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Author Topic: Voting Anomalies
Gary
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Look, you're pushing some conspiracy theory that's pretty much like all of them - a little kooky. I find it humorous - my apologies if it upset you.

There is a good article in the Seattle Times addressing this issue that I think it's important reading for everyone buying into these theories:
quote:
Each of the claims is buoyed by enough statistics and analysis to sound plausible. In some instances, the theories are coming from respected sources: college engineering professors fascinated by voting technology, Internet journalists, election-reform activists.

Ultimately, none of the most popular theories holds up to scrutiny.

The Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee are not buying off on any of them. DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera said, "The simple fact of the matter is that Republicans received more votes than Democrats, and we're not contesting this election." The guys with the most to gain from the conspiracy theory are not buying it, why should any of us?

Ohio is easily explained:
quote:
The Ohio vote-fraud theory appears to stem from the curious ways of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. During even-numbered years, the county's canvassing board posts vote totals that include the results from congressional districts outside the county that spill over Cuyahoga's borders. The quirk made it look as if the county had 90,000 more votes than voters.
No fraud there, just a well known quirk in the way Ohio does it's business - just not well known enough to those that create and propogate the conspiracy theories.

quote:
"It takes me about three times to explain" why the fraud allegation is untrue, said Kimberly Bartlett, community outreach specialist for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. "You have to ask them why no top Democrat is making these charges."
Good question Ms. Bartlett. Anybody want to hazard a guess why the Democrat leadership is not persuing this?

Now about Florida:
quote:
There also have been reports of more votes counted than voters in some counties in Florida and North Carolina. Steve Ansolabehere of the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project said the preliminary results do not add up. "We'll see if there's anything dramatic or widespread once we see the full certifications come in," he said.
I agree with Steve, maybe we should wait for all the certifications to come in before everyone gets all worked up.

Still in Florida:
quote:
A widely distributed piece on Consortiumnews.com said the results "are so statistically stunning that they border on the unbelievable."

The article's main numbers are correct. But the central premise — that there is something suspicious about Bush getting more votes than the number of registered Republicans in rural counties, which use paper ballots — may not be suspicious at all. It does not account for thousands of independents or for voters who do not list party affiliation. It is also common for Florida Democrats, particularly the "Dixiecrats" in the northern reaches of the state and the Panhandle, to vote for Republicans, a pattern repeated in much of the Deep South.

They are simply following a pattern that is common throughout the South. A lot of Zell Miller type Democrats down there I guess.

How about those exit polls? Here's what we got:
quote:
The theories on exit polls are even more slippery. Because the early exit polls that were leaked and caused so much excitement among Democrats are not publicly distributed, the criticisms have not been based on statistics. Instead there are comments such as those from Zvi Drezner, a professor at the California State University at Fullerton business and economics school, who wrote that "the exit polls did not 'lie' " and described "a gut feeling that the machines did not report the correct count."
Sorry professor, a "gut feeling" is not going to cut it. Back it up with something real and verifiable before going off half-cocked please.

What do the other experts say? Usually something like this:
quote:
Many voting experts say the theory that the exit polls were correct is deeply flawed because the polls oversampled women. MIT political scientist Charles Stewart III also has said focusing solely on the early polls favoring Kerry in Ohio and Florida is the wrong approach because exit polls in some Democratic-leaning states tilted toward Bush, evening out the national picture.
So it all evens out when you look at the entire picture rather than focusing down on minutae.

But in the end, these amount to nothing meaningful:
quote:
The U.S. Justice Department, which handles complaints fielded by a bipartisan commission formed after the 2000 election chaos, said the allegations of vote buying and voter-registration fraud were no different from the pattern of previous elections.

But other sources are documenting huge numbers of complaints. Verified Voting, a group formed by a Stanford University professor to assess electronic voting, has collected 31,000 reports of election fraud and other problems, but nothing that would overturn the Nov. 2 outcome.

So go with the official Justice Department claims or the much higher Verified Voting claims and still it would not change the outcome of the election.

