News Briefs

Experts advocate for election recount, audit

On Nov. 17, a group of respected voting rights attorneys and computer scientists alerted Hillary Clinton’s campaign team that they believed that an audit of votes cast in the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan could possibly turn up evidence of a cyberattack on electronic voting machines.

If this hacking occurred, it would have been instrumental in turning the tide of the election in Trump’s favor. The group, led by University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society director J. Alex Halderman and voting rights lawyer John Bonifaz, has found indications that Clinton may have received seven percent fewer votes in Wisconsin than she should have in counties that used electronic voting machines.

The potential cyberattack is thought to have been perpetuated by Russian hackers who either virtually hacked voting machines or infected them with malware. Russians are also believed to be responsible for the hacking of Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign emails, as well as the dissemination of fake news stories (The New York Times, “Clinton Being Pushed to Seek Vote Recount in 3 States,” 11.24.2016).

If these speculations are proven correct, it could change the result of the election; the seven percent of votes the group believes Clinton lost due to fraud in Wisconsin would be 30,000, 3,000 more than she would have needed to win the state. Clinton also lost Michigan and Pennsylvania by razor-thin margins.

Though there is currently no definitive evidence of tampering and though Clinton would need to be declared the winner of all three states in question in order to retroactively win the election, the group pushed Clinton’s campaign to formally file for both a forensic voting machine audit and a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania (New York Magazine, “Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Chal- lenge Election Results in 3 Swing States,”
11.22.2016).

Clinton and her team did not initially move to call for a recount in Wisconsin, the state whose deadline for filing was first on Nov. 25, but former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein raised over $6.5 million to pay for the audits. Stein officially requested the recount in Wisconsin last Friday, the final day to do so (CBS News, “Jill Stein files for a recount in Wisconsin: What you need to know,” 11.25.2016).

The following day, Nov. 26, Clinton’s general counsel, Marc Elias, announced on Medium that while her campaign had not moved to initiate a recount themselves, they would participate in and support the audit (Medium, “Listening and Responding To Calls for an Audit and Recount,” 11.26.2016).

Donald Trump, despite claiming that the election was rigged when Clinton was leading in the polls prior to election day, voiced his anger about the recount on Twitter. On Nov. 26, he tweeted, “The Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts is now being joined by the badly defeated & demoralized Dems.” The following day, Nov. 27, he added, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” The popular vote has not yet been called, but Clinton is currently leading by more than two million votes and Trump has not cited any evidence of this alleged voter fraud (NPR, “Trump Makes Unfounded Claim That ‘Millions’ Voted Illegally For Clinton,” 11.27.2016).

All recounts must be completed and suspicions of hacking must be substantiated with concrete evidence by the federal government’s deadline of Dec. 13 in order to have an effect on the election results. Furthermore, the Electoral College will cast its votes on Dec. 19, so any evidence of fraud discovered after that date will have no impact on the results (USA Today,
“What you need to know about the election recounts,” 11.28.2016).

— Laurel Hennen Vigil, Reporter

Plane carrying Brazilian team crashes

On Monday, Nov. 28, a chartered plane carrying 77 passengers crashed south of Medellín, Colombia. Of the 71 that did not survive the crash, 19 were players of Chapecoense, a Brazilian football club in the midst of its best season since its establishment 43 years prior. 20 sports journalists were also reported among the dead.

Both the country and world have been left numb in the wake of Monday’s tragedy. Intending to pay their respects to the Chapecoense players lost in the crash, the São Paulo soccer club intends to wear the team’s uniforms during a future game. Top Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid had a minute of si- lence before their respective practices during the day. In Brazil, the entire country observed three days of mourning, and in Chapeco, Brazil–the home of the team–thousands flocked to the city’s chapel and stadium to grieve together (The New York Times, “Thousands Squeeze Into Church, Stadium to Mourn Tragic Crash,” 11.30.2016).

Meanwhile, the news has made waves across the globe—moments of silence were observed both in Boston at the Consulate General of Brazil, as well as during international soccer games on Tuesday (Boston Globe, “Framing- ham mourns Brazilian soccer players killed in plane crash,” 11.29.2016).

Chapecoense’s is currently in ninth place in Brazil’s Série A division, the top club league in the country with a rich footballing history. Their plane crashed while transporting the team to their biggest match in club history, the Copa Sudamericana final, the second biggest annual club clash in the continent. ESPN reports CONMEBOL, South American football’s governing body, has suspended the final of the Copa Sudamericana and all federation activities until further notice in response to the event (ESPN, Brazilian club Chapecoense’s plane crashes, leaving 71 dead, six survivors. 11.29.2016).

The tragedy is heightened by continued reports of the growing success of this club with humble origins. The group had made a recent surge into the first division in Brazil, having been as low as the fourth tier of football as recently as 2007 (CNN, “Chapecoense: Football team’s fairy-tale rise ends in tragedy,” 11.29.2016). This incredible recent success has brought joy to their small fanbase. Comparisons have been drawn between Chapecoense and Leicester City, who had a similar underdog story leading up to their 2016 Premier league title. For Chapecoense, the tragic crash prevented them from being able to achieve at the highest level in their club’s history. “The dream is over,” said Plinio David de Nes Filho, chairman of the club’s board. (CNN, “Chapecoense: Football team’s fairy-tale rise ends in tragedy,” 11.29.2016).

In the wake of this upheaval, the focus turns to the survivors and the lasting legacy of the team built by those who lost their lives. ESPN praised the legacy of the humble club on it’s quest for glory, describing them as “the mouse that kept on roaring” (ESPN, “Chapecoense were the mighty mouse that roared right up to the very end,” 11.29.2016). Chapecoense as a team represented what the sport is all about, and their loss will be felt across Brazilian and world football alike. Chepecoense’s acting club president assured, “We will fight back when it’s time. Now it’s time to take care of our families.” (The New York Times, “Thousands Squeeze Into Church, Stadium to Mourn Tragic Crash,” 11.30.2016).

— Zander Bashaw and Elena Schultz, Senior Editors

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