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The Fraudbuster’s Manual

by Citizen's Group to Prevent Voting Fraud Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008 at 12:01 PM

Manipulation of voting machinery looms large over the upcoming election.

A discussion is provided, to be spread freely if you please, so that the eyes of We the People can guard our Liberty from any would-be oppressor. An emergency voting system to be established in case of Fraud is described.

It is long known that voting computers are insecure and may be altered to commit serious crimes against the very foundation of our rights and freedom by altering the results of elections.

A voting computer of the Dutch company Nedap was famously reprogrammed into a magnetic-chess board for example. The labels in no way need to correspond to the actual vote recorded. Votes can be deleted or moved between candidates by altering the machines' code; sometimes this is even deliberately made easy via "flash" firmware.

Since 2000, few U.S. elections have been free of reports of election fraud via voting computers, and many of these do not look like exaggerations or propaganda.

The Founding Fathers wrote in our Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Mark the following words:

"it is their duty".

Of course, it is necessary to "plausibly deny" rigging by producing results that raise no alarm. So each individual manipulation cannot comprise of too many votes. The total instances of any vote rigging cannot be too high either, as this increses the overall likelihood that someone, somewhere will notice. If voting is to be rigged, it is thus to be expected in particular conditions, such as:

* A precinct likely to give one candidate a majority but where uncertainty of outcome is high enough to make simply giving a candidate list with Obama and McCain swapped with respect to whom the corresponding buttons actually make you vote for. It may be a "firm"/"soft" manipulation (previously-inserted "cheating" program or chip) or a "hard" one (physical rewiring)

* Votes are manipulated after the polling is closed. This will require access to memory, but as the precinct's outcome can already be read off the memory, it is the least readily apparent manipulation and can happen in any precinct. It requires more obvious physical manipulation of the machine however, as this is likely to be under some form of guard from polling close to finish of vote count.

* Votes for a candidate may simply not be registered. This would also require previous access. Though cables may be physically cut, not logging any votes at all is conspicuous. Rather, the soft/firmware can be altered to not register every n-th vote.

* Alternatively, votes for one candidate may be added. This can be done by adding a pre-fixed amount, as participation in the vote will be low enough to suggest nothing unusual. It can happen in any precinct.

* See also for more, detailing the Man in the Middle attack that unconfirmed reports consider a predominant form of manipulation.

What can Voters do?

Voters wishing to combat election fraud should organize immediately, because much work is to be done. Most however consists of colletcing information.

It is crucial that the systems most often associated with fraud and their vulnerabilities are to be analyzed. Much work has already been done by the Electronic Frontiers Foundation ( and similar organizations. See also the comprehensive review here:

Systems of the Nedap, Diebold/Premier, Seqoia as well as at least one other major supplier are known to be open to attacks.

Some forms of fraud may require breakage of seals on the machine body. Others tamper with the keyboard to render it dysfunctional. Man-in-the-Middle attacks use an additional peice of hardware, a chip- or circuit board either bare and hidden from view or in an "officially"-looking case and possibly hidden in plain sight.

In a nutshell:

A voting computer whose keyboard that has loose or stuck keys is not fit for use. A voting computer whose seals are broken is not suitable for use. A voting computer to which nonstandard equipment is attached (it may be necessary to supervise the disassembly of the machine after ballots close) is very likely to have been tampered with. Unusual behavior of machines, such as failing to register votes properly, may also indicate fraud.

In any such situation, two issues are to be taken action upon ASAP:

I. Prevention of further use of suspect Voting computers.

This is more complicated, because it might involve potentially illegal acts (in the case where fraud is suspected and drastic action is taken, but the suspicion turns out to be false - in particular if reports about widespread fraud turn out to be unfounded after all.

Mobile phones with built-in (video) cameras are good surveillance equipment, in particular inside a voters' box. They have to be readied beforehands of course, and a steady hand is required as resolutions are often low. It is imperative that video reocrdings are as continuous as possible.

Video and photo evidence combined is the prime method of documenting suspected tampering of any kind, if more drastic action is eschewed. It is imperative that a date/location identification is part of a continuously-recorded video documenting at least some of the suspected instances of tampering or unusual behavior

Photographic evidence is suited for documenting suspect "add-on" equipment. They also ideally contain date/location information. The candidate sheet may provide such information; the daily paper can provide the date.

Before pyhsically disabling computers, it may be appropriate to voice a complaint and ask for the problem to be investigated and if the suspicion holds, for changing to pen-and-paper ballot instead before acting unilaterally. If voters are stonewalled, they are wise to inform other members of the electorate before they vote that tampering may be present, and give them as much information on the tampering process as they have. An official report such as by the EFF or scientific researchers on how the computers can be tampered with can come handy to show that concerns are warranted.

Suspect voting computers can be disabled by physically disabling the keyboard or what connecting cables there might be. In such cases, the computer's storage unit is to be considered a ballot box and to be treated as such until it can be passed to trustworthy individuals for reading the votes as have already been cast at disabling.

Any unequivocally fraudulent "add-on" equipment that is discovered must be removed, if need be by force, and immediately secured under supervision of guardians as per a makeshift ballot box, until it can be passed into more capable hands. If destruction of circuit boards is inevitable, recovery of offending components in an undamaged state is imperative. In such a case, it is also imperative that the seriel number of the machine or at least location information.