So if nothing would change, why exhortations such as this:
quote:
Still, messages posted on the aptly named Quixotegroup discussion cluster — which takes its name from the literary figure Don Quixote, who used his lance to tilt against windmills — urged members to send evidence of fraud to the law firm of Kerry's brother, Cameron Kerry, to persuade the Democratic candidate to "unconcede."
Kerry won't do that and there is no reason he should. So what's going on here?

This is just as I've been saying, it is an attempt to manufacture the belief that Bush stole the election so it can be claimed he is an illegitimate president. This claim will be used to grease the wheels for an even more venemous and hate filled attack to undermine Bush and setup the calls for his impeachment.

I am certain the "seriousness of the charge rather than the nature of the evidence" fallacy will be trotted out soon. We are flirting with it here in this thread under the guise of evaluating the electoral process and any irregularities but this is, as I've said, not the goals of the conspiracy theorists who work from "gut feeling" and flawed exit polls. It's a vote hunt; nothing more, nothing less.

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Storm Saxon
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clint_Curtis

http://www.iwilltryit.com/fixed1.htm

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KnightEnder
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What's to stop that from happening again in 2008?

KE

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kenmeer livermaile
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magic electoral fairies. certainly not a bipartisan effort committed to integrity above bias ad affiliation...
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javelin
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Is Curtis going to rig the machines so he wins in Florida, too?
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Storm Saxon
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Please note that I'm not saying this is actually proof positive that the elections were fixed. Clearly, even if Curtis's story is 100% true, he was just approached and said he couldn't do it. If true, it just gives evidence that there might be something going on.

All in all, just one more reason to scrutinize voting machines and elections that much more closely.

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Colin JM0397
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IT professionals in the Netherlands have demonstrated that the type of e-voting machines chosen by the Irish government for election counts can be secretly hacked.

[ October 10, 2006, 11:05 AM: Message edited by: jm0397 ]

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javelin
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quote:
All in all, just one more reason to scrutinize voting machines and elections that much more closely.
Absolutely.
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Storm Saxon
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jm, electronic voting machines have been shown to be hackable so many times, it's ridiculous.
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G2
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I'm a little skeptical of Curtis' claims. YEI denies them and claims Curtis is a disgruntled ex-employee. There have been several investigations, one by the FBI, and nothing has been proven. The wikipedia entry links Curtis' firng from the Florida DOT and the whislteblower allegations, implying some kind of retribution occured. If that was what happened, Curtis would have a very strong legal case to sue and really shed light on this whole thing. Also, there's this:
quote:
West Palm Beach was named as an intended target, but used punched card ballots in the 2000 elections; Curtis explained that the software could be used in any electronic tabulation machine or scanner.
Any? Literally any electronic tabulation machine or scanner regardless of age or manufacturer or technology? I work with computers for a living, many here probably do, and I seriously doubt this claim. It has to be an exaggeration.

I'm not saying Curtis is lying, I'm saying he needs more than his claim and a lie detector test.

Why is it so damn hard to create a voting machine? We got ATM's working nearly flawlessly for over 20 years and we can't get somthing similar for voting?

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Is Curtis going to rig the machines so he wins in Florida, too?"

one can only hope. we seek balance in government.

who will hack the hackers?

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G2
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Maybe this is something everyone can get behind.
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javelin
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I'd be quite happy to see that, G2.
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The Drake
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If true, this means that he was so outraged that he:

A. Contacted local newspapers
B. Contacted the FBI
C. Gathered hard evidence
D. Wrote the requested code and waited four years to eventually sign an affadavit, after being fired from the Florida Department of Transportation

See if you can guess which one.

Blog summary and link to affadavit

This is a distraction in the very real concern about electronic voting fraud.

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kenmeer livermaile
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works for me
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Storm Saxon
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Drake, your link seems to corroborate Curtis's claims, but are you calling it a distraction?
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The Drake
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The link is a pro-Curtis blog site, that repeats what he has to say. My point being that even if you assume everything he says is true, which I do think is a stretch, he didn't exactly shout this stuff from the rooftops "Back in the Day".

I think this damages his credibility, and supports the "disgruntled employee" theory.

