Some things are stranger still ...
At the top of the list: politicians elected by surprise, not voters.
Somewhere in America* there is a book, Official Elections Returns. All states publish them. What makes this book different is a curious notation. Everything is O.K., the auditor wrote, except one item. More people voted in X County than are registered to vote there.
What on earth (or elsewhere) happened?
X County was owned and operated by an old school political boss. He was very well connected, very colorful and, above all, very crafty. I doubt he finished high school; no need to. He called everybody -- me included -- "Pal." We reciprocated in kind. Like I said, he was well connected.
The Pal´s X County had attracted attention. The election in question was inundated with outside observers in every precinct. None of them saw anything unusual. Which is to be expected, I guess, when phantoms are pulling the voting levers.
The ghost in the machine -- the Cartesian mind/body duality -- resolved once and for all, verified, quantified in votes cast in County X. Talk about a surprise! Amazing! A world event. What? You don´t believe it?
I don´t either -- not for a second. All I can say, Dear Reader, is if you don´t know how that magic trick was performed, you are not ready to graduate from election fraud school. Indeed, you are a freshman.
The ghost voter ploy is child`s play compared to what is possible now. The County X ghosts did their thing back when mechanical hand crank voting machines were the norm. Today, computerized voting makes possible a scam that even the most seasoned election scammer of yesteryear never dreamed of. The Pal included.
To get you started in the right direction, please watch this short video. It is worth underlining that what you will see is no idle Internet chatter. The video portrays Clinton Curtis, a computer expert, under oath before congress. I have served as an expert witness on politics in federal court. I assure you from experience that testimonies such as the one Curtis gave are not given or taken lightly.
10,000? 1,000,000? It makes no difference whatsoever how many color-coded ballots you print or how many fancy high-tech seals you place on doors and boxes. It also does not matter a bit how many soldiers or vigilant and diligent observers are stationed in precincts. A capable computer election thief can cheat them -- and you -- blind. Clinton Curtis: "They´d never see it." Reminds me of the ghost voters in X County. Speaking of whom, you still don´t know how they did it? Come on ... try again.
When Curtis left the room, he left a few beads on the table. I suspect he did not want to expose too deeply the election fraud trade because he didn´t want to encourage wannabes. I share his concern -- which is why I thought long and hard before publishing the following note on this blog. The deciding factor: what I am about to reveal is common knowledge among election thieves. To catch them, Dear Reader, you and the authorities must first catch up to them.
I am sorry but your naiveté about the ghost voters in X County shows you have a long way to go.
There is only one way to positively, definitely, absolutely stop computerized election fraud; we will identify it.
First, though, back to the beads Curtis left:
Timers, 100 lines of code, destroying instruction, eat itself. Above all, this exchange caught my eye:
"REP. JERROLD NADLER: So there's absolutely no assurance whatsoever that anything could be [right?] with these machines?
CURTIS: Absolutely none, unless you look at the source code, and make sure it's safe before it goes out."
O.K., let`s string some beads.
The resulting necklace -- or harness:
Merriam Webster Definition. Trojan Horse:
"1 : someone or something intended to defeat or subvert from within usually by deceptive means 2 : a seemingly useful computer program that contains concealed instructions which when activated perform an illicit or malicious action (as destroying data files); also : the concealed instructions of such a program..."
The source code is the guts of the software running a computerized election. When you enter a vote for a candidate, for example, the source code is what makes that candidate receive it.
Or should receive it ...
Here is a hypothetical case of what a Trojan horse embedded in the source code could do:
1. First of all, to verify that the source code works the way it should -- does not contain a Trojan horse -- elections officials routinely conduct a preliminary test election. A trial election of 30% of the expected turnout is often executed in which known electoral results are fed into the voting machines and compared to the final results.
I hate to tell you but getting around the trial election is blasphemously easy. The Trojan horse orders: do not open my starting gate until X number of votes have been entered -- a number far above any trial election.
2. Once the requisite number of votes is entered, the Trojan horse is off and running. This horse rides the jockey, not vice-versa. It orders: subtract X number of votes from column 1 (Candidate A) and add them to column 2 (Candidate B) until Candidate B has X percentage (51% in Curtis´ example). As Curtis noted, computer voting machines can "talk" to each other, thus the vote transfers can take place across the entire geographical range of the election. A few votes here, a few votes there ...
