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Politics Idle

Azerbaijan Election Results Released Before Voting Had Even Started 266

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-the-winner-is dept.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "Florida's hanging chads ain't going nothing on Azerbaijan. Fully a day before the polls were to open, election results were accidentally released via an official smartphone app, confirming what everybody already knew — the election was rigged from the beginning. The official story is that the app's developer had mistakenly sent out the 2008 election results as part of a test. But that's a bit flimsy, given that the released totals show the candidates from this week, not from 2008."
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Azerbaijan Election Results Released Before Voting Had Even Started

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:06PM (#45088083)

    Is there a reason why developed countries haven't let users vote with a public/private key pair, and signing your own votes, in a method that can be cryptographically checked and counted by any reasearcher?

    This can even be done anonymously, just identify voters from anonymously issued keys...

    Certainly problems like this would go away

    • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:20PM (#45088141)

      It seems like as long as there's anonymity, it's going to be possible to rig it.

      • by ravyne (858869) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:29AM (#45088429)
        And therein lies the rub. Is non-anonymity really better, especially where despots reign? Does it matter whether despots are continually re-elected through fraud or through fear of repercussions if the result is the same?

        I'm not one to roll over to this sort of fraud myself, but I have little faith that identity wouldn't simply shift the solution to the 'problem' of the people's will in a different, and likely violent, direction.
        • by Smauler (915644) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @01:50AM (#45088711)

          No... that's one of the problems with anonymity, it's easier to fake. However, it's very, very important, especially in places in which your vote is more likely to be coerced. The advantages of anonymity far outweigh the disadvantages.

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            For the first 100 years of the US, open voting worked fine. Then there was a little civil war, and anonymity was brought in. It isn't necessary now. Fraud would drop to near zero if open voting was brought back.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Athan Gibbs figured it out years ago: that whole unriggable elections thing.

        Oddly enough, he was hit by a truck...

      • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @01:55AM (#45088723)

        Signing a vote isn't going to help one bit because fake citizens can be created that can sign fake votes.

        You need anonymity to make certain people vote for whom they want, not whom they want others to think they should vote for.

        The only way to prevent rigging is to make certain people get to vote in anonymity, but to be able to see every individual vote go into the ballot and after the voting has ended, be counted by many (independent) eyes.You need to control/bribe a lot of people if you want to get away with rigging an election if that system is in place.

        • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

          the answer is no. your approach is a pain in the butt. you're arguing an extreme case where a despot fakes 80% of the vote where maybe he actually got 20%. This can be easily called out through polls - it would become clear that the people polls wildly diverged from the resutls, which cast them in doubt.

          For regular thumbs on the scale, using tamper evident packaging usually does the trick. i know a lot about this because I worked the polls.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Even without it, elections can be rigged. If you looked at a full list of votes, would you be able to spot the fake people?

        A closer to ideal system would let each voter hand in a record consisting of a freshly generated public key and their vote signed by the private key. In return they get a copy of that back with the date and location added signed by the polling key. A complete copy of all of those signed votes should be available to any citizen.

        Hardly perfect, but it lets any concerned citizen spot check

      • Give everyone who votes a receipt with a unique serial number, and a list of how they voted.

        Release 2 lists to the public (no private lists are kept): First, a list of everyone who voted. Just name and address. Second, a list of how each serial number voted. No correlation between the order of the lists should exist.

        It is anonymous. You can ensure that there are no extra votes, as the list lengths should be the same. You can ensure that no fake people voted by auditing the first list. You can ensure

        • by Imrik (148191) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @04:39AM (#45089211) Homepage

          How do you prevent people from being forced to give up their SN to prove how they voted?

          • The point is to provide a way for people to show that votes are being counted correctly or incorrectly. As far as fixing things goes, that requires human motivation which no protocol can provide.

            One way would be to publish your receipt with a redacted name. One might be ignored, but if 1000 are ignored then as I said, "human motivation" is lacking.

