Thursday, November 24, 2016

Woah! Things are moving fast

Try to enjoy today's holiday. If you've been invited to a family gathering which threatens to seat you near a loud and pushy Trumper, consider calling out sick. Even if you end up at Denny's, you'll be much better off. 2016 was bad enough; you don't need more angst at the dinner table.

I chose the wrong day to get all hung up on an art project. Things are moving fast on the election fraud front, and I simply don't have the time right now to write about all of it.

I never thought I'd say this, but thank God for Jill Stein, who is filing for recounts. The process will cost a few million, so I beg everyone to be as generous as possible. (She has already raised enough for Wisconsin, but that's not the only state.) You can also donate your time, if you live in one of the affected states.

To my mind, the important goal is the "forensic analysis" of the voting tabulators and actual voting machines. We have already seen (in a previous post) that a machine can be infected -- fairly easily -- with malware even if it is never connected to the internet. An analysis can look for signs of malware. Most important of all, I would think, would be an analysis of the jump drive or SD card used to program the machines.

If hacking did occur, then we may expect the miscreants to seek ways to cover their tracks. Be very wary if the equipment suddenly goes missing.

Let's zip through some important links...

Nate Silver's response to all of this is singularly unpersuasive. Please read what he says here, and then compare to the data on display here. Silver simply refuses to address the real issues: There are counties where the number of votes for Trump exceeds the official totals of cast ballots.

We can't expect much else from someone in Silver's position: He has to be extremely careful about his reputation.

Brad Friedman is, as always, doing the very best work in this field. I beg you to catch you with his "Bradcasts," here and here. Brad is always careful to keep his focus on the process, not on partisan politics. At any other time, I would agree with this approach. Unfortunately, I am not sure if it is wise to focus on the next election, since I am not sure that Trump will allow another election to occur.

This Kos diary
offers some interesting data about PA:
Pennsylvania has 67 counties. 11 counties supported Clinton, while 56 supported Trump. While that sounds overwhelming for Democrats, it only represents a small change from 2012, when 13 counties supported Obama. The difference is truly in the margin of support in each county. 42 of the counties that supported Trump, supported him with a record percentage of support for a Republican for that county, at least dating back to 1976. Still, that’s astounding, considering the Reagan landslide of 1984 is included in that data. Oddly enough, there were actually 3 counties that had record percentage support for a Democratic candidate. All three were Philadelphia Suburb counties (Montgomery, Chester and Delaware). While that should bode well for a Democratic candidate, the margin of victory for Trump outside of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the Philly Burbs, ranged from ridiculous to absurd. The most absurd being Luzerne County (Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton) where Trump won by 20% after Obama won the same county twice by margins of 9% and 5%.
What would be an explanation for a county that voted so overwhelmingly for Clinton in the 2008 primary, finally getting their candidate 8 years later, and then abandoning her and the party in absurdly record numbers? I actually added this county to the database on a precinct by precinct basis for both the 2012 and the 2016 elections in hopes that it would yield some valuable information. I thought I would see the city precincts hold steady or lose a little Democratic support and see a huge shift in the more rural precincts. There was really nothing like that. It was almost a uniform shift from Democrat to Republican in every single precinct by anywhere from 10% to 20%, with many of them in the very high teens. Clinton only got 4,000 more votes here (52,000 vs 48,000) than she got in the 2008 primary. Obama and Clinton got a combined total of 64,000 votes in the 2008 primary. Obama got 72,000 votes in the 2008 general and 64,000 votes in the 2012 general.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I would love to say I have a great explanation for what my fellow Pennsylvanians were thinking, but I can’t. I have no idea what to make of this.
To me, these results are consistent with the theory that the rural machines were subtly hacked to add an extra 10 percent to Trump's total. The important point is that the hacker cannot go too far. As Jonathan Simon says in his important new book Code Red,
This is of course the hustler’s challenge: figuring out the maximum that can be taken while still keeping the mark in the game.
I'm about a third of the way through Simon's book, which is extremely well-written; you wouldn't think a work about election theft could possibly be such a zippy read, but it is. I understand that there is some pro-Bernie stuff in the latter sections of the book; I'll let you know later what I think of that. (Brad Friedman says that he hasn't seen any convincing evidence backing the oft-heard claims that Bernie was robbed -- and I know that Brad would tend to favor Sanders' politics over those of any mainstream Democrat.)

