Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Pernicious Algorithm


As an information technologies professional, each election cycle I am horrified by the precarious nature of our democracy when it comes to the security of our vote. The embarrassing shenanigans of the antiquated caucuses are bad enough, but the process of proprietary code running on proprietary machines is as opaque as that goo flowing out of Lake Okeechobee into Indian River Lagoon. 
Massachusetts, one of the participating states for the Super Tuesday election results, may need further scrutiny to allay concerns over election fraud using electronic voting machines. 68 out of the state’s 351 jurisdictions used hand counted ballots and showed a much larger preference of 17% for Bernie Sanders than the rest of the jurisdictions tabulated by electronic voting machine vendors ES&S, Diebold and Dominion.  Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of Massachusetts by 1.42 %.

Election integrity activists John Brakey and Jim March investigated Scott Brown’s upset victory over Martha Coakley to replace Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat in 2010. They found a similar difference between hand counted paper ballots and those jurisdictions using machine tabulators. At that time, 71 out of 351 voting districts were using hand counted ballots and they favored Coakley over Brown by 4.44% despite Brown’s declared victory throughout the state by 5%.
Brakey and March discovered that election officials tend to have an unsettling reliance on election vendors. In fact, when one election official in Boston was asked if it was possible to examine their database files (called mdb, which is short for Microsoft data base files), that official then asked, “What are mdb files?” Those that understand the process know that mdb files are an integral part of the tabulation process that should be overseen by the election officials. March and Brakey were told by this election official that “the vendors handle that stuff” (I was with them during this exchange). Another common statement repeated by officials in Diebold precincts was: “We don’t have Diebold here, we have AccuVote”. They simply don’t know that Diebold’s optical scanners are called “AccuVote”. In addition, LHS, the company that represents Diebold, actually have their vendors’ technicians loading the memory cards prior to tabulating the results.
Right now I can go online and move hundreds of thousands of dollars around the globe with complete confidence and security. But I voted yesterday and I have no idea whatsoever if that vote was counted correctly. World's greatest democracy? My Godwhacking ass.


7 comments:

  1. What about Super Sunday???

    The king shall reclaim his rightful place on the throne!

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  2. prepárate barnturdo

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  3. Not JAFI much longerMarch 8, 2016 at 2:13 PM

    Voter fraud is a myth.

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  4. Yeah, voter fraud is unheard of in South Florida especially

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  5. Voter fraud by individual voters almost never happens. Undocumented immigrants don't vote. They don't want attention drawn to themselves. Resident aliens don't vote. That could screw up their green card. But vote fraud by these machines and the establishment? That is the unknown unknown.

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  6. It has been suggested that all just governments exist because of the consent of the governed. If you want the population to believe that the government is just, there is no excuse for anything other than paper ballots that can be counted by hand.

    Rules that unnecessarily restrict the population from voting make us think about withdrawing our consent. Should you not be able to vote just because you can't lay your hand on an ID? Poll workers live in the community where they work; they know who you are. In days gone by, a voter without ID could fill out an affidavit, explain why they had no ID, and cast their ballot. To fraudulently cast this kind of ballot, one would have to risk a 5 year felony, and figure out how to get the fraudulent name on the list of registered voters, then cast one vote.

    These poor Republicans, how can they really believe voter fraud is a problem?

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