Poutine, Lies, and Robocalls – You alone vs. Systemic electoral fraud – Elections Canada received 31,000 complaints

Saturday, 3 March, 2012

First of all, some people question why all the complains now and not 10 months ago right after the 2011 May 2nd federal election? Here is a possible simple answer, and I believe sometimes the simplest answer is the right answer. We Canadians are a trusting bunch of people. Many of us even if we had received one of the fraudulent robocalls, we might have not complained because we assumed it might have been just a one off “mistake”. It is often in hindsight and when we realized we are not alone, and in this case, many many other Canadians reporting experiencing the same problem, then the earlier “one off mistake” is proven to be a part of a deliberate and systemic campaign and that is fraud and  not a “mistake”.

It is also important to note that the person/entity behind “Pierre Poutine” (2011 Voter suppression campaign) has to be found and bought to justice under our laws and the electoral complains have to be fully investigated. The foundation of our democracy is being attacked and it is up to us Canadians to stand up and defend Canada. Canadians will not accept American style dirty tricks in our election campaign.

I’ve called my MP to politely express my grave concern even the office staff rudely hung up on me before I had a chance to finish telling her my concern.

Here are some of the news,

* CBC News, “Elections Commissioner confirms robocalls investigation underway – 31,000 “contacts” from citizens to be reviewed

* TorStar, “Robo-calls: Veteran dirty-tricks investigator assigned to robo-calls probe

* Ottawa Citizen, “Complaints deluge Elections Canada – Largest ever review of electoral interference shaping up

“The investigation currently underway at Elections Canada is reviewing whether there was an active campaign of robocalls to interfere with citizens’ right to vote. The calls on and before election day directed voters to non-existent polling stations, which opposition MPs have alleged was an active campaign of voter suppression.

“That’s not just illegal, it’s wrong,” said Ned Frank, a constitutional expert from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. “What you have here, in my view, is a perversion of our electoral system.” Read the rest of this entry »


Election fraudsters “Pierre Poutine” attack Canadian democracy mock Election Canada and voters

Wednesday, 29 February, 2012

News from today across Canada. The election fraudsters “Pierre Poutine” are collectively giving major middle fingers to mock Election Canada and voters! Absolutely unacceptable.

Vancouver Sun, “Public faith in the 2011 vote is gone – judicial inquiry needed; Fraud a serious attack on parliamentary democracy; governor-general would be justified in forcing new federal election”

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s long-sought majority government rests upon 11 seats.

The key to his narrow 2011 victory was Ontario, where the Conservative Party finally breached a Liberal stronghold.

It was in crucial Ontario swing ridings where Conservatives won, often by razor-thin margins, that the government’s majority was decided.

And, it was in Ontario that evidence first surfaced of an apparently well-organized campaign of telephone calls which purported to be from Elections Canada and which told Liberal voters that their polling stations had been relocated and which directed them to bogus voting sites.”

Ottawa Citizen, “Elections Canada falling down on electoral fraud: Democracy Watch

“Elections Canada is failing in its mandate to thwart electoral scams and publicly hold fraudsters to account, the Ottawa-based advocacy group Democracy Watch said Tuesday, as the robocall scandal continued to shake the Harper government’s majority mandate. Read the rest of this entry »


re: internet voting – A software engineer’s critique of Elections Canada Chief Electoral Officer’s plan

Wednesday, 24 August, 2011

Internet voting in a by-election held after 2013

Background

In this article, I am writing as a reporter and also as a computer scientist with 10 years of software engineering experiences plus a keen interest in internet security & internet voting issues for over 10 years. To me, there are many potential issues with internet voting and I will discuss two main issues I see in this article.

This recent discussion of  internet voting is a result of Elections Canada Chief Electoral Officer’s report on the 41st general election (PDF file) (emphasis and link added),

Under section 18.1 of the Act, the Chief Electoral Officer may carry out studies on alternative voting methods and test electronic voting processes for use during general elections or by-elections, subject to the approval of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Elections Canada has been examining Internet voting as a complementary and convenient way to cast a ballot. The Chief Electoral Officer is committed to seeking approval for a test of Internet voting in a by-election held after 2013.

1) “Security” of internet-based voting system vs. Advantage of Paper Ballots

Paper ballots used in Canada have one major security advantage: it takes a long time to fake or temper with the votes. Can you image, with our existing checks and balances, someone physically temper with (i.e. change the voters’ votes) 10 paper votes, 100 votes, or 10,000 votes? I honestly can’t. There are just so many Elections Canada people and election scrutineers from all parties to make tempering with physical votes almost impossible.

Now, can I, as a former software engineer, image someone with the smart and knowledge of the particular internet voting system’s precise weakness, electronically tempering with 100,000 votes in a general election? Absolutely!

Am I just imagining potential security weaknesses and worrying too much? Well, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics had some serious eggs on their faces in Oct 2010. They thought they had a secure internet-based voting system enough that they ask people to help test their system. Only after a few days of testing, their embarrassing failure was documented by Washington Post in “Hacker infiltration ends D.C. online voting trial”. [HT Bruce Schneier]

Last week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics opened a new Internet-based voting system for a weeklong test period, inviting computer experts from all corners to prod its vulnerabilities in the spirit of “give it your best shot.” Well, the hackers gave it their best shot — and midday Friday, the trial period was suspended, with the board citing “usability issues brought to our attention.

Here’s one of those issues: After casting a vote, according to test observers, the Web site played “Hail to The Victors” — the University of Michigan fight song.

“The integrity of the system had been violated,” said Paul Stenbjorn, the board’s chief technology officer.