            Another way would be to show your receipt to 1 public official that you trust. You would actually want the lists to be published per-voter-district, and if you

      • by Kaenneth (82978)

        As a thought, how about a check-and-balance system; using the US as a base, what if votes for Congress were anonymous, but votes for Senate seats public record?

        Bills would have to pass pass the scrutity of one group that's protected from being fraudulently elected; and a second that can be voted for without fear of reprecussions...

    • by ThatAblaze (1723456) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:21PM (#45088149)

      This comment has been modded up to (Score: 5)

    • by Desler (1608317)

      Is there a reason why developed countries haven't let users vote with a public/private key pair, and signing your own votes, in a method that can be cryptographically checked and counted by any reasearcher?

      Because that would make it near impossible to rig the election.

      Certainly problems like this would go away

      The only "problem" from the perspective of the election riggers is that they gave it away.

      • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:42PM (#45088241) Homepage Journal

        while it makes impossible to "rig" the election it makes it totally easy to rig the election the other usual way: voter intimidation, peer pressure, pressure from family, employer requiring certain vote, buying of votes... voted for legalization of pot? goodbye job.

        this is why the pen & paper and a decent society to handle that is the only way to do them(enough volunteer vote counters from enough parties).

        if you can prove who you voted then you can be persecuted for voting certain way(or if you refuse to prove being "loyal").

        and if the vote organizers are crooked then they could crook the signed voting too, press vote and all you would get would be "thank you for your vote for power party 1." or just have everyones receipts show up as normal but the total tally being something wildly different..

        • by shentino (1139071)

          Hey, I only meant one of those votes for McCain...

          This machine is rigged!

        • And/or to simply report "hey, look, I won with 79%"

          Does it really matter what the cryptographically secure vote tabulation machine says?

          Nope. Despot owns media. Despot owns vote machines. Despot has guns. Despot wins.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Is there a reason why developed countries haven't let users vote with a public/private key pair, and signing your own votes, in a method that can be cryptographically checked and counted by any reasearcher?

        Because that would make it near impossible to rig the election.

        Certainly problems like this would go away

        The only "problem" from the perspective of the election riggers is that they gave it away.

        hahaha
        no, there are still plenty of ways to rig the election. the critical flaw in this plan starts with who issues the keys. it does nothing to address the problem of someone having access to more than one key.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:43PM (#45088249) Journal
      I suspect that it's partially inertia/penny-pinching and partially because crypto only solves certain (quite specific) problems within the larger problem of 'run an election'.

      For instance, in those countries that have smartcard-or-equivalent national IDs, cryptographically signed votes would be trivial; but you'd be reusing keys explicitly designed to not be anonymous, indeed, designed to be identifying. That is an issue. Beats some 'SSN+Mother's maiden name' bullshit; because at least it verifies something; but it isn't what you are looking for.

      If you anonymously issue keys, now you've got a weak spot there that crypto can't help you with: the crypto makes it quite possible to ensure that Anon_Key_X was responsible for Vote_X, and only Vote_X; but you still need to devise a system by which an eligible voter can obtain (without some absurd hassle) one and only one anonymous key, without it being covertly linked back to them, or them being able to sign up for ten, or the people running the system being able to generate 250,000(or simply keep a copy of the keys as they are issued, and 'win the race' to get a signed ballot into the pot with that key).

      If you have such a system, you also have a system that could trivially just hand the voter a ballot, since you have already satisfied anonymity, uniqueness, resistance to plural voting, etc. No need for the crypto at all.

      (Also, aside from that, a country with vote rigging tendencies is presumably going to use hierarchical PKI, not some web-of-trust cypherpunk wet dream, so what exactly will an election whose ballots are signed with keys that all descend from the 'Glorious Cryptographic Key for Make Benefit of People's Republic Motherland' prove? Hierarchical PKI schemes, as SSL has taught us, work OK if you are primarily concerned with criminals and frauds; but if the CA is the enemy, you are fucked. If you are the root, you can generate mathematically pristine child keys as fast as your little ASICs can carry you without the slightest trouble.)
      • by XanC (644172)

        If you have such a system, you also have a system that could trivially just hand the voter a ballot, since you have already satisfied anonymity, uniqueness, resistance to plural voting, etc. No need for the crypto at all.

