For Immediate Release: Friday, December 9
Dr. Jill Stein Responds to Announcement of ‘Full Review’ of Election Hacking: “Underscores Critical Need for this Recount Right Now” to Protect Constitutional, Civil Rights
(December 9, 2016) — Amid increasing doubt over the security, accuracy and fairness of the U.S. election system, President Obama this morning took the extraordinary step to order a “full review” of hacking-related activity aimed at disrupting the 2016 presidential election. Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate who is spearheading the country’s first multi-state presidential recount out of concern for the integrity of the voting system, issued the following response:
“Today’s extraordinary announcement by the President should make clear that the threat of hacking in this election is creating serious concern at the highest levels of our government. I am grateful that the President has drawn attention to these serious concerns about the integrity and security of our voting system.This announcement is yet another indication that the recounts being demanded by Americans across the country are desperately needed — not just to verify the vote, but to restore confidence that our election system is secure and the results are accurate.”
“We must also stress that concerns about the security and accuracy of our election system extend into the realm of human and machine error, where there is already evidence before our eyes of widespread machine failure. We must get rid of tamper- and error-prone electronic voting machines and work toward a verifiable paper ballot system, which has long been central to the Green Party’s democracy platform. This is the only way to ensure the rights of voters — especially voters in communities of color, who are at massively increased risk of having their votes misread or simply tossed out by badly maintained machines in underserved communities.
“Despite overwhelming evidence and consensus from cyber-security and computer science experts that our election system is vulnerable to hacking, manipulation, malfunction and human error, the political establishment in Washington has dismissed the need for comprehensive recounts of the 2016 election. They have criticized it for a “lack of evidence” — giving no regard to the simple facts that optical scan machines and black box electronic machines used in our elections have been proven to be error-prone and easily hackable, and despite the fact that 20 state voter registration databases, the DNC and personal email accounts were hacked this year.
“For the purpose of the recount, it doesn’t matter where hacks originated. Whether from abroad or from a basement in Peoria, our machines are equally susceptible. It begs the question: what more is needed before politicians listen to the will of the American people and fight for recounts to protect the constitutional and civil rights of voters?”
There is significant evidence of security breaches during the 2016 presidential campaign. Sophisticated hackers targeted the voter registration systems of 20 states and got into at least two, Illinois and Arizona. State elections offices’ databases were targeted. Moreover, there are a number of statistical irregularities in voting data, which merit heightened scrutiny given the historic level of concern over hacking during this election. In Michigan, for instance, there were more than 75,000 “under-votes” — ballots cast with no vote for president — which is almost twice as many than were cast in the 2012 election (49,840).
Moreover, many Americans cast votes on touch-screen machines (DREs) that are susceptible to manipulation and hacking (and which many states have banned or are phasing out). In Pennsylvania, whose voting system has been called a “nightmare scenario” by one leading expert, the machines do not even dispense a paper ballot or receipt. As a result, the only way to conduct a full, foolproof audit is through a “forensic analysis” – opening each machine to look for evidence of tampering or voter manipulation.
Optical scan voting – the method for all voting in Michigan, 85 percent in Wisconsin and one-third in Pennsylvania – is considered an improvement over DREs, but can still be breached without detection. The machines suffer from glitches and are prone to mistakes, including misreading voters’ markings. For example, in a recount of Ohio votes initiated by then Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb in 2004, almost 90,000 votes were left uncounted due to a machine calibration error. As such, manual hand recounts – as opposed to simply running ballots back through the same flawed machines – are essential, and considered the gold standard of recounts by election integrity experts. The vulnerabilities uncovered during the 2004 recount helped galvanize an election integrity movement, leading to significant reforms to election systems in New Mexico, as well as in California, where DRE touch-screen machines were banned.