Scotlandís May 2007 Election Fiasco
Are we seeing a para-political coup against Scottish democracy?
I write as riots happen in France where the Exit polls have suddenly become unreliable after the introduction of ES and S software and machinery to count the votes ... plus ca change?
Please feel free to use either in any way that you see fit, including onward networking.
Right now I feel that most people can't cope with more than a little questioning of their taken for granted reality, so probably debate about the Scottish elections will stay within safe channels. But with your help we could deepen and widen it??
Best wishes, Keith Mothersson
#1 Herald letter:
Thomas McLaughlin assures us that "no one actually tried to steal last Thursday's ballot" (Glasgow Herald, Letters, 7 May 2007). But how do any of us know? If a team of e-fraudsters had succeeded in shifting one vote in ten from Party X to Party Y would they have left a calling card out of sheer bravado?
An influential neo-con handbook, Coup d'Etat, by Edward Luttwak, recommends coups so stealthy that nobody gets upset and has to be shot protesting.
DRS is doubtless honest, but has recently bought Peladon Software, a San Diego company which had recently bought in imaging software from Diebold, the firm distrusted beyond all others by the large Voting Integrity movement in the US.
Many of these e-voting and e-counting companies have boardrooms graced by former insiders at the CIA or Pentagon, institutions whose commitment to democracy is hardly beyond question and ones known to have worked on stealth technologies for 'full spectrum dominance', including in cyber-space.
Mystery breakdowns in the Ohio count are now known to have provided a cover for the results to have been routed via a secret GOP server to Karl Rove.
Like the SNP's Jim Sillars I want to live in a country which relies on good old Scottish scepticism, not faith-based voting. I will readily accept that I may be being too suspicious if Mr McLaughlin will accept that he may be being too naive. Neither of us really knows yet both of us have a right to be certain.
The paradox of the traditional system is that trust results from accepting the starting point of resolute mutual distrust. By contrast having to accept 'exper'' assurances about technology that no one is really in a position to extend, not even the experts, is a recipe for increased distrust in the political process and ever-lower turn-outs.
Far from e-technology taking us forward, its introduction has been a huge set-back for Scottish democracy, whether or not anything untoward has been tried on this occasion.
Readers who would like to join me in a Campaign for Hand-counted Paper Ballots are invited to write or phone me on 01738 783677.
2b Darnhall Cres,
Perth, PH2 0HH
#2 Are we seeing a para-political coup against Scottish democracy?
Some notes on the present moment in Scottish politics, with a special focus on the introduction of electronic election technology.
"The hostility shown towards Alex Salmond by the Scottish LibDems is almost pathological. These are parties which agree on almost everything - local
income tax, fiscal powers, nuclear power - and yet the LibDem leadership seems determined to relinquish any prospect of having these policies
implemented by refusing the Scottish people a say on the constitution."
Iain MacWhirter in the Sunday Herald, 18 February 2007.
Many people are talking of a Scottish 'Prague Spring'. They are assuming that the Liberal Democrats will eventually strike a deal with the SNP. I am not so sure. Since the first draft of this I hear that the LibDems propose to allow the SNP to lead a minority administration, but I also hear of the possibility of Labour challenging its loss of Cunninghame North by only 48 votes.
In what follows I place the present tense situation or impasse in the light of broader consideration of para-political phenomena, many of them little noticed or tabooed to mention or even notice. Although I hope to see a SNP-led adminstration, I think that the British State is engaged in pulling out the stops to block this, even to the point where we can almost talk of an on-going coup against Scottish democracy. Alternatively the SNP leadership may be allowed a share in office, not power, only once they have dropped opposition to Trident, unorthodox plans to raise money by selling bonds, and anything else which doesn't fit with the neo-liberal consensus.
At the risk of being howled down by waves of insider-metropolitan derision for being conspiracy theorists, let sceptical Scottish natives begin by recalling the sheer power of secret elites to infiltrate, 'manage' or else block a range of civil society organisations, not least political parties and lobbying organisations.
At one level we observe that those who wish to lead 'Western democracies' (plus Nato and many EU bodies) seem to have to attend Bilderberg group meetings for group approval - or otherwise.
