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Bogus Theory Claims Supercomputer Switched Votes in Election

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Quick Take

A baseless conspiracy idea claims {that a} secret supercomputer was used to modify votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Experts — and the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency — have stated the idea is a hoax and that safeguards, together with paper trails, would deter such an effort.

Full Story

As President-elect Joe Biden prepares a transition to the White House and President Donald Trump mounts challenges to election outcomes, federal and state officers have declared that the 2020 election was the “most secure in American history.”

But a conspiracy idea that has been swirling on-line suggests the alternative, baselessly claiming {that a} supercomputer and particular software program have been used to systematically swap votes and cement Biden’s victory.

That bogus idea is immediately disputed by federal and state officers, in addition to consultants who research election safety.

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has flatly rejected such claims. The company’s director, Chris Krebs — who was appointed by Trump — referred to as the idea “nonsense” and a “hoax.”

CISA has stated that safeguards — together with auditable logs and software program checks — utilized by states guarantee accuracy within the vote totals.

Still, within the days after the election, the idea has obtained important consideration on social media and on nationwide TV.

Sidney Powell, an lawyer who has represented Michael Flynn, Trump’s former nationwide safety adviser, espoused it on Fox Business on Nov. 6 — saying that ballots have been modified “using the Hammer program and a software program called Scorecard” — and that she had “evidence that that is exactly what happened.” She repeated the idea two days later to Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo.

We reached out to Powell to ask what her supposed “evidence” was and she or he didn’t present any, telling us as an alternative to “Stay tuned.”

Dubious Origins

The conspiracy idea appeared a number of days earlier than the election on a doubtful weblog referred to as the American Report, which ran an Oct. 31 story claiming that Biden was “using SCORECARD and THE HAMMER To Steal Another Presidential Election.”

The story cited a so-called “whistleblower,” Dennis Montgomery, to say that an intelligence supercomputer (“HAMMER”) and accompanying software program (“SCORECARD”) had the aptitude to hack elections and steal votes. It went on to say with no proof that Biden and former President Barack Obama had gained reelection in 2012 utilizing the system, and that Biden had crushed his rival within the Democratic main, Sen. Bernie Sanders, by means of such means.

Montgomery has a historical past of constructing doubtful claims going again greater than a decade.

An organization he co-owned, referred to as eTreppid, gained thousands and thousands of {dollars} in federal protection contracts following the terrorist assaults of Sept. 11, 2001. But, in accordance with an FBI investigation in 2006, his accomplice within the enterprise stated that he deceived Pentagon officers.

In one case, in accordance with an FBI interview with the enterprise accomplice, Montgomery fabricated a check for Department of Defense officers of the corporate’s “recognition software” for weapons. While the officers waited inside the corporate’s workplace, the enterprise accomplice stated, Montgomery took a toy bazooka into a close-by discipline and, as an alternative of getting the know-how really acknowledge the weapon, he pinged the cellphone of an worker, who was ready to push a button and make an image of a bazooka seem on the display screen.

In one other case detailed in a 2014 e-book, the CIA believed that one in all Montgomery’s applications might detect secret codes from al Qaeda that have been hidden in broadcasts from the information community Al-Jazeera. Although this led to the grounding of U.S.-bound flights from France, Britain and Mexico in December 2003, the know-how was finally decided to be bogus. Montgomery objected to that characterization and sued the creator and writer. But he failed to supply proof that his know-how really labored, and the decide dominated towards him.

Flawed Theory

The idea espoused within the American Report story doesn’t make sense for a number of causes, Dan Wallach, a pc science professor at Rice University who researches voting safety, instructed us in a cellphone interview.

The story claims that “SCORECARD steals elections by tampering with the computers at transfer points of state election computer systems and outside third party data election result vaults.”

If a hacking operation tried to vary votes on the state aggregation degree, Wallach stated, there are county-level outcomes with which to check these figures. And if a county’s votes have been manipulated, there are outcomes from precincts — and particular person paper ballots or particular person paperless voting machines — to confirm these figures.

Ballot bins, voting machines and election gear are additionally topic to numerous chain-of-custody protections.

“The implication of this conspiracy theory is that there can be an undetectable, irrevocable change made — and that implication is false,” he stated. 

Likewise, J. Alex Halderman, a professor of laptop science and engineering on the University of Michigan, instructed us the conspiracy idea is “nonsense.”

“Most votes across the country are counted by computer scanners at polling places or, for mail-in ballots, at central locations in each county,” Halderman, who can also be director of the college’s Center for Computer Security and Society, stated in an electronic mail. “Election workers then copy the totals from each scanner (most often using memory cards or USB sticks) to a computer called an election management system, which adds them up and produces the initial, unofficial results.”

“However, every ballot scanner is required by law (under the Help America Vote Act of 2002) to produce a paper printout summarizing the vote totals for the ballots it counted,” he continued. “Nearly every state, before it certifies the official election results, compares the reported results to the physical printout from each scanner. If an error or fraud affected the reporting process, it will be caught during this process, before the results are declared official. These routine checks both add an extra layer of security and help deter attackers from targeting the reporting process in the first place.”