3. The Trojan horse´s third and final command: when the transfer is complete and X percentage is obtained by Candidate B, destroy me. The horse may also order: destroy me on X date. Presto -- vanished. This horse cannot be tracked; phantoms don´t leave tracks. The election observers, dedicated and decent people one and all, do not observe anything wrong for one simple reason: there is nothing to observe. Exactly like the ghost voters in County X.
By the way, if you haven´t solved the ghost voter mystery in X County, don´t quit. Helpful hint: ask the right question.
* * *
Here are three ways computerized election fraud can be detected and stopped:
(A) Read again Curtis´ comment: look at the source code, and make sure it's safe before it goes out. If you are conducting computerized elections, always have independent experts go over the source code before it goes out. Second, do not be satisfied with the source code the software company hands you. Think: fox/chicken coop. I strongly recommend you randomly pick a voting machine before it goes out to obtain a second source code. Third, do not forget to knock out any timers -- clocks in the source code -- by which a time could be set for a Trojan horse to disappear. Fourth and finally, deposit a copy of the source code in a vault to cover future allegations of cheating and lawsuits.
Above all, do not wait to examine the source code until the election is over and dubious results appear: it is too late. The horse left the barn. Go ahead, take a look. See for yourself.
(B) The company that prepares the software and the experts who verify the source code must be independent. For elections in which the C.I.A. has an interest -- we will look at one in a moment -- do not hire Americans. The reason: being good men and true, as well as hard-working, ethical professionals, all will claim and defame to the stars above they are independent. In reality, the C.I.A. can waltz into their headquarters and take over the place in two minutes. Forget human rights, the rule of law and the Constitution, ethics, everything else you have heard. I don´t like to say it but Americans are bowled over by guys in grey suits, power red ties and dark glasses. In the sacred causes of patriotism, anti-terrorism and, above all, easy money, the company CEO will shyly and slyly end up giving in.
I speak from hard experience ...
There was one exception to the bowled-over rule; I witnessed it when I was assistant director of a university data bank. The director and founder of the bank was a man of impeccable integrity. The C.I.A. wanted a copy of the agricultural census for a country in Central America. He refused to give it to them. The data bank´s policy was that only bone fide academic users had access to data. This policy was strictly enforced; otherwise, the data sources would dry up.
Result 1 of the director´s refusal: he was fired. Still believe universities are ivory towers? Result 2: The C.I.A. got the agricultural census. Result 3: Word got out. The data bank crashed, burned. P.S. The director foresaw all three results; he was an ex-army intelligence officer.
(C) The third solution to computer election fraud is the one I recommend. It positively, defintely, absolutely gets rid of computer fraud: give up computerized voting and go back to old fashioned ballot boxes or mechanical hand crank machines. As County X demonstrated, the old system could be gamed; however, it left a paper trail. Incidentally, I´ll bet by now you have those ghost voters figured out. No? O.K., another helpful hint: stop asking the wrong questions.
Gosh, but what about the oh-so-necessary instant gratification that America demands and early reporting provides? If we go back to the old system ... gee ...
Politicians and the media want the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat now, not later. My advice: stop letting them run and ruin your elections. It is better to wait and have reliable results than to have instant results which may be fraudulent.
Fast reporting and reliable results: there is a way you can have your cake and eat it, too.
Back in the days of hand crank voting machines, I appeared many times on TV for election night coverage. We had a sample of 34 precincts which together had correctly called hundreds of elections, including primaries and generals, for all statewide elections for over a decade. Margin of error: plus-or-minus 2.7%. After the polls closed people stationed in our sample precincts phoned in the results. Within minutes we made projections for all elections, including lowly appeals court judges. Note carefully we did not conduct exit polls; we worked from what people did -- vote -- not from what they said. Our projections were 100% accurate.
Oh -- before I forget. If you still don´t know how ghosts voted in X County, you had better (i) surrender your badge as a scam election detective, or (ii) read on. Computerized vote fraud, I remind you, is a lot harder to detect than The Pal´s County X Caper.
* * *
A classic test case of computerized vote fraud is on the way.
February 17 is Election Day in Ecuador. President Rafael Correa is seeking a second term. The C.I.A. would give its eye teeth to get rid of Correa. A former British ambassador reported that the agency amassed $87 million to "swamp" him. Why? Correa committed the unpardonable offense of kicking the U.S. military out of Manta, Ecuador. I would add parenthetically that Correa only did what a handful of American politicians have done: keep a campaign promise.
