Imagine if someone hacked into your canvassing database account and deleted stuff…

Well, that is exactly what happened to US Democrat party strategist Donna Brazile in November 2016. She told Joe Madison:

We had so much shit in our entire technology ecosystem that we couldn’t clean it up. Oh man, those Russians were on us like white on rice. I mean, they were, Joe, they were destroying data, critical data, Joe. I had a walking list for precinct 89 in Washington, D.C. I know precinct 89, right? And the Russians went in there and corrupted all of our critical data. All of our critical data. So, I no longer trusted this damn list that I’ve had for over 20 years of knowing every frequent voter, every Democratic voter…And, look, we were not even sure on on election day if the data that we were giving the people to do walks or calls – we were not even sure if it was clean.

You can hear the full clip on SoundCloud here. Hat-tip: Political Wire. CNN has a background timeline to this story.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • It would be better to avoid incautiously retailing wholly unsubstantiated assertions swirling around the toxic swamp that is US politics.

    Donna Brazile may genuinely believe what she said but no proof is offered and, until it is, this is a kangaroo court operating in the ignoble tradition of WMD.

    FWIW CNN is often known as the “Clinton News Network” for its highly partisan reporting and the whole ‘Russiagate’ story lacks any proof. For example the oft-repeated claim that the intelligence community is “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails…” tracks back, not to the intelligence community as usually claimed, but to just two analysts. Shades of the dodgy dossier!

    Conversely, there is abundant evidence that key Dems, HRC with her private server among them, were remarkably cavalier in their management of data so almost anyone could have messed with it.

    Also there are powerful forces in the US with a strong vested interest in promoting ‘Russiagate’ and keeping any evidence to the contrary out of the news. Specifically, William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, says that the NSA has long had in its computers information which can prove exactly who hacked the DNC. It has kept silent.

    Sup with a long spoon.

  • OnceALibDem 23rd Nov '17 - 7:42pm

    She lost a walking list for a Precinct in DC? Now DC is about the safest electoral unit for one party possibly anywhere in the genuinely democratic world. So having achieved the major coup of being able to hack a political parties database without it being obviously noticed until to late (and the damage not restorable from a back up fairly easily – which suggests a worrying problem with the system) the Russians chose to do this in a way which would not really impact remotely on the overall result.

    It’s roughly the equivalent of disabling Labours electoral systems in somewhere like Aberavon.

    (Wikipedia says she was working on upping turnout in non-competitive districts as there was a worry Hilary would win the EC and lose the popular vote. Whether it might have been better campaigning in Wisconsin is a question for historians to ponder on!)

  • OnceALibDem 23rd Nov '17 - 7:57pm

    BTW – Clinton polled 81% in Precinct 89. Obama polled 76% in 2012. I’m not 100% sure they are the same though.

  • This seems to be a separate discussion point to the main focus: how could anyone lose to Trump and why were the democrats always going to pick Hilary despite her having major flaws?

  • The Democrats chose the wrong candidate in 2016.

  • How does she know it was the Russians? Didn’t know Russians had got into state DNC lists?

  • steve white 24th Nov ’17 – 12:15am:

    How does she know it was the Russians?

    I expect she buys Kremlin brand tinfoil.

  • OnceALibDem 24th Nov '17 - 1:27am

    I’ve though (obsessed!) about this driving home tonight. It smacks of BS:
    1) It is conceptually easy to trash a voting database. Very straightforward to delete all (which is what she claims) or alter every 20th record to make everything meaningless. However in mid-campaign even a quarter way decent campaign organiser will be looking at their data daily if not more often so you’d spot such a crude change pretty much straight away. (I once used a system that had an online syncing mechanism that just didn’t work and it was fairly clear the data was getting corrupted)
    2) I don’t know if she was using VAN but I’m guessing other databases would be the same and the standard practice is to keep old data. No so much so that you can roll back in the event of a cock up but being able to compare new and old data is a really handy thing to be able to do. So if someone did do a large scale data altering it would leave a huge trail. Not just because of security but because the system is built to work that way.
    3) You COULD have a hack that was sophisticated enough to alter things in a way that was hard to see. Eg for every Democrat voting ID removed you add another one elsewhere in the data file. So a crude count wouldn’t look that different. But if you are also running stats based on demographics, past voting patterns etc etc it would be hard to alter data in a way that was invisible.
    4) You could in theory recreated the whole voting database with fake data but which had the same statistical finger print – ie wipe the whole file and upload a new one. But that would need a very high level of access – and would be quite hard to hide from a forensic investigation.

  • OnceALibDem 24th Nov '17 - 1:37am

    5) So hacks 1, 2 and 3 would create something that was fairly easy to spot and even 4 would be easy to remedy if decent backups were kept. If you could do 4 then why not go after voting machines which are less secure
    6) Access is pretty tightly controlled to voting databases – they aren’t like email which is intrinsically insecure. Given an environment where senior figures had already had email hacked its hard to believe there wasn’t a lot of care being taken over high level access to voting databases that would allow those sorts of changes.
    7) If a rogue agent had done something like this how come it is only coming out now, in this rather imprecise way. It would be relatively easy to show which data was altered when and by who (username, ip address etc). It would be fairly dynamite stuff.
    8) The Russian interference stuff looks credible but it is pretty low-tech stuff – twitter bots and rogue facebook ads.

  • nigel hunter 24th Nov '17 - 10:33pm

    Shuttleworths are a gAs it is bulky it is hard to loose.ood idea as a back up if your computer crashes or something else happens to it.

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