New Low in Election Fraud

Azerbaijan achieves a new low in electoral fraud: the government accidentally publishes the results of the election before the polls open.

The mistake came when an electoral commission accidentally published results showing a victory for Ilham Aliyev, the country’s long-standing President, a day before voting. Meydan TV, an online channel critical of the government, released a screenshot from a mobile app for the Azerbaijan Central Election Commission which showed that Mr Aliyev had received 72.76 per cent of the vote compared with 7.4 per cent for the opposition candidate, Jamil Hasanli. The screenshot also indicates that the app displayed information about how many people voted at various times during the day. Polls opened at 8am.

Here's another article.

But luckily, former US legislators are monitoring everything:

But observers from other delegations, including a group of former members of the United States House of Representatives, said the voting on Wednesday was clean and efficient. Mr. Aliyev, thanking voters in a televised statement, called the elections "free and transparent."

Former Representative Michael E. McMahon, a Democrat from Staten Island, called the vote "honest, fair and really efficient."

"There were much shorter lines than in America, and no hanging chads" -- a reference to the disputed ballots in the United States presidential race in 2000.

Long lines? Hanging chads? These people have no idea how the big boys steal elections.

Posted on October 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM • 31 Comments

Comments

John CampbellOctober 11, 2013 12:46 PM

Having been born in Staten Island, I am appalled that there is a Democrat representing that district.

I'm not as appalled that he's as stupid as any other politician I've been represented by; I've got pretty low expectations.

ahaOctober 11, 2013 12:48 PM

ha

aha

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

StevenOctober 11, 2013 1:10 PM

The official explanation was that it was test data.
Sounds lame, but comments on Slashdot pointed out that an engineer who wanted to test the system would plausibly use the real candidate names with made-up numbers.

ChelloveckOctober 11, 2013 1:15 PM

If true, this goes well beyond rigging an election into outright fabrication. But is it what happened?

The electoral commission claims that what was seen the day before was merely test data. To me this seems like the simplest explanation, and neither article presents any evidence that this isn't exactly what happened. They just leap to the conclusion that early numbers are a sign of obvious tampering.

If the final results matched those early numbers I'd say they have a case, but they don't match. They're off by about 12 points. Sure, that could be a last-minute change to cover-up the blunder... Or it could be that the early numbers actually were test data.

I'm willing to believe that there were major electoral shenanigans going on, but pure fabrication of results is a bit much to swallow. Yeah, it might have happened... but as a developer the test data story is not at all far-fetched. I need to see more evidence to support the claim that this particular item is evidence of wrong-doing.

Bryan with a beardOctober 11, 2013 1:51 PM

@John Campbell

If we didn't allow the stupid to run for office, we wouldn't have a representative democracy.

VeritasOctober 11, 2013 2:47 PM

@Bryan with a beard: LOL, that is a good one.

Of course luckily US representatives were on location to support a US ally that has been so helpful in, for example, extraordinary rendition. Thus it did not matter whether the election was really clean or not (arguably they were "efficient" though as the results came a day before voting).

Stupid hypocrite nation. Among other hypocrite nations.

Cory ArmbrechtOctober 11, 2013 2:51 PM

Wow. I'm working on a concept that borders what they're doing- and this is one of the biggest concerns (security). I do have thoughts on 'better' security measures to prevent things like this. As you stated, it doesn't matter whether it's 'hanging chads' or online, but I do believe in the greater possibilities of the former.

Here is the concept:
Online government. Transparent, Realtime Democracy. Surely The People can see the potential in this. https://rally.org/onlinegovernment

Bruce, I'm sure you'll look at it for all the problems it could have, but for the love of The People and true Democracy, let's talk.

StromOctober 11, 2013 2:58 PM

@Chelloveck

Beliving it was test data may be simpler if the Azerbaijan government agreed with that. They don't. They claim it was last election data. Things get funny when we consider the fact that last elction didn't have some of the candidates that were present in the leak and run for office this time.

Things get even less plausible for the test data theory when we consider the facts that the previous president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, ruled from 1982 to 2003, until his death. After his death, his son Ilham Aliyev took into office, and has been the president of Azerbaijan for 10 years already. He even changed the law to allow for unlimited consecutive terms.

Basically it has been bloody obvious that Azerbaijan is a dictatorship for a long time. This leak is just comedy, not any sort of revelation.

Evan HarperOctober 11, 2013 3:29 PM

Michael McMahon works for a lobbying group called Herrick, and a quick Google search for "azerbaijan site:http://www.herrick.com/" makes it clear that McMahon is totally in the Azeri government's camp, probably because they pay him to be there. It's not clear why the NY Times would treat him like an actual election observer as opposed to a paid-off stooge, but anyway, fuck that guy.

ChelloveckOctober 11, 2013 3:42 PM

@Strom: Where do you see that the Azerbaijan government says it's from the last election? Both articles which Bruce linked suggest test data.

The commission [Central Election Commission] explained the gaffe by saying that a software developer had released the figures as a "test" at one polling station. It apologized for the "misunderstanding." (ABC News)
A statement published on its [the developer's] website said the results came from testing the app using data from opinion polls and "did not have any relation to this year's elections". (The Independent)

saucymugwumpOctober 11, 2013 3:58 PM

That's just the beginning of the story. Read "Who Are The Shadowy Western Observers Weighing In On Azerbaijan's Election?" on Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (rferl.org).

