Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘Voting’

Russians Hacked Into Election Software

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The ONLY FAILSAFE means to electronically count ballots is by using an Optical Scanning system. Votes can be counted manually, and Voter Intent can be determined by examining ballots. I write from experience as an Election Official in numerous elections. Can any electronic device be hacked? Yes. But physical ballots are the “backup” which can be examined to check against any suspicious machine, or software.

—//—

Russians Hacked Into Election Software, Databases In 39 States

The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they complained directly to Moscow over a modern-day “red phone.”

By Michael Riley and Jordan Robertson, Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON – Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.

In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.

The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step — complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day “red phone.” In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.

The new details, buttressed by a classified National Security Agency document recently disclosed by the Intercept, show the scope of alleged hacking that federal investigators are scrutinizing as they look into whether Trump campaign officials may have colluded in the efforts. But they also paint a worrisome picture for future elections: The newest portrayal of potentially deep vulnerabilities in the U.S.’s patchwork of voting technologies comes less than a week after former FBI Director James Comey warned Congress that Moscow isn’t done meddling.

“They’re coming after America. They will be back.”

– Former FBI Director James Comey testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington declined to comment on the agency’s probe.

Russian officials have publicly denied any role in cyberattacks connected to the U.S. elections, including a massive “spear phishing” effort that compromised Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, among hundreds of other groups. President Vladimir Putin said in recent comments to reporters that criminals inside the country could have been involved without having been sanctioned by the Russian government.

One of the mysteries about the 2016 presidential election is why Russian intelligence, after gaining access to state and local systems, didn’t try to disrupt the vote. One possibility is that the American warning was effective. Another former senior U.S. official, who asked for anonymity to discuss the classified U.S. probe into pre-election hacking, said a more likely explanation is that several months of hacking failed to give the attackers the access they needed to master America’s disparate voting systems spread across more than 7,000 local jurisdictions.

Such operations need not change votes to be effective. In fact, the Obama administration believed that the Russians were possibly preparing to delete voter registration information or slow vote tallying in order to undermine confidence in the election. That effort went far beyond the carefully timed release of private communications by individuals and parties.

One former senior U.S. official expressed concern that the Russians now have three years to build on their knowledge of U.S. voting systems before the next presidential election, and there is every reason to believe they will use what they have learned in future attacks.

As the first test of a communication system designed to de-escalate cyber conflict between the two countries, the cyber “red phone” — not a phone, in fact, but a secure messaging channel for sending urgent messages and documents — didn’t quite work as the White House had hoped. NBC News first reported that use of the red phone by the White House last December.

The White House provided evidence gathered on Russia’s hacking efforts and reasons why the U.S. considered it dangerously aggressive. Russia responded by asking for more information and providing assurances that it would look into the matter even as the hacking continued, according to the two people familiar with the response.

“Last year, as we detected intrusions into websites managed by election officials around the country, the administration worked relentlessly to protect our election infrastructure,” said Eric Schultz, a spokesman for former President Barack Obama. “Given that our election systems are so decentralized, that effort meant working with Democratic and Republican election administrators from all across the country to bolster their cyber defenses.”

Illinois, which was among the states that gave the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security almost full access to investigate its systems, provides a window into the hackers’ successes and failures.

In early July 2016, a contractor who works two or three days a week at the state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network, according to Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois board of elections. The hackers had gained access to Read the rest of this entry »

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American Poverty: Where is it, and what does it look like? Is it even what we think it is?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, May 12, 2017

You’ve likely seen a meme floating around referencing how America’s Most Poverty Stricken counties voted Republican.

Yes?

I decided to research the matter to see:
1.) If it was true, and;
2.) Exactly what else I’d find.

While my analysis isn’t fully complete, there are already some early fascinating findings.

Breaking down Poverty into two categories – Per Capita Income (PCI) and Median Household Income (MHI) – has shown “the usual suspects,” but exposed some not-so-usual ones, as well.

For example, we often hear that West Virginia is a very High Poverty state, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Data from the United States Census Bureau (USCB) backs up those claims… yet only to a limited extent.

