Dr. Alex Halderman is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Director of the Center for Computer Security and Society at the University of Michigan. He is, in short, a Professor of Dolphin-Speech, with focus on hacking. Halderman is no fan of Donald Trump, and from his public statements I would surmise that his politics are normal academic Lefty, but intellectually honest normal academic Lefty. Professor Halderman becomes a key part of our story now, because Professor Halderman was commissioned to perform a professional analysis of Dominion Voting cybersecurity and cyber-integrity, or lack thereof. His 25,000 word monograph on the subject may turn out to be the MacGuffin of this pivotal moment in American history.
Here is how that came to be:
- In August 2020 Georgia politicians (Democrat and Republican) filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger on the grounds that use of Direct Electronic Voting systems (aka “DREs” aka “voting machines”) violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection. The case is Curling v. Raffensperger.
- A Michigan professor of cybersecurity, Alex Halderman, who has been leading the study of voting machines for over a decade, was commissioned by the court to inspect a new Dominion machine. He wrote a 25,000 word report on the subject. For reasons that will be explained below that report has yet to see the light of day with the public, but I think it safe to say that the findings he expresses match the excerpts of Congressional testimony shown in the video below.
- Weeks before the November 2020 election, Federal Judge Amy Totenberg wrote a decision that indicated profound mistrust of the voting systems and a desire to get rid of them, but found it was too late to unplug them for the November 2020 election then only weeks away. Judge Totenberg sealed everything she could about the case, including Professor Halderman’s monograph.
- Whatever is in that report is so important that on September 21, 2021 (just over three weeks ago) Halderman moved the court for permission to break the protective order on his findings, that he might get them to DHS-CISA. He makes clear in his submission to the court that the vulnerabilities he found could easily be used by domestic or foreign actors to rig an election on these machines, and that there are 16 states at risk, and that it is a matter of national security.
- Halderman states “these are not theoretical problems but rather specific flaws in [Dominion] software” and his “prepared to demonstrate proof-of-concept malware that can … steal votes.” (paragraph 2)
- Dominion is ignoring the flaws he has identified and there are “very likely equally other critical flaws that are yet to be discovered.” (paragraphs 3-4)
- This is an “urgent” matter of national security and “nefarious actors” may be preparing to “exploit” these flaws in upcoming elections (paragraph 8)
- Professor Halderman carefully avoids saying anything about November 2020, but submitted emails to show he is communicating with CISA and that they stand ready to work with, taking the vulnerabilities he found so that they might be patched before the next election (which in many states occurs in November 2021).
- Judge Amy Totenberg has refused to let Professor Halderman provide his report to DHS-CISA. Instead, she said, DHS must write her a letter directly asking for the report (which everyone knows will never happen), and then she will consider it.
Lest the enormity of that slip past the reader, let me tease it out again. Our nation’s leading professor on the cybervulnerabilities of voting systems is saying in a report (as he says publicly in the video below) that Dominion’s machines are compromised. Because there is an election two weeks from now he wants to warn, not the affected states themselves, but warn simply our federal government about the hacks he has found and which we must assume the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and everyone else has found), so that their DHS-CISA has the information to do its job. But he is not allowed to give that information to the US Government because he is blocked by a federal judge named Amy Totenberg (sister of NPR Nina Totenberg).
If only there were a pattern….
PS I would think any state Attorney General trying to get to the bottom of election meshugus might do well by subpoenaing that report from Georgia, or from Professor Halderman himself.
PPS I cannot let this moment pass without celebrating the schizophrenia this is inducing in the Left. The Daily Beast recent reporting shows they understand the seriousness of the issue, but struggle to reconcile that with their NPC-programming. They wish to take positions simultaneously that:
- this is an extremely serious problem for our society;
- we all know there was no election fraud affecting the November 2020 election because, well, we all already know it.
Judge Seals Report on Voting Machine Vulnerability ‘ATTORNEYS’ EYES ONLY’
A judge in a Georgia election security lawsuit is working to tamp down voting machine conspiracy theories. But sealing a court file could stoke the controversy even more.
