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Computerized Election Results With No Election 433

Posted by kdawson
from the why-bother-with-mere-tampering dept.
_Sharp'r_ writes "In Honduras, according to breaking Catalan newspaper reports (translations available, USA Today mention), authorities have seized 45 computers containing certified election results for a constitutional election that never happened. The election had been scheduled for June 28, but on that day the president, Manuel Zelaya, was ousted. The 'certified' and detailed electronic records of the non-existent election show Zelaya's side having won overwhelmingly."
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Computerized Election Results With No Election

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  • Oh noes, electronic records can be faked by people who have physical access to the machines. Didn't see THAT one coming.

    • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @02:35PM (#28749007) Homepage Journal

      Nobody's saying electronic records can't be faked through physical access to the machines. You're the only one who seems surprised at that, in order to deny it should be surprising. Which is a straw man argument.

      This story is important because it crossed the line from possible, to (evidently) actual. Which has consequences. Not the expected consequences of helping keep a president in power, but (even more notably) in helping to keep one ousted by a coup this past week out of power, boosting arguments of his corruption.

      Next you'll be sarcastically moaning "oh, noes, presidents are corrupt". FYI: Yes, and when they are, the people need to be outraged about it, and get rid of them.

      • by oldhack (1037484)
        Oh well, the junta did it for the people already. Their junta's customer focus is likely well-suited for competitive 21st century global coup market.
        • by Martin Blank (154261) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @03:29PM (#28749359) Journal

          This was different from what one normally thinks of as a junta. I don't know if the Honduran constitution has a mechanism to remove a sitting president from office, but it was pretty clear that he was absolutely on his own. His own party told him to back off, and that they didn't support the referendum. As was reported by the media, the legislature had passed a law banning referenda within the 180 days prior to an election. The Supreme Court ruled the pending referendum illegal, and issued an injunction preventing the military from making preparations for it. The military was clearly ready to comply with the Supreme Court, but Zelaya was pushing ahead with the referendum anyway, and fired the head of the military. This action was reversed by the Supreme Court the next day. The attorney general issued an arrest warrant for Zelaya, and the day after, the Supreme Court ordered Zelaya's arrest; whether or not that is constitutional, I don't know. Wikipedia's article on the matter suggests that by even trying to hold the referendum, the constitution required that he was to be removed from office.

          Presumably, much of this could have been handled better, particularly the removal of Zelaya from the country. But Zelaya seemed to be intent on doing things in a way that is at best gray; that the original ballots were taken possession of by Zelaya and his backers, and would be issued and counted by the same, shows that he had no intentions of having a fair election. If these election computers can be absolutely tied to him, it will at least complicate negotiations for his return.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by mrmeval (662166)

            You're thinking rationally and spewing facts again. He's the poster child of socialists and as such this is just a plot by conservatives in the US to overthrow the rightful ruler of a south american country.

            I think I poked a hole in my cheek with that one.

          • by Brickwall (985910) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @05:32PM (#28750383)
            I don't know if the Honduran constitution has a mechanism to remove a sitting president from office

            They don't. See "hondurascrisis.org" for details from a Honduran.

            Wikipedia's article on the matter suggests that by even trying to hold the referendum, the constitution required that he was to be removed from office.

            Again, according to the link above, the constitution does say that trying to change the length of the President's term (currently 4 years) is treason. Zelaya was trying to change the rules to allow for his re-election. So, technically, he was committing treason.

            Now, for all those who call this a "coup", ask yourself what the Honduran authorities were supposed to do? You had a President committing treason, repeatedly ignoring the orders of the Supreme Court, and attempting to use the military to hold an illegal referendum. You don't have an impeachment process. Do you:

            1: Put him in jail in Honduras? Possible, but then he's in a place where his supporters know where he is, which could lead to a mass assault in an attempt to free him. If that happens, hundreds of people could die, and incite a civil war.

            2: Execute him. Obviously, a non-starter. It creates a martyr, and again the chance of civil war.

            3: Exile him. Clearly the wisest choice. Get him out of the country, and away from his supporters, try to let the situation cool down, and get the facts out. The fact that CNN, the BBC, etc. are staunchly suppressing these facts, and dressing this up as a military coup says more about their agenda than it does their believability as objective news organizations.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Jeremy Erwin (2054)

              When claims of "treason" interfere with liberty, treason should be redefined more narrowly.

