MOSCOW -- The Russian government maintained contacts with members of Donald J. Trump's "immediate entourage" during the American presidential campaign, one of Russia's top diplomats said Thursday.
"There were contacts," Sergei A. Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. "We continue to do this and have been doing this work during the election campaign," he said.
Mr. Ryabkov said officials in the Russian Foreign Ministry were familiar with many of the people he described as Mr. Trump's entourage. "I cannot say that all, but a number of them maintained contacts with Russian representatives," Mr. Ryabkov said.
How might a foreign government hack America's voting machines to change the outcome of a presidential election? Here's one possible scenario. First, the attackers would probe election offices well in advance in order to find ways to break into their computers. Closer to the election, when it was clear from polling data which states would have close electoral margins, the attackers might spread malware into voting machines in some of these states, rigging the machines to shift a few percent of the vote to favor their desired candidate. This malware would likely be designed to remain inactive during pre-election tests, do its dirty business during the election, then erase itself when the polls close. A skilled attacker's work might leave no visible signs -- though the country might be surprised when results in several close states were off from pre-election polls.Former Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein intends to file for a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Could anyone be brazen enough to try such an attack? A few years ago, I might have said that sounds like science fiction, but 2016 has seen unprecedented cyberattacks aimed at interfering with the election. [...] In all these cases, Federal agencies publicly asserted that senior officials in the Russian government commissioned these attacks. [...]
The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence -- paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, nobody is ever going to examine that evidence unless candidates in those states act now, in the next several days, to petition for recounts.
"After a divisive and painful presidential race, reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts were causing many [Americans] to wonder if our election results are reliable," Stein said in the statement. "These concerns need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified."
(Electronic voting machines have been a slow motion apocalypse for decades. It would be really ironic if Jill Stein ended up helping to keep Trump out of the White House, but hey, I'll take it. Petition.)
To put that popular-vote margin into perspective, Al Gore's popular-vote lead over George W. Bush in 2000 - when Bush won the Electoral College - was 547,000 votes. Also noteworthy: Clinton's 64-plus million votes is nearing in on the 65.9 million Barack Obama won in 2012.
Of course, presidents are elected by the Electoral College, not the popular vote, and what sunk Clinton's campaign was her performance in the key battleground states, particularly in the Midwest. And by Wasserman's count, Trump beat Clinton in 13 key swing states by a 48.5%-to-46.6% margin. In the non-swing states, though, Clinton is ahead of Trump 48.9%-to-45.6%.
It is important to realize that there is a clear, non-partisan case for post-election audits of voting machines to be routine, rather than exceptional, and that there are alternatives to full recounts.
"He [Obama] lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!"'
"The phoney [sic] electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. The loser one!"
"More votes equals a loss...revolution!"
"This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!"
"The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy."
Yet on Tuesday, Trump tweeted:
"The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!"
Last week, the first election in 50 years without the full protection of the federal Voting Rights Act propelled Donald Trump to the White House. [...] There has been relatively little discussion about the millions of people who were eligible to vote but could not do so because they faced an array of newly-enacted barriers to the ballot box.
Their systematic disenfranchisement was intentional and politically motivated. In the years leading up to 2016, Republican governors and state legislatures implemented new laws restricting when, where, and how people could vote -- laws that disproportionately harmed students, the poor, and people of color. In several instances, lawmakers pushing such policies said explicitly that their goal was suppression of voters who favor the Democratic Party. [...]
Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed Wisconsin's strict voter ID law in 2011, and it has been tied up in court battles for years. A federal court held that the law unconstitutionally burdens low-income people of color, but ultimately the Supreme Court allowed it to go into effect for the 2016 election. [...]
Federal courts struck down most of the [North Carolina] law after finding that it was passed with the intention to suppress African-American voters "with almost surgical precision." [...] Republican-controlled county elections boards tried to find a way around the verdict. No longer able to cut a full week of early voting, the state GOP instructed the boards to make "party line changes to early voting": cutting hours and locations. [...]
In the final weeks leading up to the election, voting rights groups discovered that Wisconsin officials at local DMV offices were giving false information to voters attempting to get the proper ID, putting those officials in violation of a federal court order. [...]
In total, roughly 1.5 million Florida residents (almost 2.5 percent of the state's population) are disenfranchised because of the law, which white lawmakers designed in the years after the Civil War in a deliberate attempt to dilute the voting power of freed slaves. This year, one in four of Florida's black residents could not cast a ballot.