Monday, December 26, 2016

Additional Thoughts on the 2016 General Election Results in Pennsylvania and across the Union

           Now that the results for the 2016 General Election have been certified in all 50 American States and the District of Columbia, I can provide additional analysis.

            There were 7.8 million votes for Electors for presidential candidates other than the Democratic or Republican nominees.  There were about two thirds of a million votes for the Electors for conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin.  The Trump-Pence ticket’s and Republican Electors received 2.9 million fewer votes than the plurality winner, and was 10.6 million short of a majority, having earned only 46% of the vote.  Approximately two million additional voters skipped the office at the top of the ticket, but cast ballots for downballot offices.  Only about 76,000 votes across three States (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, which ranged from 44,000 to 9,000 votes, in descending order), were enough to elect the Trump-Pence Electors as the majority of the Electoral College.  These updated figures contrast even more from the higher vote totals for Republican Congressional candidates I posted about last week. 

            There was a partial recount effort in the three close States, based on concern that the Russians might have hacked the voting machines, as the Russian Federation had hacked not only the Democratic presidential campaign and party organizations, but had also hacked state election offices and attempted to hack others, in an effort to elect their preferred candidate, Donald J. Trump, or at least to undermine confidence in the result, and thereby deligitamize the President and undermine confidence in American elections.  This concern was shared by both the left and the right.  The challenge from the Green Party presidential candidate and another third-party candidate was based on the possibility that certain voting machines, although not connected to the Internet while in use, could be hacked because their cartridges, which are removed and placed into county election office computers that are connected to the Internet, could be vulnerable.  The Green Party’s technical expert thought the chance unlikely, but that it would be prudent to audit the machine record by cross-checking it with paper records, when available, as they are in Wisconsin and Michigan particularly and less available in Pennsylvania, in order to discover if the Russians had been successful in hacking the election or to restore confidence in the vote, a practice that should be standard protocol.  Because the attempts to audit the vote were denied by state or federal courts, which demanded proof before the auditing could establish if there were any proof, or at least to rule out hacking, there remains uncertainty as to the legitimacy of the outcome of the election, as the concern about Russian hacking cannot be disproved and the Russians were, at least, successful in undermining confidence in the result. 

Congress may yet investigate possible Russian hacking of the voting machines, as it plans to investigate the known Russian hacking generally.  When it certifies the result of the vote of the Electoral College on January 6, if at least one member each of the House of Representatives and Senate objects to the election of the Electors from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and perhaps other States, it could investigate Russian hacking of the presidential election particularly and require the machine vote for Electors in those States be audited. 

There would be additional grounds for congressional objection to the election of the Trump-Pence Electors, such as Russian interference, namely its propaganda and disinformation against the Democratic nominee and in favor of Trump, or intimidation of the Electors by the Trump-Pence campaign and the Republican Party.  The deception and intimidation by Trump and his supporters generally, combined with these, were more than enough fraud to change the outcome of both the Republican nomination and the election of the Trump-Pence Electors and the vote of the Electoral College.

The vote of the Electoral College is the subject of an upcoming post.          

            Locally, the Trump-Pence ticket of Electors lost all 44 precincts in Reading.  None were close, even in the less Democratic ones where Republican candidates for office sometimes win.  What is particularly noteworthy is that Trump-Pence, while doing well in the rural areas of Berks County, lost the wealthy Republican suburb of Wyomissing.

            There were over 400 write-in votes for President in Berks for other Republican candidates, including nearly 200 for McMullin, who was the only one registered as a write-in candidate in Pennsylvania, with a slate of Electors nominated by him, which suggests he earned several thousand votes in the Keystone State.  The rest of the write-in votes were for unregistered candidates, led by Pennsylvania native and Ohio Governor John Kasich with over 70, with many others ranging from the 20s down to 1 vote each, including some who are only locally-known.  These totals suggest several thousand votes across Pennsylvania for other Republicans.  

            In conclusion, I observe the election was more a rejection of the liberal Democratic nominee, despite the higher vote totals for the Democratic Electors and leaving aside the fraud that benefited the Trump-Pence ticket, than an affirmative vote for the non-conservative Republican nominee.  

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