More directly we recall with researchers like Robin Ramsay and Stephen Dorril the secret services' plotting against the Wilson government, their work with the CIA to promote the Atlanticist and pro-Zionist SDP which let Thatcher - supported by Airey Neave and MI5 take over, then break the power of the unions with the aid of big business and the 'media-intel complex', and finally raise up New Labour - with Blair himself an MI5 informer/agent of influence, according to David Shayler
This is consistent among much else with the coincidence that on first arrival in the Commons Blair 'happened' to be allocated a room with Militant MP and fellow 'new boy', Dave Nellist.
(See Ramsay's brilliant The Rise of New Labour, 2002, and Dorril and Ramsa's Smear: Wilson and the Secret State, 1991)
Now that New Labour has served its purpose for a while, one can see the hand of history (Bilderberg et al) moving back to support David Cameron, at least so long as he drops his 'traditional Tory' objections to neo-con revolutionism abroad.
As for the LibDems I believe that here too a degree of MI5 influence at the top is the rule rather than the exception. One thinks of the eminently blackmailable Jeremy Thorpe, whose long-known-about interest in boys and young men, was eventually exposed by a section of MI5 as a way to destroy the Lib-Lab pact. [cf. The role of MI5 sponsored boys homes/abuse circles in Kincora, Northern Ireland, Dunblane, Scotland and probably Cardiff mirrors on a smaller scale the systematic role that State- sponsored child abuse has played in the centres of power in the US and Brussels. See the work of Glen Yeadon: www.spiritone.com/~gdy52150/littleboys.html
After David Steel we saw military intelligence officer Paddy Ashdown's meteoric rise to leadership, plus the tendency of 'unreliable' contenders for the leadership to implode, now leaving the field clear for St Andrew's based safe pair of hands Menzies Campbell, a confirmed Atlanticist who has developed pretending to be critical of the US and Israel while pulling all his punches into an art form. As for the antiwar Left I take it for granted that MI5 manages to play a role in guiding certain key groupings, promoting those perspectives with which it can live, and shutting out as beyond the pale other perspectives, e.g. on false-flag terrorism or on the 'War on Drugs', where we have seen the price of heroin fall after the West took over Afghanistan.
Of course there are many other difficulties and shortcomings which confront all of us who want serious social change, many of which are best understood in 'structural' terms, or in terms of institutional, gender, economic, cultural, social-psychological, psychological and even spiritual perspectives, rather than mainly the products of fiendish para-political manipulations by ruling and other secret fraternities .... But unless we are alert to the possibility or actuality of the latter, then we can easily over-explain in other terms (eg. 'Scottish cringe') or misunderstand what is really going on.
That said, although the then male-dominated Scottish Socialist Party will surely have had its fair share of people who tend to see things in dualistic terms, which has predisposed the left to splits over many years, who can seriously imagine that MI5 hasn't played some role in possibly entrapping and then exposing the SSP's erstwhile Tommy Sheridan, and then stirring things further towards a destructive party split - which has surely contributed to the 'success' that the Scottish parliament has now been 'cleansed' of any serious ideological opposition to neo-liberalism.
However the 'threat' from the left isn't the only threat the British State has to worry about. The 70's saw a rise of a strong Scottish Nationalist tide, whose ebbing is surely connected with the association of nationalism with extremism in the public mind. Again, one doesn't wish to paint out of the picture the Braveheart syndrome of masculinist nationalism, which deterred and deters many thoughtful people, especially women, from embracing and fashioning the SNP as an internationalist and national, not a nationalist party.
Yet granted this vulnerability was there, we also need to be aware of the role played by the likes of Major Busby and other agents of the British State, and the numerous 'liberation armies' they spawned, ever ready to claim credit for bomb blasts, hoaxes, letter bombs, etc. Of course they also drew in some naive 'genuine' extremists they were manipulating, inciting and so on.
(See Tartan Terrorism and the Anglo-American State by Andrew Murray Scott and Iain MacLeay, 1990)
For a recent parallel we need to realise that secret services now manipulate and largely create the phenomenon of 'Islamic' terrorism: see Nafeez Ahmed's brilliant online article Subverting 'Terrorism': Muslim Problem or Covert Operations Nightmare?