              • by Brickwall (985910) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @06:35PM (#28750807)
                This isn't a case of "liberty"; this is a case of an elected official subject to term limits who was trying to subvert the constitution so he could extend his term, and although not proven, given his close friendship with Chavez, then declare himself "President for Life". I'm sure the originators of the document didn't include the provision that trying to change term limits for the President was treason on a whim.

                Far better, I agree, that Honduras amend their constitution to include an impeachment process. But seriously, isn't "high crimes and misdemeanours" pretty wide in itself?

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by phantomfive (622387)
                  Honestly, I don't think the US constitution has an impeachment process clearly laid out either. What if a US president is impeached, but refuses to leave office?What is the process? Our situation would be similar.
                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by vux984 (928602)

                    What if a US president is impeached, but refuses to leave office?

                    "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High crimes and misdemeanors."

                    Clearly he or she "Shall be removed from Office".

                    Of course, it doesn't really say:

                    a) Removed from office by whom EXACTLY?
                    b) What if they refuse to leave?
                    c) What if they have support from the group named in part a) above?

                    Its scary how rapidly you

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Paua Fritter (448250)

              Exile him. Clearly the wisest choice.

              Ha ha, except exiling Hondurans is expressly forbidden in their constitution. That in itself says volumes about the golpista's concern for the constitution.

          • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @06:03PM (#28750611) Journal

            A recent article in Slate [slate.com] claimed that Honduras lacked a means of removing the President peacefully.

            In virtually every other country in the world, Zelaya would have been removed from office. But, peculiarly, the Honduran Constitution does not include an impeachment procedureâ"Congress is entitled to name a new president only in the absence of the current one. So, rather than bringing Zelaya before a judge to be tried for his criminal misbehavior, the army rousted him out of bed and flew him off to Costa Rica in his pajamas. The legislature then voted to replace him with Roberto Micheletti, the head of Congress, who was next in the line of succession.

            • Not really true. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:24AM (#28753153) Journal

              ... peculiarly, the Honduran Constitution does not include an impeachment procedure

              But it does specify that anyone who advocates or takes steps to modify the portion of the constitution immediately loses any government office he holds and is banned from holding a government office for ten years.

              This is what Zelaya did. The head of his party called for his ouster and the Supreme Court ruled that he was in violation of this section and no longer the President.

              Even if the steps weren't explicitly laid out in advance this sounds like a constitutional impeachment procedure to me.

          • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday July 20, 2009 @01:02AM (#28753067) Journal
            Here is a link to the Constitution. [honduras.net] It is extremely ant-dictator, and pro-democracy. Since there doesn't seem to be a translation in English on the internet, I will translate some relevant parts:

            Chapter 1 article 2: The sovereignty belongs to the people, from whom emanates all the powers of the state, which are exercised by representation.
            Supplanting the popular sovereignty and usurping the constituted powers are considered betrayal of the homeland. The responsibility in that case is imprescriptible [ed. love that prose] and can be alleged by an officer or a petition of any citizen.

            Chapter 1 article 3: No one has a duty of obedience to an usurperous government nor to those who take office or public employment by armed force o using means or proceedings that break or ignore what the constitution and laws set forth. The actions performed by such authorities are void. The people has the right to resort to insurrection in defense of the constitutional order.

            Chapter 1 article 4: The alternation* in the exercise of the president of the republic is mandatory. Infracting this rule constitutes the crime of betraying the homeland.

            Chapter 6 article 239: Any citizen who has served in the office of the Executive Power shall not be President or Vice President.
            Whosoever breaks this law or proposes its reform, along with those who support him directly or indirectly, shall immediately cease the service of their respective offices, and for ten years shall remain unable to hold any public office.

            Chapter 6 article 240: The following cannot be elected president of the republic: Vice presidents, Secretaries and subsecretaries of state, Members of the national election tribunal, judges and magistrates of the judicial power, ......leaders of the armed forces.....the spouse of the military chiefs......the familia of anyone who might have become president or vice president in the previous election (including second and third cousins).