It's not just Democrats. Azerbaijan bought an American-based PAC named "Independent American Center of Political Monitoring" based in Broken Arrow, OK and Dallas, TX. Oklahoma and Texas tend to be Republican and/or Tea Party territory.

Azerbaijan is #15 in the world for oil exports. That's why it is able to buy foreign experts to validate its fixed elections. Influence peddling is a bi-partisan affair in the USA.

saucymugwumpOctober 11, 2013 4:16 PM

Evan Harper wrote "It's not clear why the NY Times would treat him like an actual election observer as opposed to a paid-off stooge, but anyway, fuck that guy."

The NYT does some good reporting, but it also has a history of supporting criminals, communists, and charlatans. Walter Duranty was probably the best example for his active suppression of Stalin's purges and the Ukrainian Genocide. I wrote a two-part article on Duranty in my blog titled "Walter Duranty's permanent legacy at the New York Times" but there is a lot of available material on him.

Another was FDR's Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph Davies. Tim Tzouliadis detailed in his book, "The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia," how Davies abandoned American citizens -- entire families -- to the horrors of Stalin's terror. Davies' book, "Mission to Moscow," was eventually made into a Hollywood movie at the request of FDR, even though it was a complete fabrication and a charade.

I wholeheartedly concur with your conclusion.

saucymugwumpOctober 11, 2013 4:31 PM

I wrote: "I wrote a two-part article on Duranty in my blog titled 'Walter Duranty's permanent legacy at the New York Times.'"

Oops, sorry, slightly false advertising. As I often do, I used Duranty to go off on a tangent. Just read the Wikipedia page on him.

I wish we could edit these posts.

bcsOctober 11, 2013 6:24 PM

Note to self: If I ever create test data for an election put contrived number in it: e.g. have a break down of exactly 40%, 30%, 20%, 4% 3%, 2%, 1%. That way if it ever gets published by mistake nobody will believe it's real or even supposed to be believed as real.

AspieOctober 12, 2013 1:33 AM

I recall that as far as electronic voting systems goes, a crew in Australia developed and peer-reviewed software and procedures that could make EV systems a genuinely reliable means of choosing which of the two groups of equally inept clowns we're offered get to sit in the comfy chairs.

The article from Weird is here. I recall this was sparked by the Florida 2000 fiasco. (Even so, nothing changed in the US - software on voting machines was changed without certification or notifying election oversight bodies - so the 2004 election result was always questionable.)

Miguel FarahOctober 12, 2013 5:09 AM

@steven

Every engineer worth his salt (and hash) knows that test data requires obviously fake names - for example, "Peter Parker", "Tony Stark" and "Steve Rogers" (although some think that's still not enough and "Spiderman", "Ironman" and "Captain America" ought to be used).

So it's either a dumbass engineer OR a total fraud. I heavily lean for the second option.

That said, let's all take a moment to notice the "winning" candidate took less than 75% of the votes. Big boys have learned that those "99%" votes arouse suspicions.

Goldry BluszcoOctober 12, 2013 5:54 AM

@Aspie, you should expect the Aussies to get it right. One of them did after all write The Ballad of Bloodthirsty Bessie:

'Oh, father, I say it is cruel
Oh, father, I say it's unfair:
You're using my sweethearts as fuel
And doing me out of my share'.

JohnTOctober 12, 2013 12:00 PM

The US has its own long tradition of rigged elections. Someday look up the "Duke of Duval County" on Wikipedia. George Parr was the Dem party boss of Duval County TX. He reported Lyndon Johnson's win for senator. Recount was demanded, but somehow the courthouse burned down and the ballots could not be rescued.

LBJ got the nickname of Landslide Lyndon.

AspieOctober 12, 2013 5:08 PM

@NickP - Diebold! That's the mob who made them voting boxes
Hmmm, now I wonder who bankrolled them ...

@Goldry Bluszco
I lived in Aus for many years, they're the most cynical
and astute electorate of any country I know. If they aren't distacted by the Footy that is. :-)

@Dirk Praet
Rove never could be. Not even by the courts. It was almost as if he was getting special treatement ...
James Carville could have cut him up.

roadieOctober 13, 2013 11:58 PM

The shadow cast by corporations, aka government just loves people getting into details and discussing them.

Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Politics (2009) a film by Jonathan Shockley

MarcosOctober 14, 2013 10:02 AM

@Chelloveck

Well, you can blindly belive in anything you want. You want to belive that the elections were fair, good, go ahead.

I'll stay here pointing that blind belif is not a sane foundation for the quality of election results. Go get a proovable system, or at least something that can be subjected to overview.

anonymous cowardOctober 15, 2013 3:05 AM

The same thing happened in the USA last year, except the results were released much earlier. Millions of $ in bets were settled a week before the election. Did Aizerbaijan also air videos of two major parties reading from a script when they should have been counting votes?

mc0eOctober 16, 2013 11:58 PM

@aspie.

That system is as flawed as any other. Well, many others. Read page 2 of the wired article you cited.

A voting machine without a paper record is worthless. Making the system open source is meaningless if the voter can't verify both the validity of the software, and that that open source software is actually what is being run.

Even with a paper trail, a voting machine is still inferior to a ballot box.

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