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Suddenly "how to hack the ballot scanner" is popular. Well if all the actual paper ballots are counted in this Senate race recount the jig is up on my "fixes". Of course hope springs eternal, there are the tasty suddenly increased absentee ballots that were kept god knows where for several weeks before counting and all those 25,000 undervotes that a little black pen can fix..... So boys, the race is on, run down to Office Max, I hear they almost sold out of hard to trace Bic Black!
Al must be kicking himself in the pants. Instead of a walkaway win he finds himself on the low end of a recount. With a pool of 25,000 undervotes there is plenty of wiggle room and with the results of the last elections audits of the ES&S machines (look it up at the election board) there are going to be differences in almost every precinct of a handful of votes, (but not always in the Senate race), so for 4,130 precincts, another roughly 10,000 differences to pick up votes. The differences may be random and so a few for Coleman, a few for Franken, if so then Nasty Norm wins.
But if there was a "technician mole" in place in some of the Republican or DFL counties there may be differences that really pop out if they finally get to a paper recount. This will be a proof of just how good those ES&S scanners were in this election, the real race to fix was the Senate, (it was known for months to be a close election,) and if the ghost was put in the machine it will be on this race. So if there was the jank stuck in the ES&S's or the Diebold's someone is going to be sweating when the hand count happens. Look for the denials and the lawyering up.
The votes in any election that are the most suspect are the absentee ballots, these have the weakest chain of custody and a long glorious history of vote fraud famously in Florida in the 1990's and many other locations. True absentee ballots are easier to fix as they can be manipulated before being counted on election day here in MN, simply by being not counted for arbitrary reasons, Hennepin County had 461 of 84,463 absentee ballots spoiled for such things as "signature not matching" or a 1/2 of one percent rate. This is a much higher spoil rate than a regular vote on election day in Minnesota. Also absentee ballots chain of custody before an election allows possibly a replacement ballot stuck in, proper completion of forms for a specific candidate or party (unspoiling your side) or an undervote filled in for the fixers choice. And of course this year the absentee vote went WAY UP. But now all those "undervotes" are the same status as the absentee ballots were in the 100+ locations around the state. Like sitting ducks waiting for the smear of Bic Black, just waiting..., waiting for some enthusiastic locals or a little hush money... Don't delay the hand count, start right away, the chain of custody is delicate.
So Al, I bet you wished you went on TV and told everyone you screwed up on your taxes instead of having people leak it to the media, you would have come off as an honest bumbler like the rest of us (and who has not had an IRS letter that owns a business?) Instead you were played like a fool. And Al old bean, you should have had more tasty stuff on Nasser K than just a couple of trips and a suit, he is probably a Petters type of "businessman" and that would have primed the media to pay attention to the Texas Lawsuit instead of hiding it for weeks. As for Norm? I hope NK is only paying your wife's and not also your girlfriend's salaries.
I hear it over and over: "The paper scanner ballot means we are not going to have election fraud by computer manipulation." And how does it mean that? I can think of lots of ways to steal an election with optical scanners and paper ballots. In Minnesota, one of them may have happened in the 2006 Governor race, won by just over a half percent.
In Minnesota ES&S reported lobby expense went from $0-2003, $7000-2004, $40,000-2005. Lobbiest expenses listed at the MN Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. Because of HAVA, in 2005 all Minnesota counties without voting machines adopted ES&S Model 100 precinct-level ballot counters with an Intel processor, and QNX operating system, and PCMCIA memory cards. and ES&S' AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminals for disabled access, except for the few counties that already had Diebold ballot scanners. Diebold reported no lobbying expenses and sold no machines. The contracts got ES&S about $39 million of the $44 million in HAVA (Help America Vote Act) money for Minnesota, not a bad return on a measly $47,000 of registered lobby expense.
Before HAVA most of the counties used hand counted ballots and ran the elections with their own staff. Now most of them do not have the expertise in the staff to run an election, they must contract to use ES&S technical staff. A few of the larger counties, including Diebold customers, do have most of the expertise to run an election yet all still contract with outside technicians.
Since elections are only a couple times a year, the procedures and technical hoo-ha is now too complex to have an election without outside assistance. A central point of election tampering has been inserted into the process. A software "update" by ES&S and most of Minnesota voters can be affected. A very small group or even one contracted person now can be involved in many county elections, a basic defense, decentralized elections, is now breached. Ballot scanners run software, all software can be cracked, especially by insiders, a centrally controlled non-public technical staff is in place to install the software and is responsible for "counting".
Yes there is a paper ballot with an optical scan voting system, but how to get to an actual count of the paper ballot? With these private corporations and equipment between the citizens and the ballots a verified hand count of the paper ballot somehow never happens. Generally in most US state here is what will happen:
-First they usually try to say that they looked at the totals
and they added up in the central counting system.
-Then they look at the individual machine totals and add them up but no recounts of actual paper ballots.
-Then they may run the ballots through the machines again, but never hand count the paper ballots.
- By now the chain of custody is lost and the mess ends up in court and the result is there are no ballots counted, the election is declared by fiat.
