Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fraud

From the NYT:
After nearly 12 hours of often tense negotiations, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Saturday that Afghanistan would audit all eight million votes cast in a runoff presidential election last month as part of a deal to end a tense power struggle between the top two candidates.

The audit, intended to resolve allegations of widespread fraud, is to begin almost immediately, he said, and will be supervised by international monitors.
The Secretary of State deserves hearty congratulations for reducing tensions in Afghanistan. But this whole scenario -- auditing votes, international monitors, countering allegations of fraud -- reminds me of something that happened on the domestic front. Remember? It happened in Ohio, although not just in Ohio. It hit us around ten years ago, if memory serves...

I'm talking, of course, about a horror movie that we all lived through -- 2004: A Fraud Odyssey.

Remember that one, Mr. Kerry?

A peculiarly American arrogance makes us think that fraud is possible there but not here. In 2009, CIA cyber expert Steve Stigall offered important (and overlooked) testimony about current capabilities:
Stigall told the Election Assistance Commission, a tiny agency that Congress created in 2002 to modernize U.S. voting, that computerized electoral systems can be manipulated at five stages, from altering voter registration lists to posting results.

"You heard the old adage 'follow the money,' " Stigall said, according to a transcript of his hour-long presentation that McClatchy obtained. "I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to...make bad things happen."
So, yeah. Auditing. Fine idea. Love it.

But: As this humble blogger and many others tried very hard to point out after the 2004 debacle, paper-free all-electronic vote systems make auditing impossible.

Maybe one of these days Kerry will address that issue -- because the only thing that makes an audit possible in today's Afghanistan is that country's lack of electronic voting machines.
Comments:
But where's the profit in paper?
 
Ten years ago both Popular Mechanics and Popular Science ran front-page articles about the dangers of electronic voting. John Kerry and John Edwards had acknowledged that 2 million votes of African-Americans are lost in every national election, and they had promised that they would see every vote counted.

Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer had co-authored a bill to outlaw the electronic voting machines, and when it got stuck in committee neither one of them raised a peep, nor did either one make any insinuation that the vote counts from electronic machines were inherently dishonest. Boxer did support the historic delay of the recognition of the Ohio Electors for a few hours in 2005, she made a pretty speech, the election got an historical asterisk, but that was the end of it. Neither round-heels Boxer nor round-heels Hillary reintroduced the bill to ban the electronic voting machines.

After promising that he would see every vote counted, no-toes Kerry
conceded the Ohio election within a couple of days, and did not participate in the Ohio recount, which was financed jointly by the Green Party and the Libertarian Party.

This was where I came in, giving up plans to emigrate to Vancouver, BC when I realized that my country was in deep kimchee, devoting ten years to full time activism and going deeply into debt and accomplishing nothing except maybe making things a teeny tiny bit less worse.

After No-Toes Kerry caved on the Ohio election, his service to Somebody was rewarded with his appointment to the office of Sec'y of State. His dishonor was imposed on all of us who cared. I will not vote for any Democrat until the party acknowledges that their round-heels and no-toes behavior has royally screwed us all.
 
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