Jill Stein gets $2.5m to seek recount of US election electronic votes

24 Nov 2016

2016 Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein. Image: Paul Stein/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Defeated US Green Party candidate Jill Stein has managed to receive $2.5m in funding to seek a recount of electronic votes in three swing states, over fears that electronic voting figures might be wrong.

While receiving only 1pc of the vote, Jill Stein is determined to get votes recounted in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, over fears that the results from its electronic voting ballots might be victims to “statistical anomalies”.

In the past few days, claims have been made by a group of cybersecurity experts and election lawyers who believe there is enough basis to investigate if these states could have been the victims of a cyberattack, or if they are simply incorrect.

$2.5m raised in 24 hours

According to The Verge, Stein said that “the data suggests a significant need to verify machine-counted vote totals” and that the $2.5m raised in the space of 24 hours will help it begin a process of potentially getting the votes recounted.

As US President Barack Obama emphasised the peaceful transition of power following the shock election of Donald Trump as his successor, this latest revelation shows that the fallout has been anything but.

As Hillary Clinton comes to terms with winning the popular vote but not the electoral college vote, this group of experts came forward to call on her to ask for recount in the key three swing states.

Following the publishing of a report on the group’s efforts in MYMag.com, one of the group’s members attempted to set the record straight on why the voting returns might be incorrect.

Systems not secure

In a Medium post, J Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, stated that voting machines used in the US have a number of cybersecurity problems.

A voting booth not connected to the internet could still be vulnerable to malware, as SD cards loaded with the ballot paper on a traditional desktop computer are inserted into the voting machines.

“That initial computer is almost certainly not well secured, and if an attacker infects it, vote-stealing malware can hitch a ride to every voting machine in the area,” Halderman said.

Previous claims of voter fraud denied

However, he emphasises that the results of this year’s election from electronic voting machines were likely not the result of a cyberattack conducted by a foreign power, but that they could have been systematically wrong.

“The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence — paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania,” he said.

“Unfortunately, nobody is ever going to examine that evidence unless candidates in those states act now, in the next several days, to petition for recounts.”

If the election results had gone the other way and Hillary Clinton had won the nomination, president-elect Donald Trump had previously said he would contest the results due to the obvious existence of “large-scale voter fraud”, despite many critics saying his claims were potentially dangerous.

2016 Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein. Image: Paul Stein/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic