According to a report Tuesday in New York Magazine, a group of computer scientists and election lawyers have approached the Hillary Clinton campaign with evidence they believe suggests the election might have been hacked to make it appear that Donald Trump won the Electoral College when Clinton really did. The hacking claim appears to be based on concerns about tampering with electronic voting machines. We’ve looked into the claim — or at least, our best guess of what’s being claimed based on what has been reported — and statistically, it doesn’t check out.
The report is being used by some of those in denial to demand recounts. Basically they claim Clinton got 7% less in Wisconsin in areas that used electronic-voting machines and that this indicates she was robbed of 30,000 votes and lost by only 27,000.
But 538 say:
For each county in those states, we looked at Clinton’s vote share and whether it was associated with the type of voting system the county used, based on voting-system data compiled by a nonprofit electoral-reform group called Verified Voting and 2016 vote data from Dave Leip’s U.S. Election Atlas and ABC News.3 It doesn’t make much sense, though, to just look at raw vote counts and how they differed, because we know there are many factors that affect how a county voted, both in those states and everywhere else around the country. So we separated out two of the main factors that we know drove differences in voting results: the share of each county’s population age 25 and older with a college degree, and the share of the county that is non-white.4
We found no apparent correlation5 between voting method and outcome in six of the eight states, and a thin possible link between voting method and results in Wisconsin and Texas. However, the two states showed opposite results: The use of any machine voting in a county was associated with a 5.6-percentage-point reduction in Democratic two-party vote share in Wisconsin but a 2.7-point increase in Texas, both of which were statistically significant.6 Even if we focus only on Wisconsin, the effect disappears when we weight our results by population. More than 75 percent of Wisconsin’s population lives in the 23 most populous counties, which don’t appear to show any evidence for an effect driven by voting systems.7 To have effectively manipulated the statewide vote total, hackers probably would have needed to target some of these larger counties. When we included all counties but weighted the regression by the number of people living in each county, the statistical significance of the opposite effects in Wisconsin and Texas both evaporated.8
Anyway I’m enjoying seeing those in denial over the results.