        Except that later, each voter can log in from home, and verify that his vote was recorded for his candidate. Still not perfect, but not bad!

        • by Smauler (915644) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @02:10AM (#45088755)

          Allowing people to check their vote from home would fuck up anyone whose vote was made under coercion. As it is, you can vote one way and say you voted another way.

          This is less of an issue in the US, but it is still an issue... your boss asks you which way you voted.... let's just check that.

          • by profplump (309017)

            You don't have to reveal the contents of the ballot in order to verify that a vote with the checksum you were issued when it was cast was actually recorded.

      • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:41AM (#45088461) Homepage

        ... you still need to devise a system by which an eligible voter can obtain (without some absurd hassle) one and only one anonymous key, without it being covertly linked back to them, or them being able to sign up for ten, ...

        It doesn't solve all the problems, but blinded signatures [wikipedia.org] can take care of this part. The essence of it is that a server can sign a "blinded" token such that, given the unblinded version at a later time, it can tell that it generated the signature but can't trace it back to the blinded version which was signed.

        In this scenario, the voter would present their credentials and be issued a single blinded token. The server would then add them to a list so that they can't come back and ask for additional tokens later. To vote, they present the unblinded token along with their choices. The server knows that they're authorized to vote, but not who they are. The token is added to another list to make sure it can't be reused.

        Obviously you'd need to take precautions (like using Tor) to avoid leaking any personally identifiable information to the server along with the ballot and unblinded token.

      • Also, the very fact of requiring ID can itsself bias an election. Those documents often aren't held by the poorest in society - they require money for processing fees, and people who can't afford a car aren't going to get a driving license. A measure to prevent vote fraud may - inadvertently or deliberately - selectively exclude part of the electorate.

    • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:04AM (#45088329)

      Only a handful of mathematicians would trust that.

      Paper ballots with independents actually conducting the election taking ballots and counting them, etc, with overseers from all political parties welcome to watch the entire proceedings, from start to finish.

      Simple and transparent.

      • by ygslash (893445) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:41AM (#45091579) Journal

        Only a handful of mathematicians would trust that.

        Paper ballots with independents actually conducting the election taking ballots and counting them, etc, with overseers from all political parties welcome to watch the entire proceedings, from start to finish.

        Simple and transparent.

        No, even the mathematicians wouldn't trust it. See Bruce Schneier's 2006 essay [schneier.com] that explains why.

        Use paper ballots. Period.

        However, crypto can still add value - it can go a long way towards preventing fraud and errors even in a paper ballot election. Scantegrity [scantegrity.org] is an open-source system, invented by Rivest [wikipedia.org] (the "R" in RSA [wikipedia.org]), Chaum [wikipedia.org], and other researchers, that helps secure a paper ballot election by supplying each voter with a simple verification code that can be written down. The codes in no way compromise the anonymity of the voters, and cannot be used to determine what vote was cast. But they can be used by individual voters to verify that their votes have been counted correctly, and by election officials to verify that ballots have not been tampered with and that the results have been tallied correctly. The overhead cost of the system is low.

        Scantegrity has been used successfully in two real elections - municipal elections in the Takoma Park, Maryland in the U.S. But so far it doesn't seem to be catching on very much. I guess it doesn't quite suit the needs of the big money electronic voting industry.

    • by superwiz (655733)
      What makes you think developed countries want honest elections?
    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @02:21AM (#45088795)

      Problems? What problems?

      You seem to misunderstand the point of modern elections. They are not in place so that the people can choose their representatives. They are there to suppress revolt by displacing the responsibility of bad government into the people.

      Actually counting the votes is a pointless expense. The system works just as well by flipping a coin.

      Azerbaijan are ahead of their time in more ways than the obvious one.

      • by Tom (822)

        Actually counting the votes is a pointless expense. The system works just as well by flipping a coin.

        People as a whole already know that. Just individuals don't realize it yet.

