Musings About Rigging Elections

The last month has been eye-opening, indeed. Already a non-fan of representative democracy, I’ve learned that I was insufficiently cynical – when you have a system that has been designed to be corrupt, it’s rife with holes to allow corruption; such a system cannot withstand adverse gamespersonship. It is built-in.

Are you tired of this stuff? I’m sick of it, personally. It’s depressing. I feel like I’ve been wandering around blissfully ignoring how horrible nearly half of my fellow citizens and neighbors happen to be. To be fair, since I live in deep “Trump country” it’s more than half. What’s wrong with these people? [I actually have a fairly good idea but we don’t have time or inclination to do a class analysis of American history]

So, Trump and his supporters are making claims about electoral fraud and nobody seems to be breaking down the whole thing with any kind of rational analysis. The media and even (apparently) the courts are simply asking “what is your evidence?” and – in the absence of that evidence – declaring Trump’s claims to be deficient. But there are other issues. This is going to be a bit disorganized; I am not sure of the best way to pull together an argument, so I’ll just throw some ideas out there.

Nobody appears to be questioning the epistemology of Trump’s claims, and the consequences of having affirmative knowledge such as Trump claims to have. That’s weird. I imagine that, if I had affirmative knowledge that there was electoral fraud – especially “lots of electoral fraud” I would have knowledge that would allow me to point to evidence of that fraud. That evidence would be the usual stuff: motive, means, opportunity as well as consequences and the path by which I came to know the thing in the first place. If I knew that a certain district had a high amount of fraud (That’s one of Trump’s basic claims, right?) then there are several places where knowledge-claims have to tie to reality. The first question is not, “do you have evidence?” it’s:

How do you come to know that?

Wouldn’t affirmative knowledge of voter fraud entail also knowing how it happened? Who did it? (maybe) Where it happened? (almost certainly) How was the system in place to prevent fraud defeated?

For example, if we’re talking about absentee ballots in Georgia, if I understand correctly how this works, you request a ballot and sign your name to the request. Then, you get the ballot, fill it in, sign the envelope the ballot goes in, and return it. The election results counters who count the ballots check the original signature against the signature on the returned ballot, and – if it looks OK – put the ballot in the input queue for processing. If it doesn’t look OK, then (if I still understand this correctly) two reviewers, or more, from various parties, look at the signature and agree or argue about whether to reject the ballot. That’s not an impossible system to defeat, I am sure [as a security guy, I assume that all systems are ultimately defeatable] but how is the defeat accomplished? And, if someone who is claiming affirmative knowledge that the system was defeated: how do they know that? Aside from a few exceptionally stupid republicans like Don Jr., nobody is going around saying “here is how we defeated the ballot’s security!”

More specifically, if the absentee ballot process was defeated in a particular jurisdiction, and I know that it happened, I’m almost certainly going to have an idea how it happened and who did it. And I’d have a good chance of detecting – through second-order analysis or analysis of side-effects – how many ballots were affected and in which direction. Right? By “second-order analysis” I mean things like looking for significant departures from some kind of normal baseline – the most classical example being “dead voters” but it also might be suspicious if one county suddenly had 50 times as many 87-year-old voters sign up, and their first name is all “John” (for you Buckaroo Banzai fans) I’m not saying that these second-order anomalies are proof there was fraud but I think that a bunch of new 87-year-old voters all named “John” would merit a second look. That is, in fact, how Leslie McRae Dowless’ vote fraud in the 2018 North Carolina election was uncovered [npr]

The charges relate to the tainted 9th congressional district election last year in which Republican Mark Harris led in the unofficial vote tally by a margin of about 900 votes over Democrat Dan McCready. But the election results were overturned by the state after an investigation into an absentee ballot operation on Harris’ behalf suggested that Dowless had improperly collected and possibly tampered with ballots.