            So the supreme court seems to have acted correctly in removing him from the country. In fact, they gave Zelaya a second chance by initially prohibiting him from trying to hold the election. It seems they would have been in good legal standing already at that point to remove him.
          • by Burz (138833) on Monday July 20, 2009 @05:34AM (#28754129) Journal

            I don't know if the Honduran constitution has a mechanism to remove a sitting president from office, but it was pretty clear that he was absolutely on his own.

            "On his own" except for a large backing from the populace.

            I don't know if their constitution has an impeachment mechanism either, but I do know that any body of law that puts itself beyond even a supermajority vote is an anti-democratic tyranny.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by notque (636838)

            It wasn't a referenda. It was an opinion poll.

            Also, if you want to discuss breaking the constitution, the coup leaders have broken the constitution several times since the coup.

            No freedom of speech. Killing protesters. Beating people against the coup.

            It is really sick to hear an opinion poll being used to justify a military coup. Completely disgusting.

        • by goombah99 (560566) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @05:43PM (#28750437)

          One should of course take such breaking news reports with a grain of salt till confirmed, one could imagine this being some sort of misinterpretation of the observations (e.g. maybe those were early voting ballots??), Moreover this is hondouras.....as I'm sure other posters will talk about.

          IN any case assuming the report is correct, it's critical contextual significance is thus:

          One of the big strawmen often raised by folks in favor of electronic voting is that there is this supposed panacea called "parallel testing" that is touted as being an invincible process of detecting rigged machines. The idea is that at random a machine will be chosen before the elections begin and pulled out of service, then the election workers will cast pretend votes on it all day long. then it's output checked for accuracy. This is called "parallel" testing because it's done in a time period parallel to a real election, supposedly to "fool" any date dependent software. It's not an awful idea and would indeed detect some kinds of naive electronic fraud. But the idea that this is remotely a solution is even more naive.

          Moreover, said proponents don't actually ever do this--- it's just a thought experiment. The real reason for that strawman argument is not that people would actually would do it, it's that since you could in principle do it, this keeps that bad guys at bay. Ha Ha Ha.

          So it's such a terrible irony then that the very first time in history that, effectively a different kind of parallel test did occur, that yep massive machine rigging is found!

          the parallel test in this case is: call an election. cancel it unexpectedly at the last possible second and impound the machines, test them for rigging.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        This story is important because it crossed the line from possible, to (evidently) actual.

        We knew it was possible, nay probable, from the day these machines were first used. It's like me pointing to a dark cloud coming and saying "Gee, looks like it's going to rain." Why is it suddenly news when I finally get wet?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sun (104778)
          This story is important because it gives me, as a citizen of a country that has not switch to electronic voting on the one hand, and which has somewhat non-corrupt politicians (it has its own share of corrupt ones, mind you), a tool to show the well meaning ignorant politician the difference between "can" and "will". This may well prove to be the key to making sure electronic voting does not enter here (and if it does, that it would happen properly). Shachar
        • Why is it suddenly news when I finally get wet?

          As you point out, we always knew it was going to happen, sooner or later. Now, it's finally happened. (Unless, of course, the evidence was faked to drive a stake through the heart of any movement to bring Zelaya back as president.) The other shoe has dropped. I'm very interested in watching how Honduras handles this, and how, if at all, they prove that Zelaya really intended to stuff the (virtual) ballot box.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Paua Fritter (448250)

        This story has certainly crossed the line from possible to being actual ... an actual story that is. In terms of credibility, though, it's about as likely to be real as the "resignation letter" allegedly from Zelaya which the Honduran congress voted to accept, despite it having a strange signature, and being dated a few days previously, at a time when Zelaya was publicly leading a mass delegation to a military base to regain control of voting papers for his consultative poll.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @02:36PM (#28749013)

    I can see why the powers that be like the efficiency of a modern electronic voting system.

