The election hack that may be as big as Russia's hack Email Print

This post is not to diminish in the least the serious allegations from European and US intelligence sources, that Russia (1) hacked and publicized internal documents of Donald Trump's election opponent, that (2) Trump's campaign associates may have been communicating with Russian operators throughout the election season, and that a FISA warrant may have been issued to track these communications --  as covered here (Election Eve. report), here, and more recently here. A British ex-MP (Member of Parliament), turned journalist, reported this early November.

In fact, a FOIA suit filed on the last business day of December seeks to unearth these communications, and the US intelligence investigation of them.  It looks like Trump is slamming (or threatening) our spy services, in the hopes that all of it stays under wraps.

We can acknowledge the threats to the legitimacy of the election, the 1-acre – 1-vote nature of the electoral college, along with the impact of what may have been coordinated foreign interference — but there are other factors too.

On commemorating MLK Day, it's important to see something else was at play also. A fallacious, scurrilous "crosscheck" list of voters' names across states, dubbed "Interstate Crosscheck", flagged "suspected double voters" across state lines, by sending participating states the names of voters that were only partial matches.  Screen shot of some of the matches is shown directly below.  A much larger, clearer image of the name matches can be seen here at the reporter's website (gregpalast.com). Note Greg Palast uncovered Crosscheck in a research project published by Al Jazeera America, which is no longer operating.  The reporting is republished here [November 2014], and at his own website.  It's clear to see, especially in the larger image, that these "Case #s" of 2 names are generally not of the same person. These are persons with common last and first names.


More than 2 dozen states participate in the "Interstate Crosscheck" program, run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach -- including Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio.

Although the program claims to possess information on voters by entire full name, SSN and birth year and date, it is obvious just scanning the partial case lists that reporter Greg Palast reviewed, that all the matching info is not used.

A partial match will allege fraudulent potential double voters of distinct people. The list is obviously so flawed that Florida eventually opted out of Interstate Crosscheck. Oregon stopped participating as well because the "data we received was unreliable", according to the SoS office.

Of course, not every person on the list sent to state and county elections offices gets purged from registration lists. It depends how well the state researches the list, and pares it down.

However, the problem with sloppy, partial match lists alleging fraudulent voter registration is it catches up innocent people, and not randomly. Statistically, the most common names are not distributed randomly across ethnic groups.


The three states' lists analyzed by Al Jazeera America are heavily weighted with names such as Jackson, Garcia, Patel and Kim -- names common among African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, groups who typically vote Democratic.

1 in 7 African-Americans in those 27 states are listed as under suspicion of having voted twice, 1 in 8 Asian-Americans and 1 in 8 Hispanic voters. For white voters, the number is 1 in 11.


Consider 2014, one state: "In North Carolina, where Republican Thom Tillis won over incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan by just 48,511 votes, the voter purging system known as Crosscheck tagged an alarming 589,393 North Carolinians as possible illegal double voters (though state elections officials cut that down to roughly 190,000), according to Al Jazeera America."

Realize that once someone is on a suspect purge list maintained by the SoS or county elections board, when they show up to vote, they may be forced to vote by Provisional Ballot.

Provisional ballots are not counted on Election Day, and are not resolved until further investigation satisfies elections officials.

I haven't found it easy to find the count of provisional ballots in states like PA and Michigan, to see how many would be voters were diverted, and how many such ballots were eventually discarded or counted.

Kris Kobach does not strike me as a good-faith custodian of voter lists.  See post "Dead man voting -- and raking leaves".  Kobach sees zombie voters.

People like John Lewis, and other fighters for voter rights never, ever fought for the right to vote twice. He marched, bled, and organized simply for the right to vote once, and proudly, as all of us want to.

Every person who is entitled to vote should be able to cast their vote, and not be diverted to a provisional purge-list used to shave the vote counts.


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Update --  I want to add, that the conservative judge who authored the original opinion permitting Voter ID, in Marion County, Indiana (Pence's home state) had buyer's remorse about that opinion years later. Republican judge Richard Posner later wrote, in a 2014 opinion tilting against Wisconsin's law, that photo ID restrictions to combat the specter of fraud are  "a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government . . . ."  Remember this was the original author of the opinion underpinning photo ID restrictions, and his original affirmed by the Supreme Court. 

About the numbers of provisional ballots: I came across a study of ballots in the previous presidential election in 2012 showing, not surprisingly, much higher use of provisional ballots in counties with predominantly minority voters.


Of the more than 2.7 million provisional ballots that were cast in 2012, more than 30 percent were not fully counted or rejected all together. Moreover, according to this first-of-its-kind analysis, in 16 states, the use of provisional ballots is more frequent in counties with higher percentages of minority voters.

Beyond their propensity to not be counted, provisional ballots may serve as a proxy for breakdowns in the election process ...


Details here (pdf). The disparity for minority voters was found for counties of 16 states. See pages for N. Carolina (p. 24), Ohio (p. 25), and Pa (p. 27). The document is titled "Uncounted Votes", published Oct. 2014. Note also, a database alternative to Interstate Crosscheck, known as ERIC -- Electronic Registration Information Center -- launched by Pew Charitable Trusts, is known to have far more accurate data than does Crosscheck, by containing fuller identifying detail and not sending partial match data. Kobach likes to promotes his database to states by supplying it for free, no charge.

Last, note that even as interference with the right to vote is critical, we cannot overlook also that the PEOTUS, soon to be inaugurated, is trying to intimidate and threaten the very intelligence community that has opened an investigation of coordination between Russia and associates of his campaign, in the midst of an election.


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