There was a measurable difference in outcomes, and a theoretical analysis that pointed toward this one guy Dowless, and then investigators asked around “Was Dowless doing anything hinky with ballots?” and Lo and Behold a bunch of people all said Dowless was harvesting ballots using a certain process, then the consequences of that process were obvious. The details were: he was getting people to apply for absentee ballots then harvesting them, replacing the ballots in the signed envelope, and sending them in. See what I mean? There is a complete chain of how knowledge was acquired, including co-conspirators whose stories presumably align:

Dowless was indicted along with seven alleged co-conspirators. The operative was the alleged ringleader in a scheme instructing his co-conspirators to sign certifications that falsely stated they had seen a voter vote by absentee ballot, and improperly mailing in absentee ballots for someone who had not mailed it themselves.

That reasoning seems to me to be solid. And it’s supported by the observation that, historically, vote suppression has been more effective than vote fraud. I can’t do side-effect analysis on votes that were never cast. There is no signature to match, nobody had to remember to use different pens, or anything like that. My belief, in Marcus fantasy-land, is that this is Stacey Abrams’ genius strategy of revenge: she realized that vote suppression is a thin strategy if the suppression can be overwhelmed with actual “get out the vote” using an army of actual voters.

I assume that when the judges throw out Giuliani and Trump’s claims of fraud, they are doing so because of exactly what I’m talking about: there’s no explanation of how Giuliani and Trump know there’s fraud and it can’t be demonstrated or measured.

Let’s take another scenario that’s plausible: suppose a postal worker takes a bunch of mailed in ballots in a certain jurisdiction, and buries them in a field at midnight with a back-hoe. [cbs]

A United States Postal Service employee has been charged for destroying mail, including absentee ballots, which he allegedly threw in a dumpster, U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman announced on Monday. The 30-year-old man, identified as DeShawn Bojgere of Louisville, Kentucky, has been charged with the delay or destruction of mail, which is a federal crime.

Oh, well, how do you know that?

The mail, found in a construction dumpster on Galene Drive in Louisville, included approximately 111 general election absentee ballots from the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office being mailed to voters to be filled out. The dumped mail also included approximately 69 mixed class pieces of flat rate mail, 320 second class pieces of mail, and two national election campaign flyers from a political party in Florida. An analysis of the mail revealed it was from a single route for one scheduled delivery day.

Second order effects, that’s how. We know that happened because, apparently, Bojgere was stupid. Someone found the ballots in their dumpster and looked at them and started an investigation.

What we would expect, if the Trumpists are alleging widespread voter fraud is: show me the ballots. Tell me who harvested ballots, or destroyed them. Show me where the count of voters shifted significantly. Etc. That’s without getting into the complicated second-order effects which are also still knowable such as canvassing the area and asking “did you vote?” and counting the number of people who claimed to have voted and matching it to the number of votes collected. This is not rocket salad; why aren’t the republicans leading with this sort of analysis?

You don’t even need to get to “show me the ballots” – if, as Trump is alleging – there was massive voter fraud, to the tune of millions of votes then wouldn’t one of the fraudsters break ranks? It’d be like when the CIA snuffed John Kennedy, with 12,298 snipers all crowded on the grassy knoll, blazing away, and nobody said, “what’s all this ere then eh?”

Throwing a road flare into a ballot box. On camera.

Right, ‘ere’s another one, guv:

On Monday, police in Boston announced a man was charged for allegedly lighting a ballot box on fire and damaging dozens of ballots. The Boston Election Department said 87 of the 122 ballots inside the dropbox were legible and able to be processed, but the rest were destroyed or unable to be counted. Worldly Armand, 39, was taken into custody late Sunday after officers matched his appearance with the description of a person wanted for the alleged arson, police said.

Second order effects: a bunch of burned and partially burned ballots. Also, photographic evidence.

But the evidence is almost secondary once we answer the first question, which is “how do we know this?” Well, we observed a bunch of burned ballots at one dropbox, then investigated and constructed a chain of evidence.

