Democracy at Risk: Could Hackers Flip the 2016 Election?
January 9, 2016
Mimi Kennedy, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman / Reader Supported News
The vast majority of America's electronic voting machines date back at least a decade. Many can be flipped at the precinct level by operatives driving by with WIFI apparatus. In other cases, "technicians" from the voting machine companies have already recalibrated the tabulators while Election Day was in progress, or immediately after. How long will it now take to flip the outcome? About 60 seconds, maybe less.
Will the GOP Strip & Flip the 2016 Election?
Mimi Kennedy, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman / Reader Supported News
(January 8, 2016) -- It is midnight, Election Day, 2016.
The votes (80% of them electronic) have been cast all across the United States. Except in Hawaii, the voting stations are now closed.
By all credible calculations, the Democratic presidential candidate (Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton) has won a solid victory in the public vote. All polls have shown a strong national margin. A solid majority of the key swing states have gone to the Democrats, giving them an apparent victory in the Electoral College.
With that have come solid advances in the US Senate and House races, plus major gains in statehouses and local elections across the board.
Divisions among the Republicans, shifting demographics, revulsion against the concentration of wealth, gun issues, civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, climate chaos, green issues, and a wide range of other factors are generally viewed as the key reasons for the Democratic sweep.
But as of midnight, the Electoral College could still be flipped by six key swing states where there are Republican governors and Republican secretaries of state. Those states are Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona.
Taken in tandem, they have more than enough electoral votes to swing the presidency, and enough clout to decide who will control the US Senate and much of the House.
In each of these "decider" states, the governor and secretary of state control how the election is administered, and how the votes are counted and reported.
In the lead-up to Election Day, millions of African-American, Hispanic, elderly and young voters (especially college students) have been systematically purged from the voter rolls. Without those purges, far more than just these six major swing states would be in play.
Meanwhile, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and other GOP multi-billionaires have poured in limitless dark money millions. The corporate media has duly reported the usual late "shift in momentum" to the Republicans.
But even that has not been enough. The people have spoken.
From Tallahassee to Raleigh to Columbus, Lansing, Des Moines and Phoenix, the governors and secretaries meet quietly and alone with a shadowy third party -- their chief of Information Technology. They know full well how the popular vote has gone, and what the consequences might be.
So they ask the IT expert what can be done about it.
The expert tells them what they already know: that the electronic voting machines from which the official vote count must now be extracted are owned by private corporations, nearly all of them with strong Republican roots. The courts have ruled that the source code is proprietary.
There have been various feints loudly staged to simulate a paper trail. They're meant for public consumption. Any recount in any of these states is pre-rigged to be a sham.
In fact, as in Ohio 2004, there is no way for the public or the media or the Democrats or international monitoring agencies or anyone else on this Earth to definitively monitor or verify how the American people have actually voted in 2016.
So the question is asked: having already stripped the voter rolls, how long will it now take to flip the outcome?
The IT expert gives the obvious answer: about 60 seconds, maybe less. Not only the presidency but control of the Congress, statehouses, state legislatures and much more can be flipped in tandem.
In the process, the expert says, it's customary to plant media stories of "glitches" in the voting process that will delay the reporting of the vote count. In Ohio 2004, the flipping process was stretched from 12:20 am to 2 am, during which John Kerry's 4.2% margin of victory became a 2.5% George W. Bush margin of victory, giving him a second term.
But the process is clear, simple and long-since prearranged. Funded by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, the vast majority of America's electronic voting machines date back at least a decade.
Many can be flipped at the precinct level by operatives driving by with WIFI apparatus. In other cases, "technicians" from the voting machine companies have already recalibrated the tabulators while Election Day was in progress, or immediately after.
So the months of campaigning, endless media bloviation, and millions in campaign expenditures can all be funneled down to about a minute of one hired hacker doing a few quick keystrokes that no one will ever be able to fully unearth or overturn.
All that's then needed as follow-up is to adjust the pre-election exit polls, which are usually extremely accurate, to match the official vote count, which will have been flipped by 2 or 3 am. (Sooner or later, such polling will be banned altogether).
In the meantime, in this dark post-democracy night, there is a pause. Each IT expert asks each governor and secretary of state in each of these key swing states what they wish done. And how much the Koch Brothers will be paying them to do it.
See if you can guess the answer.
And then look for what to do about this in our upcoming articles, along with Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman's The Sixth Jim Crow: Electronic Election Theft & The Strip/Flip Selection of 2016, all due out in 2016.
Mimi's Action Tips:
First learn your state's laws and voting systems on The Verifier. Then visit National Election Integrity Coalition or Black Box Voting for ideas for action based on your voting system.
Definitely be a poll worker. You'll learn your system's strengths and vulnerabilities. Who services machines when they fail? Are many voters forced to vote provisionally? Why? Is it a problem that can be corrected before the General Election?
Ask to tour your county elections office. If you're denied, ask why, and publicize the answer. Observation deters crime.
Ask to observe the count. If told you're obstructing well-run elections, bravo! You and your election officials are on common ground. You both want well-run elections -- which require public oversight!
Finally, learn to hand-count ballots. Copy an online template or ask for your county's sample test ballot. Copy a dozen of those and vote them randomly. Copy that dozen to a precinct-sized batch (about 300) then go to People Demanding Action and follow the instructions. You are not a Luddite. You're learning the election equivalent of jury duty -- by which democracy will be regained.
Mimi Kennedy, Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are election protection activists.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.