By that time there are many delays and an explosion of actors are in the process, bloggers, newspapers, radio, tv, the various courts (county, state, even fed) ordering various different types of recounts ( but not of actual ballots), declaring different types of audits of software and hardware (worthless noise), the chain of custody of the ballots gets confused or tainted ( an excuse to nullify a real ballot recount) as various paramilitary actors (cops, sheriffs, state police, even feds, (federal marshals, FBI ) and bureaucrats (city, county, state, feds (US Attorney!) ) take or run from responsibility and put different spins on the situation. After a while the issue seems to go away from counting actual ballots and goes to race, religion, guns, abortion, scandal, personal conflicts or whatever.
Usually to complete an action there must be motivation to do it, like say, ensuring a Governor candidate wins in a tight race. The method would be to use a central point of control to manipulate counts, the risk of failure would have to be low. Again, what happens if there are recounts in most states?
-After a million delays and much confusion they may actually count some of the ballots, but that is a very small probability of happening. And if any counting happens it may be limited to a few precincts or counties or certain classes of ballots like "provisional" or "absentee" or a very limited selection of precincts in a "postelection audit." The person wanting the count has to have a lot of money and political pull to make it happen. Remember, they never did recount paper ballots in Florida in 2000, the US Supreme Court, an actor that should not have been injected into the state election took over and stopped any proper recount of the actual paper ballots.
So a paper "backup" is almost worthless, it is so rare that a count of actual ballots happens that unless the fraud or error is glaringly huge the recount will not happen. A thumb on the scale changing 1/2%-3% of a vote will sail on through, and that is how you do it, just enough to win, and when you just a slant a few precincts to avoid the 2 to 4 precincts per county post election random checks you have an excellent chance of getting away with it.
Out of the 4,130 precincts in the state there are not many checked, 4 precincts per congressional district (8) are checked by the statewide canvassing board and each county canvassing board checks at least 2 but no more than 4 precincts. At best 8*4 (State Canvassing Board) and 87*2 (minimum per county) + 14*2 (large county additional precincts) or possibly 234 precincts total will be checked of the 4,130 or about 5.6% of the precincts would be checked in an audit.
According to MN Statute 206.89 POSTELECTION REVIEW OF VOTING SYSTEMS ,(google this), each county is responsible for picking the "random" precincts and doing an audit count. If there are problems over 1/2% in the results 3 more precincts are randomly picked, if again there are more problems of over 1/2% the whole county is counted by audit. This may probably find a county wide programming error or a fraud done in every precinct, but professionals or someone who thinks about this more than 10 minutes and reads the statutes on post election audits may try to avoid an obvious crime and work it to fit the rules.
For example, to beat the current audit system in Minnesota fix about 275 votes in each of 80 precincts, one per each of 80 non-metro ES&S counties, about 22,000 votes (what the current Governor won by.) Let's say that the 1/2 of the precincts in the Metro area use Diebold or are the Metro counties that have staff that is too sophisticated to mess with, so we are down to about 2000 precincts of which 80*2 (minimum per county) + 3*2 (big counties) + 24 (6 congressional districts), or about 190 precincts are checked. The chance of getting caught in many counties to establish a state wide pattern is low. The chance of getting caught in at least one county is higher. So what happens when they catch one county problem, they look at more of the precincts in that county only, no problems found, so they say 'oops computer glitch', the 275 votes in the one precinct caught do not affect the election. The other counties precincts are not found, you still win even when caught. By the way, if they do find another precinct it would not be good to have the fixed votes exactly the same number or there might be suspicions raised, so vary the number of fixed votes.
So if you can influence a few counties canvass boards to "by lot" pick only the clean precincts to audit the odds improve to a certainty over the already impressive 90+%. This does not have to be an outright bribe or manipulation, just have the technical consultant "help" them in the choice as has been documented in the 2004 Ohio election. Jacking 1000 or more votes per "cooperative" county starts to look pretty easy. And the damage is contained to only the county that gets caught, if even that. How could the people that set up our elections resist this sure bet. I wonder if they did.
I checked the canvas boards 2006 audit results and yes there are differences in the audited precincts results, usually just a handful of votes, no clear pattern. The notes of record of how the precincts were chosen by each county are a bit sketchy, however. Most other states do not even have an audit scheme that has a 6-9% chance of finding error or fraud, they just fall apart in a flailing mess of lawsuits, arbitrary actions and confusion.
Another method would be to jack the votes less than the 1/2% audit flag for a bunch of precincts in a county. For precincts of a 1000 votes that would be less than 5 votes, there are already going to be the handful of vote problems so it may be only a couple votes per precinct. But combine this fix with opposition vote suppression and other techniques and the thumb pushes harder on the scale.
So, when was the last time you heard of an actual ballot recount? Florida 2000? Ohio 2004? New Mexico 2004? Minnesota 2006? Haw! Hatch lost a close election, how odd he was the only DFL to lose by just a shade over 1/2% (the automatic machine recount limit,) he was the only loser in the big DFL sweep of both legislative bodies and ALL the other state-wide offices who all won by large margins. Governor Pawlenty was the only Republican known to be in trouble early in the election cycle and whose election was known to be really close. Those outstate county ES&S optical scanners were humming away, set up and run for $39 million by the vendor chosen and put in by the former Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, the Republican Governor and the former Republican House of Representatives.
Are you confident in those results? What good is the paper scanner ballot? Maybe a complex statistical analysis of the historical results of every precinct in the state could find candidates for audit as well as some 'by lot'. Or maybe they could just have used the $44 million to set up a system to count ballots by hand.
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