What I’m getting at, here, is that the media, judges, republicans and quite a few democrats do not appear to be applying basic common sense analysis to this problem. Nobody is asking Trump, “when you say there were millions of fake ballots that came in from other countries, how do you know that?” Never mind building the whole chain of evidence – we can do that once you’ve told us how you know it happened; that will be relatively easy. A million fake ballots? That’s 2,000 reams of paper, or 200 boxes at 10 reams/box – let’s say, a very heavy panel truck full of ballots. You’d need to palletize them and you’d need a forklift for them. There are second order problems that make dropping a million fake ballots anywhere – even a dumpster – a pretty obvious action.

By know we know that asking Trump “how do you know that?” is like talking to a toddler. He might just as well reply “a little green man in a spaceship piloted by Elvis told me!” and then the entire republican apparatus will have to back him up on that. Ha ha ha ha I love watching those assholes have to swallow those buckets of bullshit and pretend it’s lobster consomme with white truffle oil. But it’s ridiculous that the media report “Trump made unsubstantiated claims” when what is really going on is that Trump is making impossible claims. Once you’ve leapt over the barrier of acknowledging that it’s impossible then the press has to confront the fact that they are reporting, as news, things that are not news.

An old friend from the security world texted me after the election and started asking me what I thought about the claim that Trump had ordered ${someone} to secretly salt the ballots with blockchain hash codes so that if there was fraud it could be proven by checking the chain for insertions, deletions, or alterations. Once I was done giggling (over the idea that Trump could understand a blockchain hash and simultaneously be smart enough to direct use of such a technique and stupid enough to direct use of such a technique) I realized that they were serious, replied, “gotta go”, and deleted their contact info from my phone. That’s what got me thinking about this, and I realized that there are huge numbers of second-order effects that can be used to make election fraud much harder, and that’s without getting into the traditional ways of stealing elections as was practiced in the Roman republic under Marius and Sulla.Then, there was the whole thing about the “supercomputer AI” that could steal elections. I’m sure you can imagine my “WTF” face when I read about that. If we’re talking about a piece of software that hacks into VPNs and vote tabulating machines and edits vote-tallies, that’s not a supercomputing problem at all – it’s a problem of accessing data, which almost certainly means stealing credentials – presumably by the low CPU-intensity method of asking republican vote-system managers for the necessary passwords and maybe the IP addresses of the cluster that does the tallies. Then it’s a matter of building a cross-platform compatible script that can add votes to tallies. That’s just a bunch of niggling detail-work, not rocket salad. But, speaking as a former IT security professional who used to do incident analysis a whole lot, there are going to be second order effects and traces. For a simple example, to add 1 million fake votes presumably your system would bucket them by precinct and try to interleave the fake votes into the real votes so as not to cause things to become statistically lopsided. By which I mean it would be obvious if Clearfield County’s democrat voter population (which, as far as I can tell, is me) suddenly jumped to 102,201 (the 1 is me!) and then on the next vote, it went back to 1. That’s a suspicious second order effect. You don’t need a supercomputer to hide that, you need fucking black magic and a time machine. The other computer hack (“Hammer”) thing the republican goofballs were talking about sounded like a version of Cambridge Analytica that actually works. Ha ha ha ha, that’s funny! Let’s not even get started about how Hugo Chavez funded the development of that software – if anyone funded the development of software like that, it would be Robert Mercer and his creepy child. And, if it actually did work it would be legal and Facebook would probably own it. In fact, the only official “problem” with Cambridge Analytica was that it was using an inappropriately collected data-set that was probably OK anyway under Facebook’s terms of service.

But: How do you know that?

How do you know that there is supercomputer software a huge ugly perl script auto-hacking vote tallying machines? If you know that happened, why didn’t you take some action to stop it or record evidence of it happening at the time? Or, a more sinister scenario: were there two huge ugly perl scripts hacking the tallying machines and the republicans are just pissed off because the democrats’ script ran after the republican’s script and maybe fixed things back the opposite direction?

