The Perfect Crime? (Bruce O'Dell)

We founded the Election Defense Alliance because we have no choice but to act as if human nature really is what it is, and therefore the appalling security vulnerabilities uncovered in every independently-examined component of the US electoral system in recent years are actually being exploited.

We presume that the prize - the ability to assume control of the world's largest procurement budget, allocate the spoils of a $12 trillion economy, and, not to mention, seize planetary military dominance - is too large and too tempting to go unclaimed, and further, that the individuals involved would be strongly motivated to evade detection, and to do everything possible to ensure their permanent hegemony.

Even if this has not happened yet, it could at any time.

The safeguards protecting the foundational protocol of the American Republic have been breached. Their restoration and its repair are matters of the highest possible urgency and importance.

Everything we think we know is wrong

The end-to-end election process has been allowed to break down and it's apparently in some people's best interests to keep it that way.

The assumption that automation is always better than paper is wrong. The assumption you actually know what's running in a computer - other than by observing all of its inputs and outputs - is wrong. The notion that most jurisdictions independently test their voting software to professional standards is wrong. The idea that any type of certification testing has any bearing on whether any particular voting machine in the field will function correctly during an election is also wrong.

The goofy idea that you can seriously patent any program that repeatedly and accurately adds one to a list of numbers (!) is wrong, and the notion of using that silly trade secret designation as a shield against independent inspection is wrong. Under current law, the cherished belief that there is a practical means of conducting a meaningful after-the-fact audit of election results is wrong in practice – almost no auditing of election results is done, and even when done, is seldom transparent to the public.

If all of this was occurring anywhere else but in election administration, there would be a massive public outcry and people would go to jail.

Electronic voting v. electronic gambling

There is a stunning contrast in how gaming systems are secured in comparison to voting systems. Even with relatively trivial amounts of money at stake, there is expensive, elaborate, stringent and intrusive ongoing independent random inspection of the hardware and software of the actual electronic gambling equipment in use at all casinos. In contrast, the details of the electronic vote tallying systems that determine who regulates a $12 trillion economy are considered trade secrets and so are legally shielded from independent inspection, and are never tested in any jurisdiction by anything approaching comparable rigor.

Despite the extreme measures taken to ensure the integrity of electronic gambling equipment, both vendors and casino insiders have successfully compromised electronic gambling equipment for financial gain.

Even though electronic election equipment is far less carefully protected than electronic gambling equipment, and knowing full well that successful manipulation of voting equipment yields far greater financial returns than manipulation of electronic gambling, any indication or evidence of systematic electronic election manipulation continues to be dismissed out-of-hand.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

There are no safeguards

Worse yet, applying the same level of protection to election systems as gambling systems seems to be effectively impossible. You can always audit money, but auditing elections after the fact is highly problematic: voting systems as a practical matter are "presumed accurate". Any electronic vote tallying system - even one with some kind of paper trail - is never fully audited unless someone challenges the result. If the official result is not particularly close, there is no political will to challenge it. In other words: the bolder, the better.

A perfect crime?

Worst of all, an extraordinarily dangerous negative feedback loop is possible. A series of increasingly deceptive election results over time that remain undetected leads to the manufactured illusion of a shift in the underlying voting patterns of the electorate.

Here is the 'vision of the abyss': you can't take down the American Republic by force of arms; you need not just any coup, but one with "manufactured consent", that appears to be reflecting the will of the people. The manufactured reality becomes true insofar as we can perceive it, since exit polls and even the selection criteria for public opinion polls are eventually calibrated to official election results.

This is so disturbing, and could so easily be portrayed as paranoid ravings rather than a computer security risk assessment. But it is certainly technically feasible to pull off given enough time, and, God help us, could actually be well underway.