        People misunderstand things like "swarm intelligence", but you can see it in elections. For decades now, in most western countries, the election results have become ever closer to the coin toss - 50/50 distribution. That is swarm intelligence at work. Individually, most people still think their vote makes a difference, but collectively, we've already realized that it doesn't matter and the choices are identical.

      • by bentcd (690786)

        You seem to misunderstand the point of modern elections. They are not in place so that the people can choose their representatives. They are there to suppress revolt by displacing the responsibility of bad government into the people.

        Cynical as this is, there is certainly a lot of truth to it.

        Actually counting the votes is a pointless expense. The system works just as well by flipping a coin.

        This isn't the case however. There needs to be a certain correlation between the election result and polls etc., or people will realize it's all a sham. The easy way to achieve this correlation is to make a reasonable effort to actually count the votes and use that result as the official election result. (One of the difficult ways is to try and control the press without the people realizing that you do; there are so many pitfalls down this path I

    • Not wanting to open a whole can of Bitcoin worms into this discussion, but I see some things in that design which could be used for this.

      First, there's some problems, one of which you have already addressed:
      1) Anonymity. We need this so that people don't feel pressured into voting for someone they don't like. As you say, you can generate addresses anonymously.
      2) Tampering from made up votes.
      3) Tampering from made up people.

      The key lies in the scripting language used to determine who gets to send a certain c

    • It's important that the voting process can be checked by anyone, not just by crypto experts. That's why many developed countries still use paper ballots. Any idiot can see how that process works, can understand that it is pretty hard to cheat if there are enough independent observers, and can even participate as an observer him/herself. Electronic votes are relatively easy to rig invisibly and on a massive scale. Fraud with paper ballots is possible as well, but it is very hard to do on a large scale wi
    • by TheLink (130905) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @06:34AM (#45089495) Journal

      You're being rather optimistic. It doesn't actually solve the problem. There's a Google video proposing a well thought out verifiable system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDnShu5V99s [youtube.com]

      But that doesn't solve the real problem either!

      If someone in power with resources wants to rig the election doing it electronically makes it easier. He could let you check your votes and they show up just fine (as per the video's system), but you have no proof that your vote played any part in the final results! Yes it's audited by some experts, but the someone could plausibly bribe/coerce/select those few auditors.

      That's why a good paper based voting system is superior. When your own representatives and volunteers are there to observe and jointly count the votes one by one, sign off on the totals, check that the final total is the sum of the subtotals it gets pretty hard to tamper with the counts and results. The way you'd rig it is with postal votes, have fake/"supplementary" voters and gerrymandering (electronic systems don't solve these either). Swapping or replacing the ballot boxes might be possible but only likely in isolated areas with few witnesses (in which case the area might be "theirs" anyway).

      And so a good paper based system is also more likely to satisfy one important requirement of elections - convincing enough of the losers that they lost.

      A fancy blackbox system is not really convincing from a IT Security perspective.

      Whereas when the losing candidate's counting/observing team has been telling them that they've been counting the paper votes one by one and the results aren't looking good, it's far more convincing.

      Rigging such a paper based system would require more visibly obvious methods. Everyone can safely assume it's rigged if only one side does the counting and does it behind closed doors.

  • by russbutton (675993) <russ@NoSpam.russbutton.com> on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:09PM (#45088091) Homepage
    Who says America is the greatest nation in the world! Azerbaijan already has time travel! Now if only we could get that gizmo for some stock market analysis...
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Australia will get electronic voting soon too http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-10/turnbull-suggests-electronic-voting-could-cut-informal-votes/4947370 [abc.net.au]
      Its to stop you from making mistakes numbering your boxes ( for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting [wikipedia.org] )
      • by sc0ob5 (836562)
        I hadn't seen that from Turnbull. I wonder just how many of those informal votes were on purpose. I don't believe a majority were mistakes, the House of Representatives is not exactly hard to place your vote. If a voter can't count 1 to 6 (or however many candidates) then they probably shouldn't be voting in the first place. The Senate on the other hand, I can totally understand screwing that up if you're a bit masochistic and chose to go below the line. The damn voting slip doesn't even fit in the booth!
      • Australia already has electronic voting in ACT elections (http://www.elections.act.gov.au/elections_and_voting/electronic_voting_and_counting) and it has been trialled elsewhere. The source for ACT elections is available for those so inclined.