Having spent the better part of 25 years doing intermittent incident response, I’d be comfortable betting my left testicle that there would be detectable traces of the hack. There always are – even if it’s just second-order effects like: “why is this tallying machine’s syslog daemon restarted at this time?” You’d have to be a whole lot better at IT than any republican I’ve ever heard of, to be able to hide massive multi-system tampering in a heterogenous environment. And I include the republicans I used to know at NSA and CIA. But Hugo Chavez? Holy shit, it is to laugh. Even Cambridge Analytica couldn’t really make their system work [my theory is that the folks at CA were just taking a lot of money from the Mercers because the Mercers were stupid rich people who’d buy a great big ugly perl script for tens of millions of dollars]

The journalists aren’t asking these questions, which doesn’t make me think there is a conspiracy – it just makes me suspect we’ve got a “lot of stupid journalists” situation going on here. Trump and his followers, and the QAnons, are obviously and glaringly stupid, we don’t need to talk about them.

The electoral system is likely to be unexpectedly resilient simply because it’s incompatible and heterogenous. You could hack a voting machine in Georgia assuming the Georgians are so stupid they put their voting machines on a network, but it won’t work in Clearfield County, PA because they use a completely different system. This year, it was paper ballots. If you can hack a paper ballot using TCP/IP, you’re a god to me. And, if you can’t consistently and evenly hack all the machines, then your hack is going to produce lop-sided results (+100,000 voters in Clearfield County, what!?) that will be obviously detectable.

So, I’m somewhat happy about the incompatible mish-mosh of electoral systems and voting processes that we have, here, because it’s a fucking great big mess that is so complicated that even a genius like Rudy Giuliani can’t figure it out enough to explain to a judge how he knows there was chicanery going on. [Again, I curse the judges for not hitting Giuliani with the “he who smell’t it, dealt it” principle] Figuring out the details of the chicanery is comparatively easy once you’ve got an entree into your analysis, but claiming fraud with zero knowledge is obvious, and bogus.

One final point in all of this: the blockchain idea is braindamaged; all you need to do is use paper ballots each of which has a 256-bit hashed sequence number at the bottom. When you put your ballot in the machine, it takes your votes, tabulates them, and prints a hash of that, too, and the voter gets a little receipt with the two hash codes. Then, when all the voting is done and the votes are uploaded to the tabulating servers, the hash codes go in a publicly query-able database and if you want to make sure your vote was counted and was counted correctly, you query for the two hash codes and if the computer finds them, you know your ballot is there, with a probability of 115 quattuorvigintillion to 1. I do think that the US could mandate some standard approaches like that, for all elections, so that it would be possible to do a probabalistically iron-clad analysis of the accuracy of the vote. If you added a non-hashed serial number to the ballot, you could also detect insertions and deletions (if we issue N ballots in Clearfield County, we should get less than N votes back and we could tell which ballots by serial number were not returned, in case we found some burn-damaged ballots in a dumpster) None of this would allow an individual voter’s vote to be inferred; we’d just know who voted – which the current system does, anyway. Making the vote much higher in terms of integrity would be easy, in other words – we’re talking a few simple calculations and a great big ugly perl script.

I’ll write it in nice fast rock-solid C, source code included, for $30 mil, if anyone’s interested.

Another related topic that’s not worth a post all of its own: the new hangout for fascists appears to be Parler – a “free speech zone”, i.e.: a cess-pit. They probably would have called it the “slyme pit” except for concerns about trademark infringement lawsuits. But the funny part of that story is that Parler is backed by Rebekka Mercer – Robert Mercer (of Cambridge Analytica) fame’s daughter. Here’s what I think is going on: she’s found a semi-clever way to get around the problems they had with Facebook’s terms of service. I bet that somewhere in Parler’s TOS is a cut-out that Parler’s corporate owners can do whatever they want with contact information, etc. Standard stuff for a Facebook or Google or other social media. But, in this case, it means that Mercer just embedded herself in a new data-stream for the next version of Cambridge Analytica, by defining their own terms of service. Rebekka, if you’re reading this, I could put together an amazing team of coders and we could write you something that kicks Cambridge Analytica’s ass so hard, for only…. mm…. $40mn. It’d be just like the stuff we wrote for Chavez except in beautiful fast-running C instead of perl, OK? Call me.


