Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ohio Voting Fraud, Explained

As far as I'm concerned, this is the final and definitive proof that both the 2000 and 2004 elections (and probably the 2002 Congress races) were fradulent:

There's two pretty scary articles out there, one from the Free Press and another written by some tinfoil hat blogger.

In the case of the Free Press article, you can't really declare it as crazy lefty conspircy theory considering they are merely summarizing the Government Accountability Office's report (PDF) on elections problems. Incidentally, this GAO report has gotten very little coverage.

But the most telling piece of information is this...
In the 2004 presidential election, an electronic voting machine (manufacturer: ES&S) in Youngstown, Ohio (Mahoning County) recorded NEGATIVE 25 MILLION votes for Kerry. Sources: MSNBC, House.GOV PDF (Google HTML version), and any Google search for "voting machine in Mahoning County recorded a negative 25 million votes for Kerry".

So what is so significant about negative 25 million votes for Kerry that I would sit here are claim to you, at risk of looking like a totally nuts conspiracy theorist, that this piece of information finally cements for me that the 2004 election was fraudulent?

It's pretty simple really: I'm a computer scientist, and every time I've talked to a fellow geek I've said that if the electronic voting machines can be hacked/rigged that some white hat ("good" hacker) out there would only have to register some ridiculous number of votes – say a number greater than the population of the USA or the population of the planet – in order to bring the issue to the table for the media and every America. That kind of move would be an obvious sign of tampering, as compared to somebody who wanted to actually sway the election results who would simply only change a few thousand or hundred votes here and there.

Well, it happened. And, instead of a really, really big number they chose a number that would be equally suspicious: a negative number.

Or did they?

A few things don't make sense:
  1. Most white hats are (arguably) Democrats, so why would they cast negative votes against Kerry?
  2. Even if you think I'm wrong on point #1, the more important question is, why the hell would a voting machine be able to register a negative vote?
Well, that's just it really. I don't think this hacker trying to make his or her point did register a negative vote for Kerry. I think they registered a really, really BIG vote for Kerry.

Negative 25,000,000 is actually the same as +4,269,967,296 as far as your computer is concerned. Allow me to explain...

Most microchips these days represent an integer number as 32 ones and zeroes, or "bits." Both positive and negative numbers can be stored in the same 32 bits. A programmer has to tell the computer whether the number stored in the 32 bits is positive or negative. If the programmer tells the computer the number is signed (can be positive or negative) then the computer reads the integer as some value between -2,147,483,648 and 2,147,483,647. If the programmer tells the computer the number is unsigned (always positive) then the computer reads the integer as some value between 0 and 4,294,967,295.

In many computer programming languages, integers are by default signed... positive or negative. This is the case in the C language, which was most likely used for the voting machine. If the programmer is unskilled enough to write a hackable machine, then it is also quite likely they used the default for the integers rather than realising that votes would never be negative, and explicitly using unsigned integers. (Actually... totally regardless of whether the programmer used signed ints or unsigned ints, the actual mistake the programmer probably made was not using %u, and using %i or the very commonly used %d in their sprintf statements instead... which would have caused +4 billion to be logged as -25 million.)

So, the white hat hacker, who was desperately trying to tell our Nation that the machines cannot be trusted, registered FOUR BILLION votes for Kerry (that's 60% of the population of the planet). And, because the programmer was unskilled, this very big number got put into the 32-bits of a signed integer, which means this very large positive number was read by the computer as a smaller negative number (-25,000,000).

Ok, so wouldn't it be more likely that the hacker just put in a nice round number like -25,000,000 rather than 4,269,967,296? Of course! BUT, I'd say it is pretty obvious the number was rounded by the media in their reporting. It's just as effective and much easier to say "negative 25 million" on the news rather than 25,123,456 or whatever. Hell, you had better HOPE that number wasn't actually exactly -25,000,000, because if it was, then that almost surely excludes the possibility of a computer error.

So, in review...

If I was going to make a point about the complete terror of electronic voting machines, I would register a ridiculously huge number of votes for one candidate in order to force a National dialogue. And I've shown above that SOMEBODY DID THIS.

And mind you, this is just my analysis of one very specific situation. If you read the GAO report, or the summary from the Free Press you'll learn about many, many more reasons to believe our most fundamental democratic exercise has been compromised.

So, what do you do now? Petition your Congress members! Give them a call. Tell them to stop wasting their time on issues we'll never ever agree on as a country (like abortion, religion, the death penalty...), and instead concentrate on legislating our elections and ESPECIALLY electronic voting machines.

I DO NOT think we should use electronic voting machines at all, but if we do, they need to be
open source and have a paper trail. Moreover, they need to be audited before the election, and stored in a secure location after the audit until they are used in the elections, and then audited again afterwards.

This isn't a partisan issue. [snip] Every single American, regardless of political positioning, should want severely strict review of our elections in this country. Mr. Republican: wouldn't it burn you up if a machine counted your vote for Kerry instead of Bush? Kerry did win in many states and many counties you know......

Look, I know that this is all a pretty, dare I say, f**king big claim I'm making. It is, and should be, hard for anybody to swallow the idea that we can't trust our elections in this country. Nobody should want to have to believe something so terrible on a day to day basis.

But, the time has come to look at the facts. And, remember, this DOES NOT have to be about some wide sweeping conspiracy to get Bush back in the White House. It simply could have been only a few people acting alone. Many of the articles written on this subject offer compelling evidence of just that. Our elections need to be reviewed, not because of conspiracy, but because our electronic voting machines are so easily tampered with by pretty much anyone (and that's when they aren't simply just malfunctioning on their own).

This is why we need to drop the partisan bullshit on this topic and take a close look at our elections system... to prevent a few criminals out there from making our elections a fraud.

Good night, and good luck.


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