Thousands of people have signed a petition on Change.org demanding an audit of the 2016 presidential election to rule out any possibility that Russian hackers helped give Donald Trump his Electoral College victory.
There’s no evidence of this, although some cyber security and intelligence experts have blamed Russia for hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Those acts benefited Trump, who has said he has never even met Vladimir Putin.
The hashtag #AudittheVote was also trending on Twitter on November 17 as Clinton supporters passed around supposed election anomalies. Driving some of the suspicion: The fact that so many polls (pre-election polling but also exit polls) had the election completely wrong.
There is some momentum for a Congressional probe of whether Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, has called for a Congressional investigation into the possibility. On November 17, Rep. Elijah Cumming, who is the ranking Democrat on the House government oversight committee, asked committee chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, to start such an investigation, said Mother Jones.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader, supports the call for an investigation.
CNN says federal investigators believe Russians hacked “a contractor for Florida’s election system that may have exposed the personal data of Florida voters.” There were also hacks of election data in Illinois and Arizona, said CNN.
According to Mother Jones, the Office of Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, released a statement saying in part, “The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations… These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” The Daily Beast says the Obama administration believes “Russia’s senior-most officials” ordered hacks “to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
More than 16,000 people signed the Change.org petition in the first two hours it was created alone. You can find it here.
The petition reads in part,
The FBI determined some months ago that hacking, originating from Russia, was having an influence on our electoral process. These hackers interfered with our presidential election through attempted and successful penetration of email and voter registration databases, among other systems. This created fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the safety of our electoral processes.
Computers tabulated the vast majority of the 129 million votes cast in the presidential election, and polls were wildly off. Did hackers manipulate the results by compromising voting equipment? Did other problems, glitches, or errors affect the outcome?
On the same day the petition emerged, President Barack Obama gave a speech in which he decried Russian cyber attacks. BBC said, “Mr, Obama said there was a difference between ‘Russian intelligence-gathering’ and ‘meddling with elections or going after private organisations or commercial entities.'”
He said the U.S. was “monitoring it carefully,” according to The BBC.
Some of those close to Trump have ties to Russia.
The Verified Voting organization says some states already have “requirements for mandatory manual audits (in randomly selected precincts) of the voter-verified paper records produced by the voting systems in use in those states.” You can see a map of the states with such audits here.
The group, which started the Change.org petition, says, “No voting system is perfect. Nearly all U.S. elections today are counted using electronic voting systems. Such voting systems have produced result-changing errors through problems with hardware, software, and procedures.”
Conspiracy theorists also point to Clinton’s lead in the popular vote and the closeness of Donald Trump’s victories in a series of battleground states. According to Dave Wasserman and Cook Political Report, as of November 17, Clinton had extended her lead in the popular vote:
There are still uncounted ballots, including several million in California alone.
However, Trump supporters fired back on Twitter, saying Democrats might regret an audit because it could expose other problems, such as the possibility that non-citizens had voted in the presidential election.
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