Innocence or malfeasance

The Silicon GreybeardThe computer glitch that was found to have turned 6000 Trump votes into Biden votes in Michigan. Software that's used in 47 other Michigan counties, not to mention pretty much all the states with miraculous vote changes for Biden.

That was not a computer glitch. That was a programming decision. Whether that was some sort of programming error, which seems highly unlikely, or if it was deliberate cheating I don't know, but I highly suspect deliberately bad software. Let's face it; adding integers is just about the easiest thing to get a computer to do (and if you're thinking of adding votes as floating point numbers, go back to school).

Let's get one thing clear. Computer "glitches" cause a system to fail, or cause it produce random-looking outputs. They can even possibly reboot the system. If it's good software, it gives some sort of indication that something bad happened. If it changes the results of a count, or moves it to another candidate that's something else.

I am a software guy; it's what I do for a living. I don't work with election systems, though. What Silicon Greybeard is describing here is... mostly correct, but doesn't quite tell the whole story. I'm going to try to fill in the gaps.

What he's describing is the most basic level of "glitch", something that happens in a hardware failure or a very basic programming failure. Maybe memory is corrupted, network packets get lost, an electrical surge. Those issues can happen, but they are relatively rare in modern computer systems and applications.

We agree that that's almost certainly not what we are seeing in this case. The computer itself almost certainly did not screw this up.

That leaves us with two possibilities: malfeasance or innocent human error.

I believe malfeasance is a serious possibility, but we don't YET have enough detail to eliminate innocent human error. Suppose for example that the voting software in question has human input in how ballots are generated. (It HAS to have some degree of human input, of course, but how much and how exactly it works is unknown). Could a human accidentally transpose identifiers for Biden or Trump so ballots cast for one go to the other? Yes, it could be done, and depending on how the software works, it might not be obvious. Database software often uses random identifiers for cases like this, eg:

45989832458: Biden
32498398983: Trump

That prevents issues that could arise from two people named Biden or two people named Trump, but does make it hard to spot if they get transposed. The transposition could be deliberate and it could also be accidental.

If it only shows up in one precinct, gets corrected, and never shows up again... fine.

If it shows up twice or more... that's malfeasance.

This entry was published Fri Nov 13 14:14:48 CST 2020 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2020-11-13 14:14:48.0. [Tweet]

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