Data Suggests Vote-Counting Machines Hacked Against Bernie Sanders in 2016 New Hampshire Primary
(Update: NH state law allows any candidate who has received at least 9% of the presidential primary vote to request a recount, presumably by hand. The law reads: "Any person receiving at least 9 percent of the votes cast in any party's presidential primary may apply for a recount. The application shall be made in writing to the secretary of state and shall be submitted no later than the Friday after the primary for a recount of all ballots cast for such nomination.")
An analysis of Bernie Sanders' performance in his 2016 win in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary suggests that vote-counting machines were hacked in Hillary Clinton's favor.
A similar discrepancy appeared in neighboring Massachusetts that same year, where the vast majority of optical scanner vote counting machines are of the same model, the Accuvote OS made by Premier Election Solutions, formerly Diebold. One vendor LHS Associates, of Methuen, Massachusetts, programs and maintains the machines throughout New England, where they are widely in use.
In the Massachusetts Democratic primary in 2016, Hillary Clinton won by less than 2% of the vote in precincts where the paper ballots were counted by machine, but lost by nearly 18% in precincts where the ballots were hand-counted. As in New Hampshire, the enormous discrepancy has never been explained. Small discrepancies might be expected as simply a matter of random chance.
Although Sanders turned in a solid 60% to 38% win against Clinton in New Hampshire in 2016. But when the districts are isolated where the ballots were hand-counted, presumably more rural, conservative precincts, Sanders won by 10 points more than in machine counted districts, or a 20 point super-landslide.
There seems to be no compelling demographic explanation for the difference in the final results. In fact if NH cities like Keene and Manchester are viewed as more liberal, the results would have been expected to be the reverse.
The breakdown is as follows.
Hand-counted precincts_____69% 31%
Machine-counted precincts__ 60% 40%
The raw data for the calculations was obtained from the NH Secretary of State elections division website.
The calculations can be duplicated through use of information compiled at VerifiedVoting.org.
Election activists have long called for a nationwide standard of hand-marked ballots, either counted by hand or by an optical scanner machine which takes a digital image of each ballot, which can then be posted online for the public to verify the count
Although some have called a system of counting paper ballots by hand impractical, until fairly recently Los Angeles County did so, with no ill effects or confusion.
The Premier (formerly Diebold) AccuVote OS was the subject of a famous hacking demonstration in the 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy. Although election departments insist that vote-counting machines cannot be hacked if they are not "connected to the Internet," a computer expert in that documentary demonstrated how with a few minutes access to any machine, the result of an election can be falsified.
Moreover, the AccuVote OS is built with an onboard modem which can then connect through a landline to a central tabulator. Many landlines are now digital and at some point feed into the telecommunication's company's Internet equipment.
Premier/Diebold AccuVote OS Vote Hacking Demonstration
Another defense of vote-counting systems which are not connected to the Internet is that it would require hundreds of hackers in different precincts to hack results on stand-alone machines. But in fact only the largest precincts and municipal districts with the most voters need be targeted to substantially affect the outcome of an election.
In 2016 New Hampshire state officials reprimanded a town clerk for auditing the results of a September 2016 local primary, conducted on AccuVote OS vote-counting machines. The state said she had no authority to do so, even though her town charter made her responsible for the accuracy of the results.
According to VerifiedVoting.org, the towns in NH in which ballots and votes are counted by hand are: