It is difficult to get a hand recount in the U.S., even when voting machines use paper ballots.
- According to Computer Science and Engineering Professor Alex Halderman (Univ. Michigan), the only way to verify if an electronic vote tally is correct is to hand count the paper ballots or to forensically analyze the machines. https://medium.com/@jhalderm/want-to-know-if-the-election-was-hacked-look-at-the-ballots-c61a6113b0ba
- Private vendors, however, block forensic analyses on the grounds that their code is proprietary. https://www.thenation.com/article/touch-and-go-elections-perils-electronic-voting/ …
3. Thus, as a practical matter, the only way to verify an electronic vote tally in the United States is to hand count the paper ballots.
4. But most states require hand recounts, if at all, only when the margin of victory is exceedingly small.
- http://ceimn.org/ceimn-state-recount-laws-searchable-database/states/Alabama [no provision for hand recounts; mandatory machine recount if margin of victory is no more than .5%];
5. Thus, hackers can avoid a statutorily mandated hand recount by flipping enough votes to exceed the specified margin.
6. If that specified margin is exceeded, courts are of little use. In 2016, for example, the court in Wisconsin refused to order a hand recount, instead leaving the decision up to the counties. https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/11/29/steins-recount-headed-court-tuesday/94598740/
7. Although a few Wisconsin counties hand recounted voluntarily, most large counties refused, choosing instead to re-run the machines. https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/jillstein/pages/28865/attachments/original/1489759688/FinalRecountReport-WI.pdf?1489759688 … …
8. The recount in Michigan was no better. It excluded voting machines with broken seals and precincts where the number of voters and the number of votes differed. It was also shut down after only three days. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/38767-the-republican-sabotage-of-the-vote-recounts-in-michigan-and-wisconsin … …
9. In Pennsylvania, although most machines are paperless, the court refused to order any recount at all, even as to those machines that used paper. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-pennsylvania-election-recount-20161212-story.html
10. In addition, according to the Congressional testimony of Computer Science Professor Andrew Appel (Princeton University), just twelve states have laws requiring regular post-election hand audits to make sure the computers aren’t cheating. https://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2016-09-28-Appel-Princeton-Testimony.pdf
11. Appel further testified that, “in most of those twelve states, the sampling methods are weak.” (Id.)
12. According to Professor Halderman, “only two states — Colorado and New Mexico — ‘conduct audits that are robust enough to detect cyberattacks.’”