        • Wow, that's bad (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:05AM (#45088331)

          "The system uses standard personal computers as voting terminals,"
          Geez, the NSA pawns PCs. Are you f**ing kidding me?

          "with voters using a barcode to authenticate their votes."
          Identifiable? i.e. you can be datamined on your voting choice?

          "Voting terminals are linked to a server in each polling location using a secure local area network. No votes are taken or transmitted over a public network like the Internet."

          FFS, there's no such thing as a 'secure local area network' now. You have a huge agency attacking every network it can. Networks not connected to public networks are hack physically, locally or via third party companies. If Belgacom can't keep its backoffice networks protected, what makes you think you can?

          Really in a post PRISM world, recognize that you cannot trust electronic elections, encryption is broken, the keys you send around by email, they're intercepted an read. The networks you create ad-hoc, they're broken into. If you don't want the NSA or GCHQ choosing your PM, you need a paper audit trail.

          • by fatphil (181876)
            Not all encryption is broken. As Bruce Schneier says - trust the math(s). If you can't examine the mathematical analysis that an algorithm has undergone, and you can't examine the source code, then sure, don't trust it, but if both are satisfied, there's no reason not to. Of course, any time you're generating keys you need to be sure that your RNG is well seeded, so you need to have the source to your OS too. And you need to be doing this not on a virtual server. But all these things are easy to satisfy.
    • by steelfood (895457)

      I'd go with more concrete things like lottery numbers, horse racing results, and even real estate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:10PM (#45088101)

    We have taught them American politics.

    SUCCESS!

    • We have taught them American politics.

      SUCCESS!

      Who says you can't export democracy?

      Oh, wait - we weren't bombing that one.

  • by fightinfilipino (1449273) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:13PM (#45088113) Homepage
    "oh dear, i seem to have premature electorate all over my caucus!"
  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:22PM (#45088151) Homepage

    here we get to vote for one of two parties, but both are controlled by the same group of billionaires so they dont really represent normal people. its at least refreshing to see a government say, "well, yeah your vote is meaningless" as opposed to the United States, where people become upset if you dont believe voting is important. even if it were, and even if we all pitched in to vote for some third or fourth party, theyd get bought off just as quickly. it wouldnt change.

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      here we get to vote for one of two parties

      Duverger's Law [wikipedia.org] explains says that the reason is because we're still using the antiquated plurality voting system.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        And the reason you're still using the antiquated plurality voting system is because the (corporations and billionaires behind the) parties that have bubbled to the top are fully aware Duvergers has kicked in, and that it is in their own best interstests to preserve it, and stifle debate about changing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)

      but both are controlled by the same group of billionaires so they dont really represent normal people

      Cynical ignorance being passed off as insightful commentary. This is even worse than partisan idiocy - at least the partisans are fighting for something.

      its at least refreshing to see a government say, "well, yeah your vote is meaningless" as opposed to the United States, where people become upset if you dont believe voting is important

      How privileged do you have to be that you think that an autocratic government is better and more refreshing than a dysfunctional democracy? Here's a suggestion: if you think Azerbaijan is such a breath of fresh air, why haven't you moved there? Oh, right, because despite of how bad things are in the US, it is still light years ahead of dictatorships like Az

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      It depends on how you look at it. Maybe the "two parties controlled by an oligarchy" is the final step of democracy right before it turns into something better.

      Maybe Azerbaijan are far from that next system, still playing with rigged elections, instead of making them pointless like the more civilized countries.

    • by Tom (822)

      The mighty, wealthy, whatever you call it will always strive to get or stay in control. It's human nature, I wouldn't even call it evil.

      The evil part is that in order to do so, they will subvert the very institutions that were meant to prevent it. With democracy, it didn't take too long, but it's been a boiling-frog problem - instead of revolutions and big changes, it simply drifted over time.

