“Do Not Open That Black Box”: Alagoas Guv to Election Muftis


“Electronic ballot box” simulation on the TSE Web Site: requires Java.

Gazetaweb , Web site of another Globo newspaper, has the scoop — or scoopoid, as it were.

Actually, as I discover from running the patented NMM-Tabajara “self-plagiarism detection” algorithm — actually, the patent is pending — the Globo newspaper simply cut and pasted the press release, without modifications or explanation, from the TSE press release wire.

Organizações Globo: World-class journalism.

Téo pede ao TSE suspensão de perícia nas urnas

Governor-elect of Alagoas petitions federal elections (TSE) court for suspension of expert testing of voting machines.

You may recall that the so-called Fernandes Report, by an expert from an Air Force technical institute, working as an independent consultant through a related foundation, found signs of what the expert characterized in rather blunt terms as major, major malfunctions in the voting machines used in elections in that state in October 2006.

The candidate with 24% of the intentions to vote in pre-election polls won an outright majority in the first round in the multicandidate runoff election.

Previous NMM coverage here.

O governador de Alagoas, Teotônio Vilela Filho (PSDB) e a coligação PSDB-PMDB-PPS-PTdoB que o elegeu ajuizaram, nesta quarta-feira (31), uma ação no Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE) em que pedem a concessão de liminar para suspender qualquer perícia nas urnas eletrônicas utilizadas em Alagoas e o reconhecimento da legalidade e lisura da eleição de 2006 para o governo do estado.

The Governor of Alagoas, Teotônio Vilela Filha (PSDB) and the coalition of parties that elected him filed an action with the TSE on Jan 31 in which they seek to block any expert testing of electronic voting machines used in Alagoas and the recognition that the 2006 gubernatorial election election was legal and valid.

A Representação (RP 1370) é movida contra o Tribunal Regional Eleitoral de Alagoas (TRE-AL), o candidato derrotado ao cargo de governador João Lyra (PTB), a coligação Alagoas Mudar para Crescer (PTB/PFL/PP/PMN/PV) e o juiz eleitoral, relator da ação em andamento no TRE alagoano. Ainda não há relator designado para analisar o processo no TSE.

Petition No. RP 1370 names the regional elections court of Alagoas (TRE-AL), the defeated candidate João Lyra (PTB), the coalition of parties that supported him, and the elections judge that is adjudicating the case currently underway in the TRE-AL. No judge has yet been been assigned to analyze the petition in the TSE.

And the TSE news page has not noticed receipt of the case, either. Last I checked.

Marco Aurélio de Mello, chief justice, did, however, announce on Feb. 1 that he had “taken steps” to request a report from the ITA and Campinas on the machines.

A hearing on the court-generated “administrative petition” is scheduled for Feb. 6.

That is, this measure was announced after the filing of the petition from Vilela on Jan. 31

Os autores narram que em dezembro passado, o candidato João Lyra ingressou com duas ações contra o governador Teotônio Vilela Filho no TRE alagoano, ambas sob a alegação de que teria havido fraude nas urnas eletrônicas do estado. Uma requer a anulação do pleito para o governo de Alagoas e outra, a cassação do mandato de Teotônio.

The authors [of the petition] recount that in December 2006, João Lyra filed two lawsuits against Vilela in the TRE-AL, both alleging that there may have been electoral fraud in the state’s e-voting machines. One suit request the annulment of the election for Governor and the other the cancellation of Vilela’s mandate.

Os autores lembram que João Lyra chegou a pedir, anteriormente, a “verificação das assinaturas digitais” das urnas ao TRE e a partir da análise das mesmas, “não havia nenhuma irregularidade”.

The petition recalls that Lyra also asked, prior to this, that the “digital signatures” on the TRE’s machines “be verified,” and that the analysis of the digital signatures indicated that “there were no irregularities.”

Ressaltam que, em parecer técnico enviado ao TRE, a Secretaria de Tecnologia da Informação (STI) do TSE respondeu questionamentos e concluiu pela regularidade das eleições no estado.

