The Possibility Of A Clinton Vote Audit

It happened, America: a female candidate for president got the most votes, beating her opponent by millions. The only problem is, she didn't win the election. Donald Trump won the Electoral College and became president-elect, although the latest from the nonpartisan Cook Political Report on Wednesday showed Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by two million. Considering the closeness of race and cybersecurity experts releasing an open letter that, as reported by The Guardian, they were "'deeply troubled' by previous reports of foreign interference," some Americans are calling for a vote audit in states where Trump's victory was close.

But will a vote audit actually occur? So far, there is a petition demanding an audit has 158,000 signatures at the time of writing. There's also a viral post urging Clinton supporters to flood the Department of Justice with calls asking for the same.

Moreover, a group of expert computer scientists and election lawyers are reportedly concerned about the election results and urging Clinton to ask for recounts. According to New York Magazine, the group — which includes esteemed University of Michigan academic J. Alex Halderman — was skeptical of the fact that Clinton received fewer votes in electronic-voting counties than paper ballot ones: "While it’s important to note the group has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review."

In a separate post on Medium, Halderman explains how interference with American elections could hypothetically be carried out ("no question" that such an attack was possible), and stressed the importance of an audit even if it doesn't alter the election results: "Examining the physical evidence in these states — even if it finds nothing amiss — will help allay doubt and give voters justified confidence that the results are accurate."

However, not all statisticians are concerned. The New York Times' Nate Cohn and FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver have both argued that controlling for race and education eliminates statistical irregularity in paper-ballot counties in Wisconsin.

Furthermore, Matt Zapotosky at the Washington Post wrote why he believes the Department of Justice won't act, saying "they will not initiate a national audit — or force particular states to recount their results — based on the volume of outrage they receive from voters."

Obtaining a vote audit, then, is largely up to the Clinton campaign, which can choose to file for a vote recount in the relevant states: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. If all three of those states were turned over for Clinton, she would win the Electoral College and, therefore, the presidency. But it would be generous to call that scenario a long shot.