On March 31, a certain Air America Radio personality and comedian reportedly related a comment that it was "more likely than not" that 2004 Ohio presidential voting was not "hacked". He cited unspecified MIT professors that did an unspecified amount of work on this issue (perhaps none). In any case, it wasn’t too dang funny.
Leaving aside the issue that only four counties in Ohio had touch screen voting machines and that the bulk of available methods of altering computerized election results illegally would not be fairly described as "hacks", and also leaving aside the various professors and computer experts who would beg to differ with or qualify this MIT statement, there’s a very important realization that gets lost regarding the likely strategy of anyone contemplating election fraud:
WHEREVER it is more likely than not that something is innocuous or at least not deliberate, that is the VERY BEST place for a hacker or rigger to attack!
An insider rigger, in particular, has little to no barriers to action (they’re "insiders", right?). Yet, election fraud is among the most intentional and planned of crimes. So the rigger will concentrate their mental efforts on planning defenses and deniability. That’s why they attack particularly in places that look like "glitches", look like human error, that look like "voter error", or look like machine defects of a non-intentional nature.
Touch screen calibration problems are a great example. Miscalibration can happen naturally from vibration, it can happen from a attempted recalibration error, it can happen because of software "glitches", or IT CAN HAPPEN AS AN INTENTIONAL ATTACK, by a user, by an insider official, or by the source code.
But, in the event of such an actual intentional attack, it will be easy to find an expert who in good faith can state it’s "more likely than not" that this is just _________________ (you fill in the non-intentional excuse from the list above). They won’t be "lying", not intentionally.
Many things are MORE LIKELY THAN NOT non-intentional. Yet that very fact makes it the perfect place to attack. Journalists will almost never get beyond a fork in the road like this because they want "proof" not alternative possibilities, and investigators will similarly be either fooled by the seeming innocuousness or deterred from passing by this fork in the road by fears of going out on a limb. One necessarily IS going out on a limb and blowing past the innocent explanations.
But, once way out on the limb, you can pick up more facts that can help distinguish the non-intentional from the intentional. And, a good investigator NEEDS to do that, but few do. Among other things, piecing together facts to put together even a compelling VERY MUCH MORE LIKELY THAN NOT case is to be what we all know and are taught to distrust as "conspiracy theory". Because there’s an alternative innocent explanation. Some also invoke Occam’s Razor, saying the simpler explanation is the better one. But that also means that the slightly more complicated fraud is the BEST one of all, the one that doesn’t get you caught.
I am definitely NOT suggesting that every mis-named "glitch" evasion or every "voter error" allegation is cover for election fraud. I’m saying it’s attractive potential and even likely cover for election fraud. And I freely admit that it is quite possible that there is no actual intentional fraud in most given cases, so long as my opponent acknowledges that fraud can’t be ruled out, either.
In any event, regardless of the presence of intent or not, the damage to democracy from "glitches" is almost identical between when the results are thrown off non-intentionally and when they are thrown off intentionally. In both cases, an inaccurate election result is being published as the gospel truth. Passing off a knockoff tennis shoe as Adidas is itself a form of fraud on the consumer, even if the storekeeper had no idea they were knockoffs and therefore lacks the knowledge and intent necessary for the type of fraud laymen usually assume is the only type of "fraud", the intentional type more precisely called "common law fraud".
So given that in most cases where multiple possibilities exist on the issue of intentional vs. nonintentional, a fair-minded person has to admit that it is at least POSSIBLE that it was non-intentional error, just as a fair-minded person has to admit that it is POSSIBLE that it is fraudulent or intentional error, in the classic sense. MAKING ONE OF THESE TWO POSSIBILITIES THE ONE THAT IS "MORE LIKELY THAN NOT" HARDLY SEEMS TO END THE ISSUE, because the key evidence is still being withheld under trade secrecy claims of the corporate vote counting vendors.
This is why TRANSPARENCY is so VERY important. It is indispenable, and in fact MORE IMPORTANT THAN ACCURACY (if we were forced to choose). This is so because All serious barriers to full election data, information and testing are doomsday devices for democracy that prevent us from knowing which of thousands of glitches and miscalibrations were covers for fraud and which were not. Therefore we can not adjust our course, or make any correction and lies are known as the truth.
