Will “experimental” software patches affect the Ohio vote?

by Bob Fitrakis and Gerry Bello
October 31, 2012

Why did the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office, in an end run around Ohio election law, have “experimental” software patches installed on vote counting tabulators in up to 39 Ohio counties? Voting rights activists are concerned that these uncertified and untested software patches may alter the election results.

During the 2004 presidential election, the Free Press reported that election officials observed technicians from the ES&S voting machine company and Triad computer maintenance company installing uncertified and untested software patches on voting machines in 44 Ohio counties prior to the election. Software patches are usually installed to “update” or change existing software. These software patch updates were considered suspect by election protection activists, in light of all the voting machine anomalies found during the 2004 election in Ohio.

The Free Press has learned that Election Systems and Solutions (ES&S) installed the software patches that will affect 4,041,056 registered voters, including those in metropolitan Columbus and Cleveland (click here for spread sheet from

A call to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office concerning the software patches was not returned by publication deadline. Previously, the Free Press requests for public records, including voting machine vendor contracts, have been stonewalled by Office Secretary of State John Husted’s office through his public records officer Chris Shea. Through other channels, the Free Press has obtained and has posted the possibly illegal full contract online here (see page 17).

The contract calls for ES & S technicians and county poll workers to “enter custom codes and interfaces” to the standard election reporting software just as was done with the controversial 2004 Ohio presidential election.

Last minute software patches may be deemed “experimental” because that designation does not require certification and testing. Un-certified and untested software for electronic voting systems are presumably illegal under Ohio law. All election systems hardware and software must be tested and certified by the state before being put into use, according to Ohio Revised Code 3506.05. By unilaterally deeming this new software “experimental,” Secretary of State Husted was able to have the software installed without any review, inspection or certification by anyone. ES & S, for their part, knows that this software will not be subject to the minimal legally required testing as stated in the contract on page 21 (Section 6.1).

The contract specifically states that this software has not been and need not be reviewed by any testing authority at the state or federal level. Yet, it is installed on voting machines that will tabulate and report official election results, which Ohio law forbids. Based on the Free Press reading of the contract, this software is fully developed, being referred as versions and Thus the only thing making this software “experimental” is the fact that it has never been independently certified or tested.

In preparation for the upcoming general election in late April, the Free Press began requesting public records from all 88 counties in Ohio in order to build a broad database of every vendor and piece of equipment used in the state of Ohio. Aside from some minor delays, all 88 county jurisdictions have complied.

However, the office of the Ohio Secretary of State however, has not complied with any requests for lists of equipment, contracts with vendors, schedules of payment and even the identities of the vendors. The Free Press’ public records requests, under ORC 149.43 (The Public Records Act) have been ignored by Chris Shea, presumably acting on behalf of Secretary of State Jon Husted. Now that the Free Press has obtained the contract, it seems clear that the secretary of state’s office was hiding these last minute “experimental” uncertified software installations.

On page 19 of the contract, terms require the various county boards of elections to purchase additional software from ES & S if they are not compatible with this new “experimental” statewide tabulation and reporting system. This unfunded mandate clause illegally bypasses individual counties rights to make their own purchasing determinations.

The controversial software will create simple .csv files like those produced by spreadsheet programs for input into the statewide tabulation system. According to the terms of the contract, data security is the responsibility of each local board of elections: “…each county will be responsible for the implementation of any security protocols” (see page 21 of the contract).

Most county boards of elections do not have their own IT departments and are reliant on private partisan contractors to maintain and program the electronic voting systems. These piecemeal implementations of security protocols would also be untested and uncertified.

Voting rights activists believe this whole scheme may create a host of new avenues of attack on the integrity of the electronic vote counting system. The untested and uncertified “experimental” software itself may be malware. Public trust in the electronic vote counting system has emerged as the key issue in the Ohio presidential election.

The Free Press will be updating this breaking story as more information is obtained and analyzed, so stay tuned. The story for now is that the Secretary of State in the key swing state in the 2012 presidential has installed “experimental” uncertified and untested software to count a large portion of the Ohio vote.

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Wisconsin: None dare call it vote rigging

Bob Fitrakis

June 14, 2012

If vote-rigging prospers, none may call it vote-rigging. It simply becomes the new norm. Once again, the universal laws of statistics apply only outside U.S. borders. The recall vote in Wisconsin produced another significant 7% discrepancy between the unadjusted exit poll and the so-called “recorded vote.” In actual social science, this level of discrepancy, with the results being so far outside the expected margin of error would not be accepted.

