Monday, 13 August 2012

Cheating during election time

Certain people don't get this: a binary file is basically a black box. You can test it a zillion times, but that doesn't help unless you can be absolutely sure that binary file and not something else is what that computer is using to generate the data you want and you can be sure that binary  file is what you will get after you compile a source code with algorithms you understand on your own...either that or you need reliable witnesses - not people who report to be witnesses - in a enough voting centres to check the paper trails and verify for statistical irregularities.

Both Putin and Lukashenko clearly won their elections. They didn't need massive fraud. Still, fraud was committed...sometimes more blatantly than others. Why did they go for "optimization" if it was so obvious they still had the majority? Well: there are more reasons to commit fraud than just "win elections". One of them is when you want to be sure you have not 2%, not 4% but  something big enough that you can say "we clearly have a large majority". The more unstable the situation you have, the larger the margin you need to sleep well - if you are the autocrat, that is.

Soon after Chávez was defeated in 2007 his popularity plummeted. Did he do something specially bad from the referendum day until that poll was taken? Not worse than what  he had already done. He said the opposition's victory was shit shit shit, but that is his style and millions of Venezuelans didn't seem to care about that. But there is one thing anyone should know by now: people do not like losers. Winning gets you in a different position than losing and winning by an ample margin, specially if you are an autocrat and the situation is  tense, is a must. If you read what Chávez supporters at Aporrea wrote soon after Chávez had to concede defeat in 2007 (a defeat he reverted via enabling law and a new referendum), you could see how critical they least for a while. It took a defeat for them to "open their eyes". If that happens with hard-core Chavez supporters on a defeat, imagine what can happen with ninis as soon as things just get a little bit less comfortable, inflation is just a little bit higher...and they know the president doesn't have ample support but "just made it".

The CNE, the National Electoral Council, is modifying the electoral registries all the time. What I show right now can be modified for tomorrow. Still today, 12 August 2012, you can find this:

There are two records of two "voters" with a very unusual name combination. The two "guys" vote close to each other. What is more worrying: according to CNE records - records that were made public until last year - both voters were born on the same day (something you can see here but there are copies of these records in the hand of the opposition). On top of that, look at the ID numbers. Do you see a pattern? Indeed. And there are thousands like that.

The CNE has been "correcting" such cases since they were first reported, but there are still many thousands like that. They are not enough to "win elections" or to optimize results for 4% or so but these, we can be absolutely sure of that, are just a fraction of the "weird records", just a fraction that could be identified  because the pattern - their birthday - was too obvious. Somehow in the process of duplicating identities the CNE didn't verify they were using the same birth day even for such names. If the government decided to produce similar records with different birth dates - and they can do that  in the same way as they definitely did this - there is no way we can know unless we demand for anyone with the same name to come forward and we verify their finger prints. 

What people like Francisco do not understand is that it doesn't take 2000 developers working 24 hours a day like in that film Man of the Year to produce software that optimizes voting results at run time. It takes one person for a short time, the access to the computer's ID and a one time connection. Unless there are witnesses, of course.

So witnesses is the thing. Francisco already interviewed some years ago a PJ politician and now one of our deputies, Cardenas. He told him Francisco that the opposition had witnesses everywhere...and Francisco believed him just like that.  That same politician keeps telling us all the time "no matter what Chavismo does, no matter how hard he puts it, we will win by an ample margin". Caldera seems to believe we are still urgently looking for more witnesses people will get depressed and lots will be put off. That is the right attitude if you live in Baruta or El Hatillo but that is the attitude we cannot have for 99% of Venezuela.

What Caldera said was not right. Many contacts told me back in 2008 and then in 2010 that our people doing the hard work of organising witnesses and carrying around the actas were desperate to get enough staff even in Southern Valencia, not to mention Puerto Cabello or even small cities in the Llanos. But well...people from Greater Caracas always have trouble to know what happens in what they call "monte y culebra" seems they had the same knowledge Britons or Belgians had about Congo until reports became too evident and the pictures started to come took a couple of decades for Europeans to open their eyes back then...I certainly hope it takes less time for Caraqueños to learn what happens in Maturín and other "culebra places", where most people live.

A software can automatically optimize results for any voting centre where there is no witness throughout the event or where witnesses simply fail to deliver the actas afterwards.

What people like Francisco don't know: in 2009 thousands of actas from many places were not delivered. People just "se las llevó para su casa". People who worked heavily as witnesses in poor areas outside "civilisation" - i.e. Greater Caracas- confirmed that to me. Francisco can argue that that is just circumstantial evidence, but then I can say the same about Caldera's. But you can confirm how badly we have scored about witnesses if you do take the time to check what Esdata says - these are a group of professionals who have been analysing a lot of voting data at all levels for several years now.

I will later present much more about the dimension of ghost (actually virtual) voters.

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