  1. says

    How does Trump know there was a fraud? It is simple.
    Trump is beloved by all True Americans. True Americans are the majority, it can’t be otherwise. They voted for Trump. Thus Trump has won the election. But numbers say he lost by about seven million votes. Ergo the election was fraudulent, QED.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    Nobody appears to be questioning the epistemology of Trump’s claims

    Nobody is asking Trump, “when you say there were millions of fake ballots that came in from other countries, how do you know that?”

    By know we know that asking Trump “how do you know that?” is like talking to a toddler

    You’ve kind of answered your own question, haven’t you?

  3. Dunc says

    The audience for these types of claims are the people for whom computers literally are black magic. They have absolutely no idea how they work, or what is or isn’t possible. You could tell them that George Soros can hack their toaster so that it will sprout arms and legs and murder them in their sleep, and a decent proportion of them would believe it, and the media would report their sincere concerns.

  4. Who Cares says

    The most impressive thing about all that “We have evidence drivel” is that they had 30+ lawsuits in which they could have brought that evidence and not a single one did. Even better yet they are not only still claiming (as this day) to have found evidence and/or witnesses before the lawsuits started but that they keep finding more and more and more and more, continue ad nauseam, ‘evidence’.

    Then again we are talking about the people demanding that Biden shows that every single of the 80 million plus votes that were cast for him was valid but since there is no way that that many people would vote for him he won’t do so thus directly admitting that he lost.

  5. LeftyFencer says

    Hi Marcus,

    Your stuff dates fast but it’s good reading. Maybe you should feel up CounterPunch and write a column too. Though that would cut down with playing with fire and molten metal.

  6. Cass says

    Gets better with Parler, apparently you need to give SSN and DL info to access direct messaging! High quality data scraping.

  7. cvoinescu says

    It’s very frustrating indeed, because the question is so obvious.

    Most conspiracy theories suffer from the same problem. “Hillary Clinton grinds small babies into a paste using a brass grinder with a pentagram-shaped handle in the second basement of a bike repair shop in DC. She uses a femur from a 16-year-old girl who disappeared three years ago in mysterious circumstances to plaster it over her striated blue-green reptile scales, so that she can pass as a human.”* How can you possibly know that? What is is that compels them to add these details they can’t possibly know about? Why is it almost always that the moon landings have been filmed on a sound stage in a specific location, not just, you know, on an unspecified sound stage? Is it that being more specific makes you more credible? Is it because the significant fact is diluted by the irrelevant details? It is to give room to back off and still maintain the key belief? “Ok, it’s not a femur, they probably made that up and she actually uses a silicone spatula.”

    * Simulated conspiracy theory. Closed course with a professional driver. Do not try at home.

  8. StonedRanger says

    “… no one questioned trumps epistemology…” Id bet money Trump couldnt even say epistemology much less explain it in any kind of coherent manner. ‘I made shit up in my head and it sounded right to me’ is the only epistemology he used

  9. johnson catman says

    re Cass @7: Gullible and stupid does not begin to describe people who would willingly give out such sensitive info just so they can scream into the abyss.

  10. says

    Powell, during the hearing, told Batten that she wanted to inspect voting machines in ten Georgia counties. “The important part is, it’s not just the data that comes out of the machines that is crucial to the fraud case that is so rampant across the country — it is the fact that an algorithm we believe was uploaded to the Dominion machines that weighted the votes for Mr. Biden over the votes for President Trump at approximately 1.22 over .78.”

    An algorithm uploaded to the machines WTF?! Does she mean software? That’s really easy for anyone to audit; I’d assume in fact that servers run for elections would be running integrity checksums and extensive system logging.

