Wednesday, 2 November 2016

whose vote is it anyway?


Alongside the luminosity of the bright orange arm waving candidate, we see the sometimes subtler machinations of the apparatchik alternative.

There's a currently building media narrative about what could happen if a few less expected states swing (in this case Georgia, Utah, Alaska).

The conspiracy theorists say that this is part of an electorate softening exercise. Less surprise if weird things happen.

Coverage includes Huffington Post, Bloomberg, Washington Post and -er- The Salt Lake Tribune, to name just a few. The Daily Telegraph, amongst others, has regurgitated versions of these stories here in the UK too.

Now a fun thing as a Brit when travelling very long straight roads in the US, is to tune into one of the shock jockey shows to pass a half hour. We don't really get anything as extreme in the UK. Someone like the colourful and highly Republican biased Alex Jones, who fronts Infowars and has been talking with analytics investigator Bev Harris about the potential for US election rigging.

There's two schools of thought on this. One involves the often old machines used as the basis for the vote. These are not used everywhere and are many designs.

There's plenty of stories, such as in the 2015 Brennan Report of having to buy spare parts for them on eBay (such as Zoom modems and Zip disks) and that many, including those in parts of high tech California, still use Windows XP or Windows 2000.

People imply they are insecure, have inaccurate touch screens and are difficult to audit end-to-end.

The second school of thought is the one for the recent shock-jock allegations. They don't really talk about the actual voting machines instead jumping to the other end of the system, where the big counting takes place.

The two features of a conspiracy suggested by Bev Harris involve (a) access to the centralised black box counting software and (b) a programming trick involving the conversion of integers to double precision floating point numbers onto which a gentle 'allocation' weighting can be applied.

Put simply, someone hacks into the central system and adjusts the voting skew using rounding from computerised fractional arithmetic.

The slightly nerdy story doesn't seem to get picked up by the mainstream US media, presumably because they filter shock jocks of whatever type.

It is still interesting to examine and may well get played after the results are in.

"Trust, but verify" as they used to say, or was it "Doveryai, no proveryai"?

1 comment:

Pat said...

It is a nightmare. How did it ever come to this?