Both these texts are aware of the determination of the British and 'Western' (US/Zionist) powers not to give up power lightly. Thus we get the phenomenon of false-flag terrorism, e.g. the use of Brigadier Kitson's pseudo-gangs moving back from Kenya to Northern Ireland (Force Reconnaissance Unit) and then out again to Basra and Baghdad (Joint Services Group), all the time being given ideological cover by 'counter-insurgency terrorism' experts in the RAND-Corporation-linked Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St Andrew's, as chronicled by Campaign Against Criminalising Communities: www.campacc.org.uk/embedded.htm
Although the SNP leadership is prepared to trim to the needs of business to get into office (witness, many believe, the convenient dropping of the popular demand for re-regulation of the buses just prior to receiving half a million pounds from Stagecoach chief, Brian Souter), Salmond remains too unpredictable, anti-war and anti-Trident for comfort. In any case nationalism has a tendency not just to derail class politics but sometimes to stimulate class and anti-imperialist awareness.
Greater Scottish confidence and mental independence could manifest in dangerous ways, e.g. it might question other aspects of the British (Anglo-American) State, e.g. the right of central banks to make debt-freighted money 'out of nothing'; or the British Broadcasting Corporation's slavish endorsement of the absurd 911 nonsense - even down to actively reporting the 'collapse' of the Salomon Brothers Building Seven 26 minutes before it was internally blown up and fell at the
speed of air resistance at 5.20!
www.prisonplanet.com/articles/february2007/260207building7.htm ; on the demolitions at the World Trade Centre, see www.911review.com and www.911scholars.org
Hence, as Scottish nationalism appears to be on the rise again, we could well see the Anglo-American state revive the use of a panoply of tactics - including false-flag terrorism ascribed to 'extreme nationalists'; attempts to entrap, blackmail and discredit SNP leaders; concerted economic threats and announcements by Unionist business leaders, bankers or even (as in the 1980's) the US ambassador, etc.
Just as Bin Laden obligingly resurrected himself to scare the US public just before the US election, so bang on cue the 'Scottish National Liberation Army' started to send terrorist devices the week before the May 3rd election if we are to believe the Sunday Mail (front page story) and the Manchester police (they of the [no] ricin [no] plot.)
The emergence of well-funded groups like Scottish Voice on a policy-free pro-Unionist agenda may or may not be laying down a marker for future interventions - its founder is the son of Col David Stirling whose GB75 citizen army was recruiting people to help maintain 'order' in a coup in the 'seventies. Awareness of the record of the British State abroad suggests that it often seeks to cling to power in and over a country be means of stirring up one ethnic or religious group
against another. The same applies to ruling parties desperately trying to hold onto power, e.g. Milosevic in former Yugoslavia. Here we all need to be aware of the amount of sectarian tinder which still lies around in many parts of Scotland, with Rangers-supporters increasingly being drawn to define themselves against the Scottish nationalism of Celtic-supporters. At times the neo-nazi British National Party - which sees itself as being adopted/coming to power via crises - may also play a role in stirring up opposition to 'separation' and 'republicanism' as well as immigration and 'Islamic terrorists'.
On May 3rd the BNP 'appears to have polled' 25,000 votes, advisedly, for this brings me to yet another technique which may be deployed to frustrate Scottish Nationalism, indeed may already have been used, namely electoral fraud.
Analysis of the US scene shows massive evidence of electoral theft from 1996 (Nebraska) onwards, not just in 2000 but
2002 (Georgia www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/news/0091.html, Texas),
2004 Ohio, Florida and many other States, when Kerry won by seven million votes:
One key archive is at www.crisispapers.org/topics/election-fraud.htm. Of course election theft goes back a long way before 2000, (e.g. JFK's dad getting the mafia to fix the voting machines in a key precinct in Chicago). By electoral theft I do not mean voter fraud, which the Republicans make a big thing of, but for which there is hardly any evidence. I mean insider theft by those controlling the elections. Three broad categories of activity can achieve this, always camouflaged as accidental phenomena, or claimed to be random - though when the statisticians of the National Elections Data Archive get to work on these 'random phenomena' a very clear pro-Republican bias emerges!
1) Low tech traditional tricks:
As Greg Palast has consistently argued, the Republicans have perfected a panoply of dirty tricks aimed at 'suppressing' the Democrat vote: e.g. purging the electoral roll of likely Democrat voters, losing their registration forms, intimidating poor whites and blacks from turning up, frustrating them with long queues when they do, or challenging their right to vote face to face, etc.
