Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Bev on Clint 

Via Zemblan patriot R.K.: Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org has taken a short break from her running feud with the Bloggermann to enumerate a few of the puzzling inconsistencies in the Clinton Curtis vote-rigging saga:
1. One of the most significant problems is that, while Clint Curtis describes a technique of writing a program, he never mentions HOW he supposedly got this program into the voting machines.

2. A second significant problem is that several of the Florida counties used different software in 2000 than they do now, and that various Florida counties use different manufacturers and different systems. Writing one program that would tamper with ES&S punch cards and Diebold optical scans at the same time is somewhat unrealistic. The questions this raises are these:

a. Which specific counties was this software supposedly used in for 2000, 2002 and 2004? Actually, from reading both the affidavit and the Madsen article, there is no evidence it was used anywhere.
- [Wayne] Madsen does a bait and switch when he discusses Volusia County. He starts by saying it is Feeney's district, and then actually goes on to report a story broken by Black Box Voting in October, 2003, about minus 16,022 votes for Bush in Volusia -- which appears to have nothing to do with the Feeney story. What systems was his vote rigging program for? Which manufacturers?

3. The techniques used to program a vote-rigging system in the Madsen article don't actually match the techniques in the affidavit by Clint Curtis, and neither one makes much sense. It's a simple matter to re-map a touch-screen to flip votes, and you don't need a special program for it. Simply switch the candidate ID numbers and it's done.

4. Most political shenanigans are not conducted by the candidate himself, but by operatives. It is certainly possible for a politician to hold several meetings in which he commits a felony in front of several witnesses, but that's not usually how it is done. A more common technique is an envelope full of cash left in a drawer of an operative, with at least one, sometimes more, buffer layers between the operative and the politician.

Clint Curtis says Feeney himself had meeting after meeting to directly discuss election rigging software. Could happen, certainly, but this seems unusual.

5. There are some statements that don't hang together from a programming standpoint. The author says that it will be difficult to write a program that will escape notice if the source code is examined. That's not quite true.

Writing a trigger into a program can involve a very small amount of code and there are several ways to do it. The idea is you write a very simple, hard to detect trigger with as little code as possible -- or you comment the code such that it looks like it is there for another purpose. The trigger can do several kinds of things -- allow a user to open up remote access without authentication, for example, or change permissions so that the user can do things that are supposed to be forbidden. In other words, the more complex program certainly would not reside on the voting system, but would appear only when triggered, or inserted by someone with access, or by remote access through telephone lines.

5. Why write a whole software program anyway? You can do what needs to be done with a VBA script, which never goes through certification, never gets compiled, and enters the system like a virus. The program described by the author is not a VBA script, but a compiled software program. You can do anything you want if you obtain remote access such that penetration of the computer itself is enabled. Why lock yourself in, by writing a specific program into the source code?

6. The originator of the story, Clint, says he has filed a "QUITAM" whistleblower suit, that is "pending." This is one of the least credible parts of the story. First, he doesn't spell it correctly. The correct spelling is two words, "Qui Tam." Next, Qui Tam cases MUST be filed under seal. If a Qui Tam is filed in Florida, both the evidence and the existence of the case must be sealed, and only the Florida Attorney General can unseal it.
On the hazards of disinformation:
Black Box Voting is finding real evidence consistent with fraud. We are even finding, in one of our investigations, evidence consistent with a systemic, or widespread breakdown in security, possibly exploited. Getting the facts is tedious, unexciting work, consisting of auditing and personal interviews, and it takes time. Many Americans want a magic bullet, a single shot that will blow the lid off everything at once.

That's risky. If the mainstream media continues to be bombarded with stories that sound credible, but aren't, when the real thing comes down the pike it will be ignored.
Raw Story, meanwhile, is running follow-ups here, here, and here.

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