But, “pockets” of poverty may exist in an otherwise not-so-poor state (and they do), and a state may have a high number of Read the rest of this entry »

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Voting Participation Rates: A Steady Decline… Or Not?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, March 26, 2017

As of today – Sunday, March 26, 2017 –  we are less than 100 days into President Donald Trump’s term in office, and his approval ratings – so far, a low of 37% –  are practically subterranean. According to Gallup, his highest approval rating thus far has been 46%, which was a three-day average shortly after he was inaugurated, from January 23-25, 2017. An average of all presidents from 1938-2017 at this point in their presidency (first year, first term) is 53%. Two-term Republican Dwight David Eisenhower (previously former Supreme Allied Commander during WWII) was the highest with a 74% approval rating in March 1953. Oft-maligned Democrat President Jimmy Carter had a 72% approval rating March 1977, and JFK had 73% in March 1961. A reminder that JFK was later assassinated November 22, 1963. More recently however, Barack Obama had a 62% approval rating March 2009.

A reminder also that the 2018 Election (aka “Midterm”) is arriving quickly, and for many, it will be one of THE MOST SIGNIFICANT elections in a lifetime, because ALL 435 seats in the House of Representatives and Read the rest of this entry »

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Answering @chrkirk: Electoral College’s Voting Problems Violates Equal Protection Clause

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, December 19, 2016

New York Times Op-Chart: How Much Is Your Vote Worth? This map shows each state re-sized in proportion to the relative influence of the individual voters who live there. The numbers indicate the total delegates to the Electoral College from each state, and how many eligible voters a single delegate from each state represents. Source: The United States Election Project at George Mason University.

How Much Is Your Vote Worth?
From: New York Times Op-Chart November 2, 2008
This map shows each state re-sized in proportion to the relative influence of the individual voters who live there. The numbers indicate the total delegates to the Electoral College from each state, and how many eligible voters a single delegate from each state represents.
Source: The United States Election Project at George Mason University.

Having read the article How Powerful Is Your Vote? by Chris Kirk several times, I still disagree with it. The article’s premise is that by using the Electoral College (EC) system, the votes cast in less populated states are somehow “more powerful” than those in more populated states. To posit such an assertion is to demonstrate a wholesale lack of understanding of the system. That is not to say the EC system is perfect, nor that changes to it are not needed; rather, it only acknowledges the author’s fundamentally deep misunderstanding of the manner in which the system is established, and a virtually wholesale ignorance of the Constitution.

Apparently, as evidenced by the graphic seen herein, others are similarly misguided. However, one would expect more from George Mason University. Much more, in fact. However, to understand – as I mention later – the bias is strictly and exclusively from including 2 Senators in the number of Electors. Dr. Mark Newman, PhD, who is the Anatol Rapoport Distinguished University Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan correctly writes that “The electors are apportioned among the states roughly according to population, as measured by the census, but with a small but deliberate bias in favor of less populous states.

According to the Constitution in Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 & 3, Electoral Votes in each state are equal to Read the rest of this entry »

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How TRUE is “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command”? You’d be surprised… or, maybe not.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, November 3, 2016

Remember how ANGRY some folks got when Michael Weisskopf (b.1946) of the Washington Post wrote on February 1, 1993 (link to original article with the WaPo’s editorial addendum) that the simple-minded evangelical groupies of Jerry Falwell (who himself died in 2007), Pat Robertson (b.1930), et al, that:
The gospel lobby evolved with the explosion of satellite and cable television, hitting its national political peak in the presidential election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

“Unlike other powerful interests, it does not lavish campaign funds on candidates for Congress nor does it entertain them. The strength of fundamentalist leaders lies in their flocks. Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.

“”The thing that makes them powerful is they’re mobilizable,” said Seymour Martin Lipset (d.2006), professor of public policy at George Mason University. “You can activate them to vote, and that’s particularly important in congressional primaries where the turnout is usually low.”

“Some studies put the number of evangelical Americans as high as 40 million, with the vast majority considered politically conservative.”