'Muddles' in sending out postal votes, such as happened in Scotland, may or may not be innocent and neutral in their effects, but they have previously happened in US states with rabidly partisan election administrations. It is worth remembering that New Labour has forced through huge relaxations in the rules for obtaining postal votes, despite the widespread electoral fraud which Labour supporters (predominantly but not exclusively) have practised in Birmingham and many other places, and this despite being warned by the Electoral Commission and the relevant Westminster committees of just such an outcome. Over-ready availability of postal votes also breaches our human right to a guaranteed secret ballot, nor is there any guarantee that one's vote will make it to the polling station through the postal system, where unscrupulous elements could intercept votes from certain postboxes or towns. Steaming envelopes open to inspect their contents is possible, especially when, as happened in Scotland, the huge numbers of people who applied for postal votes found that the ballot forms wouldn't easily fit into the envelopes supplied.
Designed to fail? Hard to say, and this also applies to the polling station in Edinburgh where because of strangely defective ballot boxes the officials were taking people's votes and stashing them in plastic bags behind their tables! One further example on the theme of low-tech ambiguity: When I went to vote in Craigie school in Perth my eye happened to light on a copy of the front page of the Sun with a graphic about how voting for indpendence is like putting one's head in a noose. When I complained that such material should be lying around quite visible, the man in charge apologised, leaving me to feel it was probably an accident. However Tricia Marwick, the winning SNP candidate in traditionally Labour Fife Central, has alleged this was happening at several polling stations in her constituency, and there is at least one report of the Noose graphic being pasted to a wall inside the polling station.
2) Confusing Voters
Another category of election theft happens through confusing voters so that their vote doesn't count, or is even given to the wrong candidates, e.g. the confusing butterfly ballot which saw Jews voting for Buchanan not Gore in one district of Florida. Here the Secretary of State for Scotland was repeatedly warned that combining two different elections (Scottish Parliamentary and Council) on the one day would be likely to cause confusion, the more so as it would involve three different electoral systems (FPTP, Additional Member top ups on a regional list - both using X's, and Single Transferable Vote for Councillors - using numbers). Although in the past the two sides of the Holyrood ballot had each had their own voting slip, on this occasion both sides were included on the one larger paper with the instruction: "You have two votes" at the top of the page and only smaller at the top of each column the words "Mark one X in this column".
Faced by a long shopping list of possible parties to vote for in the first column (regional list), many voters used up both X's before coming to the Constituency FPTP column. Others used numbers where they should have placed crosses and vice versa. Altogether between 4 and 5 percent of ballots were rejected, effectively disenfranchising 80-142,000 Scots and causing widespread anger, including the suspicion that different local standards may sometimes have obtained for accepting or rejecting doubtful papers. However it is unclear whether any party advantage will have accrued from this massive problem.
This does not mean that the problem is of no significance, nor indeed the problems with postal votes, nor the problem with the failure/'failure' of counting machinery in seven major counting centres, which had the immediate effect of leaving exhausted activists feeling disempowered and cheated of their late night hour of triumph. The possibility exists that the significance of these hassles may lie precisely as distractions from realising where the fundamental threat could be coming from.
3) High-tech Electronic swindling
Outside some black communities, the largest strand of the dynamic Voter Integrity movement in the US is the one which has focussed on the massive evidence of electronic vote-theft, whether by compromised voting machines, compromised counting machines or the transfer of count data via hackable protocols on the Internet. A vast amount of work has been done on each of these sub-categories, and increasingly the movement calls for hand-counted paper ballots
www.opednews.com/articles/genera_jgideon_061214_thirty_four_election.htm because it realises that electronic technology is inherently hard to audit, when much of the software is 'tested' using other 'software' and nobody knows which 'expert institutes' are honest and/or competent nor which further advances in E-swindling may be being dreamed up.
See also www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_rady_ana_070117_annotated_bibliograp.htm, which gives synopses of 15 expert reports.
As computer professionals well know, most financial theft isn't wee people pinching banknotes, it mostly happens by big insiders in big institutions, and uses high-tech means. Why should things be otherwise with E-election technology, which has been likened to a licence to print political money? In her book of the same name, www.blackboxvoting.org/book.html, Bev Harris of Black Box Voting has shown that the multi-billion $$ high-tech election industry in the States is full of interlinked companies with many close links to the ruling party, the CIA, the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, the mafia and/or fraudsters recruited out of prison.
