Sunday, March 04, 2012

And What, Precisely, Did...


...The 'Progressive Voters Association Of Saanich Gulf-Islands' Do?


They called up voters in Saanich Gulf-Islands on election eve and told them to vote for a non-existent NDP candidate when said candidate had dropped out of the race weeks earlier.

And then they claimed they were associated with the NDP, and even, apparently, cloaked their calls in an NDP riding official's FAX number via a process known as 'spoofing'.

Here is the unbylined report that ran in the V-TC at the time:

VICTORIA — A number of residents in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding received recorded telephone messages Monday, urging them to vote for NDP candidate Julian West — who left the race after controversy over a public-nudity incident 12 years ago.

Irene Wright, executive member of the NDP’s federal riding association for Saanich-Gulf Islands, said Monday night people started phoning her around 5 p.m. to say they had received an automated call encouraging them to vote for West in Tuesday’s election.

A woman’s voice in the recording said the call was endorsed by Bill Graham, president of the NDP Saanich-Gulf Islands riding association, and from the "Progressive Voters Association of Saanich-Gulf Islands."

By using caller identification information, the call’s origin appeared to be the fax number at Graham’s address.

"It’s not coming from our fax machine," said Graham. "Somebody is fraudulently using our name and our fax number to send out a misleading message."

Graham said he has checked with the federal and provincial NDP campaign offices, who told him that they have not contracted any automated calls to be put out in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding.

A vote for West would be considered a spoiled ballot.

It is possible to "spoof" phone networks into displaying false caller ID numbers using a number of methods, including computers and other external hardware.

Complaints have been filed with Saanich police, the RCMP and Elections Canada.


The thing is....

That did not happen on election eve, 2011.

Instead, it was 2008.

And why did this wee bit of election fraud matter?

Well, Paul Willcocks, following up with an Op-Ed piece in the VT-C, also made that very clear at the time:

...First, some background. (Then Conservative incumbent Gary) Lunn, natural resources minister in the last government (of 2006), faced a tough fight for re-election. He won with 37 per cent of the vote in 2006, in part thanks to a three-way opposition vote split.

The Liberals nominated Briony Penn, a high-profile, respected environmentalist. She hoped to appeal to Green voters. Mid-campaign, NDP candidate Julian West withdrew from the race after a creepy past incident of public nudity resurfaced. (That's fuelled some conspiracy talk on the political blogs, with no apparent foundation.)

West withdrew too late to have his name taken off the ballot, but Penn's prospects were still helped by the departure. The NDP riding association wrote to all party members saying West was not a candidate and the party wasn't endorsing anyone.

But in the days before the election, residents were flooded with taped phone messages urging them to vote for West. People who had caller ID saw the call was coming from the phone of NDP riding association president Bill Graham.

Except that was not true. Whoever made the calls used "spoofing" software to make it appear as if the calls were coming from Graham's number.

The scam didn't likely affect the outcome. Lunn had 2,625 more votes than Penn. West received 3,667 votes, but they certainly can't all be attributed to the calls. Some people always vote NDP; others might have chosen to cast their ballots to ensure the party gets the $1.95 per vote in annual public financing...

To be clear, while I agree completely with Mr. Willcocks' backgrounder, I do not fully agree with his conclusion.

Because it is my considered opinion that this abject fraud, together with a whole lot of extra/over-the-limit 3rd party advertising that pushed, hard, for Mr. Lunn, very likely did affect the outcome.

But more on all of that later, because it is not really the point here.

And the real point is....?

That fraud, perpetrated with malice aforethought, is fraud, regardless.

And if malicious fraudsters conclude that they can commit their fraudulent acts with impunity based on their experiences the first time out of the gate (i.e. 2008)....


What does that mean for the next time the deal went down (i.e. 2011)?

Thus, with that in mind, I'd like to go back to that last line of the original bare-bones report from the VT-C:

"...Complaints have been filed with Saanich police, the RCMP and Elections Canada..."


What happened?

What did all those fine agencies actually do (or not), in the end, with respect to getting to bottom of this clearly fraudulent behaviour that was designed to coerce voters to mark ballots that they, the fraudsters, knew would then be spoiled when those voters, whom the fraudsters had targeted as 'progressives', may very well have voted for anyone other than the clearly very anti-progressive Mr. Lunn* instead?

Stay tuned....

*Why do we label Mr. Lunn 'anti-progressive'?....Well, recall, if you will, that in the year before the 2008 election he was running around telling anybody that would listen was that the way to get the crud out of the ground in the tar-sands was to blow 'em up real good....With nuclear bombs!....Seriously.
Kady O'Malley, still workin' it for Macleans at the time, had some questions of her own about all of this back then...
And if you want to get all your subjectives workin' it, hard, together with your objectives to make some real mojo, not to mention the true panoramic view of this thing, we highly recommend the Reverend Paperboy's latest missive...


1 comment:

Holly Stick said...

There's a link here to a photo of the "political superweapon":!/stephenlautens/status/176465189707857921