It emphasizes that, in a technical opinion sent to the TRE, the Technology Division of the TSE (STI/TSE) responded to criticisms and concluded in favor of the regularity of those elections.

The Fernandes Report, however, said this about the STI/TSE report:

The explanations and justifications presented in the report from the STI/TSE [the federal election tribunal’s IT division] for the loss of integrity in these files do not account for the majority of these cases [of anomalies in log files and failures in log file generation] … It appears that the STI/TSE report was concerned solely with developing an intepretation of the situation that would attenuate the perception that there was a problem, rather than seeking to clarify why such inconsistencies are present and how such anomalies came to pass;

Back to Gazetaweb’s plagiarized “news report”:

Com base nas conclusões técnicas da STI/TSE, o corregedor Regional Eleitoral de Alagoas assinalou a legalidade das eleições na circunscrição: “Na visão deste Magistrado, tais considerações autorizam a conclusão de que não houve falha no funcionamento da urna, tanto no que concerne à captação do voto como na apuração, mas apenas na interpretação do evento no momento da geração do arquivo de log, o que afasta o receio de que a vontade do eleitor tenha sido maculada por programas não autorizados”.

Based on the STI/TSE’s conclusions, the regional elections solicitor for Alagoas signalled that the elections were legal, writing: “In the view of this magistrate, these considerations allow us to concluce that there were no failures of functionality in the machine that affected either the capture of votes or their tallying, but only in the execution of the log-file generation routine, which satisifies our main concern, which was that the will of the voter might have been violated by non-authorized programs.

I had not heard that argument before: That only the log-file generation module failed. The last version of the story that I heard was that it was a failure of disk drive that had caused a large proportion of the log files to be garbled. Maybe this refers to the same theory, which I only read in the quoted remarks of some TRE guy on TV.

O candidato João Lyra, então, apresentou um estudo elaborado por uma consultoria particular sobre a integridade do sistema eletrônico das eleições em Alagoas, o qual teria concluído pela “sensação de pouca confiança no software rodado na urna e conseqüentemente de pouca confiança no resultado apurado”.

Lyra then presented a study prepared by a private consultant on the integrity of the electronic elections system in Alagoas, whose conclusions “conveyed a sense of having little confidence in the software used in the machine and therefore little confidence in the results of the voting.”

Segundo o governador eleito, o estudo apresentado por Lyra aponta para a necessidade de se fazer uma série de procedimentos periciais, que segundo ele, não seriam autorizados sem o acompanhamento da Corte Superior Eleitoral.

According to the governor-elect, the study presented by Lyra points to the need for a series of technical tests, which according to him, cannot be authorized without the participation of the Superior Elections Court.

Principais argumentos – A ação do governador Teotônio Vilela Filho volta-se contra decisão do relator do processo em curso no Tribunal Regional de Alagoas. Na decisão atacada, o relator determinou que seja realizada a prova pericial requerida por João Lyra, a qual permitirá o acesso ao sistema de segurança da urna eletrônica, sem o acompanhamento do TSE.

Principal arguments: Vilela’s suit runs counter to the decision of the presiding judge in the TRE-AL. In the decision attached to Vilela’s petition, the judge ruled that the tests demanded by Lyra be conducted, which would have permitted access to the security system of the machine, without the involvement of the TSE.

Para embasar a alegação de que essa perícia não pode ser realizada, Teotônio Vilela Filho cita jurisprudência do TSE que não permite a realização de perícias nas urnas eletrônicas “fora do seu [do TSE] controle e dentro dos limites impostos para não se permitir flancos em desfavor da integridade do processo eletrônico de votação”.

As a basis for his objection to the testing, Vilela cites TSE precedents that do not permit the testing of machines “outside of TSE control and within limits imposed in order to prevent access that might compromise the integrity of the electronic voting process.

That, I believe, is fairly new precedent, part of the so-called “electoral mini-reform.” But I could be long. Flag for follow-up, Agnes.

