I’ve been arguing for four years that there is something weird going on with election results when you look at the precinct level results. For the record, I called for a recount (or audit) when I thought Clinton was going to win, so this isn’t a case of demanding a ‘do-over.’ But we definitely need to audit the vote, especially in light of the popular vote favoring Clinton.
We know that the national results could be tipped by manipulating the vote count in a relatively small number of jurisdictions — a few dozen spread across a few key states. We know that the vast majority of local elections officials have limited resources to detect or defend against cyberattacks. And while pre-election polls have large uncertainties, they were consistently off. And various aspects of the preliminary results, such as a high rate of undervotes for president, have aroused suspicion.
Computers counted the vast majority of the 130 million votes cast in this year’s election. Even without hacking, mistakes are inevitable. Computers can’t divine voter intent perfectly; computers can be misconfigured; and software can have bugs.
Did human error, computer glitches, hacking, or other problems change the outcome? While there is, as yet, no compelling evidence, the news about hacking and deliberate interference makes it worth finding out.
About 25% of voters used machines that do not generate a paper trail. Any hacking, glitches or other errors that affected their votes could be undetectable. But the other 75% of the vote, including the key states of Michigan and Wisconsin, could be double-checked in various ways…
There’s an easier way: an audit that manually examines a random sample of the ballots in a way that has a large chance of detecting and correcting incorrect results. This is called a “risk-limiting” audit. If the reported winner of a contest really won, a risk-limiting audit generally needs to examine only a small fraction of the ballots. But if the reported winner actually lost, a risk-limiting audit has a large chance of indicating that a full hand count is needed to set the record straight.
Risk-limiting audits are a crucial check on election integrity and accuracy even when elections are not controversial and margins are wide. They have been endorsed by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration and many organizations concerned with election integrity. Colorado law requires risk-limiting audits starting in 2017, and California law requires them for deploying some new voting systems.
There is no federal law mandating election audits. A number of states perform some kind of audit, but our research shows those audits have little or no chance of detecting and correcting erroneous results. To audit this election effectively will require immediate legal action…
First it would check the results in the states Trump won. If auditing confirms those results, there’s no need to audit in the states Clinton carried: Trump really won. That means auditing about 700,000 ballots in the 29 states Trump won, about 0.5% of the ballots cast in this election…
It does not take much technology to conduct these audits: dice (to select random ballots), a pencil and paper, and access to the paper ballots. The calculations are simple addition and subtraction. They could be done by a fifth-grader. No programming would be required…
This is an assurance of democracy our nation can afford and should perform routinely. Electronic-only voting systems should be replaced with systems that generate a paper trail, and election results should be audited against the paper trail to ensure that election outcomes are correct.
There is still time to audit this election — barely. States only have until Dec. 13 to give their final results to the Electoral College.
Americans should demand this simple step to ensure that the machinery of democracy worked. To add your voice, please sign this petition.
You can also contact the Department of Justice at 202-353-1555 and ask them (politely) to investigate.