[ed. note: The excerpt, which has frequently been distilled to “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command,” is provided here in full proper context with leading and following sentences, not merely excerpted, in order to thoroughly show proper context.]

It’s true.

Folks don’t get mad because of falsehoods.

They get mad because of truth.

It’s true.

According to the United States Census Bureau (USCB), in 2015 (22 years AFTER that was written), 32.5% of the American public aged 25, or older, have a Bachelor’s Degree (Table 1.), which is CLEARLY a minority. Thus, we see automatically the “largely” part of “uneducated.”

The USCB has also performed research on income, which is similarly delineated and categorized by education. For the year 2011 (18 years AFTER the remarks were made), and those aged 25+ with at least a Bachelor’s Degree, the average income was Read the rest of this entry »

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Vote Fraud Explained, and Prevention

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 2, 2016

I write the following as an experienced election official, having participated in various levels and capacities of electioneering, as poll watcher, at polling locations, re-counting ballots in close and contended elections, and counting absentee ballots.

Voter fraud and voting fraud may be two sides of the same vote fraud coin. Allow me to explain.

An Iraqi citizen, turning his head to protect his identity, proudly displays the indelible ink on his finger as proof he has voted in Iraq's first free election in over 50 years on Jan. 30, 2005. Everyone voting in the historic election has to mark their finger with the ink to indicate they have already voted as a means to deter voting fraud. DoD photo by Master Sgt. Dave Ahlschwede, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

An Iraqi citizen, turning his head to protect his identity, proudly displays the indelible ink on his finger as proof he has voted in Iraq’s first free election in over 50 years on Jan. 30, 2005. Everyone voting in the historic election has to mark their finger with the ink to indicate they have already voted as a means to deter voting fraud. DoD photo by Master Sgt. Dave Ahlschwede, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

In some lesser-developed nations, evidence of having voted has been accomplished by having the voter dip their finger in an indelible, semi-permanent ink. The world has seen it used in Read the rest of this entry »

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There’s something to be said for mothers

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, August 21, 2013


1“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord,a for this is the right thing to do. 2“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: 3If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”b

4Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” cf.Ephesians 6:1-4 NLT

Politically, it certainly seems that Southerners have been more often wrong, than correct.

And today, continuing the tradition of Radical Liberal Republicans who endeavor to remove voting rights and foist more atrocities upon the nation, they continue to be “right” about being wrong.

Consider the following:

SUNDAY Aug. 18, 2013

“On this date in 1920, the 19th Amendment Read the rest of this entry »

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Medgar Evers, Bob Dylan, Taylor Swift & Scott Beason walk into a voting booth…

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, June 13, 2013

Medgar Wiley Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963) was an African-American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. After returning from overseas military service in World War II and completing his secondary education, he became active in the civil rights movement. He became a field secretary for the NAACP. Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens' Council. As a veteran, Evers was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His murder and the resulting trials inspired civil rights protests, as well as numerous works of art, music, and film.

Medgar Wiley Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963) was an African-American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. After returning from overseas military service in World War II and completing his secondary education, he became active in the civil rights movement. He became a field secretary for the NAACP. Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council. As a veteran, Evers was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His murder and the resulting trials inspired civil rights protests, as well as numerous works of art, music, and film.

June 12, 2013, marked the 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers’ death in Jackson, Mississippi.

Bob Dylan’s music on Medgar Evers was recently featured on NPR’ afternoon news program, All Things Considered.

As the guest spoke, it occurred to me that the primary difference between this era, and the era of the late Civil Rights leader is that the exceeding majority of today’s youthful musicians are out for the almighty dollar, rather than speaking their hearts and minds for the causes of truth, justice, and the American way.

It’s all about the money.

And according to some, there is perhaps no better representative of the “me” generation than Taylor Swift.

Historical Racist Promotional Image - Citizen's Council of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

Historical Racist Promotional Image – Citizen’s Council of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

Not being familiar with the body of Miss Swift’s work, I must rely upon interviews with her, and from remarks by those whom are familiar with her work. And it seems that there are many who utterly despise her work, for no other reason than that “practically every song she sings is about herself.”