Alega, ainda, afronta ao devido processo legal e ausência de fundamentação da decisão do juízo de Alagoas. Reclama que sequer foi intimado da decisão que determinou a perícia: “Como se pode determinar a realização de perícia quando sequer os ora representantes foram chamados ao processo”, reclamando que ainda nem apresentou defesa à ação. Diz que foram inobservados os “princípios do contraditório, da ampla defesa e do devido processo legal que se impõe por sua natureza constitucional”.

He also argues that the decision by the Alagoas judge is an affront to due process. He complains that he was not even notified of the decision that authorized the testing: “How can testing be authorized without notice to both parties in the case?” he said, adding that he has not yet even presented a defense in the case. He said that “the principles of adversarial justice and the constitutional right to a full defense and to due process of law” were flouted.

But in which suit was the order given? To annul the election, or to cancel Vilela’s mandate? That might make a difference.

Reclama, ainda, o governador que a perícia determinada pelo TRE-AL seria ampla, geral e irrestrita, “permitindo a terceiros estranhos à Justiça Eleitoral, sem o controle do Tribunal Superior Eleitoral, a devassa no sistema eletrônico de votos, possibilitando aquilo que nunca fora autorizado pela Justiça Eleitoral: o acesso aos Registros Digitais de Votos (RDV), que permitem aos peritos o acesso à identidade dos votantes e ao voto dado, quebrando assim o princípio constitucional do sigilo dos votos”.

He also complains that the testing authorized by the TRE-AL would be general, wide-ranging and unrestricted, “which would give third parties outside of the electoral system, not under the supervision of the TSE, to roam through the system, makign it possible to do what election law has never permitted: access the Digital Registry of Votes (RDV), which gives technicians access to the identify of voters and data on how they voted, thus violting the constitutional principle of the secret ballot.”

A decisão do juízo alagoano, contestada na ação de Teotônio Vilela Filho, diz o seguinte: “Dessa forma, defiro as seguintes perícias requeridas pelos autores (f. 25): verificação do Registro Digital de Voto (item 1); realização do experimento de votação simulada do tipo “Caixa-Preta” (item 2); e, perícia dos flash cards de carga (item 3)”.

The decision by the Alagoan judge at issue here states as follows: “Thus, I authorize the following tests requested by the petitioners (f. 25): (1) Verification of the RDV; (2) realization of an experiment with a “black box” type of simulated election; and (3) expert analysis of the flash cards used to upload software.

Pedidos – Ao final, os autores pedem a concessão de liminar para suspender a decisão atacada até o julgamento final desta Representação, suspendendo-se a realização de qualquer perícia nas urnas eletrônicas de Alagoas, porque segundo os autores, a matéria é de competência exclusiva do TSE. Também pedem o julgamento pela procedência da Representação, com o reconhecimento da legalidade e lisura do processo eleitoral em Alagoas. BB/AV (TSE)

Petitions: The petition asks the court to issue a temporary stay suspending the decision until the final adjudication of its request for a permanent stay, barring the carrying out of any testing on the voting machines of Alagoas, because that is the exclusive province of the TSE. It also asks that the legality and validity of the election be recognized.

In other words, to endorse the report of its own experts — the STI/TSE — without rebutting the Fernandes Report’s scathing criticisms.

More soon. In the meantime, you can follow all the public correspondence of the Voto Seguro crowd, who are spearheading this case in parallel with Mr. Lyra’s attorney — a former TSE judge and OAS elections specialist — here [link tktktktktk].

Their mission statement:

O Sistema Informatizado de Eleições do Brasil tem sido desenvolvido pelo TSE de forma obscurantista, sem a devida discussão com a sociedade. Como conseqüência temos hoje um sistema inauditável no qual não é possivel se proceder à conferência da apuração eletrônica dos votos e onde ainda existem programas de computador mantidos secretos. Venha discutir e propor alternativas com especialistas em informática e segurança de dados, engenheiros, advogados, jornalistas, políticos e outros representantes da sociedade. A lista é aberta mediante inscrição para identificação. O volume diário de mensagens varia de acordo com o calendário político nacional, e se situa entre 5 e 30. Você pode receber as mensagens uma a uma na sua caixa postal, recebê-las diariamente acumuladas numa mensagem só, ou pode lê-las diretamente pelo navegador, para não congestionar sua caixa postal. O Fórum do VotoSeguro (lista votoseguro@yahoogrupos.com.br) está intimamente associado à página do Voto Eletrônico (www.votoseguro.org)

