As I said about last week’s election, Karl Rove was completely taken aback when the Ohio totals came in. He looked like someone who’d been doublecrossed and just realized it. And now, Anonymous is claiming they stopped Rove’s people from hacking the election. And why not? It’s not as if Rove hasn’t done it before:
When Ohio was called for Barack Obama on Election Night, thereby pushing him over the top in the Electoral College, Karl Rove didn’t take it very well, as he encouraged Mitt Romney not to concede for several hours. In fact, Romney didn’t concede until after Obama had won enough states to win the election even without Ohio. From the Washington Guardian:
The prominent Republican strategist and former Bush White House guru didn’t seem able to deal with Mitt Romney’s loss on Election Night. When the network he was appearing on, Fox News, called that Ohio had voted for President Barack Obama, thereby effectively ending the election, Rove strongly pushed back.
“I think this is premature,” Rove said, insisting that only part of the vote had been counted. “I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, but we gotta be careful about calling things when we have like 991 votes separating the two candidates.”
Rove put up so much protest, in fact, that anchor Megyn Kelly traveled back into Fox’s studio to speak with their statisticians and experts who were calling each state. Even before Rove almost had a conniption, Fox in fact had been one of the last to call Ohio for Obama.
Rove insisted that only part of the vote had been counted? As we all know, states are routinely called for one candidate or another when only part of the vote is counted – based on statistical analysis of a combination of the current vote count, exit polls, and what parts of the state have yet to be counted. So what was Karl Rove so sure he knew about the vote count – or looming vote count – that none of the network statisticians knew, even at FOX news? To consider that question, let’s go back to 2004:
Election Night 2004
In the official 2004 Ohio vote count, George W. Bush beat John Kerry by about 118 thousand votes, a margin of about 2.5%. But according to the final Ohio exit polls, John Kerry was predicted to win by a whopping 4.2% – thus producing a huge discrepancy between the exit polls and the official vote count.
Prior to Election Day 2004, it was evident that Ohio was the most critical swing state in the country. Late on Election Night, it became apparent that whoever won Ohio would win the presidency. TV commentators discussed how the situation looked very bad for George W. Bush. Even the right wing political hack Robert Novak acknowledged that Bush had little chance of winning Ohio – and thus the election.
So what happened then? Stephen Spoonamore, a computer expert and close associate of Michael Connell, who was widely known as “Karl Rove’s IT guru”, provided a likely answer to that question in a sworn affidavit on October 26, 2008.
During the evening and early morning on the 2004 General Election in Ohio, on my own computer I was watching the results of incoming counties and precincts. I believed there was a more than likely chance County Tabulators had been programmed to manipulate votes…. As early results showed Kerry ahead, I noticed a trend in a very few counties (I believe I noted 8 counties on election night) that at about 11 p.m. suddenly began reporting radically different ratios of Kerry to Bush votes. All in favor of Mr. Bush. This sudden rate of change… resembled a fraud technique called an Intelligent Man In the Middle, or KingPin Attack. This type of attack requires a computer to be inserted into the communications flow of an IT system…
Other experts found additional data indicating Bush’s increase in votes from these counties, and Kerry’s decrease in votes… When information about the SmartTech IT routing switch became public… I again stated that we now have confirmation of a KingPin, or Intelligent Man in the Middle position had been created… The SmartTech system was set up precisely as a KingPin computer used in criminal acts against banking or credit card processes and had the needed level of access to both county tabulators and Secretary of States computers to allow whoever was running SmartTech’s computers to decide the output of the county tabulators under its control… The SmartTech computer would as the results of the evening proceeded be able to know how many votes Bush needed to steal from Kerry, and flip enough votes on the desired county tabulators to reverse the outcome of the election…
The aborted testimony of Michael Connell
The SmartTech system that Spoonamore referred to was operated by Michael Connell – “Karl Rove’s IT guru”. Two days after Spoonamore’s affadavit, attorneys filed a motion to compel testimony of Connell regarding his knowledge of the workings of the GOP computer systems. On October 31 a federal judge ordered Connell to submit to a deposition on possible election manipulation. Connell gave the deposition on November 4, providing as little information as possible, but eventually he was forced to admit that “he brought Triad and SmartTech into the Ohio election game”.
When it became apparent that Connell would testify in the case, Connell was warned not to fly his plane. Cliff Arnebeck, the Ohio lawyer who brought the suit and subpoenaed Connell, warned the U.S. Justice Department that Connell’s life might be in danger, and requested witness protection. Connell never did get to testify. On December 19, shortly before he was due to testify, he died in a plane crash, presumably caused by his plane running out of gas.
What happened on Election Night 2012?
If up to the point where the TV networks were discussing how hopeless Ohio looked for Mitt Romney on Election Night 2012 seems to you to be eerily similar to Election Night 2004, you’re not alone. As in 2004, Ohio was the critical swing state. As in 2004, the situation looked very bad for the Republican candidate. As in 2004, the Ohio election was being handled by a highly partisan Republican administration. As in 2004, Karl Rove seemed to be a key player. And as in 2004, SmartTech computers played a central role in tabulating the Ohio vote. As explained here two months prior to the 2012 election:
In 2012 the current Ohio GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted plans to once again use SMARTech for the 2012 Ohio Presidential Election. It would be interesting to know how SOS Husted plans to utilize SMARTech and if he will admit knowledge of the use of SMARTech. Will the computer IT architecture be similar to the one created in 2004 where Stephen Spoonamore claimed the architecture was a classic Man-In-The Middle attack format for the ability to manipulate vote totals.
But there were a couple of big differences between 2004 and 2012. One is that the Republican candidate apparently was substantially further behind in Ohio in 2012 than in 2004. And the other difference is that – as we found out soon – it turned out that the Democratic candidate didn’t need Ohio to win the election. So apparently for one or both of those reasons we didn’t see a repeat of 2004 in 2008. Perhaps the decision was made to pull back when it became apparent that even if he won Ohio, Romney couldn’t win the election. Perhaps the decision was made a little sooner, when the approximate magnitude the number of votes needed became apparent.
In any event, despite all the evidence to the contrary, both Karl Rove and Kenneth Blackwell (Ohio Secretary of State in charge of the Ohio election in 2004) denied any knowledge of SmartTech. Democracy Now! Producer Mike Burke summed up the situation two months prior to the 2012 election:
Do you think Karl Rove and Ken Blackwell need to take lie detector tests? How can they possibly deny knowledge of SMARTech with a straight face? Will Ohio election integrity folks check into the status of the use of SMARTech in the 2004 and 2012 elections? Perhaps for the integrity of the vote totals in Ohio it would seem like a pretty good idea.