    How did this upload occur? Was it autonomous or was there a command/control channel? Were edge firewalls logging connections? Was a VPN in use and correctly configured? Or were machines backdoor’d with hardware like NSA, FBI, and PLA use? If someone claims that a server is compromised, they are not qualified to talk about compromises and methods unless they can immediately and coherently answer the preceeding questions – which are the security incident response equivalent of “unzip before you piss” stuff.

    Of she knew this stuff her assertion would be a longer sentence – e.g: the servers are compromised with a remote access trojan that was uploaded using a zero-day exploit in the file transfer (ssh) service. The trojan was operated through a connection from Ft Meade, MD via a compromise in the VPN’s key exchange.
    Or something. If anyone who knew anything was giving a briefing like that, their tech consultants would have carefully wordsmithed and explained that brief and the spokesperson would be thrilled to be able to boost their credibility by having some security guru standing by nodding knowingly.

    I assume that these people don’t know shit from shinola. That’s expected. What is not expected is that they are being allowed to get away with something that is worse than nothing – it’s not even shit or shinola. It’s hoisting the dumbass roger and screaming “a l’outrance!” The media are dumbasses for not just cutting away her speech and instead putting Bruce Schneier on to explain (he likes cameras more than I do) how this person is not even making a claim that can be talked about. And THAT is the obvious point: they are making a claim that cannot be challenged because they know they have nothing. As the media should be asking: “no no before you say your bit about Chavez tell us how the server was compromised.”

  11. says

    Actually I’d ask: if the servers are running software installed by a software provider authorized by the elections board, paid for and installed – are you saying that the software subverted the system? Because then I want to know about how the elections board came to certify software that had been backdoored — and who at the election board knew what.

  12. jenorafeuer says

    Yes, that’s been one of the fun parts about Parler. It is practically built from the ground up to be a grift machine due to the information they require. And the same sorts of people who complain loudly about ‘revenuers’ will gladly hand over even more information to this private company because it’s ‘their people’. Affinity scams, go.

    With regards to conspiracy theories and the like, Slacktivist has an article about ‘Epistemic Nihilism’, which in turn referenced the blog Lawyers, Guns, and Money, noting that things like QAnon have basically gone into being conspiracy theories without any actual theory involved. Just free-floating and self-supporting indignation; no appeals to reality allowed.

    A perfect example of what Rosenblun and Muirhead are talking about is Trump and his supporters claims about how he would have won the election if only legal votes had been counted.

    The remarkable thing about this claim is not just that there’s literally no evidence for it, but that the people who are making it, including Trump himself, are not even bothering to pretend that there is any evidence for it: they just claim it’s true, over and over again. That’s conspiracism in a nutshell.

    For example, here’s Ronna McDaniel, chair of the RNC, claiming that there’s a bunch of voter fraud in her home state of Michigan (she’s Mitt Romney’s niece and George Romney’s granddaughter) and, when she’s pressed for some evidence for this claim, says — again, literally — we don’t have any now, but give us some time and we’ll come up with some.

    I mean maybe there weren’t actually any names on that piece of paper Joe McCarthy was waving around that “proved” there were 153 communists in the State Department or whatever, but at least he had a piece of paper! These people can’t even be bothered to engage in that level of kayfabe.

  13. flex says

    Dunc, #4, is partly correct,

    Not only is the audience for these claims computer illiterate, but the people making the claims are too. For them computers are magic boxes which any genius programmer (as seen in every movie which shows someone programming a computer) can change data on a whim in seconds.

    They don’t understand that writing code, even high-level code, is like writing a set of instructions to teach your five-year-old how to drive. Well, maybe with the better compilers, it’s more like teaching a seven-year-old. They will at least know most of the words you write down.

    I admit that showing a movie with real programming taking place would be dull, but these clowns do not understand that what they see in the movies is fantasy.