Take, for example, VoteHere, which led the lobbying post 'hanging chads' for computerisation of the US election machinery, which sacked its test engineer for identifying 250 security problems www.whoscounting.net/TheCompanies.htm, and which was brought in to help run an e-pilot in Islington in 2001 society.guardian.co.uk/internet/story/0,,498781,00.html as the 'technical partner' of Electoral Reform Services, Ltd (which gives around a million a year to Electoral Reform Society). Harris reveals that Robert Gates, ex-head of the CIA and now Secretary of State for 'Defense', was on the board of directors of Votehere.
The Pentagon is known to pursue stealth technologies and full-spectrum technological dominance, including in space and cyberspace www.whoscounting.net/PentagCIandCyber.htm A huge amount of Pentagon and other research is done on a classified basis, with the fruits of this research often being passed out for loyal military-industrial crony companies and CIA-fronts to use first, thus giving them a huge edge on foreign competition and lagging-behind regulatory regimes. As for the CIA it has overthrown or destabilised scores of democratically elected governments www.whatreallyhappened.com/ARTICLE3/ Sometimes these moves have happened in dramatic memorable fashion, e.g. Allende under fire in the presidential palace. Other times US or Nato intervention has happened in a way which only a few noticed at the time, e.g. forcing the socialists out of government in Italy in June 1964, see D. Ganser, Nato's Secret Armies, pp 70 ff.
But just as the best economic fraudsters are the ones we never hear about, so the best coups and interventions are those which happen so stealthily that no one realises they/we have lost our freedom. This indeed is the key theme of an early Neo-con handbook, Coup d'Etat by Strauss pupil at Chicago and leading neo-con Edward Luttwak. The big lie and the noble lie and the secret move - all these avoid the embarrassment which occurs when the people get riled up and indignant and have to be fired on. Keep things cool. Confuse potentially suspicious outsiders with lesser sub-plots, just as a good stage magician uses his magic wand to divert attention from the main move being made. Not only do the corporate media stroke the little person's desire for a quiet life of denial with a steady diet of bread and circuses, when embarrassing controversies arise the media can be relied upon to prevent rational debate based on the presentation of evidence on and by either side or from many perspectives, but rather to close ranks by publicly humiliating 'conspiracy theorists' as 'fruitloops' suffering from a 'conspiracist mindset'.
Yet when abuses of trust really are - or may be - occurring, it is blanket denial not measured suspicion which merits psychological diagnosis. (Wilhelm Reich's The Mass Psychology of Fascism comes to mind; more recently feminist work on widespread denial when it is precisely the one in authority who is conducting the abuse; Daniele Ganser's Vital Lies - Simple Truths gives a compassionate Buddhist-influenced account of the tendency we all share to steer away from noticing things which could cause our anxiety levels to rise - we even pre-notice what we know we mustn't see! It is this tendency which has been relied upon by the people who stole the elections in Comal County Texas in 2002. Not only did the conspirators type in the same five figure number as the number of votes supposedly received by three Republicans, a statistical absurdity, but they felt so confident that they even chose neo-Nazi numbers, 18181 (Adolf Hitler=AH= first and eighth letter of the alphabet).
Nothing so brazen has occurred in Scotland in 2007. Yet even Scottish Stop the War (as also in England) finds it impossible to take on board the real implications of an equally brazen impossible phenomenon such as 911 (e.g. three buildings falling evenly through themselves at a speed either slightly faster than the speed of bodies falling from an equivalent height through mere air, or only slightly slower; and when steel framed buildings never fall due to fire but will burn red hot until burn out.)
Even those who skilfully parried Labour attacks on SNP spending promises by saying that "after Iraq none of us can believe a word New Labour tells us", seem implicitly to concede that such US-style electoral corruption couldn't happen here. But how can we be sure?
Although there are only a handful of 'attack vectors' in traditional elections (e.g. pre-stuffing ballot boxes if no one is there to check they are empty when sealed), the number of ways of stealing e-counting and e-voting are literally unknown. Basically none of us know for certain that there was or wasn't dirty business going on at the electronic cross roads. Nor can we be completely sure about all the companies running the pre-election polls - recall the recent spate of TV phone-in scandals.
In the US, concern has been expressed about the independence of polling companies, some of which may have been used to put out misleading opinion polls, thus rendering people less suspicious when 'late swings' see incumbents get back in, or almost get returned (2006, with Lieberman effectively a Republican, a tied Senate would have Cheney with the casting vote).
