Ever since November 2nd, I hoped I would not revisit this category for a long time.
However, recent developments in the media shows mounting evidence that the 2004 US vote may have been rigged. While I personally find this unlikely, if by the slightest chance any of it is true, it is a major democratic problem.
I will try to be less partisan about this than I have been before, and I invite you to partake in a discussion on the matter.
It all started a few days ago, when a programmer by the name of Clinton Curtis publicly claimed to have been hired to rig the election. In fact, Curtis delivered this statement in a sworn affidavit, ie. under oath. The purpose of this software, he said, was to detect voting fraud initiated by the Democrats;
It was not until after the prototype was delivered that he says he got wind of its possible, more nefarious usage.
Curtis goes on to elaborate on the “prototype”:
In the vote fraud prototype that I created things are not what they seem. Hidden on the screen are invisible buttons. A person with knowledge of the locations of those invisible buttons can then use them to alter the votes of everyone before them. By clicking the correct order of invisible buttons the candidate selected by the user is compared to other candidates within that same race. If the candidate they selected is leading the race nothing happens. If the other candidate is leading the race the vote totals are altered so that the selected candidate is now leading the race with 51% of the vote. The other candidates then share the remaining 49% in exact proportion to the totals they had previously.
To put it quite simply, this software would be able to swing Florida or Ohio in favor of either candidate.
While it would be rather unusual, one could argue that this software was in fact being developed in good faith, to preempt possible voting fraud by “knowing how it could’ve been done”. However, Curtis’ affidavit clearly states that his prior employer, Yang Enterprises, informed him that this software might actually be used to “control the vote in South Florida”. Yang Enterprises is now under FBI investigation. (Source)
Is this true?
The proposed developers of this vote tampering software quickly and clearly replied:
Recently there have been several accusations against this corporation by Clinton Eugene Curtis. All of the allegations are 100% FALSE!! An official statement will be forthcoming. Thank you for your concern and God Bless America. (From the Yang Enterprises website, December 9th 2004)
Whether or not these allegations are true or not, one would ponder that the developers had interest in denying it, should it be the case.
Maybe of more interest, is it technically possible, at all? In the words of a programmer for IBM:
From a technical standpoint, it is perfectly plausible […] Whether or not this turns out to be true, it?s a very good reason why we need the source code available for all of these voting machines. (Source)
An other programmer is skeptical:
Without more detail, and based on what I know so far, it?s hard to imagine that this could have really been used to change votes. It?s still embarrassing, to be sure, but it?s like he built a nuke out of a cardboard box and some wires?unless there?s some plutonium hiding in there somewhere, it might look good, but it isn?t going to blow up.
Whichever’s right, it seems to be cause enough for at least an investigation. In fact, a lawyer is now in the early stages of preparing a lawsuit, stating:
“We are basically going to make allegations that the votes, if properly counted, would reveal a different result then that which was certified by the Secretary of State not in the change in number, but a change in the outcome by which candidate won,” said Cliff Arnebeck, a Columbus lawyer who represents the group. He says that for this to happen, the December 13 meeting of the state electors should be postponed. “The Supreme Court has the power to order that the election outcome be determined differently than what was presented by the Secretary of State by a standard of proof and by clear and convincing evidence,” said Arnebeck.
The 2004 US election has been the most emotionally valued election in the history I can remember. With emotions running high, there’s no telling what people will do, to change an outcome they didn’t approve of.
However, turn that thesis around 180°. What if the powers that be, found it so vitally important to win the election, that they chose to change the outcome? As unlikely as it may be, I find the very possibility that this might be just partially true, very disturbing, to say the least.
The biggest question of them all is, whether or not we will ever learn the truth about this. Judging from the articles referenced in this entry, most programmers agree that analyzing the code of the voting software for clues to tampering is virtually impossible.
Still, what if it was true. What if Kerry would have won the election, should the votes have been fairly counted. No matter who you voted for, this matters. It is basically the difference between a tyranny and a democracy. Is democracy worth the price tag of an in-depth investigation into this?
I think so. If Ukraine can demand the truth, so can any democracy that belongs to its people.
What do you think?