In the key 2016 presidential election swing state of VA, with 13 Electoral College votes, examination of the results shows that in counties where paper ballots are counted by hand, Donald Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 63% to 37%. In overall state results Clinton beat Trump for the state's electoral votes by 50% to 45%.
Trump did not necessarily win in all counties in which ballots are counted by hand. Out of the sixteen counties in VA in which ballots are counted by hand, nine went to Trump, and seven to Hillary Clinton. This indicates that the hand-counted counties are distributed across counties with different political demographics.
VA has a mixed paper ballot and electronic voting machine system of voting, with most counties using some form of paper ballots. Most likely a court action would be required to access and have the paper ballots counted by hand, as in most states. Historically state election apparatuses have been reluctant to engage in recounts, although the US Supreme Court has held that the right to an open and honest means of counting votes is as important as the right to vote itself.
In US v Mosley 1915 Mr. Justice Holmes wrote that:
“We regard it as...unquestionable that the right to have one’s vote counted is as open to protection by Congress as the right to put a ballot in a box.”
Election integrity activists have been striving to make elections honest and transparent for the benefit of all sides in an election, and were particularly critical of the 2016 Democratic primaries in which statisticians and election experts allege that there is good reason to believe that Sanders was the actual winner of the nomination in terms of pledged votes, but for computerized vote theft. This form of election fraud was revealed and shown to be easily possible within the US election system in the HBO documentary "Hacking Democracy."
The US relies on a few private vendors of vote counting machines using proprietary software which cannot be accessed by anyone except the companies themselves. Election integrity activists maintain this is a recipe for election fraud across the country, which can never be uncovered. The activists rally around a nationwide standard of hand-counted paper ballots, such as those in place in most industrialized countries, such as such as Germany, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, and 53 other countries.
In a closely watched congressional race, Democratic primary challenger Tim Canova, who challenged Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for the 23rd Congressional District seat in Florida, has said that he would support a hand-count of the paper ballots or the ballot images that are made automatically in the kinds of machines that district uses. Canova lost by 13 points, but experts have questioned whether the result was "manipulated."
Because the two counties involved both use vote-scanning machines which create digital images of the ballots, visual inspection of the ballots could consist of obtaining the digital images held by the counties, and counting the votes using the images rather than the paper ballots.
And in NH, with four electoral votes, an analysis of the election results shows Hillary Clinton ahead in hand-counted districts. Election integrity activists contend that many of the problems and questions surrounding machine-counted votes would disappear were a transparent, secure system of hand-counted paper ballots to be put into place nationwide.