In Ohio in 2004 we now know that when the computers appeared to freeze, the results continued to be fed to Karl Rove by an electronic back door! www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/04/23/705/ . We also know that the 'random recount' had been prefixed to come up with a few counties where the machines worked accurately.
Probably there was nothing fishy going on when seven Scottish counts experienced similar hold-ups, resulting in the public being sent home for the "technicians and computer experts" being left to "fix the glitches" overnight. But is 'probably' now good enough? Can we really be as sure as we used to be able to be sure when we all hung around and watched the paper ballots being hand-counted in public?
Far from being a 'modern advanced' way of doing elections, E-counting was not just expensive: at around £9 million, of which more than £4m was spent on the machinery. Centralised E-counting often went slower than decentralised citizen-involving counts could have been conducted, even of multi-stage STV counts. And by its inherently non-transparent nature will do nothing to restore trust in the political process.
As a candidate I was assured that the software to be used had been "independently verified". Eventually I was told that software experts at Radboud University had verified it. When I checked them out I discovered that they "had been invited to tender" for the contract of testing the software for applying the rules in an STV count.
All fine and dandy, I dare say, but this gives no guarantee that additional software may not have controlled the registering of votes as the ballot papers passed through the DRS counting machines, software which, as in the US, may only be triggered when the real count starts (and may even be able to rub itself out subsequently).
I was also assured that the ballot images taken and stored in computers contained no voter ID. All very well, so long as those giving me these assurances are (a) honest (which I do not doubt) and (b) at an extremely high level of professional competence so that they would be able to detect nano-technological ID barcodes within the Area barcode or the Contest barcodes, should such stealth technology for citizen profiling have been invented. (The police declined to take some sample papers for analysis.)
On researching the E-count company I not only discover that Lord Kinnock (who as EU Commissioner once fired a whistleblower) has been taken on as a non-executive director on £19,000 a year, but I also learn that DRS has taken over a private San Diego based firm called Peladon Software, which had recently bought in some imaging software from Diebold, the company most closely associated with pro-Republican skulduggery in the public mind.
I will readily concede that I may be getting 'paranoid' so long as readers who find themselves scorning my 'conspiracy theories' admit that they too could not be sure that they would be able to tell whether the various software companies and researchers involved are all sufficiently independent, honest and expert to be able to offer cast-iron guarantees in this crucial aspect of hard-fought social life, the control of elections, which has been likened to conferring a license to print political money.
The paradox of voting in the traditional way is that through resolute mutual suspicion, we have evolved a system in which all can have confidence. By contrast, with electronic election machinery we are being asked to have trust where none can exist.
("Oh, but the paper ballots are securely stored, so they would never dare to try it on" it is said. Which in the minds of those conducting many of the counts, who have sole discretion on ordering a recount and may often have been impressed by DRS presentations and rehearsals, translates as "we don't ever need to check" ... ?)
Far from technology taking us forward, its introduction has been a huge set-back for Scottish democracy, whether or not anything dodgy has been tried on this occasion.
Readers who would like to join me in a Campaign for Hand-counted Paper Ballots are invited to get in touch on 01738 783677, or at 2b Darnhall Cres, Perth, PH2 0HH (not by e-mail).
Although there is no shortage of bright young suits swarming around the New Labour regime seeking to be given juicy contracts to run various e-pilots, the verdict of the computer professionals is that this technology is inherently non-transparent. lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/realityzone/UFNnewbook04election.mht
This is the ironic verdict of one self-employed computer expert at the height of his profession:
The programs that the voting vendors actually distribute - as opposed to
the software they may say they distribute - will continue to determine who
takes power after the votes are tallied.
To be fair, of course, although bug reports show voting software testing is mind-bogglingly lax, all any software testing process can do is find problems that testers know to look for and report honestly. There are countless billions of internal states within all but the simplest of programs. Both practically and theoretically, it is impossible through testing to determine that any computer system has no flaws - much less, to rule out the existence of secret backdoor functions to be triggered on a future date. (This is no science fiction; see htttp://www.bbvdocs.org/reports/BBVreportIIunredacted.pdf ).
Voting software is software distributed through use of software, vouched for by other software, that itself vouches for other software. Surely nothing can possibly go wrong with such a system.
