Were State Vote Totals Changed in 2016?
An American election is like baseball, not football. The umpire decides and it’s a done deal. No instant replay. No moving the ball back. No do-overs. Donald Trump is in the White House, and no amount of investigation will change that. Never-the-less, there are a lot of people who are still looking at the 2016 election, with intriguing evidence, coincidence, and conspiracy theories.
We were sent this article from Alternet and Daily Kos.
While just about everyone in our government with a skin color you can find in nature now believes that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, the conspiracy theory that dare not speak its name suggests that Russian hackers directly changedvote tallies in individual states.
For one thing, exit polls, which not that long ago were considered pretty accurate, wildly missed the mark in four key swing states, having predicted that Clinton would win Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
The idea is that exit polls are usually reliable, but this time, they pointed to a Hillary win. Was that because people were afraid or ashamed to say they voted for Trump? Or maybe that they like jerking around pollsters? Or is it a sign that votes were changed? Heavy looked into it.
Using exit poll totals compiled by election researcher Theodore de Macedo Soares, seen in the table below on this page as well as available at this link, compared to an ongoing tally of raw votes totals posted at this link by Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report, here is the discrepancy that has caused the suspicions of what Trump himself would call a “rigged election.”
Note that actual vote totals are compiled as of November 16.
FLORIDA — 29 Electoral Votes
(numbers equal percentage points)
Exit Polls: Clinton 47.7, Trump 46.4 — Clinton wins by 1.3
Actual: Clinton 47.8, Trump 49.0 — Trump wins by 1.2
Trump gain between exit polls and actual results: 2.5
NORTH CAROLINA — 15 Electoral Votes
Exit Polls: Clinton 48.6, Trump 46.5 — Clinton wins by 2.1
Actual: Clinton 46.1, Trump 49.9 — Trump wins by 3.8
Trump gain: 5.9
PENNSYLVANIA — 20 Electoral Votes
Exit Polls: Clinton 50.5, Trump 46.1 — Clinton wins by 4.4
Actual: Clinton 47.6, Trump 48.8 — Trump wins by 1.2
Trump gain: 5.6
WISCONSIN — 10 Electoral Votes
Exit Polls: Clinton 48.2, Trump 44.3 — Clinton wins by 3.9
Actual: Clinton 47.6, Trump 48.8 — Trump wins by 1.2
Trump gain: 5.1
Coincidence? Or were state tallies fiddled with? The Root compiled details. Here are some that are not in dispute:
When Bradley Moss, a cybersecurity lawyer, won a freedom of information suit against the U.S. government for data on the Russian hacks, the documents revealed that Russia actually got inside the voting systems of seven states, including 4 of the 5 largest states in terms of electoral votes California (55) Texas (38) Florida (29) and Illinois (20).
U.S. intelligence officials disputed the claim at first. But days later, on Feb. 18, DHS acknowledged that seven states were actually breached, and Homeland Security didn t inform the individual states until eight months after the election, according to NBC. . .
Illinois admits that hackers unsuccessfully attempted to alter and delete voters rolls but the intruders were unsuccessful, partly because the state has a decentralized system. . .
Moreover, in a since-unsealed indictment, the FBI discovered that two Russian military officers, Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev and Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, conspired to hack into U.S. election systems in October 2016.
Some of their other details were questioned, so the page has been taken down to fact-check, but we have confirmed the details quoted above: The Justice Department just indicted 12 Russians.
“The Internet allows foreign adversaries to attack America in new and unexpected ways,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. “Together with our law enforcement partners, the Department of Justice is resolute in its commitment to locate, identify and seek to bring to justice anyone who interferes with American elections. Free and fair elections are hard-fought and contentious, and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide, and conquer us. So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed.”
According to the allegations in the indictment, Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, Boris Alekseyevich Antonov, Dmitriy Sergeyevich Badin, Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov, Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev, Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev, Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek, Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov, Artem Andreyevich Malyshev, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin, and Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev were officials in Unit 26165 and Unit 74455 of the Russian government’s Main Intelligence Directorate.
And there are other reports of states being hacked and the DHS acknowledgement. And the article cites the reference to Illinois.
Politico also this month asked if Georgia’s election system was hacked in 2016.
The indictment last week of 12 Russian military officers is focusing new attention on election servers in Georgia. . .
. . . around the same time the Russians were targeting other states, a security researcher in Georgia named Logan Lamb discovered a serious security vulnerability in an election server in his state. The vulnerability allowed him to download the state’s entire database of 6.7 million registered voters and would have allowed him or any other intruder to alter versions of the database distributed to counties prior to the election. Lamb also found PDFs with instructions and passwords for election workers to sign in to a central server on Election Day as well as software files for the state’s ExpressPoll pollbooks—the electronic devices used by poll workers to verify voters’ eligibility to vote before allowing them to cast a ballot.
The unpatched and misconfigured server had been vulnerable since 2014 and was managed by the Center for Election Systems, a small training and testing center that until recently occupied a former two-story house on the Kennesaw State University campus. Until last year, the Ccnter was responsible for programming every voting machine across the state, raising concerns that if the Russians or other adversaries had been able to penetrate the center’s servers as Lamb had done, they might have been able to find a way to subvert software distributed by the center to voting machines across the state.
That was Georgia. There have also been questions about Pennsylvania for years.
In 2011, the election board in Pennsylvania’s Venango County — a largely rural county in the northwest part of the state — asked David A. Eckhardt, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, to examine its voting systems. In municipal and state primaries that year, a few voters had reported problems with machines ‘‘flipping’’ votes; that is, when these voters touched the screen to choose a candidate, the screen showed a different candidate selected. Errors like this are especially troubling in counties like Venango, which uses touch-screen voting machines that have no backup paper trail; once a voter casts a digital ballot, if the machine misrecords the vote because of error or maliciousness, there’s little chance the mistake will be detected. . .
In the 15 years since electronic voting machines were first adopted by many states, numerous reports by computer scientists have shown nearly every make and model to be vulnerable to hacking. The systems were not initially designed with robust security in mind, and even where security features were included, experts have found them to be poorly implemented with glaring holes.
State officials claim that votes are safe, because vote totals are sent via phone lines, not the internet, but that distinction no longer holds true.
On election nights, many polling places around the country transmit voting results to their county election offices via modems embedded in or connected to their voting machines. Election officials and vendors insist that the modem transmissions are safe because the connections go over phone lines and not the internet. But as security experts point out, many of the modems are cellular, which use radio signals to send calls and data to cell towers and routers belonging to mobile carriers — Verizon, Sprint, AT&T. These routers are technically part of the internet. Even when analog (landline) modems are used instead of cellular ones, the calls still likely pass through routers, because phone companies have replaced much of their analog switching equipment in recent years with digital systems.
Because of this, attackers could theoretically intercept unofficial results as they’re transmitted on election night — or, worse, use the modem connections to reach back into election machines at either end and install malware or alter election software and official results…
Douglas W. Jones, a computer-science professor at the University of Iowa, has examined multiple voting systems for state and local election officials over the years. ‘‘Nothing I know about the machines would defend against’’ an attack where a hacker altered voting software.. ‘‘So this is a vulnerability that should be taken quite seriously.’’
Just about everyone concedes that Russia is already working to disrupt our electoral systems–and some say to disrupt our governmental system, they would obviously want to throw out incumbents. Yet, Republicans do not seem to be taking the threat seriously. And on the State level, not much is being done to protect our systems. To do so would force State officials to admit they have a problem. No doubt, if we see a BIG BLUE WAVE, we’ll be hearing a different song from today’s doubters of the Russian threat.
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