Material evidence of tampering - "add-on" circuit bords and the likes - are to be passed into the hands of representatives of EFF, ACLU, SPLC or similar citizens' rights advocacy organizations for evaluation. In cases where several machines are tampered with, the material evidence is not to be given to a single organization for evaluation. Before handover, photographic documentation is to be taken. When dealing with unidentifiable microelectronics, it may be necessary to remove fingerprints, body fluids and so on, as sweat etc may damage the delicate SMD components usually employed today, or etch away at circuits, damaging the evidence and rendering it useless.

Any digital data as documents suspected tampering is to be distributed to several individuals for safe keeping, until the issues of fraud are resolved.

Documents of particularly striking irregularities are to be uploaded to more than one large Internet video provider, such as Youtube or Google. Ideally, content is also put on-line at a video provider whose computers are physically located (google for the WHOIS command if you do not know how to determine this) in at least one democratic country roughly neutral (but not hostile) to the US, such as Mexico, India, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, and so on. Video descriptions need to contain location data.

Also, should allegations of voting fraud turn out to be widespread, setting up two or more sites with more extensive documentation and providing access to background information such as EFF technical reports etc is highly desirable. They are not to be hosted in the United States, nor in a country allied to them. Even China might be a good idea, though Russia is probably not as the local internet has become too rigidly supervised (Net control in the PRC is tighhter, but the Net itself is larger and more anarchic). but Western-style democracies with a clean rights record are to be preferred. The different sites are ideally simply mirrors of one another. Web space should be acquired as soon as it turns out that suspect activity has been reported at alarming proportions.

II. Provision of a secure voting system.

A standard pen and paper ballot system is still the most secure and simple one.

The pen is ideally a dark crayon. Light green and red hues may not stand out to the colorblind. Fancy crayons - multicolored or containing glitter -, are very good. Using an unforeseeable "esoteric" crayon, fraud other than by physically destroying ballots can be essentially ruled out. Extra water- and smudge-resitant crayons are strongly advocated.

The ballot box can be any sturdy container of suitable size, provided it is closed and sealed (with signatures of representatives over the tape or whatever is used for closing it), leaving only a small slit through which a ballot sheet, folded twice, can just be inserted. This needs to be covered by a book or heavy sheet except during the process of inserting a ballot sheet. The box must be put in an elevated location, ideally so that the top with the slit is at neck height of an average "Joe the Plumber". The slit must never be allowed to face towards a pollster; it (or its cover) must be in plain sight of the guardians at all times.

Ballot sheets can be prepared with a simple DTP program like OpenOffice. Sources like absentee/early-bird ballot FAQs and howtos may feature pattern models for sheets. If any official sheet layouts are present, they are to be copied as closely as possible. Sheets can be printed by laser printers (never use inkjet!), xeroxed, typed manually, painted by hand etc; as long as they match the original sheets and are water resistant, anything is allowed. Receipts

Voting must not take place in the open, but hidden from view just as it would be with computerized voting.

Makeshift ballot boxes are to be kept under constant guard of at least one card-carrying member of each large party, ideally well-known partymembers of good repute. *If any possible*, two representatives of minor parties from opposite ends of the political spectrum should also be present. This way, it is possible for a single guardian of the Votes to use the toilet or get foot or leave for some other purpose and fraud is still highly unlikely. In short, the bipartisan system allows for a mere 3 guardians to achieve a near-perfect vigil over the ballot. The Dutch are not that lucky; they need 5 at least to be present always.

At a makeshift ballot, boxes cannot be kept overnight. Counting of the votes must be done at least twice each by card-carrying Democrat and Republican representatives, ideally honest citizens in good stead. It is desirable to include a randomly picked member of the People as supervisor; at any rate while one party representative counts the other party's must watch them. The ballot numbers are noted down after each count. If numbers disagree, counts are to be repeated until they agree.

Once an uncontested count is being achieved, ballots are to be numbered consecutively using a water-resistant pen, ideally using the ballot sheet's backside. A coversheet is then to be attached over the counting sheet. The coversheet repeats the accepted vote count and is countersigned by at least the major parties' representatives. The whole block of sheets then gets a corner folded twice, the fold being held together with at least 2 staples. If any possible, the representatives and any additional members of the electorate as seen fit to guard the ballot pack will escort it to a facility where the coversheet can be xeroxed as many times as necessary to provide any member of the People with personal copies. These will safeguard against loss or tampering of the ballot pack.

The pack is to be turned over to the proper channels as soon as possible.

Receipts accumulated in the preparation of ballot sheets, light food and non-alcoholic drink to keep ballot guardians physically and mentally alert, and the likes, are not to be thrown away. They should kept in a safe place until the expenses can be refunded by the Treasury. For they ought to be fully redeemable if they do not exceed that which is necessary to guard our Liberty.

Organizational issues:

Providing the background research is being done, any Citizen's Group to Prevent Voting Fraud can be set up with a mere two meetings, and as late as November 3rd.

One meeting is required to familiarize activists with the source material, such as what machines are to be expected and how they can be tampered with. Theoretical tampering concerns are not to be neglected behind those that are known or suspected to have been employed in previous elections.

The second meeting, which may be as late as early on Election Day, is to organize the resources needed to interfere with any events of tampering as might occur. It also needs to set up logistics such as ready money and equipment to set up and smoothly run a makeshift ballot box (container, scissors, magic tape and/or glue, crayons and so on). Paranoid citizens may want to prepare an initial stack of (20-50) ballot sheets even before any suspicions of fraud are documented.

The above is just a guideline and not necessary complete. Depending on local conditions, more or less stingent measures may be necessary.

This document is published free of copyright. It is intended to be reproduced, expanded, and kept up to date as is deemed necessary.

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