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Storm Saxon
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You're right that it would've been better, but I would need to know more before I could really get behind the disgruntled employee thing. It seems to me that you would have to be really, really, really disgruntled to go up against a congressman, accuse your employer of wrongdoing, repeat your story to the FBI, hire a lawyer for all of that stuff...all of this after already having been rehired by another company.

That kind of disgruntledness, sheesh, just pee in your boss's coffee and be done with it. [Smile]

I think another distinct possibility is that he liked getting payed and didn't want to say anything until he got another job.

Is Curtis's testimony conclusive? No. Is it something to kind of keep in the back of our minds as a reason to get the security of voting machines up to snuff? Hell, yes.

[ October 10, 2006, 12:51 PM: Message edited by: Storm Saxon ]

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The Drake
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I think what to take away from this story is that even if this scenario was not true about this Congressman and this programmer, there definitley is the potential for such a pair to exist somewhere in time and space.

So if the focus is "Let's make sure that our electronic voting is secure, honest, reliable, and verifiable." then this is a good thing.

If it is "Look at how the Republicans stole the election." then I think it is a distraction.

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Storm Saxon
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Let's just say that I find that aspect interesting in a who really shot Kennedy kind of way, and am more than happy to get behind the practical applications.
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Storm Saxon
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http://tinyurl.com/yhhdd3
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hobsen
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Both parties will be looking skeptically at the voting machines this election. If anything looks peculiar about the outcomes, expect to see a big push for better controls.
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Storm Saxon
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http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/evoting.ars

Linked From Slashdot:

quote:

One bad apple...

What if I told you that it would take only one person—one highly motivated, but only moderately skilled bad apple, with either authorized or unauthorized access to the right company's internal computer network—to steal a statewide election? You might think I was crazy, or alarmist, or just talking about something that's only a remote, highly theoretical possibility. You also probably would think I was being really over-the-top if I told you that, without sweeping and very costly changes to the American electoral process, this scenario is almost certain to play out at some point in the future in some county or state in America, and that after it happens not only will we not have a clue as to what has taken place, but if we do get suspicious there will be no way to prove anything. You certainly wouldn't want to believe me, and I don't blame you.

So what if I told you that one highly motivated and moderately skilled bad apple could cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to America's private sector by unleashing a Windows virus from the safety of his parents' basement, and that many of the victims in the attack would never know that they'd been compromised? Before the rise of the Internet, this scenario also might've been considered alarmist folly by most, but now we know that it's all too real.

Thanks the recent and rapid adoption of direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines in states and counties across America, the two scenarios that I just outlined have now become siblings (perhaps even fraternal twins) in the same large, unhappy family of information security (infosec) challenges. Our national election infrastructure is now largely an information technology infrastructure, so the problem of keeping our elections free of vote fraud is now an information security problem. If you've been keeping track of the news in the past few years, with its weekly litany of high-profile breeches in public- and private-sector networks, then you know how well we're (not) doing on the infosec front.

Over the course of almost eight years of reporting for Ars Technica, I've followed the merging of the areas of election security and information security, a merging that was accelerated much too rapidly in the wake of the 2000 presidential election. In all this time, I've yet to find a good way to convey to the non-technical public how well and truly screwed up we presently are, six years after the Florida recount. So now it's time to hit the panic button: In this article, I'm going to show you how to steal an election.


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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Storm Saxon:
What if I told you that it would take only one person—one highly motivated, but only moderately skilled bad apple, with either authorized or unauthorized access to the right company's internal computer network—to steal a statewide election?

From what I've read, the engineers who worked on this system should be fired.

Add in the problem of precincts not following manufacturer recommendations. Like the one about changing the pin from 1111. And seriously, a four digit pin? My voicemail has six.

This issue has in it the seeds for a Second Civil War or the End of the American Republic.

Hyperbolic, yes. But not impossible.

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kenmeer livermaile
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I think you're not unresonable in your prediction, Drake. Vite fraud could be an issue that outstrips terrorism ere long.
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Storm Saxon
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Yeah, my thought to hobsen's "expect to see a bigger push.." bit was "Maybe we shouldn't wait."
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