President-elect Donald Trump added 131 votes to his winning margin in a recount in Wisconsin of ballots cast in the state for the recent U.S. presidential elections, but a significant part of the recount was not by hand.
The recount was asked for by Green Party candidate Jill Stein after doubts were raised that the voting systems can be hacked. Wisconsin uses both the optical scan and direct-recording electronic types of voting machines, which are both susceptible to compromise, Stein said in a petition to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Her demand for a recount in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan was backed by Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton. A group of voting security experts and election lawyers had earlier suggested that Clinton should ask for a recount in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan as there were questions about the voting results in the close contests.
The only way to know whether a cyberattack modified the result is to examine the available physical evidence, consisting of paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states, wrote J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, in a post on Medium.com.
But Stein did not get the recount by hand across the state that she had sought, after a court ruled that the decision to count by hand or use automatic tabulating equipment should be left to each county. Stein had argued in her petition before the Dane County Circuit Court in Wisconsin that the use of automatic tabulating equipment, identified as potential targets of foreign government agents, “risks tainting the recount process.”
The recount was never about changing the outcome, but “was about validating the vote and restoring confidence in our voting system to Americans across the country who have doubts," Stein said in a statement after the Wisconsin recount ended on Monday. The refusal by some of the largest and most important counties in the state to conduct a hand recount "undermined the ability to get an accurate recount," she added.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission put down the change in the final tally largely to human error.
"Some voters do not follow the instructions and mark their ballots correctly for the machines can count them. In the tight deadlines to report the results, election officials make math mistakes, we forget things, we accidentally transpose numbers,” said Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas in a statement.
Stein’s attempts for similar statewide recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan were blocked by courts, according to the Associated Press.
In the run-up to the elections, there were breaches including those of the emails of the Democratic National Committee and voter registration databases in at least two states. The administration of President Barack Obama pointed a finger to Russia for the email compromises. Trump has previously dismissed claims that the Russians tampered with the election process, and over the weekend dismissed a claim from the CIA that the Russian government had interfered to help him win the election.