Could Russia have actually hacked the US presidential election for Trump?

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump called on his supporters to monitor polls for fear of what he deemed a "rigged" election.

Since Trump's upset victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the president-elect has dropped all mentions of poll tampering or election fixing occurring.

However, some still speculate that Russia's prominent influence in the 2016 election with leaks and hacks may have extended all the way to the voting booth.

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While there is no concrete evidence of Russian hackers physically accessing voting machines, it remains an alarming theory that could explain why pollsters were so off on 2016 election projections.

The argument was laid out in a post on Medium this week, which provides some evidence that may raise eyebrows of Clinton supporters.

Why were our internal and public polls so unprecedentedly off the mark? Think-pieces have struggled to answer with ideas like "voting patterns have changed" (don't they always?) or Conway's "shadow supporters" purposefully misleading pollsters. But maybe the explanation is both crazier and much simpler. Maybe Russia, continuing their well established patterns of tipping elections and quietly toppling governments (see: Ukraine, entire Cold War), in line with their clear preference for Trump, took advantage of electronic voting and simply hacked a few key vulnerable counties in Wisconsin, PA, and FL to take out a historically anti-Russian Clinton in favor of Trump. The narrative writes itself but is meaningless without a smoking gun. A series of twitter-connected local journalists may have found one, and basic statistical testing can easily disprove or verify it.

The machines most susceptible to hacking are the direct-recording electronic voting machines -- electronic touch-screen machines with no verifiable paper trail. In an effort to show how thinly protected they are, one device at Princeton was recently turned into a Pac-Man video game without breaking any "Tamper Evident" seals.

Additionally, as the Medium post notes, "In paper ballot counties Obama won in 2012, the ballot county losses are 1–2 percent. However in counties Obama won in 2012 that are purely digital, she lost by 10–15 percent."

Still, the theory that Russia hacked the election is flimsy at best because of one crucial missing piece: voting machines aren't internet-connected devices.

All Russian attacks during the 2016 election cycle came from abroad, therefore requiring an internet connection to complete the hack.

If the mass hacking were to have proved successful, Russian sleeper agents would have been needed in election offices, polling places and at voting machine company offices.

Whether the theory of a Russian election hack stands up to scrutiny or not, Russian president Vladimir Putin now has a U.S. counterpart in President-elect Trump, who has noted he hopes to pursue more amenable policies with the former USSR.

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