Experts are urging US democratic Hillary Clinton’s campaign to call for a recount the 2016 presidential election votes in key battleground states, in case the results could have been skewed by foreign hackers, media reported.
The developments follow Clinton’s surprise defeat to Republican Donald Trump in the November 8 vote in which Trump won 290 electoral college votes to Clinton’s 232, and come after US intelligence authorities released public assessment that Russian hackers were behind intrusions into regional electoral computer systems and the theft of emails from Democratic officials before the election.
The experts are preparing to deliver a report detailing concerns to congressional committee chairs and federal authorities early next week, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.
The document, which is currently 18 pages long, focuses on concerns about the results in the US states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“I’m interested in verifying the vote,” said Barbara Simons, an adviser to the US election assistance commission and expert on electronic voting.
“We need to have post-election ballot audits.”
Simons is understood to have contributed analysis to the effort but declined to characterise the precise nature of her involvement.
A second group of analysts, led by the National Voting Rights Institute founder John Bonifaz and Professor Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan’s center for computer security and society, is also taking part in the push for a review, and has been in contact with Simons. Bonifaz declined to speak on the record.
Having consistently Trump in public opinion polls for months preceding election day in all three midwestern states, Clinton narrowly lost Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and may yet lose Michigan, where a final result has still not been declared.
Dozens of professors specialising in cybersecurity, defence, and elections have in the past two days signed an open letter to congressional leaders stating that they are “deeply troubled” by previous reports of foreign interference, and requesting swift action by lawmakers.
“Our country needs a thorough, public congressional investigation into the role that foreign powers played in the months leading up to November,” the academics said in their letter, while noting they did not mean to “question the outcome” of the election itself.
Senior congressmen including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland have already called for deeper inquiries into the full extent of Russia’s interference with the election campaign.
New York magazine reported that the activists held a conference call on November 17 with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign general counsel Marc Elias to make their case.
Several senior Democrats are said to be intensely reluctant to suggest there were irregularities in the result because Clinton and her team criticised Trump so sharply during the campaign for claiming that the election would be “rigged” against him, the Guardian reported.
The Clinton camp is running out of time to challenge the election. According to one of the activists, the deadline in Wisconsin to file for a recount is Friday; in Pennsylvania, it’s Monday; and Michigan is next Wednesday.
A spokesman for the department for homeland security, however, did not respond to requests for comment.