The California secretary of state has been asked to conduct a statewide audit of the upcoming vote on whether to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. It would ensure correct tabulation by the exploitable Dominion system, experts said.

Eight computer security experts wrote to California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, urging her to order a post-vote audit to protect the outcome from possible manipulation and litigation. Their letter was first reported on Friday by the Associated Press (AP).

“If an actual cyberattack silently changes the outcome of the election, or any other procedural or software error does, a properly conducted RLA based on trustworthy paper ballots will detect it and correct it (with high probability),” the letter said.

If the election outcome is correct in the first place the RLA will provide strong public evidence that it is, creating a ‘firewall’ against litigation and disinformation seeking to discredit the outcome.

RLA stands for risk-limiting audit, a type of check that focuses on the correct count of votes by a computer system. It involves securing a sample of paper ballots, counting them manually and comparing the result to how the machines tallied the same ballots.

Conducting one after the September 14 vote is necessary due to last month’s leak of proprietary software used by Dominion Voting Systems, the experts said. The copies were reportedly distributed during an event in South Dakota organized by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. He is a prominent purveyor of claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump and was sued by Dominion for alleging the company was involved.

The leaked software can be analyzed for vulnerabilities in the code, allowing a bad actor to hack Dominion machines, the experts said. Such flaws were discovered previously by J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan professor, when he was asked to examine Dominion products for a civil court case in Georgia. His damning 25,000-word report detailing how the machines can be tampered with to change votes was sealed by a federal judge.

Some rightwing pundits sounded the alarm after hearing the news, apparently taking it as an indication of a brewing plot to alter the outcome of the recall vote, should it not favor Governor Newsom. There was recently a shift in opinion polls pointing to him likely staying in office.

“They are already telling us what they are going to do!” said commentator Mike Cernovich, whom critics call a conspiracy theorist. “Remember when audits were treason and an attack on democracy?” he added. “Now it’s time to change positions because of the California recall.”

Like many other aspects of political life in the US, election security has become an article of partisan allegiance for many people. For example, when red states pass laws that require voter IDs, many leftwing politicians and media hyperventilate and call the legislation the ‘new Jim Crow’, claiming it is meant to suppress Democrat-leaning black voters.

The campaign to recall Newsom, which was backed heavily by the GOP, got the same partisan treatment. For instance, a leading candidate to replace him, black talk radio host Larry Elder, was infamously decried as the “the Black face of white supremacy” by a column in Los Angeles Times.

The warning about a possible hack of Dominion machines apparently was not taken seriously by Weber’s office. A spokesperson for the secretary of state said the 40 counties in California that use the Dominion system have a version that differs from those that were leaked.

“California has the strictest and most comprehensive voting system testing, use, and requirements in the country, and it was designed to withstand potential threats,” Jenna Dresner assured. The experts disagree, calling the differences “relatively minor.”

A representative of Dominion downplayed the concerns too, saying federal officials didn’t see the leaks of its software as significantly increasing the risk to elections.

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