And in defense of Miss Swift, regarding her work, she has said, “I’ve been very selfish about my songs. I’ve Read the rest of this entry »

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Once, upon a time, FaceBookistan held a vote on their Privacy Policy… and there was 0.04% turnout.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Now let’s be honest about this.

How many people here KNEW that FaceBook was conducting a privacy policy vote?

Raise your hands and wave if you did.

How’d you find out?

Did you tell your friends?

Do these issue even raise the slightest bit of concern with you?

Even if these issues do concern you, why doesn’t FaceBook make greater, more significant efforts to inform their user base & general public?

Slowly but surely FaceBookistan is becoming like the elephant in the tent.

Slowly but surely, your privacy is being eroded.

Does anyone really give a rat’s rip?

Facebook Holds a Vote and Turnout Is Low

By SOMINI SENGUPTA, June 8, 2012, 9:39 pm

It has more than 900 million people. It has its own currency. And this month, for the first time, the digital republic known as Facebook held elections of a sort: it offered users a chance to vote on the way the site is governed, including how the company deploys its users’ data.

Turnout was spectacularly bad in the digital republic that the writer Rebecca Mackinnon has dubbed Facebookistan. Fewer than 350,000 Facebook users voted, or under 0.04 percent.

“Given these efforts and the subsequent turnout,” Elliot Schrage, its vice president of communications and public policy, wrote on the site, “We plan to Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama Gov. Bentley OKs Millions in State Executive Salaries during Proration

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, March 20, 2012

During a time in which Republican Alabama governor Dr. Robert Bentley has declared 10.6% proration statewide, he has simultaneously approved several million dollars in executive salaries & compensation for state employees whom are hand-picked by the governor and his cronies.

The total value of the compensation packages – which includes state taxpayer funded retirement, taxpayer paid health insurance & taxpayer paid Cost Of Living Adjustments – could be well in excess of $2,400,000.

Read on to see how & why. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tiny printing problem on ballots causes small stir in Mobile, Alabama -or- The Benefits of Optical Scanner Ballots

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, March 15, 2012

{UPDATE 3/15/12: I modified the title of this entry, because I believe it more accurately reflects what I wish to express in sharing this entry, that…} While no balloting system is perfect, Alabama‘s system – the Optech Eagle 2000 optical scanner – is the best I’ve ever seen or used. Having been an election official in numerous elections throughout the state where the system is implemented (and the system is implemented state wide), I have never seen, nor heard of any failures or inability of ballots to be counted.

The beauty of that system is that even if electricity or the machines fail, ballots are able to be securely cast by voters, because they’re deposited in a securely locked box to which the ballot counting machine is attached. And even if there were no machines to function at all, ballots could be counted and voter intent determined by manual examination of the ballots. Voters can even request a new ballot if they cast their ballot in error, or change their mind. The “glitch” described in this story – while exceedingly rare – in no way detracted from the ability of votes to be counted, or voter intent determined.

With electronic balloting however, if a machine fails or electrical power fails, there’s no way for voters to cast their ballots. As well, electronic algorithms and computer code can be hacked. And security breaches of such code continues to be problematic. Further, if a voter casts a ballot in error, voters cannot change their vote with electronic balloting.

Mobile County ballot problems caused by tiny printing error

mobile-county-election-ballot-faultjpg-f7710190644111fd

A small printing error on some Mobile County ballots forced poll workers to count thousands by hand late Tuesday.

Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 6:00 PM     Updated: Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 6:06 PM

Katherine Sayre, Press-Register By Katherine Sayre, Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama — A printing mistake on some Mobile County ballots in Tuesday’s election caused electronic voting machines to reject them — forcing poll workers to count roughly 3,000 ballots by hand into the early morning hours, Probate Court officials said today.

“This little white dot,” said Probate Judge Don Davis, pointing to a white, donut-shaped mark barely one-tenth of an inch wide.

The tiny error, though, ended up in an important spot, on the security markings that let the electronic machines know whether to count it. The markings look like a bar code stretching along the side of the ballot.

The faulty marks appeared only on Read the rest of this entry »

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