Last year, Ecuador invested millions of dollars to computerize its elections.** A Spanish firm, Syctel, prepared the software for Sunday´s electlons. Already doubts are surfacing.
Unlike the United States, Ecuador offers the possibility of a runoff election for president.*** To avoid it and win outright, the first place candidate must receive at least 40% of the vote and have more than a 10% margin over the second place finisher. That happened in 2009, when Correa won with 52% of the vote over seven challengers.
All recent polls agree that, exactly as in 2009, Correa should win in a runaway on February 17. The second-place candidate, conservative banker Guillermo Lasso, is far down the list, sputtering away at 15/20%.
I suspect Lasso is the C.I.A. candidate of choice. So let´s get to the point: is a computer fraud in the works? Will Lasso miraculously rise some 25-30 percentage points to finish within 10% of Correa, thus forcing a runoff election? If that happens, watch CNN and other mainstream media jump to explain the last-minute surge in terms of the undecideds making up their minds and flocking to Lasso.
Sorry, gentlemen, your undecideds Fudge Factor won´t work. Undecideds always decide more closely than not along the same lines as the decided voters. Decades ago, George Gallup skewered dishonest pollsters and their ilk on that point in his must-read work, The Sophisticated Poll Watcher´s Guide.
The real explanation of any amazing, astounding, shocking, simply incredible Lasso bounce is elsewhere. Ghost voters? Speaking of them ... hmmm ... If you don´t know by now what happened in County X, don´t feel bad. You are not alone. I hear that after all these years, the FBI still doesn´t have a clue what went down.
I hope the CNE, which is the Ecuadorian government branch in charge of elections, has conducted a review by independent experts of the Syctel software. Ditto the 1,500 tabulating machines purchased from China. If not, I hope the CNE will perform the analysis NOW -- before, not after, the election.
Bottom line: when it comes to elections, trust no one. There are weasels in tweed suits out there who will sell you out for a packet of sandwiches. That is particularly true of the computer industry where there are more cons per square inch than in Leavenworth Penitentiary.
If on February 17 Guillermo Lasso forces Rafael Correa into a runoff, our Number 1 Hypothesis will be that Lasso rode in on a Trojan horse. Bold Ruler, Native Dancer, Secretariat, Man of War: $87 million can buy an entire equestrian center of thoroughbreds.
To conclude: will Lasso be elected by surprise?
Despite his dismal poll figures, Lasso insists he will make the runoff election and that he will be the next president of Ecuador. Hence, this question: Is he another blowhard windbag politician or does he know something the rest of us do not?
Post Script. Still stumped by The Pal´s ghost voters?
I will put you out of your misery.
I told you there was a right question.
When the voting machines arrived at the precincts, were the counters in the back of the machines turned to zero?
*Year and location available on request.
**Ecuador´s system is semi-computerized. Voters mark ballots by hand, then stuff them in a ballot box. Computers later do the tabulating. The upshot is a paper trail exists, thus placing Ecuador´s system far ahead of the U.S. in which voters directly vote on computerized voting machines.
However, I remain opposed to computerization at any stage of the vote process. History shows that paper trails of hand-drawn ballots are necessary but not sufficient, i.e., the trail can be altered, rubbed out, erased. Watching thousands of conscientious voters, poll workers and observers, I shake my head, knowing that a Trojan horse can cheat them out of a hard-won victory within inches of the finish line.
***The Ecuadorian Constitution provides for the runoff system:
DE LA FUNCIÓN EJECUTIVA
Del Presidente de la República
Si en la primera votación ningún binomio hubiere logrado mayoría absoluta, se realizará una segunda vuelta electoral dentro de los siguientes cuarenta y cinco días, y en ella participarán los candidatos que hayan obtenido el primero y segundo lugares, en las elecciones de la primera vuelta.
No será necesaria la segunda votación, si el binomio que obtuvo el primer lugar, alcanzare más del cuarenta por ciento de los votos válidos y una diferencia mayor de diez puntos porcentuales sobre la votación lograda por el ubicado en segundo lugar. Los diez puntos porcentuales serán calculados sobre la totalidad de los votos válidos."
Should the United States adopt a runoff system for its presidential elections? I´ll bet you never saw that question before. We will examine it in a future post. The consequences are staggering.