The American Report story additionally argued that votes could be stolen in Florida when the state transferred knowledge to a 3rd get together referred to as VR Systems. As the fact-checking web site Lead Stories factors out, that firm doesn’t even work with vote tabulation.

VR Systems Chief Operating Officer Ben Martin confirmed in a press release to us that the corporate “does not do voter tabulation and is not connected to county or state voter tabulation systems.” The firm as an alternative “provides elections software and services to election officials who manage the voter check-in process” and in addition helps officers with web sites and databases for voters to test polling places and voter registration standing.

And whereas the American Report story claims the corporate has contracts in eight states, Martin stated the corporate solely does work in three.

CNN Video Shows Error, Not Fraud

On Twitter and[0]=AZWLY9Zc60CUKm5APZR_OLDN4VKA6xy11V9HRXtXFZktvfMrDXKzPpRl5R0GdqQE1NyuJ3mz2kXoCvXOFK8zblRzwYXxwD1dfGVki0QUGb4K56nNUen6YOkG8rDSyH63f52F1JNMQqKhBqgp2OnLK9lc2L-7oW9nMyP7FmmXL0-Vsw&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Facebook, 1000’s of customers shared a false declare {that a} CNN video from election evening is proof of the supposed vote-stealing operation in motion.

It’s not.

In the video, vote totals for Pennsylvania displayed on display screen by CNN could be seen going up for Biden by 19,958 as they go down for Trump by that very same quantity.

But the error was really a easy mistake by a analysis agency that gathers outcomes knowledge for CNN and others; it wasn’t a change within the reporting by election officers. (It’s value noting, although, that these vote tallies are unofficial tallies, not last, official outcomes.) The mistake was corrected about an hour later.

Edison Research, which offers vote tabulation knowledge to CNN and different networks, stated that the second of Trump dropping by 19,958 was brought on by a short reporting error on its finish.

Rob Farbman, Edison’s government vice chairman, instructed us that Edison did obtain the right vote totals from Armstrong County in Pennsylvania by means of a state feed — which at that cut-off date was 24,233 votes for Trump and 4,275 votes for Biden. But a workforce member, whereas scouring particular person county vote totals, then mistakenly entered the county’s totals backwards — 24,233 votes for Biden and 4,275 votes for Trump.

A CNN supply additionally confirmed that the matter got here right down to vote totals in Armstrong County being briefly transposed within the feed supplied to the community, however that the correct figures have been quickly restored.

It was simple human error,” Farbman instructed us by electronic mail, noting the error was corrected about an hour later. 

Trump has secured 27,340 votes in Armstrong County, in contrast with Biden’s 8,417. Biden’s lead within the state is about 60,000 votes.

Editor’s word: is one in all a number of organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our earlier tales could be discovered right here.

This reality test is offered at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click right here for extra.


Dennis L. Montgomery v. James Risen. “Memorandum Opinion.” U.S. District Court, District of Columbia. 15 Jul 2016.

Farbman, Rob. Executive vice chairman, Edison Research. Email to 13 Nov 2020.

Government’s Compliance With Court Order of August 17, 2006.” U.S. District Court, District of Nevada. 11 Sep 2006.

Halderman, J. Alex. Professor of laptop science and engineering, University of Michigan. Email to 11 Nov 2020.

Joint Statement From Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council & The Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees.” U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. 12 Nov 2020.

Powell, Sidney. Attorney. Email to 11 Nov 2020.

Krebs, Chris (@CISAKrebs). “Same as yesterday, Hammer and Scorecard is still a hoax. Thats it. That’s the tweet.” Twitter. 8 Nov 2020.

Krebs, Chris (@CISAKrebs). “To be crystal clear on Downwards arrow, I’m specifically referring to the Hammer and Scorecard nonsense. It’s just that – nonsense. This is not a real thing, don’t fall for it and think 2x before you share. #Protect2020” Twitter. 7 Nov 2020.

Martin, Ben. Chief Operating Officer, VR Systems. Statement to 12 Nov 2020.

Miller, Dean. “Fact Check: Secret Super-Computer Is NOT Stealing Votes Through Voter Interface Contractor.” Lead Stories. 3 Nov 2020.

Pennsylvania Elections – County Results | Armstrong.” Pennsylvania Department of State. Accessed 13 Nov 2020.

Pennsylvania Elections – Summary Results | Statewide.” Pennsylvania Department of State. Accessed 13 Nov 2020.

Richardson, Louise. “James Risen’s ‘Pay Any Price.’” New York Times. 15 Oct 2014.

Rumor Control.” U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Accessed 10 Nov 2020. 

Sommer, Will. “Infamous ‘Hoax’ Artist Behind Trumpworld’s New Voter Fraud Claim.” Daily Beast. 8 Nov 2020.

Wallach, Dan. Professor of laptop science, Rice University. Phone interview with 13 Nov 2020.

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