Brazil’s Computerized Elections System has been developed in an obscurantist fashion by the TSE, without due consultation with Brazilian society. As a result, what we have today is a system that cannot be audited, that makes it imposssible for votes to be counted in conference [with the participation of observers] and that still includes computer programs that are kept secret. Come discuss and propose alternatives with IT and data security specialists, engineers, laywers, journalists, politicians and other members of society. [mailing list logistics follow] …

The counterargument being that if open source were used, it would be too easy to hack.

But hey, Windows is closed-source.

How hard has it been, historically, to hack Windows security?

Grotesquely, Alerta Total — a mouthpiece for the Ternuma gang and Gen. Figueiredo — wants to blame the Lula government for “the catastrophic failure of the e-voting system.”

O modelo que aí está vem se mostrando muito mais perverso que seus antecessores soviético, cubano e chinês. Estes traçaram e gravaram na cabeça do povo “quem eram” e o que pretendiam logo no alvorecer de seus “mandatos”. O modelo aqui adotado é mais insidioso e diabolicamente dissimulado aos olhos do povo incauto e míopeseado pela fragilidade da sua condição de meros sobreviventes.

The model we have now is turning out to be even more perverse that its Soviet, Cuban and Chinese forebears. They engraved onto the minds of the people this (false) idea of “who they were” and what they intended to do when they began their “mandates.” The model adopted here is more insidious and diabolically disguised from the eyes of credulous people who are blinded by the fragility of their own struggle for survival.

Jogados, por manobras cientificamente planejadas, ao lirismo romântico da ideologia socialista, os cidadãos demorarão a perceber que o socialismo não é e nunca foi senão um cruel capitalismo de Estado, bem mais selvagem e espoliador que o liberalismo.

Through scientifically planned maneuvers, citizens are thrown by the lyrical romanticism of socialistist ideology, and it will take time for them to perceive that socialism is not and never will be anything but a cruel capitalism of the State, one that is a lot more savage and exploitative than neoliberalism.

What does all that have to do with the work of Voto Seguro?

Good question.

Nothing, really.

It’s just that, as the Voto Seguro forum member points out, the post links to a news flash of his on the unfolding of the case.

The Total Alert post referencing Voto Seguro was also distributed widely around Orkut as a “perspective” on what apparently these people have apparently calculated is the inevitable shitstorm to come over the Alagoas case.

The problem with hiring dim-witted psycopaths on the cheap to do this kind of dirty work is that you get what you pay for.

From a Kremlinological point of view, however, it is interesting to note the turnaround in the attitude of this absurd cabal since Ricardo Neves wrote, after the “triumph” of “the world’s first all-digital election“:

It’s great to see public institutions actually working. Why, in other areas in which the State plays a role, such as education, health and security, and even in the Judiciary and legislature, can we not make this qualitative leap, as the TSE has done?

In other words, “The Lula government is incompetent while the TSE is omnicompetent.”

That the presidential elections went to a runoff is a great victory for Brazilian society. Let’s hope the candidates are able to present themselves as the competent leaders they ought to be. And not as prophets, saviors of the fatherland, or demagogues. Let’s hope the press will do its job, helping voters to remember and to discover that which spurious interests try to cover up. In the age of Digital Citizenship, we no longer need to hit the streets to change things. It’s enough to press “confirm.”

As I said, and now, it seems, it’s a fiasco — and it’s all Lula’s fault.

Note the heavy accent on the Infinite Guile of the Communist Superman meme in that Total Alert post as well.

The TSE suggested quietly and informally, by the way, not long ago, that Windows CE would be dropped in favor of Linux in the next round of software development.

I continue to keep an eye out for more details on that.

The judiciary is currently in a fierce bureaucratic battle with the executive over its “autonomy” — in this case, over its right to set its own salaries, but the dispute runs to some deep and fundamental structural governance issues.

So watch that story.

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