    The thing I liked most about the Iron Man movie is that significant time passed between Tony being captured and building the first suit. Not enough time, but it took more than a week. Then there was significant time between Tony getting home, and his first modern suit. Even a genius devoting all his time to something still took months. It was still too quick, but it was better than the usual A-Team montage.

  14. DanDare says

    Deep analysis by the defence is not required until the claiments support their claims. The Trumpsters flagged they would make these claims long ago, before they could possibly have any knowledge of such a thing.
    Occam’s razor suggests that “they are making empty claims for political purposes” is the assumption requiring the invention of the fewest entities.
    And the cases they bring are noise that is rejected by the courts.

  15. says

    The use of machines for voting is the problem. Even if you compare every actual voting machine against the published engineering drawings and firmware listings, and are smart enough to know what it all means, you still can’t be sure that what you looked at was the actual firmware they were running on the day of the election.

    All you have to do, if you really want to rig a machine-counted election, is announce any result you like. That’s it. As long as you stick to your story, nobody can say any different. You can show any numbers of votes you like against each candidate. There is still no way for anyone to check them. Even if you tried to get every voter in one room, with a receipt showing who they voted for so you could count all over again, there would be enough people unable to make it to spoil the exercise.

    And if you really want to make it look legitimate, you can say that the above problem is a limitation due to the secrecy of the ballot, so you are going to publish the full results including everybody’s name, address and who they voted for. All you need is a list of who knows whom (and Facebook handily provides that). Then you just make sure everyone gets to see a personalised version of the election results in their own secure, non-printable PDF; which shows the correct votes from each voter known to them, and strangers’ votes altered at random to make up the correct, announced total. So the only way to detect anything amiss is to compare two copies (which will have been made as deliberately difficult as possible, under the colour of preventing misuse of the information) or ask strangers who they voted for.

    The reason hand-counting works is, the people doing the counting are the actual candidates and their representatives — all biased, but in different directions, and the only result they can ever possibly agree on is the truth.

  16. Reginald Selkirk says

    You convinced me: I would love to try rocket salad! I imagined it would involve hot cherry peppers, or some such.

    So I did a quick search and found that ‘rocket’ is a euphemism used by people who can’t pronounce arugula. What a letdown.

    Signature matching: I worry that after decades of using a keyboard all day long, my ability to pick up a pen and write my own name has deteriorated.

    I’ll write it in nice fast rock-solid C” That’s hilarious. Have you looked into Rust?

  17. jenorafeuer says

    I still say that WarGames had the most accurate computer hacking scenes ever in Hollywood. A montage of weeks worth of research involving formal papers, newspaper clippings, and at least one Scientific American cover, all based around the social engineering approach of ‘Okay, it looks like this was the guy who designed the system, what would he have likely used as a password?’

  18. cvoinescu says

    bluerizlagirl @ #16: Your points are valid, except there’s at least one solution to that: cryptographical hashes — as Marcus has explained several times on this blog. You publish one list of all the hashes of all the votes, and everyone can check that their own vote is on the list and counted for the right candidate. They can also do that for any of their friends and acquaintances who are willing to share their voting receipts. There are finer points that can be solved the same way too (for instance, a verifiable record of who voted, without revealing what they voted). A hash can also verify that everyone is downloading the same list, not a personalized version.

    Also, secure, non-printable PDF? That was very amusing.

  19. seachange says

    There’s a non-cynical reason neither side is interested in discussing the method. As a moral nihilist may find it entertaining. I worked for Los Angeles County for twenty years and I have some knowledge gleaned here and there, told to me, inferred and implied, about how the office of the LACC/RR detects fraud. I did not and do not tell anyone about these things, because they are a whole series of easy catches and why help the fraudsters?

    More cynical, and about more your and my speed, there’s another reasonable explanation about expresident pussygrabber et alia. He called Clinton uxor a racist when he was convicted racist, as her as owning a corrupt charity when his was corrupt, called his republican primary 2016 opponents snowflakes even though he’s the most delicate princess springflower snowflake ever, etc. He isn’t saying how it was done because he knows that-and-how it was done, for him. He’s mad that it didn’t work for him but did down-ballot.