Let me quote Bruce Schneier which I totally agree (emphasis added),

My primary worry about contests like this is that people will think a positive result means something. If a bunch of students can break into a system after a couple of weeks of attempts, we know it’s insecure. But just because a system withstands a test like this doesn’t mean it’s secure. We don’t know who tried. We don’t know what they tried. We don’t know how long they tried. And we don’t know if someone who tries smarter, harder, and longer could break the system.

Fair election is the foundation of our democracy, as a software engineer of large scale safety and mission critical systems for 10 years, I try speak with an impartial view. I honestly don’t know if we can build a secure internet voting system that I would risk Canada’s democracy.

Sure, other countries may have internet-voting which their citizens approve. But what other countries do or don’t does not necessarily mean it is right! I care about my own country’s democracy which is why I am speaking out.

By the way, don’t even think about security by obscurity (using secrecy of design, etc) because it is a really bad idea!

2) Secret Ballots in Polling stations vs. Internet voting location

Polling stations in Canada have a specific set of requirements and the ability to let voters cast their ballots in secret is one of those fundamental requirements.

Unfortunately, when voting is done over the internet, we can be no longer be sure all ballots are casted without undue influence from others in the “voting booth” because there isn’t a “voting booth” anymore.

Imagine a religious, trade, activist, etc group encouraging their members to vote on a computer at a common location for “elections parties”, while their leaders keep coercing their members. Can we stop this easily and effectively?

Even if the group is as small as a family, should we allow the sanctity of & requirement of “secret ballots” be violated by over-eager parents, grandparents, relatives, or friends?

3) My brief replies to interesting comments and “solutions” from this CBC News August 18 at 6:43am Facebook posting.

  • From Melissa Dimock, “I’m a little leery of it, but it’s being done elsewhere. I do think that making voting easier, more accessible and convenient would improve voter turn-out. […]” August 18 at 6:45am

My reply: I don’t know if internet-voting will increase voter turn-out for the long term once the novelty factor is gone. But assuming it does, does it worth the risks stated in (1) & (2) above?

  • From Steve Cooper, “I’m not too down with it. I wouldn’t trust it. Imagine on election night the result is a massive swing to a party you are not pleased with. How confident would you be that the result is legitimate?” August 18 at 6:51am

I have to agree with Steve.

  • From David Jamieson, “Nope and Nope again. It is a ridiculous idea in this age of hacking. A vote in a democracy is far too important to be left in the hands of so few. […]” August 18 at 6:52am

I also agree with David.

  • From Erika Belanger, “if you can submit your income tax or do banking on the Internet, we should be able to vote that way. Might have more voters that way. There as to be a way to make it secure…..” August 18 at 6:54am

I think Erika‘s thought may be shared by many Canadians. Why is it safe to submit income tax and do banking on the internet but not so for voting?

Well, lets put things in context with #2 above. We have no worries if someone is watching and monitoring how a person is paying income tax or banking online. But we have serious concern if someone is monitored and being “influenced” on how they vote in an “internet voting booth” at home or at any location.

Hacking our internet banking while profitable to criminals, imagine criminals help hack an election and control Canada’s political future? Our votes, paradoxically, are much more valuable in some sense even many fellow Canadians routinely give up their rights to vote.

A healthy democracy needs constructive debates. Please add your views, I will try to selective reply to some of the comments.

*** References & Notes ***

Bruce Schneier is an internationally respected computer security expert, he is the expert that I have read and admire for over 10 years! In this article, I quoted his Oct 2010 piece “Hacking Trial Breaks D.C. Internet Voting System” extensively. His earlier but comprehensive Dec 2000 piece “Voting and Technology“, while written over 10 years ago, still contains some valuable insights (even thought they may not be his latest thinking). His Dec 2003 “Computerized and Electronic Voting” is also a good read.


Vote on Monday May 2nd – 100,000+ Canadian soldiers died to defend our democratic freedom

Sunday, 1 May, 2011

“Well over 100,000 Canadian soldiers died to give you and others around the world the right to exercise your democratic freedoms. Get out and vote tomorrow!” – Facebook status of a former Canadian solider that I think makes a lot of sense.


Canadian comedy mini-series for election night – “The Party”

Sunday, 1 May, 2011

CTV asked a group of Vancouver comedians to produce a comedy mini-series for election night – Watch the first episode here.


May 2nd Election: All-candidate no-shows

Thursday, 28 April, 2011

May 2nd, 2011 update: May 2nd Election – How can I forget? #elxn41

***

It is sad to see so many candidates decide to disrespect voters and not show up to give people a chance to listen to their views.

Apr 28, 2011 CBC News, “All-candidate no-shows: More examples for our list

Once again in this election, candidates across Canada stand accused of dodging invitations to participate in all-candidates debates, forums and/or media panels.

To try to make sense of it all collectively, I’ve started a list.

So far, the examples available show mostly Conservatives. […]

[note: Following are some info related to Calgary.]

The Globe and Mail names the following Conservatives who had skipped all-candidates events:

  • Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East)
  • Diane Ablonczy (Calgary-Nose Hill)

[…] Michelle Rempel (Conservative, Calgary Centre-North) didn’t attend an all-candidates’ meeting at the University of Calgary but previously had attended other events. When she missed a second event, organizers replaced her with a potted plant. Read the rest of this entry »


Vote on May 2nd – These young people are voting! You should too!

Wednesday, 27 April, 2011

Remember to vote on May 2nd.

University of Toronto Mississauga Vote Mob

Halifax Vote Mob

Usask Vote Mob 2011

Read the rest of this entry »


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