    Clearly we humans don't have to do anything at all. The machines can read our minds and we get 100% voter turnout with guaranteed accurate results ;-)

  • and the industry shills who have sold their conscience:

    you can screw with paper ballots. but a lot less easily and a lot less slower and with a lot more effort and a lot easier to trace than the effort required to mess with electronic voting

    simply for the sake of the integrity of democracy, electronic voting should NEVER happen, in ANY country

    do you really need any convincing about what can happen to a country if a vote is put in doubt considering recent events?

    not that iran used electronic voting, but imagine how much LESS forensic evidence there would be if iran ever lets anyone independently monitor the results

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Daimanta (1140543)

      "you can screw with paper ballots. but a lot less easily and a lot less slower and with a lot more effort and a lot easier to trace than the effort required to mess with electronic voting"

      I have actually counted ballots and tampering with them is not at all hard. The fact is that I live in a country that wouldn't stand for this. If there was a government behind it though, fraud is quite easy.

      • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @03:50PM (#28749525) Journal

        I have actually counted ballots and tampering with them is not at all hard. The fact is that I live in a country that wouldn't stand for this. If there was a government behind it though, fraud is quite easy.

        No.

        First of all: how many ballots could you have tampered with anyway? What if you had 20 friends helping in other polling stations? Enough to sway the outcome? I find that very hard to believe.
        And if there is large-scale tampering going on by government agents, how likely is it that they are caught out by representatives from other political parties manning the polling stations? Especially if someone suspects tampering and demands a recount.

        Our country wouldn't stand for tampering with ballots. But it certainly shouldn't stand for any ballot count done by one institution, without any oversight. And that is effectively what you have with computerised voting. Any half-wit can visually observe paper voting and certify that nothing untoward is going on. But with computer voting, even experts might be hard-pressed that no nefarious bit of code slipped past the overseers.

  • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @02:55PM (#28749137) Journal
    Once they have been granted suffrage and not before.
  • ...could it have been "Dieobld" by any chance?
  • by thesolo (131008) * <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Sunday July 19, 2009 @03:04PM (#28749185) Homepage
    That link to Babula Blog...really, we couldn't find a non-partisan site talking about this event? Instead, we have to read this kind of crap:

    The results of this fraudulent vote was tilted heavily in Zelaya's favor, ensuring he could go ahead and illegally change the constitution so he could remain in power for as long as he wanted to. ACORN, I'm sure, is taking notes.

    It doesn't matter what Zelaya's politics were, if this is true then he clearly had no problem with electoral fraud. People on both sides of the political spectrum, from the extremists to the moderates, have shown time & time again that they will do whatever they can to stay in power. It is not limited to only the left or only the right, and making silly jabs at the "other" side like that is not only distasteful but juvenile as well.

  • ... would never plant such evidence to justify their coup, would they now?

  • You can use them to falsify election results, or justify why you ousted that president. Once you can't trust in what is stored in those computers, both alternatives are valid.
  • Having shot people suspended liberties, imposed curfews and deposed an elected president, they couldn't possibly be lying -- really they would lie? And why would someone want to rig an election that was announced as not having the force of anything but advice? It was a vote about a "recommendation." Not a referendum that has the force of law like California. Of course, making talking about changing the law illegal surely doesn't say anything about the level of democracy allowed by the elites. Sorry this s
  • by omb (759389) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @04:33PM (#28749927)
    This smoking gun says that the endless political correctnes that is the USA, today, managed to get a simple issue __wrong__ again, Manuel Zelaya was democratically elected but as with many other countries and leaders, he was in the middle of destroying his country's democracy when ousted. That the undemocratic shills at the UN would oppose was expected, see what they have done about Kaunda, but that the US and Europe would follow is amazing.

    What is needed is Congressional term limits in the USA, not their abolition in Honduras.

    Now that Chavez has got his way in Venezuela he will be a pain for generations just as Castro was. Every time

    This must be the makings of a world record for wrongheadedness and stupidity by both parties in the US, Iraq, Afganistan, Pakistan ... and now Honduras.

    There must be a very strong case for retiring entirely all staff at Foggy Bottom and Langly and starting again, Wild Bill anyone?, since they always pick the wrong side. Now we risk forcing the population of yet another mid-american country the delights of a corrupt socialist government paradise run by an idiot.
  • by GottliebPins (1113707) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @07:56PM (#28751291)
    to get Jimmy Carter to certify the results. Whether the election actually took place is irrelevant.

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