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Fri Nov 16, 2012, 02:27 PM

How I would steal an election

There's much speculation about attempts to steal the Presidential election, with well-founded concerns about the use of electronic machines to record votes, either directly or through scanners. There are accusations that Mitt Romney's ORCA electronic campaign management system was a Trojan-horse vote flipper, and further claims that it was stymied by the secret avengers known as Anonymous.


I think Republicans are smarter than that.

If I was going to steal elections I would buy the companies that make the electronic voting machines and scanners. And I'd rig them in such a way that it was undetectable unless there was a paper ballot hand recount of the actual election.

My method would result in voting machines that passed every pre-election test and every post-election test. The mechanism that resulted in ballot flipping would be a microchip patiently waiting for the election date start time at which point it would activate itself. It would only flip votes during the hours when voting will occur, de-activating itself afterwards.

An algorithm would determine how many votes to flip. This could be pre-set, or managed dynamically if an internet connection were available, but that would leave a trail and I wouldn't do it. I could jigger the results with impunity, because my method would be so very difficult to detect. I wouldn't need to flip many votes; most elections are decided by slim margins.

I would conceal this microchip in a small blob of solder, or build it into a circuit connection, an innocuous spot on a board with hundreds of them. Testing every apparent chip on the board would not reveal my treason, because my chip would likely never be found. Miniaturization could be used to make it difficult to find even in a forensic lab.

With the entire world at stake, it would be worth any cost. And frankly, it wouldn't cost much. They're already making obscene profits selling the electronic scanners and voting machines to us. The taxpayers could fund it.

Only a very few people would know of this. An electronics engineer or two to design the necessary chips, plus their masters. The Chinese girls who manufacture and install the chips would think it's part for a microwave oven.

Only a hand count of paper ballots would ever reveal the discrepancies, and no amount of testing would point to the voting machines. Only melting and removing the solder or circuit connection would expose the tiny chip.

Oh, and I throw a lot of "chaff" in the air to distract any suspicious people. Red herrings to keep everyone looking elsewhere.


If there's any holes in this plan, please point them out. I'm an experienced tech, but neither the brightest nor the most devious. But if I wanted to steal an election, and had the cash to do so, this is exactly what I'd do.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 02:29 PM

1. Haven't you just ...

described the current system we are operating under?

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 02:30 PM

2. but, but, but.....you forget - the republicans are not that smart!

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Response to pnwest (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 03:12 PM

5. Yes that. AND Republicans are notoriously stingy with money to "influence" Elections

BWAAAA.

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Response to pnwest (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 09:25 AM

9. You don't have to be smart to hire good, sociopathic techs.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 03:06 PM

3. They Already Own the Companies that Make the Voting Machinez

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Response to AndyTiedye (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 03:08 PM

4. Step One. Check.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 03:37 PM

6. I THINK THIS TIME THEY ONLY WANTED TO CHANGE 1%

 

They may have only focused on a few critical places and not focused EVERYWHERE.

Next time they may go for broke and change votes EVERYWHERE so that if there is a recount it will be happening EVERYWHERE.

They won the voting machines, they don't own the process for WINING.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 03:49 PM

7. Wear a hoodie with sunglasses and use a banana in the pocket to pretend you have a gun.

 

No, wait. That's for knocking over a 7-11. Never mind.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:15 PM

8. K&R I have almost zero tech experience behind, and couldn't begin to know what a red herring might

be.. I would love to have input about the distractions?

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 09:33 AM

10. Biggest hole: The candidates are not always listed in the same order from election to election


It is not always Republican on line 1 and Democrat on line 2. Sometimes it is the other way around.


Your "chip" would have to have a way of knowing which candidate was option 1 and which was option 2 in a particular election.


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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 09:42 AM

11. If they control the hardware, the software, the network, and the servers...

then there are a thousand ways to manipulate the votes. We can try to think of every possible attack and address each one individually, but cheaters will inevitably find another weak spot to exploit. It's just not possible to have confidence in a system like this.

As far as your proposal goes, I think hiding a chip in the machine is pretty unlikely. It would be hard evidence that could be discovered if there were an actual investigation. It would also be very inflexible and expensive to implement, and they would need really smart engineers and a lot of people involved in the design and manufacturing process.

On the other hand, because the voting software is closed-source, it would be embarrassingly easy to hide some logic in it that would make the system do whatever they want when they want. Any decent programmer could hack it together in a weekend. Maybe there is a certain password somebody enters into the machine to switch it from "honest mode" to "evil mode". Who knows. Then after the deed is done they can wipe the drive or re-flash the machine and the smoking gun is gone forever.

Thanks for your post. I'm glad people are still talking about this. Just because Obama won doesn't mean there isn't a problem.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 10:12 AM

12. Election fraud is possible in many ways.

The best protection is voting systems with a genuine paper trail, where the original ballots are preserved and secured in case a recount is needed. In Minnesota, we use hand-marked ballots and optical scanners.

The addition of mandatory recounts of randomly-selected precincts, with the precincts chosen at random after the election, is how this is tested for each election. Do the vote counts match between paper ballots and the machine tabulations in every precinct? If so, things are probably OK.

An additional check occurs, as it did in Minnesota in 2008 and 2010, when a recount of every precinct in the state was necessary to decide the winner for US Senate and Governor, respectively. What that recount revealed was that, while there were small differences, statewide, between the machine tabulation and the paper ballots, there was no evidence of any tampering. When challenged and rejected absentee ballots were inspected and recounted, the results of one election changed and the other stayed the same. The result was Al Franken and Governor Dayton taking office.

Without paper ballots that can be recounted, it is impossible to detect fraudulent vote-counting. There simply is no way. A federal law needs to be created requiring all elections with candidates for Congress or the Presidency must be done using paper ballots, marked by voters, which can be recounted if necessary. The law would also require the mandatory manual recount, after the election, of randomly-selected precincts to provide a check on accuracy. Since every two years, every House member stands for election, that federal law would be in play for every major election.

Simple.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 10:32 AM

13. Highly unlikely

Regardless of how cleverly you thought your device was hidden, it must still be connected to data and control buses on the board to interact with the onboard logic and memory. And in the event of an equipment seizure for purposes of inspection, I can guarantee you haven't hidden it away well enough to escape detection by a qualified lab (such as the one I work in).

It is very much more likely that a Man-in-the-middle machine is used to interrupt the communications path between voting machines and central tabulators and perform the manipulations as required. No microchip left in place as evidence after the crime.

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Response to IDemo (Reply #13)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 11:11 AM

14. I agree. Also, the current thought IMO is to carefully flip only enough to win

and not enough to arouse suspicion. The "person in the middle" method is much easier to control. Putting chips in all the machines, or even most would be difficult. Not impossible but would take time.

IMO "person in the middle" worked in 2000 and 2004. And I believe that they tried again but it was possible to interfere with this method which happened and caused Karl to react like he did.

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