Hillary Clinton's campaign is being urged by a number of top computer scientists to call for a recount of vote totals in the 'swing states' Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to media reports today.
The computer scientists believe they have found evidence that vote totals in the three states could have been manipulated or hacked, and presented their findings to top Clinton aides on a call last Thursday.
The scientists, among them J Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, and voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz, told the Clinton campaign they believe there is a questionable trend of Clinton performing worse in counties that relied on electronic voting machines compared to paper ballots and optical scanners.
The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private. It informed John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman, and Marc Elias, the campaign's general counsel, that Clinton received 7 per cent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic voting machines, which the group said could have been hacked.
The group told Podesta and Elias that while they had not found any evidence of hacking, the pattern needs to be looked at by an independent review.
Neither Halderman nor John Bonifaz, an attorney also pressing the case, responded to requests for comment on Tuesday evening. Their urging was first reported by New York magazine.
A message left with President-elect Donald Trump's transition team by CNN also was not immediately returned.
According to current tallies, Trump has won 290 Electoral College votes to Clinton's 232, with Michigan's 16 votes not apportioned because the race there is still too close to call. It would take overturning the results in both Wisconsin (10 Electoral College votes) and Pennsylvania (20 votes), in addition to winning Michigan's 16, for Clinton to win the Electoral College.
There is also the complicating factor of ''faithless electors,'' or members of the Electoral College who do not vote according to the popular vote in their states. At least six electoral voters have said they would not vote for Trump, despite the fact that he won their states.
The Clinton camp is running out of time to challenge the election. According to one of the activists, the deadline in Wisconsin to file for a recount is Friday; in Pennsylvania, it's Monday; and Michigan is next Wednesday. Whether Clinton will call for a recount remains unclear.
The academics so far have only a circumstantial case that would require not just a recount but a forensic audit of voting machines. Also complicating matters, a senior Clinton adviser said, is that the White House, focused on a smooth transfer of power, does not want Clinton to challenge the election result.
Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri did not respond to a request for comment. But some Clinton allies are intent on pushing the issue. This afternoon, Huma Abedin's sister Heba encouraged her Facebook followers to lobby the Justice Department to audit the 2016 vote.
''Call the DOJ … and tell them you want the votes audited,'' she wrote. ''Even if it's busy, keep calling.''
There were widespread concerns about hacking ahead of this month's election, including the Obama administration accusing Russia of attempting to breach voter registration data. But election officials and cybersecurity experts said earlier this month that it is virtually impossible for Russia to influence the election outcome.
A former Clinton aide declined to respond to questions about whether they will request an audit based on the findings.
Additionally, at least three electors have pledged to not vote for Trump and to seek a "reasonable Republican alternative for president through Electoral College," according to a statement Wednesday from a group called the Hamilton Electors, which represents them.
"The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College as the last line of defence," one elector, Michael Baca, said in a statement, "and I think we must do all that we can to ensure that we have a reasonable Republican candidate who shares our American values."