In one classic paper Ken Thompson, the recipient of an award from the Association of Computing Machinery, Reflections on Trusting Trust, concluded:
"The moral is obvious. You can't trust code that you did not totally create yourself. (Especially code from companies that employ people like me.) No amount of source-level verification or scrutiny will protect you from using untrusted code. In demonstrating the possibility of this kind of attack, I picked on the C compiler. I could have picked on any program-handling program such as an assembler, a loader, or even hardware microcode. As the level of program gets lower, these bugs will be harder and harder to detect. A well installed microcode bug will be almost impossible to detect."
And Howard Strauss, Director of Advanced Computer Applications at Princeton University says:
"When it comes to computerized elections, there are no safeguards. It's not a door without locks; it's a house without doors."
Apart from the possibility of e-fraud, Bev Harris and others are known to be concerned about the possibility of vote-counting machinery being linked into national databases. In this connection it is interesting that, after the (entirely predictable) fiasco of postal voting in Birmingham and elsewhere, Tony Blair is known to have promoted ID cards as a solution to problems of his own making.
For this and many other reasons the introduction of electronic machinery in Scotland should be seen as part of an overall Statist coup against the people being carried out also in England and Wales, where more and more e-pilots are being introduced, and across the world (e.g. massive evidence of pro-corporate computer fraud in Mexico www.narconews.com/Issue42/article2010.html .
Activist pressure has recently led to some belated tightening of the line against e-technology in elections on behalf of the Electoral Reform Society, whose favoured option of STV is complex to count and hence the Society may well be thought to have a special responsibility to see that the introduction of its favoured system is not used as an excuse to foist corporate e-technology on us all. See www.electoral-reform.org.uk/downloads/Electronic%20voting%20POLICY.pdf where the ERS concludes that "the use of internet, text message and telephone voting seriously compromises the security of an election", but fails to come out against e-counting, nor does it apply its critique to use of internet, etc in 'private' elections, such as its cash-cow, ERServices Ltd, makes millions a year from running.
The coming weeks provides a unique window of opportunity for people in Scotland to declare our independence from the blue pill matrix 'reality' where if something (like global frame-ups, or computer-aided coups) isn't talked about in the posh papers and on the TV news reviews then it can't be happening. A time to recover our cultural traditions of wary scepticism. It's time - as they say - to take the red pill and to declare not that we know that one party definitely was cheated from a more comprehensive victory on May 3rd, but that we can't know that that didn't happen and that moreover we are entitled to a country in which we can be sure that any such electoral swindling does not and cannot ever happen.
Alex Salmond must be supported and held to his pledge of a full Independent Inquiry into the election, not just one conducted internally by the Electoral Commission, a government appointed 'independent' quango which in Scotland has prominent ex-Cosla ex-Scottish Labour figures on board, and which in the UK has consistently worked to implement the broad e-tech friendly thrust of the New Labour project. All of us who are awakening to a world outside the Anglo-American bubble must unite to insist that the terms of reference of the Inquiry must include looking into not just postal votes and the designs of the ballot papers, but the whole question of electronic counting machines and not just their 'glitches' and 'delays', or cost and so on.
Member of ERS (personal capacity)
keith.mothersson (at) phonecoop.coop
This draft: May 10th, 2007
Recommended books include
Black Box Voting by Bev Harris (available in e-version);
Mark Crispin Miller's Fooled Again - How the Right Stole the 2004 Elections;
Hacked! High Tech Election Theft in America - 11 Experts Expose the Truth, edited by Abbe Waldman Deloit and Vickie Karp;
Was the 2004 Election Stolen? by Steven Freeman and Joel Bleifuss.
I can send a dvd with two quite recent documentaries on it - Invisible Ballots (30 minutes) and Votergate (55 minutes and longer version too) which have come out of the Voting Integrity movement in the US.
Please send £2 (or $5) cheque to K Forrester-Paton, 2b Darnhall Cres, Perth PH2 0HH and an SAE and allow time for copying, despatch etc. Thank you.
Many thanks to comrades in the US, including Joan Brunwasser, Voting Integrity editor of OpEdNews, and Sandy and Russ Johnson who send out SaveDemocracy mailings:
savedemocracy-subscribe (at) yahoogroups.com;
Also to John Hemmings, now a LibDem MP, then a Birmingham Councillor, who started www.stolenvotes.org.uk/ - see his judicial and political challenge to Labour's postal voting scam.
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