It is not over yet. There are now two prongs of attack currently underway to prevent the coronation of Donald Trump as President. Before discussing these efforts I'd like to remind you of one important fact: Donald Trump does NOT have a mandate. Despite winning the most electors in the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton leads Trump by 1.7 million votes as of this writing. And any mandate Trump might claim despite his loss of the popular vote has been further tainted by the fact that it was at least partially achieved by a wildly successful effort at voter suppression in the key states of Florida, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Trump's supporters are trying to counter these points by claiming three million votes were cast for Hillary Clinton by illegal aliens. Snopes investigated this claim and could find no evidence to support it.
Roger Stone, a close ally of Donald Trump's, argued in August that the elections could be rigged in Hillary's favor. And Donald Trump claimed repeatedly in the final weeks leading up to the election that the election would be rigged. I, and many others, thought these complaints were pro-active sour grapes. We thought Trump was preparing a face-saving excuse for his likely loss and laying the groundwork to challenge the legitimacy of Clinton's Presidency. Many said that the decentralized nature of our election system would make rigging a national election practically impossible. (See also here and here) However, Malcolm Nance, author of "The Plot to Hack America" pointed out that Russian hackers could roil the election by hacking into state databases in a way that was intentionally designed to tip off the database administrators to the fact that they had been hacked.
Nance told VOA he was not worried that Russian agents would attempt to hack into individual voting machines. What he fears is cyber mischief at a state level that could discredit the results.
"It's far easier to create mayhem and chaos on Election Day by, at the end of the day, going to a state which is controversial, like Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania, where Donald Trump has said he expects the state to be stolen," he said.
All it would take is hacking into the computer on which the state calculates its results, and "removing some digits from one column and then putting them in another column and then moving them back 5 minutes later so that people know it's a hack, all right?" Nance said.
'It would create chaos'
Obviously Nance's fear that the Russians would hack our electoral databases in a manner intentionally designed to be caught didn't happen. But could they, or anyone else, have hacked or rigged the election?
Let's assume for the sake of argument that the answer is "no, the election could not have been rigged." That's the theory, anyway. But now that we have almost all of the election results, what does the data say? Political journalist and founder of the Daily News Bin website, Bill Palmer, has looked closely at the election results and has provided a fairly convincing analysis that the election was probably rigged. Early voting results in Florida had put Clinton so far ahead that it is difficult to believe Trump could have won. And yet, he won Florida by one percent. Palmer also notes that Donald Trump won every surprise swing state by the same 1% election. These were just two of several observations that led Palmer to conclude that something fishy was going on:
So where does all of the above get us? It’s a mountain of statistical and mathematical and logical and demographic discrepancy and suspicion and nothing more. I can’t definitively prove that the vote tallies were rigged. And as a practical matter it would be so tricky for a hacker to rig the results in various states, without any of the local precinct overseers catching on, that no one has even been able to posit a plausible method for pulling it off. But still, these things can’t all have legitimately happened.
In order to believe that the official vote tallies are legitimate, you have to accept that all of the above legitimately happened: African-Americans in the south went from turning out in droves for Hillary Clinton in the primary to not caring if she won the general election. Donald Trump got sixty-something percent of the same-day voting in Florida. The polling averages were wrong for the first time in modern history. Trump beat his poll numbers despite having spent the primary season tending to fall below them. Clinton fell below her poll numbers despite having spent the primary season tending to beat them. In every state where Trump pulled off a shocking upset victory, he just happened to do it with one percent of the vote. And in an election that everyone cared particularly deeply about, no one really turned out to vote at all. I can accept any one of the above things happening as an isolated fluke. I cannot accept all the above happening. And so for once in my evidence-driven career, I’m left to believe that the conspiracy theorists are right: the vote tallies are rigged.
Palmer isn't the only one who has misgivings about the election results. Ron Rivest and Philip Stark, two experts on U.S. elections expressed their concern in USA Today:
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.