There are many serious issues to choose from, global warming, war and peace, human rights, etc. But the reason election transparency is more primary and more important than the rest of these issues is because the only thing scarier and more dangerous than these runaway train issues is having the ability to correct course via legitimate elections taken away.
It’s like putting blindfolds on the train engineer and all the passengers, who know they can’t see well but none of whom are allowed to be fully aware of the nature and extent of the blindfold, limiting their ability to even try to remove it. Then, just like elections, those who’ve placed the blindfolds on say you have no standing to challenge the blindfold or ask a court for its removal because you can’t prove that you’ve been damaged or that damage is otherwise imminent.
The barriers to information that are the doomsday devices for democracy are also the instruments of our collective terror, and that deceptively divide us passengers, even as we all act in complete good faith as passengers. This happens when the passengers argue amongst themselves as to what is happening to them on a "more likely than not" basis. The passengers are all themselves most likely acting entirely in good faith, but the arguments are part fact and part Rohrschach test, with no correct answer per se.
But there is one Answer that is clearly wrong. It is the Answer that says "because the data suggesting DANGER AHEAD, while present, is not Proven, and while these fellow passengers of course support transparency and taking the blindfolds off, they nevertheless strongly maintain that there’s NO BASIS to accuse those who placed the blindfolds on us passengers of bad faith."
There most certainly is such a basis. Reckless endangerment to democracy, attempted democracide, and democracide itself, though we won’t find the body of democracy until we realize that the act of blindfolding the passengers was the death of democracy, with the crime completed at that time. What happens after is the "collateral damage" to the passengers. Many passengers, unfortunately, tend to think that having been taught that they were born into a democracy, if they have not personally died or moved out of their country of birth, they must STILL BE in a democracy. And, all jailers have pretty much seen the wisdom of allowing television, so perhaps in this age of miniaturization it is not too far a stretch to imagine that the blindfolds look like shades, and the shades allow the passengers to watch virtual TV. With this TV, they think their field of vision has actually been expanded enormously.
Somebody should find out who placed the blindfolds on, and when that person is found, you will have found a true terrorist against democracy. Meanwhile, others will keep scouring the sands of the Middle East, for a similar purpose of finding terrorists against democracy. Perhaps you should have a little compassion for these rank and file Grand Old Passengers in support of the Middle East democracy threat hypothesis, for at least they understand or intuit that there’s a danger, though they fail to appreciate much danger from within. Those that have a better idea what’s happened to them can also fail to appreciate fully that what they are in fact trying to restore in democracy is a system that will continue to allow freedom, including the freedom to believe the TV, for freedom is meaningless if it doesn’t include the freedom to do or believe unpopular or incorrect things. So, this freedom we are fighting for, includes the freedom and certainly must include the freedom for innocent rank and file to continue to believe as they do.
At the end of my blindfolded runaway train allegory, the passengers win. But they do so for somewhat surprising reasons:
1. They win because they convince a majority of passengers that if they do not admit to the significant possibility that someone would takeover the American Train and blindfold the passengers, then they must not think TrainAmerica is a very good train, because they don’t think any one would truly covet her that badly. Our Grand Old Passengers were forced to admit on that because they loved their country, and thus the danger of election fraud was properly recognized as a serious threat.
2. They win because they agree to disagree with the Grand Old Passengers, acknowledging that both rank and file groups were out of luck if the overall situation continued, and that the condition to be restored retained all the rights of all political beliefs and that the officers of the train that had failed them included representatives of both parties. Our Grand Old Passengers were forced to admit that they didn’t want to be disfranchised either alone or together with the activist passengers, and thus the shared values and interests were recognized.
3. They win because it became clear that it wasn’t "cool" to have these kinds of "shades" on, train or no train. Our Grand Old Passengers were forced to admit that not being able to correct one’s course at all was a most serious recipe for maximum unhappiness of all passengers, and thus the value of transparency in elections was suddenly clear.
The passengers removed the blindfolds and stormed the engine. The terrorists against democracy turned out to be more pathetic than the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz.
It’s just that, in returning to their seats and now enjoying the train ride much more than before, those of both political parties that see themselves as the Masters of Democracy or even the Masters of the Universe were already secretly preparing the next set of blindfolds. But this time, every compartment on the train had regular visual and audio reminders that said:
"Beware those who would deny you information. For in their heart, they see themselves your Master."
—Paul R Lehto
Attorney at Law
Posted by Land Shark on Democratic Underground