Jose Pagliery – Political Investigations Reporter
Shannon Vavra – National Security Reporter
Published Aug. 13, 2021 4:28AM ET
It’s the kind of report that could be weaponized by those looking to cast doubt on U.S. election results: a cybersecurity analysis that found flaws in Georgia’s voting machines and warns about the potential for future attacks. But a federal judge has sealed the report, and her attempt to shield the public from bad faith efforts to undermine the 2020 election could instead fuel the conspiracy theory dumpster fires—and keep the voting machine maker from figuring out how to fix it.
The 25,000-word report, commissioned by election integrity groups, does not touch on the 2020 results at all. But the report—authored by a University of Michigan computer science professor who has testified numerous times on Capitol Hill about U.S. election security, J. Alex Halderman—claims that Georgia’s ballot marking devices (BMDs) “suffer from specific, highly exploitable vulnerabilities that allow attackers to change votes despite the state’s purported defenses,” all by
In a public court document, Halderman urged that his report be shared with Georgia election officials and the voting machine manufacturer to “address the vulnerabilities it describes before attackers exploit them.” Halderman wrote his report after he was given 12 weeks of access to an unused Dominion ICX voting machine, according to court documents.
Several sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Daily Beast that the secret report makes two points: hacking these specific ballot marking devices is easier than previously believed, and Georgia does not have a process in place to catch it if it ever happens. “Georgia voters face an extreme risk that [ballot marking device]-based attacks could manipulate their individual votes and alter election outcomes,” Halderman wrote in a signed declaration on Aug. 2.
While Halderman’s claims are unverified, don’t address the 2020 election, and provide no evidence that anyone has taken advantage of the alleged vulnerabilities, their mere existence will likely be enough for many “Stop the Steal” advocates who believe the 2020 results were illegitimate despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Which is perhaps why U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg made the report a “confidential document.”
At a recent hearing, Totenberg sealed the report, citing a strong reluctance to draw any public scrutiny to the sensitive details in the case. Totenberg would not even allow an election integrity group to openly advocate for disclosure of the report, according to a transcript of a July 26 court hearing obtained by The Daily Beast. Instead, the judge asked that any such argument be filed in secret under seal. “There are so many other ways to educate the public besides trying to use this case,” Totenberg warned on the call. “I’m at the end of my rope about that.”
Totenberg decided to limit circulation of the report, opting to keep it to “attorneys’ eyes only”—and away from engineers at Dominion itself— out of a concern that exposing it to company employees would make it “subject to disclosure in other litigation.” “I’m concerned enough about the information contained in it… I have seen how this can blow up,” Totenberg said, according to the transcript.
That decision could stoke conspiracy theorists, but experts in the rightwing media ecosystem were also concerned that any information about potential issues with voting machines might be exploited. Sam Jackson, an assistant professor who teaches about online extremism at the University at Albany, told The Daily Beast that the mere existence of this story could fuel conspiracy theories. “I would not be surprised to see some far-right media outlets run very inflammatory headlines that are deliberate misreadings of this piece,” he said.
Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, which scrutinizes right-leaning media, expects the “very well-developed conspiracy theory network” built in recent years on social media and alternative TV stations like Newsmax and One America News Network to wrongfully use the existence of the report to “undermine the validity of elections in the minds of conservatives.”
“They will use anything they can to fan the flames of these conspiracy theories,” Gertz said.
Editors note: If you are having trouble following the logic, here it is. Halderman’s report shows that hacking these machines is easy, so “Georgia voters face an extreme risk that [ballot marking device]-based attacks could manipulate their individual votes and alter election outcomes.” And Georgia will not catch it if it happens. The same is true of 16 other states using these systems. That is highly concerning. Unless a Republican says the same thing, in which case it is a conspiracy theory. So when the judge suppresses the best information our country has about an issue of national self-determination, it is not actually suppression, it is “stopping a conspiracy theory”. Because a Republican said it. And the real problem with letting citizens know that votes can be manipulated and election outcomes altered… is that conservatives might use that knowledge to “undermine the validity of elections in the minds of conservatives” (though why an election in which votes are manipulated and outcomes altered has “validity” is considered something so obvious the Daily Beast need not address it).
Is this starting to seem strange to anyone else?