Rivest and Stark recommended a limited audit of paper ballots to address concerns about the integrity of the voting system. Theory MAY say the election could not have been hacked. The data suggests that the election was PROBABLY hacked. What do scientists do when theory contradicts data? They double check, triple, check, and maybe even quadruple check the data. And if the data still contradicts the theory then they either modify the theory or throw it out completely. There is now a petition with over 111,000 signatures demanding an audit of the votes. I encourage everyone reading this to sign the petition. You should also call the Justice Department's main switchboard at 202-353-1555 and ask them to audit the vote. This election is so important that the data must not go without double checking. You can find out more about efforts to have the vote audited by following #auditTheElection or #auditTheVote on Twitter.
The second prong of attack to block Trump from becoming President involves the Electoral College. The following video explains:
There are now at least two petitions online asking the Electoral College electors to reject Donald Trump as President. The first has over 4.5 million signatures and asks the electors to reject Donald Trump and elect Hillary Clinton instead. I have written a second petition that differs from the first in two critical respects.
First, it explains in greater detail why the electors not only should reject Trump--they MUST reject Trump in order to fulfill the purpose of the Electoral College as envisioned by the Founding Fathers and spelled out by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Paper no. 68.
And second, unlike the first petition which demands that the electors elect Hillary Clinton, my petition gives the electors three options to consider when deciding how to reject Donald Trump. The electors can:
- Give the presidency to Clinton.
- Give the presidency to a different Republican.
- Give the presidency to Bernie Sanders.
Personally, I would prefer to see Sanders selected as President. And if Sanders isn't selected as President, then I would prefer to see Clinton selected before seeing it handed to another Republican. Unfortunately, there is no way either of the first two will happen. A baby has a greater chance of knocking out Godzilla with a single punch than Clinton has of convincing enough electors who would otherwise vote for Trump to vote for her. We may not like it, but Clinton is almost as despised as Trump. The picture that has been painted of her over the past 20 years of hit jobs is a gross caricature of reality. It may be an unfair picture of her, but there is no denying its power. And, I regret to say, if by some miracle the Electoral College should vote for her (and it won't), she will likely be the target of a record number of assassination attempts. There have already been several people on the rabid right who have made veiled threats that she should be shot if she becomes president... especially if she appoints justices who approve of gun control. (Trump, unfortunately, may be one of them with his apparent appeal to "the second amendment people".)
I am not the only one who thinks that the best chance of beating Donald Trump is by having the electors choose another Republican. At least two, maybe three democratic electoral college electors are thinking along the same line. They are now trying to convince enough electors to switch their votes to either John Kasich or Mitt Romney to prevent Trump from getting 270 electoral votes. There are two possible outcomes if enough electors defect from voting for Trump. The Democratic electors could join them in voting for a compromise Republican, in which case we will have a different Republican as President. If Democratic electors do not join in and provide a compromise Republican with 270 votes, then the Republican controlled House will have to decide who will become the next President.
My petition emphasizes that the electors must select someone other than Trump if they are to fulfill their mission as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Alexander Hamilton explicitly states in Federalist Paper 68 that the electors should screen out those whose ties with foreign powers may cause them to compromise their duty to put American interests first. My petition notes a couple of developments that occurred after the elections that raise questions about Trump's ability to put U.S. interests over Russian interests. A new reason has emerged after I wrote my petition necessitating the electors reject Trump. Foreign diplomats are trying to curry favor with Trump by staying at his hotel in Washington DC. By paying his hotel's high room rates, they are, in effect, giving Trump gifts. Unless Trump sells his hotel before January 20, he will be poised to violate the Constitution on his first day in office. That's not just my opinion--that is the assessment of University of Minnesota law professor, Richard Painter. Painter's claim that this business arrangement would violate the Constitution's Emoluments Clause should be given special weight since he acted as chief ethics counsel to President George W. Bush. Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe agrees with Painter.
I encourage all those who want to prevent Trump from becoming president to sign both my petition and the original petition calling for the selectors to elect Hillary Clinton. There is a third, much simpler petition by at HamiltonElectors.com that I encourage you to sign as well. I also encourage you to promote these petitions and the video above on Facebook and on Twitter using the hashtag #HamiltonElectors.