Michael Harriot wrote an article in the website The Root about the Russian hacking. The article gives details about known election system break-ins by the Russian hackers and refers to some experts. Harriot asks the question, if they could hack election systems, wouldn't they actually change votes? He points out that voting machines aren't connected to the internet while people are voting, but they are often connected before people vote to update software. Votes are also tabulated on internet-connected computers that can be hacked.. (Presumably the vote totals can be checked. But any external interference with the vote totals on the night of the election would shed doubt on the legitimacy of the results, even if it were corrected later.)
Harriot's article was updated because of some errors, but Harriot seems to imply that the Americans in charge of administering elections, who without exception insist that no votes were changed, are being short-sighted or even willfully ignorant. Harriot earns a extra amount of credibility, perhaps, by being a black man, writing for a black media outlet, and claiming that white people are part of a conspiracy of silence. Steven Rosenfeld wrote a reply to Harriot. He criticized Harriot for blaming the Russians for interfering with elections. Rosenfeld said that he has been examining the election results, and he agrees with government officials that no votes were changed. The real problem, according to Rosenfeld, is that Republicans are trying hard in many states to cull out voters who won't be voting for Republicans. He writes, "The GOP, in swing states, has created structural advantages this decade (gerrymanders segregating voters by district, stricter ID peeling off turnout, etc.) that add up to a 10-point lead before the votes in typical elections are counted." This should be the focus of attention, because Democrats will have to generate a large turnout in order to offset this disadvantage to win. Suggesting that voting is rigged and pointless is not the way to do it.Meanwhile, Walter Einenkel reported in the Daily Kos that an 11-Year-Old at a Hacking Convention Demonstrated that he could hack Florida election machines and change votes in 10 minutes' time.The private company, ByteGrid LLC, that owns the servers with Maryland voting registration and other election information is partly owned by a Russian oligarch. Coincidence?
On the other hand, it could be, as Jonathan Chait wrote, "It was all exactly what it appeared to be." Trump had a public history with Russian Oligarchs going so far back that it is impossible to erase it. According to Unger, Trump's first real estate purchase by a Russian (that he can find) was in 1984, when Trump was given $6 million dollars for 5 condos in Trump Tower. According to Luke Harding, the Russians' interest in Trump went back even further to 1977, when he married his first wife Ivana, a Czech citizen. Her letters to her father were opened by the Czech intelligence agencies, who shared the information with the Russian agencies. In 1987, Trump and Ivana were invited to Moscow for an all-expense-paid visit. So Trump was known and possibly considered an asset by the Russian intelligence since then. As Chait said, why wouldn't Putin help Trump? Trump is not a perfect asset by any standard, but he is President. That implies that if Putin and his hackers found a way to change the voting results, he wouldn't hesitate. We return to Harriot's question: If the Russians can get into election systems to change votes, wouldn't they do it?