      It's not a USA and it's not a two-party problem. We have 4-5 countries in the parliament in my country (depending on

  • by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:23PM (#45088159)
    App devs.taking the fall since 2009.
  • BooYAhhh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by bugs2squash (1132591) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:24PM (#45088165)
    Diebold deliver under budget and ahead of schedule...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      under budget and ahead of schedule...

      That's what she said!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:35PM (#45088225)

    This is what makes me proud to be an American, at least we know how to properly rig an election.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why rig elections when both alternatives stand for the same policies?
    • by Evtim (1022085) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @01:34AM (#45088645)

      Precisely!

      The power hungry asshats in the east are just not competent enough. I mean, do you think that for instance Putin does not want to have the equivalent of the Russian NSA as powerful, all-seeing and intrusive as the US version? But he just does not have the capabilities to achieve it.

      The task of toppling today's world elite (or at least keeping their greed in check) is so much more difficult than fighting against the totalitarian regimes of the communist era. I mean, at that time we all knew we are prisoners and that the system does not serve us, but is actually working against us, the common folk.

      In the western world, however, the powers to be have done an excellent job (using hard science and remember the important thing about science - "it works, bitches!") in giving the illusion of choice, the illusion that people determine their own fate and many more illusions, whereas the actual situation is not much different than those totalitarian regimes of the past (and sliding further down daily). In the west the delusional part of the common folk will defend the system because they believe it to be just and right. Brilliant!

      Having lived in both systems I can sincerely say: The West is the best! In everything! (that includes propaganda, spying and killing, political hypocrisy and so on...not only the good bits!)

    • by Lorens (597774)

      Lucky you don't have any elections this week!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:45PM (#45088257)

    Ballots determine YOU!

  • Testing perhaps? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:46PM (#45088259)

    Maybe the app developers are testing this year's app with old data? It should be easy enough to tell if the dataset used is from a previous election.

    • by Xest (935314)

      Then rapidly decreases by one as the developer in question is taken out back and shot.

  • by edibobb (113989) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @12:52AM (#45088509) Homepage
    Don't be overly critical. Idiot politicians have not shut down the Azerbaijani government.
  • The USA is the biggest and best friend of the same authoritarian, non-democratic regime. Just because Azerbaijan helps out in the "war on terror". It is not news that this is basically a dictatorship that violently suppresses opposition, but somethow it never comes up when Americans talk about the country.

    • by superwiz (655733)
      What do you mean "just because"? They could be a brutal dictatorship participating in terror. Helping out in the war on terror is a step up for many dictatorships.
      • by waitamin (2811853)

        No, it is not a step up by any means. Iraq was once in a very similar position to Azerbaijan, and you see what that can lead to.

        And anyway what you are saying is that as long as they help the US terrorize a third party (ok, fight for freedom), then it's fine if they also terrorize their own citizens (ok, suppress opposition).

        This attitude to international politics always pays back with dividents in the long run. The USSR called it "exporting communism"; the US now exports freedom; at the end, it is just mil

  • by boorack (1345877) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @01:23AM (#45088625)
    BP corporation runs this country, so no need for those pesky elections. According to our bankster-corporate overlords, regime working for BP is "democratic" enough.
  • The Onion (Score:5, Funny)

    by AlienSexist (686923) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @02:18AM (#45088783)
    The Onion had done a spoof of this before [theonion.com]. The summary reads so much like the script I had to double check that it wasn't April Fools.
  • by superwiz (655733) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @02:20AM (#45088793) Journal
    I am not sure if this is more or less honest than the modern election campaigns designed to essentially subvert free will. Every voter can only care about 7 issues at any one time. As long as you can manufacture 7 issues capturing people's attention, you can always get them to vote against their interest. Given pervasive statistical data, you can identify very surgically how each group of people can be swayed to abandon their best interests. We KNOW that's how Obama won. No President had ever won with the same performance metrics before (regardless of where your politics are... just by the numbers). Is spending a billion dollars to micro-market more or less honest than simply stealing the election through brute force? I guess it depends on how easy it is to get that billion dollars.
  • by Vegard (11855) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @03:17AM (#45088949)

    I'm in IT myself, and I know how difficult it is to come up with good test-data for your testing...so what's better than production data?

    I'm not saying it is so, but it could very well be that the testers have loaded into it this years candidates, made up some likely result, and run the software to see that it works...

    And apparently it did! ;)

    • I'm in IT myself, and I know how difficult it is to come up with good test-data for your testing...so what's better than production data?

      I'm not saying it is so, but it could very well be that the testers have loaded into it this years candidates, made up some likely result, and run the software to see that it works...

      And apparently it did! ;)

      Yup. Generally people doing election-related software have to test with data that is as similar to what will be in the live election as possible, including names of candidates and parties. See this comment [ycombinator.com] in the HN discussion of this, from a developer of election reporting software that has been used in the US and other countries, for details on why and how this sort of thing can happen.

      In fact, this same thing happened in the US in the 2012 Illinois Republican primary. The reporting company providing the

      • You're all fools if you honestly believe that your elections are significantly more honest and trustworthy than theirs.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Thursday October 10, 2013 @05:53AM (#45089385) Journal

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is at the front of the line!

    -jcr

  • by water-and-sewer (612923) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:06AM (#45090995) Homepage

    Haw, haw, haw. If you're appalled by the gall, the outrageousness, the cojones then you've been duped: this kind of stuff is happening all over the place. When I researched and wrote the Dictator's Handbook: a practical manual for the aspiring tyrant [dictatorshandbook.net] in 2012 I found dozens of examples of this kind of stuff. In the words of an expert, "it's not the vote that counts, it's the count that counts." Have a look at chapter 11 [dictatorshandbook.net] covering elections for some other good examples, including Russia, the Dominican Republic, North Korea, and elsewhere. Hell, there are even some good examples at home, but why bother citing them when the NSA is watching me type?

    I'm not going to say democracy is flawed, it's in fact probably the strongest of systems that attempt to bring order to a flawed species. But democracy is a game that's too easily manipulated, which makes dictators of the sort that read my book all-too-capable of having some fun to keep power. Welcome to the real world.

  • Irony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Justpin (2974855) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @11:06AM (#45091927)
    A little side story. The great irony is, that Azerbaijani people are incredibly corrupt thus they get the government they deserve. I travelled from Tbilisi to Baku a few years ago. Right from the onset from the Azerbaijan border it was ALL about corruption. I had a visa and letter of invitation before hand. Right from the border it began, you had to pay a fee to 'park' in the border area, no pay fee? Your vehicle got trashed, the bloke in front had most of his windows smashed. Then you went from one building to another each time there happened to be forms with a hand written $5 price on each corner. At which a fat oaf with a stamp would refuse to stamp your entry documents unless you gave him $20. I had a buddy tried not to pay and was not allowed into the country. Then 20 metres from the border was a check point where the official would grab your passport and ransom it for $20. Refusing to pay got a bayonet in your tyre. Binoculars came out and there were MANY MANY such check points. So we went off road instead, but now and again had to stop for gas, it said something like .25 for a litre of gas. (it was cheap) except when it came to pay it was not .25 it was 25 a litre. Buying food and stuff the decimal place got moved to the left 2 places. Even when we got to Baku nobody would give us directions without payment. Similar situation with hotels, big sign saying $x per night PRIVATE ROOMS! No, this is wrong, old sign! price was doubled or tripled. Tired we paid and found it was a dorm with beds stacked 5 high. Morning we came out and somebody had stolen our front wheels, $150 if we wanted them back. Just driving to the port we were stopped and 'fined' many many times... We couldn't wait to get out of there, heading to the port there was a port tax. Except we had to go back and forth to a building outside the port to pick up forms and get them stamped inside the port. Each time you entered incurred a $5 fee. There were MANY forms. We got onto the ferry and were happy to be out of there.
  • by BenSchuarmer (922752) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @11:34AM (#45092305)
    it's who counts the votes.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @01:07PM (#45093503)

    Is that where they keep prisoner wizards, or somethings.

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