Hillary Clinton being urged to challenge results as blame game begins over her loss

By Charis Chang

Hillary Clinton is being urged to call for a recount in three crucial states where some experts believe results may have been hacked.

Voting-rights lawyer John Bonifaz and prominent computer scientist J Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan, are part of a group of experts who believe results in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked, New York Magazine reports.

The group is lobbying Clinton's team to request an independent review as soon as possible, to count the paper ballots and compare them to the electronic results.

While the group did not find evidence of hacking, their analysis found Clinton received 7 per cent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines, compared to areas that used optical scanners and paper ballots.

They believe this may have cost Clinton up to 30,000 votes, a potentially game-changing number if you consider she lost Wisconsin by 27,000.

If she won all three states she could overturn the outcome of the election.

"America's voting machines have serious cybersecurity problems," Halderman explained in a blogpost.

"We've been pointing out for years that voting machines are computers, and they have reprogrammable software, so if attackers can modify that software by infecting the machines with malware, they can cause the machines to give any answer whatsoever."

Halderman, a leading authority on voting system security, said the only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result was to examine the paper ballots in crucial states.

"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," he said.

Halderman is not the only one calling for an recount. There are growing calls for the election to be audited over fears of foreign interference.

US intelligence agencies have already blamed the Russian government for leaking emails from the Democratic Party in an attempt to influence the US election.

Russian hackers are believed to be behind cyberattacks on a contractor for Florida's election system that may have exposed the personal data of voters, which followed similar hacks on the voter registration system in Illinois and Arizona earlier this year.

Pro-Moscow hacking collective CyberBerkut is believed to be responsible for causing havoc ahead of the Ukraine election in 2014.

Another electronic voting expert, Barbara Simons, is part of a loose coalition which is expected to deliver a report highlighting its concerns early next week.

"I'm interested in verifying the vote," Dr Simons, an adviser to the US election assistance commission, toldThe Guardian. "We need to have post-election ballot audits."

Finger pointing over loss

Meanwhile, the blame game has started among those trying to come to terms with Clinton's loss.

The finger pointing is not aimed exclusively at Clinton with some criticising the system and questioning how such a flawed candidate was allowed to run in the first place.

As a New York Times article noted, much of the Democratic Party rallied around her bid for the White House, including US President Barack Obama. They helped "clear the field and ensure her an easy road to the White House".

Other prominent Democrats who considered running, including senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar, didn't nominate after Clinton declared she would run. The only Democrat who ran against her was Martin O'Malley.

"There wasn't anyone who was going to push her off the stage after she paid her dues and did her time and got close in '08," Matt Bennett, the president of Democratic organisation Third Way, told the Times.

"She was the secretary of state and had Obama's backing. She was as much an anointed candidate as a vice president would have been."

The anointed one: US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with US President Barack Obama during the election campaign. Photo / AP
The anointed one: US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with US President Barack Obama during the election campaign. Photo / AP

But Clinton has always been a flawed candidate who struggled to appeal to white, working-class voters. Her shortcomings were highlighted during the Democratic primaries when she lost states like Michigan and Wisconsin to rival presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

"The conventional political wisdom of insider Washington thought it knew better than the voters who still get to decide elections in America," Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Sanders, told the Times.

"And it paved the way for a nominee who failed to do the one thing that a winning candidate must do - make their campaign about the future."

Critics say the Democratic Party ignored signs Americans wanted change.

"You can look at the fact that for the entire election cycle, you had a change electorate, where 60 per cent of the people felt the country was going in the wrong direction," Anita Dunn, Obama's communications director, said.

Some are now blaming the Democratic National Committee, which is in charge of strategy for presidential campaigns, and even Barack Obama.

O'Malley, who ran unsuccessfully against Clinton in the primaries, is reportedly furious about the favouritism the committee showed towards her, and wants to reduce the influence of the "super delegates" who helped her get across the line.

Former chair of the committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz, 49, resigned abruptly in July after Wikileaks posted leaked emails that appeared to show that the committee was favouring Clinton over Sanders.

Claims that Hillary Clinton was favoured by the DNC over independent Senator Bernie Sanders. Photo / AP
Claims that Hillary Clinton was favoured by the DNC over independent Senator Bernie Sanders. Photo / AP

There are now signs of an "ugly fight" brewing over who will become the next chair, that could become a face-off between who Mr Sanders supports, versus the candidate Clinton wants.

Obama also blamed

Obama was one of the figures who tried to help Clinton, and he is also being blamed for the loss.

Columnist Kelly Riddell argued in The Washington Times, that Obama's radical agenda of supporting climate change action and Obamacare, which saw job losses and rising costs among middle-class America, may ultimately have hurt the Democratic Party.

Another problem was that his supporters didn't vote for Clinton.

"African-Americans and young voters didn't show up for Clinton, meaning his winning coalition isn't transferable," Riddell wrote. "It was built entirely on his own personality and popularity that transcended actual policy results.

"Was Mrs Clinton an incredibly flawed candidate? Absolutely. But thinking she could run as Obama's third-term - without being Obama - was her team's ultimate failure."

The party needs renewal

Clinton's loss has left a power vacuum in the party and highlighted how little up-and-coming talent there is ready to become the Democrat Party's next leaders.

While Sanders is popular, he is already 75 years old and unlikely to run for president again in four years' time. Other contenders are also ageing, including Elizabeth Warren, 71. Younger candidates are unproven or have other issues.

Older members of the Democrat leadership are now facing calls for renewal.

In particular, critics have set their sights on Nancy Pelosi, 76, who is leader of the Democratic Party in the US House of Representatives.

Pelosi is an impressive fundraiser who has led the party for more than a decade but some say her time is up. Her second-in-command is Steny Hoyer, 77, followed by Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, 76.

In comparison, the Republicans are led by a relatively young Paul Ryan, 46, as Speaker and Kevin McCarthy, 51 as Majority Leader.

Challenger Tim Ryan has asked how bad things have to get before change happens.

"We lost 68 seats since 2010, we have the lowest number we've had in our caucus since 1929," Ryan said on Fox & Friends. "The question is, how bad does it have to get before we recognise we have a change?"

Time for change? Nancy Pelosi signs a health reform bill in 2010 when she was House Speaker.  Photo / AP
Time for change? Nancy Pelosi signs a health reform bill in 2010 when she was House Speaker. Photo / AP

In the Senate, Charles Schumer, 65 is set to replace Democratic leader Harry Reid, 76, when he retires at the end of this term. But the second ranking Democrat is Dick Durbin, 71, followed by Patty Murray, 66.

"As a matter of strategy, it is critical now that Democrats become purposeful about the hand-off from ageing boomers to the next generation, helping them prepare to lead the party and the country," Simon Rosenberg, president of the NDN think tank, told Politico.

"Our future is with those under 45, and the next (DNC) chair needs to be able to lead a national effort to excite and engage the emerging electorate that holds promise for our party."

- news.com.au

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