton supporters hopeful as they approach the Dec. 13 deadline for Wisconsin to release the recount results.
Halderman, director of the University’s Center for Computer Security and Society, and voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz believe there is evidence that the results from the aforementioned states were manipulated or hacked. Halderman found the results questionable in counties that relied on electronic voting machines instead of paper ballots or optical scanners.
While the group has not spoken publicly about the matter, they are lobbying heavily with the Clinton campaign in private. On Nov. 17, the lobbyists had a conference call with Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and Marc Elias, the campaign’s general council, urging the campaign to file for a recount based on their expertise and evidence found in those three key swing states.
In the initial count, Trump won the presidency with 290 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232. Assuming he won Michigan's 16 votes as well — the race has not yet been certified in the state because the margins are so narrow — Clinton would have to overturn results in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to flip the Electoral College.
In Wisconsin, Halderman and the other activists found through statistical analyses that Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that used electronic voting machines rather than optical scanners and paper ballots. Extrapolating this analysis shows that Clinton may have lost up to 30,000 votes in total throughout Wisconsin, a state she lost by only 27,177 votes.
The group found no clear evidence of hacking or manipulation in Wisconsin, but did come to the consensus that this pattern qualifies for an independent review. The White House is also suspicious of the Russian government, which was recently accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee.