Brazil: IT Contrarian Burned in Effigy by Elections Inquisition

JUS SPERNIANDI — a blog by a retired Brazilian judge with some interesting life experience to recount about his time served on Brazilian election courts in the south of Brazil — reproduces an open “letter to Brazilian voters” from Mr. Brunazo Filho of Voto Seguro, Brazil’s most active advocate on the question of e-voting security, I think you could say.

I try to follow the Yahoo Groups mailing list — which is completely open to the public, by the way, although you need moderator approval to post — regularly, although sometimes I hold off because I am trying to see what the Brazilian media reports before checking it against the Netroots scuttlebutt.

Kind of like taking a practice test without peeking at the gabarito in the back of the book.

Brazilian Computerworld, by the way, has picked up today on this Feb. 20 piece in its English namesake on an initative by Sen. Feinstein to have the GAO do a thorough audit of electronic voting.

There is, by the way, another hot and heavy potential elections scandal that has quietly disappeared from the media, involving the elections in Rondônia, in which

According to the Web site of journalist Roberto Kuppe, an IT technician of the TRE founded a group (or racket) to sell election results to those paying between R$100,000 for a state deputy, R$200,000 for a federal deputy, and R$500,000 for senator and governor.

Did I just happen to miss the media blitz that proves that Mr. Kuppe is wildly full of shit and that no such scheme existed?

Imagine you are the editor of a major U.S. cable news network and you read a wire-service report that this kind of thing is alleged to have occurred.

I bet you would pick the phone right the hell up and immediately order a tense, edgy infotainment music theme and a garish animated graphics package for saturation coverage that would make the Anna Nicole Smith death (wolf)blitz(er) look like 10 seconds of America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Mr. Brunazo Filho writes:

Senhores eleitores brasileiros,

Dear Brazilian voter:

Na semana anterior ao Carvaval, acompanhado da adv. eleitoral Maria Aparecida Cortiz, fomos a Brasília para acompanhar o andamento de diversos processos junto ao Tribunal Superior Eleitoral, TSE.

The week before Carnaval, I and the elections lawyer Maria Aparecida Cortiz [co-author on Brunazo’s book on the subject, which I am still trying to get a copy of but translated a chunk of an excerpt and review here] to observe the progress of various matters before the federal elections tribunal, the TSE.

Tivemos oportunidade de conversar com vários funcionários das secretarias administrativa, judiciária e de informática daquele órgão e pudemos notar, entre eles, um forte sentimento de revolta contra o Prof. Clóvis Torres Fernandes do ITA/CTA.

We had the opportunity to speak with various officials from the administrative, judicial and information sciences divisions of the TSE and were able to observe in all of them a strong sense of anger against Prof. Torres Fernandes of the ITA/CTA.

Torres had written in rather that the TSE’s explanations for technical failures and anomalies in a 1998 model voting machine used in the contested election were incomplete, unsatisfactory, and, well, er, as I read it, stupid and bogus.

O Prof. Clóvis é o autor de um relatório de análise das urnas eletrônicas utilizadas em Alagoas em 2006, que apontou problemas na geração dos arquivos de controle de eventos (logs) de muitas urnas-e e que levaram à conclusão da falta de confiabilidade do resultado naquelas urnas.

Prof. Fernandes is the autor of a report on his analysis of voting machiens used in Alagoas in 2006, which pointed to problems with the generation of log files on system events in many voting machines, which led him to conclude that the results reported from those machines were not reliable.

Right. He concluded that further testing was needed to rule out the hypothesis that the cause of the problem could have been an attempt to defraud.

The Alagoas election court, backed by Minister Mello: “How dare he accuse us of running a fraudulent election!

Fernandes did no such thing. Which the TSE and its noise machine is now emphasizing. But it is rather too late, I think. First impressions are everything.

Responding in hot denial, threatening libel suits, to charges that no has made is what we, in drunken moments, sometimes like to call, jokingly, a “Latin American guilty plea.”

This is an important test case for that theory.

Fernandes did, however, write — my translation:

The recording of system events as entries in a log file of 7 [kilo]bytes is the most elementary of tasks in computer science, which leads us to suppose that any institution that is incapable of developing a logging module that works properly is incapable of realizing any other computing work in a reliable manner, including the recording and auditing of votes–The Fernandes/ITA Report

I am still not sure if he means that each log entry is 7 bytes or the average file size is 7 kb.

O Relatório Fernandes/ITA pode ser baixado de: [URL]

The Fernandes/ITA report can be downloaded at [URL]

Apesar de publicado em dezembro/06, o sentimento de revolta de membros do TSE cresceu muito principalmente depois da publicação de duas matérias na Revista Veja em janeiro/06 que explorava o relatório do Prof. Clóvis.

Though published in December 2006, the anger of TSE employees has gotten hotter, especially after the publication of two articles in Veja magazine in January, exploring the professor’s report.

Right. Strikingly disloyal of the Civita machine, that report.

Veja, which normally can be counted on to be leading the charge with waves of savage, mendacious bullshit, is now hedging its bets.

See Civita is Civil with the Casa Civil for an on-point rumor-mill factoid chunklet.

Even the Veja fellow-travelers who regularly clamor for the noble, child-torturing pyjama-clad colonels and generals of glorious yore to rise from their redes and cleanse the nation of filth, like Travis Bickle in Mean Streets, are abandoning ship now.

I think this can be almostly wholly explained by the fact that the greasy little toadies Abril threw in with during Lula I failed miserably to deliver it the political risk management end game they said they could deliver.

It’s a dog eat dog world. Why reward failure?

Referências agressivas e desairosas contra a honra e a moral do Prof. Clóvis foram ditas a mim e a adv. Cortiz, por funcionários do TSE. Chamaram-no de “mentiroso” e de “mercenário”, que estaria apenas atrás de notoriedade para poder ganhar dinheiro vendendo relatórios para qualquer partido político interessado em questionar o processo eleitoral.

Aggressive and scornful references to the integrity and honor of Prof. Clóvis were made to myself and Ms. Cortiz by employees of the TSE. They called him “a liar” and a “mercenary” who is supposedly only after notoriety in order to make money selling reports to whatever political party is interested in questioning the elections process.

A agressividade contra o Prof. Clóvis era tanta que pode-se dizer que passou a ser considerado o “inimigo público nº 1 do voto-e do TSE”, me desbancando de um título que vinha sendo a mim atribuido por 10 anos.

The verbal assaults on the professor were so intense that it could be said that he has become “Public Enemy No. 1 of TSE E-Voting,” stripping me of a title that has been attributed to me for 10 years.

Como estou bem calejado com este tipo de difamação, por vezes subreptícia e por vezes ostensiva, nascida de pessoas de dentro do corpo de funcionários da administração eleitoral, que sistematicamente e até instintivamente recorrem ao argumento ad-hominem, reagindo a criticas técnicas com ataques pessoais, me sinto na obrigação de emitir este DESAGRAVO ao Prof. Clóvis Torres Fernandes.

Because I am very familiar with the type of defamation, sometimes surreptious and sometimes open, promoted by people inside the elections authority, who systematically, perhaps instinctively resort to ad hominem arguments, reacting to technical criticisms with personal attacks, I feel obliged to publish this defense of Prof. Fernandes.

As críticas que ouvimos ao Prof. Clóvis, eram todas infundadas e emitidas em momento emocional por pessoas que nem mesmo conversaram com o Prof. Clóvis uma única vez.

These criticisms were heard were all entirely baseless and were uttered in moments of high emotion by persons who have never once spoken with Prof. Fernandes.

Sei que o Prof. Clóvis não está “vendendo relatórios”. Muito pelo contrário, ELE RECUSOU PROPOSTA para participar, como Assistente Técnico, da perícia judicial autorizada pelo TRE-AL, quando poderia aceitar tarefa sem nenhum comprometimento ético e ainda cobrar um alto valor pela assessoria.

I know for a fact that Prof. Fernandes is not “selling reports.” Quite the contrary. He refused an invitation, in fact, to take part as a technical assistant in the technical audit authorized by the regional elections court in Alagoas, which he would have accepted without the least ethical conflict, and charging a substantial fee in the bargain.

Também, ao contrário do que os funcionários do TSE afirmam, ele nunca usurpou o nome de sua instituição, o ITA. Em seu relatório está CLARAMENTE EXPLÍCITO logo na introdução que, apesar do partido político ter contratado o ITA e sua fundação de apoio a pesquisas, o relatório continha as suas opiniões pessoais e que NÃO FALAVA EM NOME DA INSTITUIÇÃO.

Also, contrary to what the TSE employees say, he has never improperly used the name of his institution, the ITA (Air Force Technology Institute). In his report he stated EXPLICITLY AND CLEARLY in his introduction that, although a political party had contracted with the ITA and his research-support foundation, the report contained his personal opinion and did not speak in the name of the ITA.

Disseram que os demais professores do ITA, levados para o TSE em Brasília pelo Dr. Oswaldo Catsumi (ITA/CTA) para serem “consultados”, estariam com “raiva” do Prof. Clóvis por causa de seu relatório. Mas acabei descobrindo, por que sei fazer as perguntas certas, que estes professores (exceto o Catsumi) não aceitaram a “missão” de fazer uma perícia administrativa, sem respeito ao princípio do contraditório, sobre as urnas de Alagoas para o TSE.

They said that other professors from the ITA, summoned to Brasília by Oswaldo Catsumi (ITA/CTA) to be “consulted” by the TSE, were supposedly “very angry” at Prof. Fernandes over the report. But I wound up discovering, because I know how to ask ther ight questions, that these professors (Catsumi excepted) had not accepted the “mission” of performing an administrative technical audit on the Alagoas machines the lack the principle of cross-examination.

This is the legal objective of the Voto Seguro crowd and the attorney for the allegedly aggrieved gubenatorial candidate, Mr. Lyra: Any testing must include the right to cross-examine the testers, whether outsourced or in-house at the TSE, under oath.

Which may be a dangerously novel idea to some Brazilian judges, but your average gringo will tend to think of that, of course, as more or less a cornerstone of effective and credible justice. As more or less common sense.

Acusaram o Prof. Clóvis de estar mentindo sobre ter consultado os arquivos de votos digitais. Ora, no relatório do Prof. Clovis está claramente dito que ele não teve acesso a estes arquivos e até recomendou que uma análise sobre eles deveria ser feita para complementar seu estudo.

They accused Prof. Fernandes of having lied abut having looked at the digital vote files [RVDs, I think it is]. But in his report, the professor clearly states that he did not have access to those files and even recommended that an analysis of these be made to complement his own study.

The legal delaying action on this matter rests primarily, I think, on the notion that looking at those files would constitute a violation of voter privacy and the principle of the secret ballot.

Ah, respect for the rights of citizens in Brazil.

Weirdly, by the way, the Brazilian Congress, also takes its votes secretly. You do not have a right to know that John Kerry voted to authorize the war in Iraq. But that is about to end, one hears.

Todas as acusações ao Prof. Clóvis feitas por funcionários da administração eleitoral são de natureza pessoal, mas NENHUM DE SEUS ARGUMENTOS TÉCNICOS FOI REFUTADO.

All these accusations against Prof. Fernandes by personnel of the elections authority are of a personal nature, but NONE OF HIS TECHNICAL POINTS HAVE BEEN REFUTED.

Das afirmações sobre os problemas de quebra de integridade ou incompleteza dos arquivos de logs gerados por quase 2000 urnas-e, contidos no Relatório Fernandes/ITA, NENHUMA FOI REBATIDA com argumentos também técnicos, baseados em dados.

Regarding his statements about the loss of integrity or incompleteness of log files generated by nearly 2,000 electronic voting machines, as set forth in the report, NONE HAS BEEN REBUTTED by technical arguments, based on data.

There has been some attempt, however, to explain these in terms of hardware, rather than software, failure, I note. HOw credibly I could not tell you, but the statements I have heard on the point do not seem internally consistent to me. Just an impression at this point.

And remember that the bonfire of voting machines in Alagoas, still under investigation, was originally attributed by “the TRE” there, to a termite infestation.

O máximo que me apresentaram foi uma explicação para as divergências apontadas pelo Prof. Clóvis entre o boletim de urna de 29 urnas e a tabela de correspondências efetivadas.

The most they could managed to field as a reply was an explanation for the discrepancies the professor pointed out between the printed voting machine report on 29 machines and the updated table of correspondences.

Mas esta explicação não negava, e sim confirmava, o relato do Prof. Clóvis sobre a existência de divergências com estas 29 urnas.

But that explanation did not refute, but rather confirmed, Fernandes’ statement that discrepancies did exist in those 29 machines.

Assim, por já ter tido que enfrentar o mesmo tipo de difamação, nascida daqueles que passados 10 anos ainda não conseguem oferecer ao eleitor brasileiro um sistema eleitoral eletrônico cujo resultado possa ser auditado com simplicidade, clareza e transparência, MANIFESTO MEU REPÚDIO a todas as afirmações desairosas que funcionários da administração eleitoral estão assacando contra o Prof. Clóvis Fernandes Torres do ITA.

This, having faced the same kind of slander myself over the past 10 years from people who have yet to offer the Brazilian voter an electronic voting system whose results can be readily audited with clarity and transparency, I HEREBY EXPRESS MY UTTER REPUDIATION of all of these baseless attacks by TSE personnel on Prof. Fernandes of the ITA.

Manifesto, ainda, minha concordância com os argumentos técnicos e conclusões contidas no relatório do Prof. Clovis inclusive com a seguinte conclusão:

And I express my complete agreement with the technical arguments and conclusions contained in his report, including the following:

“A gravação dos registros de eventos, como entradas de log de 7 bytes, é tão elementar em termos computacionais, que se pode assumir que uma instituição, não sendo capaz de desenvolver um módulo de log que faça a gravação corretamente, seria incapaz de realizar qualquer outro tipo de operação de forma confiável, inclusive no registro e apuração de voto”

That is the striking conclusion I translated for you up above.

It is a bit rhetorically overwrought, perhaps, but it is backed by a series of supporting studies calling into question the quality-control of the TSE’s software development and security methodologies.

No such studies have been performed, however, since 2002.

Signed, Eng. Amilcar Brunazo Filho – Santos, SP.

Santos seems to be kind of Brazilian Brooklyn, it seems to me. It’s a hardass town, but its mothers don’t raise no wimps or fools.

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