  20. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    The reason why an epistemology doesn’t work is because these are moving targets. When Giuliani is trying to claim that hundreds of thousands of votes were miscast in some way in Detroit, and denies that a recount will have an effect, he doesn’t get pressed (largely because in that case there was clear bias protecting him from detailed questioning on his claims) on what his scenario is. Is he claiming that hundreds of thousands of votes for Biden were cast and there were no paper ballots? In that case, a recount would indeed work. Is he claiming anti-Republican voter suppression? Well, then like you said, you can’t detect votes that weren’t counted, but then why the hell are we not counting Democratic votes that got suppressed? And how did one detect them? And if there are people who had their vote suppressed, wouldn’t the remedy be to find those people and have them vote properly rather than denying everyone else’s votes? All of this is a totem. They magically invoke hundreds of thousands or millions of votes, and illegal immigrants, and whatever else. Curio just posted something about Randian ideology and the world of spite, and pointed out that the contradictions in Rand’s ideology are the point. The video argues that this isn’t a house of cards, it’s an impressionist painting. The same applies here. They’re not making claims. They’re fighting an imaginary holy war.

  21. kurt1 says

    Trump also claimed widespread voter fraud in 2016, because the people on TV said he lost the popular vote. He does this, because there is only upside. His following gets riled up and loves him even more and #TheLibs get mad. By the way, the last part is also why parler will not be successful, the right-wing hogs hate talking to each other, they just want to trigger SJWs, who are not on parler.
    Since there will be no negative consequences to either GOP nor Trump, why wouldn’t they make up frivolous claims of voterfraud? They can cry wolf as much as they like, neither media nor courts will ignore them, the first because of ratings and the other because they are obligated to.

  22. says

    Since there will be no negative consequences to either GOP nor Trump, why wouldn’t they make up frivolous claims of voterfraud?

    In a reasonable world, part of the democrat platform would be “send a message to the republicans that this kind of crap is not how America likes to be led.” Except I’m worried the democrats will eventually find their own brain-wrenched specimen like Trump and then it’s going to be normalized.

  23. lorn says

    Epistemology … your talking logic and reason in a system without either. That is one of the main points. Raw power and control isn’t limited to reason. You cant talk or reason with people who are playing the game of ‘Lets make up a story’.

    ‘Lets make up a story’ is a game in which everyone gets to tell a story. The stories are rated in terms of how entertaining they are, how smoothly they explain the anxiety producing aspects of life, and how they make the audience feel. Extra points are given for smooth delivery, how well you engage the audience, and inclusion of a smattering of verifiable, or generally accepted, facts that lend a sense of verisimilitude.

    The winner gets to declare that his story is “real” and they get a chance to have their story accepted as “history”. This is why the story about righteous Christians , guided by providence, protected by God, and fortified by the free market and holy Protestant work ethic landed on these shores and established God’s chosen nation.

    The facts and logic have very little to do with it. Applying facts and logic is like applying them and comparing the stories of “Uncle Remus” (Happy slaves in an antebellum south) and Frosty the Snow Man. There are truths and valuable insights in both but they aren’t constructed to be factual or logical. They were constructed to present a world-view and evoke certain feelings about reality and within the listeners.

    Commonality and Democracy have long been secondary to the GOP. They are fine if they otherwise support the gaining and maintenance of power. When they don’t you can still use the words but need to apply them to a narrower subset of people. Liberals and minorities, and minority run states are only Real Americans as long as they go along. Hawaii and Puerto Rico are not really part of America, unless it is useful to count them as such. Obama was not a Real American because he was liberal, and black, and born in a state that only gets a ‘gentleman’s-B’ as being part of America.

    None of that is based in logic or facts. And yet it is quite real and widely accepted as real by 30% of the wider population, and !00% of Real Americans.

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