Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Was the election rigged in favor of Donald Trump using insecure Direct Recording Equipment (DRE) machines?

There is strong evidence to support a shift in the rural white vote in key states like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania [1].  This trend however is not reflected in other states where similar demographics and economic conditions exist (see Menemonie county in Wisconsin). An interesting question now is whether this shift the loyalty of white voters is enough to explain the distribution of electoral votes? This question is the focus of a very serious debate.

One idea that has gained ground among democratic and progressive opponents of Donald Trump is that the election was rigged and the shift in the white vote is insufficient to achieve electoral victory. A prime candidate for rigging is insecure electronic voting machines.  Specifically DRE equipment without a paper log is much more insecure than the paper ballot with optical scan.

We can easily see why such a claim could be made. We can get the actual voting data at a precinct level  from Dave Leip's site [2]. We can get the exact voting machines used in each country from the election data services website [3] or from Verifier [4] .

When one looks at these numbers one sees strange patterns like this. In three counties that flipped in Pennsylvania,  they used DRE machines ((iVotronic-no-RTAL for Erie and Luzerne and  AVC Advantage for Northhampton).  Similar trends are visible in Wisconsin - particularly among counties with small populations.

Now Nate Silver has recently tweeted that these correlations do not stand up to scrutiny in places like Michigan where there were only optical scan systems. I think this is valid.

Nate has also said that the correlation with insecure voting machines disappears when you correct for demographics. I think he is correct to state that the trend disappears but I don't think it supports what he thinks it does. The loss of trend is simply an indicator that counties with small populations with poor people in Wisconsin (who will be White and uneducated because Wisconsin is largely White) tend to have cheaper insecure voting machines. Since the Donald Trump campaign heavily courted this segment of the population, it is difficult to disentangle the effects of the massive shift in voting patterns of uneducated white voters and a pattern of electoral fraud.

I honestly don't know why Nate bothers getting mixed up in this kind of thing. It is not like he earns any cred with the Breitbart News guys - they are already saying that Hillary's massive lead (estimated at 2 Million more votes than Donald Trump) in the popular vote [5] - is a result of rigging.

A less reliable way of determining the likelihood of electoral fraud is the discrepancy between exit polls and actual votes cast. This is usually seen as a flag for rigged elections. This technique also has its flaws.

Amused as people are to see the whole "the Election/System is rigged" turn around and bite its creator in the rear (I get it Trump spent the whole year talking about how the election was going to be rigged and how the electoral college was bad but now his entire claim to being president relies on the very same institutions he vilified) - I think we should try to resolve this.

Perhaps one way to put the conspiracy about electoral fraud to rest is to publish all security logs from various servers involved in the electoral process. I am sure if there is no anomalous pattern there - there will be no reason to think the result was in any way doctored.


At 6:03 PM, Blogger Nanana said...

At 9:54 PM, Blogger Wise_Ass said...

"I honestly don't know why Nate bothers getting mixed up in this kind of thing. "

says it all.This kind of bullying and groupthink has led up to people electing Donald Trump for POTUS to #draintheswamp

"It is not like he earns any cred with the Breitbart News guys"

This is the "dont do what terrorists want" fallacy.(May be they want a bullet to the head and we should comply.)This is textbook group think and tribal thinking.Us and them when the ingroup should be "all Americans".

At 4:42 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Nanana,

I know the story at Alex Halderman's end. He has been clarifying things for the better part of the last two weeks. Security against electoral fraud is a serious issue. The key thing to look for is whether the computers used to program the machines were compromised in any way.

The problem here (that someone like Nate Silver might not be aware of) is that the machines were programmed around the time of the greatest DDOS attack in human history - the Dyn Event. Everyone is assuming that using Mirai to hack a cheap Chinese IoT system is something "script kiddies" can do - that is essentially correct, but someone much more sinister can hire a bot-net and use it for purposes that no script kiddie can imagine.

At 4:56 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Dear Wise_Ass,

I am not sure where you want to go with that but my only point was that Nate Silver should stick to clearly explaining statistical analysis that *he* does.

He should refrain from uninvited comments on what others do because it gets into a wilderness of mirrors. Others (Neo-Comintern- i.e. Breitbart and Company and Neo-CCF that opposes Neo-Comintern) are prone to politically manufacturing facts that suit their immediate purpose. There is little of value in either discussion from a scientific perspective. These groups have their agendas and there is no sense in getting caught up in that stuff.

The only question that I personally feel Nate should restrict himself to is the model itself that takes the data from polls and generates predictions. One needs to know how reliable that model is. I personally use a very similar model in my work and I am professionally curious to see what the problems with this approach are. What others see as a "failure" of the model is actually a potential source of deep insight to people like me.

Regarding #draintheswamp and #bringbackthejobs etc... yeah - good luck with that.

I watched one of the Trump surrogates celebrating on TV two days ago. Yay she said, the dollar is rising and the bond yields are going up!!

I guess most Trump supporters don't know that a stronger dollar == more outsourcing and a higher bond yields == increased expectations of inflation.

The world is already heading in a very different direction than what he promised his supporters.

If I was a Trump supporter right now - I would be paying a lot more attention to what his exact business dealings are. You can usually tell when something big is going down - that is when he escalates his various twitter wars. Perhaps the Donald Redditors can start a new hash tag - #wftishereallydoing or perhaps they can just go with #holyfuckibinhad.

My personal guess is that President Elect Donald Trump is going to short his own position.

At 7:48 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Ah vintage Trump - make a claim on the highly credible medium Twitter!

I still don't think he (or his supporters) understand how the altered reality they operate in works.

In the altered reality the vote is fraudulent because they say it is. Well that street goes both ways - if they allege it is rigged for Clinton - others can say it is rigged for Trump. In the altered reality - both views carry equal amounts of highly toxic weight.

What Trump supporters don't seem to get is that with Donald Trump as president elect - he can't afford an association with this kind of toxicity.

Any fool can use this toxicity to their advantage when they are on the attacking the powers that be. It is however much harder to defend against this kind of toxicity when when you are in power.

Normally a certain degree of toxicity would come with the territory but today given how much he personally has at stake (financially speaking) - and how much he has himself taken on (thanks to his "telling_it_like_it_is") - he can't handle the consequences of others telling it like it is.

If someone come up and says he is a paid employee of Russia - all they have to do is leak a fake tax return that supports that point of view. The same exact fake news sites will carry the information and spread it over the same exact alt-right channels. It doesn't matter if he dismisses it as a fake - he will have to release his original tax returns (in the exact same way that President Obama had to release his birth certificate) to prove that he is not a Russian agent.

John Stewart once referred to his as "a mountain of bullshit" - it is perhaps more correctly defined as a bullshit volcano and there is no way to cause it to spew selectively.

If Trump supporters can spread hateful lies about Hillary - then Trump's detractors (and there are way more of them than there are supporters) - can do the same to him.

This becomes a war of attrition and eventually (as Pakistan discovers so many times to its detriment) the numerically superior power wins.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger maverick said...

I wonder what will happen if Twitter blocks his account for violation of terms.


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