About That ‘Broken Algorithm’

Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani speak at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., November 19, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Of all the loopy assertions made at the press conference President Trump’s legal team conducted last Thursday, the one that has been most roundly derided is the since-ousted Sidney Powell’s claim that the national popular vote was such a landslide for President Trump “that it broke the algorithm that had been plugged into the system.” Our Isaac Schorr posted on it last week.

Ms. Powell was referring to a supposed election-rigging algorithm that she claims infects software in Dominion electronic-voting systems widely used throughout the United States. The programming is claimed to enable central operators — located, er, someplace — to corrupt the tabulation. The corrupt program has been described, alternatively, as allowing votes to be changed from one candidate to another, or as a weighted tabulation that values votes for one candidate more than the other (at one point, Powell suggested that votes were multiplied by 1.25 for Biden and 0.75 for Trump).

Naturally, since an algorithm is essentially a mathematical formula, the notion that an algorithm could be “broken” sounds crazy — let alone broken by an unanticipated and overwhelming surge of support for one candidate. But I don’t think Powell pulled this idea out of the clear blue sky.

In her public statements, Powell has repeatedly alluded to and relied on the work of Lin Wood, an attorney and avid Trump supporter well known in Atlanta. As our Jim Geraghty points out, Wood has been taking the risible position that President Trump actually won the popular vote by upwards of 70 percent. He is also the fons et origo of Powell’s theory that Dominion orchestrates vote fraud through a program that a company called Smartmatic developed in conjunction with the late Hugo Chavez’s Communist regime in Venezuela well over a decade ago.

Over the weekend, Byron York helpfully posted Wood’s affidavit, submitted in a Georgia lawsuit and heavily relied on by Powell. Paragraphs 17 through 19 of that affidavit describe events Wood says occurred during the spring 2013 Venezuelan election, to choose a successor to the then-recently deceased Chavez. To put it mildly, Wood’s story is remarkably similar to Powell’s thus-far-unsubstantiated claims about the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

According to Wood, with the Smartmatic software in place, secretly enabling the regime “to change the reporting of votes by moving votes from one candidate to another,” Chavez’s interim successor, Nicholás Maduro, squared off against Capriles Radonsky. Suddenly, things started to go horribly wrong for the regime because of an unanticipated tsunami of support for the opposition:

By two o’clock in the afternoon on that election day Capriles Radonsky was ahead of Nicholás Maduro by two million votes. When Maduro and his supporters realized the size of Radonsky’s lead they were worried that they were in a crisis mode and would lose the election. The Smartmatic machines used for voting in each state were connected to the internet and reported their information over the internet to the Caracas control center in real-time. So, the decision was made to reset the entire system. Maduro’s [sic] and his supporters ordered the network controllers to take the internet itself offline in practically all parts of Venezuela and to change the results.

Wood is saying that even though regime operatives had a software program that should have enabled them to keep Maduro ahead, the system was overwhelmed — the algorithm was broken! — by support for Radonsky. So, Wood elaborates, they shut the system down for “approximately two hours to make the adjustments in the vote from Radonsky to Maduro.” Then, when they resumed Internet service, Maduro had somehow zoomed to the lead. “By the time the system operators finish, [sic] they had achieved a convincing, but narrow victory of 200,000 votes for Maduro.”

It should go without saying that there are countless differences between elections in Venezuela’s Communist system that masquerades as democratic and ours that actually is democratic. For present purposes, though, the salient one is that, because it is a centralized totalitarian system with a much smaller voting population, Venezuela — at least as described by Wood — conducts elections that are monolithically electronic, “provid[ing] for transmission of voting data over the internet to a computerized central tabulating center.” Since the voting is done a single way countrywide and controlled by the regime, it could theoretically be a simple matter to fix an election the way Wood describes: Just shut off the system to cause a pause, electronically switch whatever votes or tabulating algorithms need switching, then turn the system back on once the fraud has been carried out, revealing a stark reversal of the outcome.

An electronic pause would not work in the United States, where voting procedures and methods vary not only from state to state but even county to county (in fact, sometimes even between precincts in the same county). So, notice how the fraud narrative differs here: We are to believe that there were hundreds of thousands of fraudulent paper ballots ready to be secretly inserted into the count if, by chance, the “algorithm broke.”

In sum, in Venezuela, the story is that, when the program that was to assure victory was supposedly overwhelmed by legitimate votes for the disfavored candidate, the panicked powers that be shut down the electronic system for a couple of hours so they could carry out electronic vote fraud. In our country, we are to believe that the algorithm assuring Biden’s victory was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of legitimate votes favoring Trump, causing panicked Democrats to pause the count so crates of fraudulent Biden votes could be inserted into the system in the dead of night — such that, by morning, a seemingly comfortable Trump lead had turned into a stunning Biden victory.

It’s basically the same story.

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