When I took Ph.D. statistics to secure my doctorate in political science, we were taught to work through the rubric, sometime referred to as HISMISTER. The “H” stood for an explanation of the discrepancy rooted in some historical intervention, such as one of the candidates being caught in a public restroom with his pants down and a “wide stance” soliciting an undercover cop. The “I” that came next suggested we should check our instrumentation, that is, are the devices adequately reporting the data?

Here’s where U.S. elections become laughable. A couple of private companies, count our votes with secret proprietary hardware and software, the most notable being ES&S. Every standard of election transparency is routinely violated in the U.S. electronic version of faith-based voting. How the corporate-dominated media deals with the issue is by “adjusting the exit polls.” They simply assume the recorded vote on easily hacked and programmed private machines are correct and that the international gold standard for detecting election fraud – exit polls – must be wrong.

They are not going to go through the rest of the acronym and check to see if the Sample makes sense, that the right Measurements are being taken, or whether or not there’s been a breakdown in Implementing the exit polling. They won’t check to see if the representative Size of the polling numbers are accurate, or if there are problems with the pollster’s Technique, or if there was human Error, or if there’s just bad Recording going on.

Of course, the machines could be recording wrong because they are programmed for an incorrect outcome. The easiest people to convince regarding the absurdity of electronic voting with private proprietary hardware and software are the computer programmers across the political spectrum. Statisticians and mathematicians also readily comprehend the obvious nature of rigged elections.

One of my favorite mathematicians is Richard Charnin, who on his website using readily available public information, calculates the odds of the so-called ‘red shift” occurring from the 1988 to 2008 presidential elections. The red shift refers to the overwhelming pick up of votes by the Republican Party in recorded votes over what actual voters report to exit pollsters.

In Charnin’s analysis of exit poll data, we can say with a 95% confidence level – that means in 95 out of 100 elections – that the exit polls will fall within a statistically predictable margin of error. Charnin looked at 300 presidential state exit polls from 1988 to 2008, 15 state elections would be expected to fall outside the margin of error. Shockingly, 137 of the 300 state presidential exit polls fell outside the margin of error.

What is the probability of this happening?

“One in one million trillion trillion trlllion trillion trillion trillion,” said Charnin.

More proof of Republican operatives and sympathizers is found in the fact that 132 of the elections fell outside the margin in favor of the GOP. We would expect eight.

Say you have a fair coin to flip. We would expect that if we flip that coin there would be an even split between heads and tails – or in this case, Republicans and Democrats. Election results falling outside the margin of error should be equally split between both parties. Yet, only five times, less than expected, did the extra votes fall in the direction of the Democratic Party.

So what are the odds? According to Charnin, of 132 out of 300 state presidential elections exceeding the margin of error in the direction of the Republicans – one in 600 trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion.

The corporate-owned media does not want to mention that the problems with the exit polls began with the ascendancy of the former CIA Director George Herbert Walker Bush to the presidency in 1988. It is also that year when the non-transparent push-and-pray voting machines were introduced in the New Hampshire primary by Bush ally John Sununu. Bush, who rigged elections for the CIA throughout the Third World did unexpectedly well where the voting machines were brought in.

In any other election outside the U.S., the U.S. State Department would condemn the use of the these highly riggable machines based on the discrepancy in the exit polls. It’s predictable what would happen if an anti-U.S. KGB agent in some former Soviet Central Asian republic picked up an unexplained 5% of the votes at odds with the exit polls. A new election would be called for, as it was in the Ukraine in 2004. We would not have accepted the reported vote from the corrupt intelligence officer.

The CIA Director’s son wins with laughable exit poll discrepancies in 2000 and 2004 and the mainstream media sees no evil. The media’s perspective is to discredit the exit polls, which they sponsor, and call any who point to the polls “conspiracy theorists.”

In 2004, 22 states had a red shift to the CIA Director’s son, George W. Bush. Usually such improbably results are signs of a Banana Republic. Now we have a too-close-to-call neck and neck recall race in Wisconsin that show an obvious red shift for a right-wing red governor. Nobody wants to look at the non-transparent black box machines. Electronic election rigging has prospered. Long live the “adjusted” vote totals.

Originally published by The Free Press,