Simon's book is worthy of your dollars, but if you can't make the investment -- for example, if you feel tapped out after your donation to Jill Stein's effort -- you can read Code Red for free. It's available for $0.00 via Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, which offers you one free month of membership. Simply cancel your membership on Day 30 and you've beaten the system. But do make sure to read the book within that month, because it will disappear on you once your account lapses.

Finally, I urge you to check out this Kos Diary...
Last week UC Berkeley statistician Phillip Stark and MIT professor and cryptographer Ron Rivest called for an audit to double-check and ensure hackers didn’t manipulate our American election results.  UC Berkley News reports Stark and Rivest, who are both advisors on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, argue that there are good reasons to conduct a “risk-limiting” audit of the presidential election.
In that USA Today piece, Stark and Rivest write:
“There are reasons for concern. According to the director of national intelligence, the leaked emails from the DNC were “intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” The director of national intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Agency concluded that the Russian government is behind the DNC email hack and that Russian hackers attacked U.S. voter registration databases.”
Stark and Rivest go on to write that “the national results could be tipped” by manipulating the vote count in a relatively small number of jurisdictions — a few dozen spread across a few key states.” They add that the vast majority of local elections officials don’t have the adequate resources to detect or defend against cyber attacks.
Oh...and just to remind you of the stakes: Donald Trump was thinking of making Jerry Falwell Jr. The head of the Department of Education. But then he picked Betsy DeVos, of the utterly evil family that gave us scAmway. She supports the Acton Institute, which advocates the return of child labor.

Like most others, I presumed Trump to be an opportunist, not an ideologue. Wrong. He's turning out to be far worse than imagined -- certainly worse than Dubya.


Alessandro Machi said...

Silvers also said nothing about the exit polls being so different, either.
I am concerned that forensically speaking, if a hack was done, it was done by placing a small memory card in a machine. Once the machine was returned to the parent company, the memory card was taken out, leaving no trace of a rigged vote.

Stephen Morgan said...

I don't think there will be any malware. There have been reports of voting machines on unsecured wifi networks with the username admin and the password 123456. Password shoup to access the spreadsheet with the votes in it. Untraceable if done right, no need for any malware. American voting machine companies are both incompetent and dishonest, so no malware might be needed. A bribe here, an easy password there. I believe many years ago Hopsicker reported memory cards or voting machines being made in Belarus by a man who had been in the KGB.

So probably nothing to find.

joseph said...

I have a couple of thoughts. First of all, what truly made America great was the introduction of public education. Republicans want to destroy public education because they truly hate America and what it stands for. I have my issues with Common Core, but the notion that we shouldn't have a public education system is noxious. Second, I am very suspicious of the election results, but it seems to me that it would take a fairly large internal conspiracy to get it done. I don't believe hackers can get into the machines as they aren't connected to the internet, but I am willing to be persuaded otherwise. If there is a large conspiracy, it would be next to impossible to keep it secret. What happens when, next July, a book titled, "How I Stole the Election for Trump" comes out?

Anonymous said...

I've been reading that what is needed is an audit rather than a recount. What's the difference between an audit and a recount?

jo6pac said...

WOW Greens up to 2 million already and demodogs are up to 0.

OTE admin said...

Stein is known as a grifter, but I will give her the benefit of the doubt here. Something is extremely fishy with those states, especially MI, where the Detroit Free Press called it for Clinton very early in the going based on exit polls.

Re public ed: If you think Arne Duncan is bad, and he was terrible enough I refused to vote for Obama in 2012, just wait until Betsy DeVos, somebody totally unqualified for the job, gets in there. I would hope Democrats would shoot her nomination down.

That is, of course, assuming Trump ever makes it to the inauguration.

Unknown said...

I'm surprised Stein is doing this - but good on her.

