voting

Rigging the Vote Testimony

I think that voter fraud is a substantial problem in the United States.  At the same time, I think that we must be careful what we say about it, as we weaken our case by propagating information that turns out to be dubious or false.  This video came to my attention again recently, though I’d seen it years ago and done some reading about the events described.  In the video, a programmer named Clinton Curtis claims that he was hired by a politician (Tom Feeney) to rig touch-screen voting machines in Palm Beach County to fraudulently pick a predetermined winner in the 2000 election:

There are problems with this:

  • In the video’s beginning, he is about to testify that he participated in a felony — but is positively jaunty and cheerful as he approaches the podium, and when he sits down later it is with great apparent self-satisfaction. Almost a smirk.
  • The man is not exactly an uninterested observer: He was the accused Republican politician’s Democrat opponent, running against him for Congress in the state of Florida.
  • He had filed complaints previously against his employer (who fired him) and had written a book about the incident, and was interviewed by reporters during his suit against Yang (the programming firm) — but hadn’t mentioned the voter fraud issue at all during any of that.
  • Even other voter-fraud researchers, sympathetic to the cause, described his purported code as “trivial” and “not worth incorporating” into the machines.
  • And, of course, there’s the inconvenient bit of Palm Beach County not even having touch-screen voting machines until years later. This was the county of the infamous and confusing (and Democrat-designed) “butterfly ballot.”
  • He didn’t actually have any source code to any voting machine, reportedly. He simply whipped up some code in Visual Basic in a few hours to mess with some votes based on touch screen taps.

That last bit is amusing to me, as I have written a lot of software for touch-screen systems myself — though the applications were too demanding for Visual Basic.  An article in Wired was dubious about his claims:

“(Curtis) clearly didn’t have the source code to any voting machine, and his program is so trivial that it would be much easier to rewrite it than to rework it,” said Stubblefield. Stubblefield also found fault in Curtis’ statement that any malicious code would be detected in a source code review. This would be true only for unsophisticated malicious code, like Curtis’ prototype.

Despite Curtis’ concerns about statements Yang and Feeney supposedly made regarding election fraud, Curtis didn’t tell the FBI or election officials in West Palm Beach about them, even after the 2000 election thrust Florida into the international spotlight.

He said he didn’t worry about the code or Yang’s statements because he believed if anyone installed malicious code on a voting machine authorities would find it when they examined the code. It wasn’t until he read a news story last spring [four years later!-KdH] indicating that voting software is proprietary and is not open for inspection once it’s certified that the earlier conversations began to concern him. * * * And writer Laura Zuckerman who worked closely with Curtis on several stories for the Daytona paper, told Wired News he never mentioned the voting software code.

The article goes on to note that Curtis didn’t even realize that touch-screen systems weren’t used in the Palm Beach County election until the reporter told him, after he’d concocted this story. And it quotes his defenders as saying, in essence, that even if Curtis is lying the story is still useful to them.

Yes, Clint Curtis testified under oath.  But he did so to Democrats who are very sympathetic to his attacks on Republican Tom Feeney, and had little to fear of recriminations.  I tentatively believe that he concocted the false story, as an embittered former employee who saw an opportunity growing larger with each re-telling of the fables.

In the meantime, real voter fraud issues exist, with our own US Department of Justice protecting the ability of non-citizens and non-registered persons to vote.  And there are curious situations indeed, where Obama and Soros’ people came together to create a very strange multi-state program.

At the same time, a lot of the voter fraud stories come across as wild conspiracy theories … because they are. So investigation must be careful.

Incidentally, that infamous Florida 2000 vote is one that I had some minor personal involvement in. There was a software deal cut between the Florida state government and the software company that was to gather data (and later, process the voter roles).  I helped negotiate that deal, spending a couple of days traveling by private jet.

Much later, I was involved in an LJ debate about that election, where someone convinced of evil Republican fraud throws everything he has at me. You can see the rather extensive conversation, and a fair amount of supporting links, here.  The site is the blog of an aviation engineer for whom I have great respect. But the debate is with … someone else.  Due to the nature of comment threads, it seems a bit disjointed in retrospect … but it contains a fair amount of information about the 2000 Florida debacle, some of which is true.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle