“A FLAWED PROCESS”
by Dwight Kehoe, Editor, TPATH, ©2016
Early on there were a few software packages dedicated to helping estimators produce costs for material, labor, insurances and bonding. Most of these, though very high-priced, left a lot to be desired. The ones that I looked at left me wondering if the programmers of these packages had ever even seen a construction site, let alone visited one.
As a result of the growing competition to win contracts based upon bid proposals, many of us who sat in the bid opening rooms, with fingers crossed, dry-mouthed and chattering teeth, liked to lighten the stress with small talk. One very prescient statement a very successful contractor once made was this. “The reading of the proposals indicated not just which contractor had the lowest bid, but also, which estimator had made the biggest mistake.” Funny, yes! But also so very true.
This worry was more than I could stand. It was like playing Russian Roulette with not just my company’s survival but that of my employees as well. As a result, I decided to learn some basic programming which included database work relating to SQL, some C++ and Microsoft’s Visual Basics. Soon I was able to create a very finely-tuned estimating program which allowed the estimator, me, to handle the very minutest portions of the labor rates and how those rates were able to be assigned to multiple breakdowns of every aspect of the project, from the first layout to the final inspections.
So how does all this relate to the upcoming presidential election? Well, it’s the computerized voting and tabulating machines which are being used more and more in every election cycle. We have all heard of voting screens in the 2012 presidential cycle assigning a checkmark to a candidate other than the one selected. We also heard from those instituting and using these machines profusely denying that that could never happen. The smokescreen laydown details how these machines are tested, and despite the complaints of a few, no problems have been found.
That is simply not true. Computer programmers can do anything they want in the preparation of an executable file. Anything. They can make the sum of a string of numbers total to any amount they want. Regardless of the rules of math they can make one data field accrue and another subtract, with a very simple line of code. They can alternate this procedure over a total number of inputs (votes) and they can then have the program revert back to making 2 plus 2 equal 4 with another line of code. They can write code that operates correctly for several (or any number they chose) sequences and then change to stealing votes once a certain number of TEST runs are made.
This alternating between proper operation and vote stealing can not only be done by the number of inputs, but it could also be done on a time basis. In other words, the program works correctly, before the time the polls open, then switches to vote stealing until just before the time the polls close. If the total numbers put out by the crooked machine jive with the total number of people who voted, everything looks hunky-dory. But one candidate and his supporters just got cheated and there is no way they will ever know. And even if they suspect, they will never be able to prove a thing.
Without getting into this too deeply and expecting many of you to follow the jargon of programmers, I will try and explain how this chicanery is being pulled off and why it is nearly impossible to track it down and prove it. Okay, so here goes.
It does not matter what software language a programmer uses to create an application. The process involves two basic steps. First step, the writing of the program in what’s called lines of code. This is where the programmer can create false outputs and then override them to begin correct outputs.
Once a programmer has done his dirty deed his work is useless until it is “executed,” or in another term, “compiled.” This results in what are called applications, programs, executables, and the term we are all familiar with these days, apps. Once the programmer has compiled his work he now has, in a sense, two files. One is his programming file and the other is the EXE or executed file. These are two separate entities. The actual programming files can be deleted, edited and altered in any way the programmer wishes and nothing will change in the “executed file” unless or until it is re-compiled.
The compiled program is the one that is loaded into thousands of voting machines and used on Election Day. The programmer’s files stay with him and it would take a court order for any challenger to get his hands on them. Not that getting them would do a challenger any good anyway because the programmer, to protect himself and to prevent discovery, would have created a co-application. One that operates correctly and would be the one that would be turned over, if ordered. Time-stamping and other embedded data could very easily be manipulated to be consistent with the application and the executable.
The next question might be, could some computer genius de-compile an executed program in order to view the code? The answer to that is yes and no. There are people and programs that can decompile but they have proven to be more unreliable than a lie detector test. Also, programs can be designed to be resistant to de-compilation through protective means such as code obfuscation. Anyone doubt that process would be used by the scoundrels creating programs to steal your vote? So even if all the court steps and expense of getting a court order to de-compile, any findings would be seriously challenged and never admitted into a court of law.
Hopefully I laid this out in a manner that even if it’s not perfectly understood by many of you, it has a least shown you why we cannot continue down a path of selecting important candidates using such an easily manipulated and flawed process.
Paper ballots may seem to many of today’s techies to be antiquated. Keep in mind that, using paper ballots, there is no way for unscrupulous, crooked and illegal activity to be implemented on the scale that would be required to alter the will of the people in an election. Not so with computer applications. Hundreds of thousands of votes can be switched or deleted with one simple line of hidden code. Computerized voting machines must go if the people are to ever again trust the outcomes of elections. Computerized voting machines are as big a threat to Democracy as are Communism and socialism. Curious how it is those who align with those ideologies are the ones pushing this technology.