Trump is a died-in-the-wool white supremacist and misogynist who believes, like the DeVoses of the world, there should be a big underclass of poverty-stricken and uneducated laborers to do the dirty work.

I'm beginning to think like you Joseph; this could turn very very ugly.

OldCoastie said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Joseph.

Alessandro Machi said...

Another issue to consider. Can the rural areas match their vote totals from the prior elections if we assume they are not actually growing in population but may have actually dropped in population? Ohio is a prime example of this. Suburbs maybe growing in population, not so sure that the rural areas are.

gavan said...

Betsy DeVos will oversee a dismantling of public education. Her family links to Right wing Christian groups is extensive and disturbing.

gavan said...

The Christofascists are prominent under Trump.

Rob Hurtt was a wealthy California businessman and State Senate Leader who was a co-founder in the 1990s of the Council for National Policy (CNP), a collection of over 60 wealthy Christian Republicans who wanted their donations to go to Christian causes: anti-gay and anti-abortion, pro-family and free markets. As one commentator put it:

To define most CNP members as radical is charitable. As one looks at the activities in which CNP members are engaged, it would appear their goal is the total destruction of society as we know it. They are leading the charge to deny minorities equality, destroy public education, and the institution of government.

The CNP later morphed at the Federal level into Capitol Ministries, a christian fundamentalist group targetting Congression members. Mike Pompeo, Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence are all "long time sponsors" of the Members Bible Studies group run by Capitol Ministries which has over 60 Congressional participants.

CM's foreign policy goals are primarily anti-Islam as evidenced by its links to Michelle Bachmann, Frank Gaffney, Mike Flynn, Robert Spencer and David Yerushalmi.

At the domestic level they seek to remove social security entitlements, believing they are in conflict with scripture.

Anonymous said...

A few quick things:

Stephen - The voting machines are not connected to the net, but on election day, the ballots are downloaded from desktops which ARE, onto a usb which are then inserted into each machine. So all you have to do to get malware is hack the desktops (which are often highly insecure, so this is easy to do.)

Anon - Put simply, a recount just counts again the vote totals submitted by each polling place; at best it might catch where there are more votes than ballots, or more votes than registered voters, things like that (which, to be fair, could just be data entry errors). All others types of fraud would slip by. An audit examines each and every stage of the process from start to finish to look for consistency and evidence of tampering.

So if you have looked into Stein thoroughly enough, you will now know why she is requesting a recount and not an audit.

Sergei Rostov

joseph said...


Could you explain this a little more for old fogies like me who are having trouble understanding what could be going on? Are the ballots downloaded before or after the election? How could an investigator find the truth of the matter?

Anonymous said...

joseph -

On election day, before the polls open, the ballot file is downloaded from each polling place's computer (which is connected to the internet) onto a usb drive which is then inserted into each voting machine. So each of these computers could be hacked and malware inserted into the ballot file prior to election day which (for example) could be set to flip x percent of votes then erase itself at the end of the day. (It has been noted elsewhere that this would only need to be done in a relatively small number of key places to change the outcome in an entire state.) While there are technologies which can prevent recoverability of files, all the ones I am familiar with require specific hardware modifications; as far as I know it's not possible to erase or quasi-randomly overwrite a file on either an intact standard usb thumb drive or intact standard desktop hard drive beyond the point of recovery, so even in the absence of any paper trail (which is the case in some 30 percent of jurisdictions in the US(!), a sophisticated enough analysis should be able to discover any software which should not have been there. That would take a thorough forensic audit, but knowing what we now know, such end-to-end audits should be made standard procedure. Or we could do the smart and easy thing, and at the very least go back to extremely simple paper ballots (e.g. checking a large-print box) counted by hand by a bipartisan team of party loyalists.

Sergei Rostov

Anonymous said...

p.s. Note and clarification: Note: What I mention here was noted by Halderman and quoted by Joe in the article previous to this. Clarification: As far as I know, my previous comment does not apply to SD cards - so that could be a problem - but still applies to thumb drives. In any case, as long as the desktop computers in question were shut down at any time prior to the ballots being downloaded, any malware should be recoverable.

Sergei Rostov