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back to article Tea Party activists accused of rigging Dancing vote to favour Palin

Flaws in the email voting system deployed by ABC for the talent show Dancing With the Stars are being credited with allowing Tea Party supporters to stuff the ballot in favour of Bristol Palin. dwts Palin junior and partner Mark Ballas qualified for Monday's final of the show despite consistently mediocre marks from expert …

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Best strapline ever!

Now how do I get that tune out of my head?!?

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You should have listened...

... to the girl in the corner who, boy, tried to warn you, that it would turn into a Ballroom Blitz (Ballroom Blitz)!

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The key principles of the Teabaggers...

Honesty, personal integrity, iron commitment to probity, honour.

</joke>

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Key "principles?!?

0 out of 4 ain't bad....

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What?

Offspring of right-wing politician suspected of vote fraud? Wasn't that George H. W. Bush's son (allegedly)?

And plus: Why would anyone believe that a vote on a TV show was honest? What would make it so? The audience is in dead last place in the order of things behind the management, the talent, the guests, the creatives and the advertisers. So much so that the likelihood of the game *not* being rigged is frankly incredible.

Finally, not to put too fine a point on it, who gives a fsck?

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@ what

Hanging chads abound. It isn't difficult to rig these types of vote...But why anyone would want to in this case is beyond me...Z-list celebrity wants to raise their profile on show with the lowest comon denominator...I'm a Celebrity, leave me in here with all the others and get the buggers off our screens.

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Anonymous Coward

Them Neo-Cons sure do love their ballot-stuffing

The rest of the world will have the last laugh when Palin Sr is elected President...

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Unhappy

"The rest of the world will have the last laugh when Palin Sr is elected President..."

Laugh? I'll probably shit myself in terror!

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Flame

Last laugh is probably right...

Where's the mushroom cloud icon?

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WTF?

when Palin Sr is elected President ... Be afraid, be very afraid...

@"laugh when Palin Sr is elected President"

I won't be laughing, I will be digging my own fall out shelter!

It doesn't surprise me to find her daughter trying to be a reality star (let alone corruption going on behind it). If Palin Sr wins, I will consider her to be the first truely 100% reality star President. Almost every time she opens her mouth, I fear for the future more. :(

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We're still dealing with the chaos...

...left behind by George W.

* Fail to keep the Isreali's under a bit of control - you get 9/11.

* Give $100,000 tax breaks for SUV's - you get foriegn oil dependency.

* Allow an underling to sack the Iraqi police force and army - you get current 'Iraq'.

* Persist with completely failed 'War on Drugs' - you get current 'Mexico' and all the other south american basket cases.

* Fail to keep the banks under control - you get global financial problems.

The very last thing the world needs is a self-important, airhead as US president. We're still dealing with legacy problems created when we had our own self-important, airhead prime minister - i.e. Thatcher.

* Destroy coal industry on some sort of personal vendetta - end up with Russia having us by the balls cos we need their gas.

* Destroy UK manufacturing - get a country which is now reliant on public jobs.

* Sell off profitable state industries for short term gain - leave a basis for the country to run into debt.

* Turn state monopolies into private monopolies - we have crappy BT, Railtrack etc etc

* Allow the City to do what the hell they want - you get the current financial problems.

We need strong, principled, intelligent leaders - please vote accordingly.

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FAIL

Hold on a sec...

Multiple emails from a "single IP" are being barred...? Hello...?

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Why not?

Why not? In most cases that would be one vote per household (although people could submit multiple votes from work, school, etc, at their own risks)

Here, have my knicker untwister.

Also, who cares?

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FAIL

I think you are mistaken.

umm, you are mistaken. That would normally be one or two votes per ISP.

(Most emails are sent to a email server for the isp and routed from there. Digital Forensics 101 says you can't trust anything in the header, so you can only trust that you know the precedining hop)

We havent even brought up the concept of gmail/hotmail/yahoomail/FBmail/etc.

I'll agree with you on one thing though, who cares?

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Good enough

>That would normally be one or two votes per ISP

>you can't trust anything in the header

Well, it IS significantly harder to spoof the path than the From: header.

Keep in mind that we are most probably talking about non-technical people using a mail agent that allows to enter custom From: from the GUI. Not only do they watch stupid gameshows, they also VOTE in them.

I'd say relying on the path in the headers would be more than enough in that case (we're not trying to thwart a Sino-Russian secret spy agency here, they're just lusers who put their hands on KMail or something similar).

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Another point

>We havent even brought up the concept of gmail/hotmail/yahoomail/FBmail/etc.

As it were, they do report the originating IP quite reliably, and filtering by IP adress looks like the only practical way to prevent _that_ sort of stuffing.

Of course you could use proxies, but that's quite risky.

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Happy

You think too highly of us

When did you get the impression that packets were routed based on digital forensics rules?

This is a very key example of where the real world is not a laboratory.

To route a packet from network to another, you MUST trust the origin and destination in the header.

To put it simply, you could not correspond through the regular post with a person, without you provide the return address. Likewise, webpages could not be fed to your computer, images could not be downloaded etc, unless they are being requested from your IP and being sent to your IP.

The only case where this is not true, is with NAT behind a firewall. But in these cases the NAT/firewall device (SHOULD) be able to take care of this.

ISP's are not given small blocks of IP address space, (most have at least a class B). Even the smallest ISP's would have to have a Class c (255 address) or lease IP addresses from a real ISP.

Sure there will be some shared internet access sites (5 students sharing a house will only have 1 IP address, etc) but this does for the most part give one vote to each family home.

Where there is more of a problem is with Dial-up access (which yes is still in use by a large chunk of the US). With the older Dial-up (and even some cable and other ISP's) when you power cycle your modem it will get a new IP address. With some you have to wait until the DHCP window times out for an hour or more (the time it takes to give out a new address, otherwise you get the same address over again.)

Either way it would not take too much effort for someone on one of these systems to cycle through all the available IP addresses and get a few hundred votes. Of course with others on the network try to vote they will be denied (and should invalidate the original double vote as well)

Really I understand the whole "how gives a F&*K" attitude about the whole article, Palin's living hypocrisy, oh I mean daughter and the whole TV show don't matter for jack-sh*t.

What does matter is a rogue party is able to keep their 15 minutes going longer than allotted, plus if they are willing to cheat to win here, it proves they will cheat to win - so that means real elections as well.

How did a party that has no real platform ever get this much credibility.

Once people FORCE them to answer questions about what they stand for, they will see that these people are a bunch of crazy f*ck-wits that want to tell you how to run your life, but don't want any regulation on the things they enjoy. One of these snotty little jokes of a politician actually said they didn't need to answer questions about what they would do, we just elect them and see was their viewpoint - holyf*ck and then some stupid Americans actually did!

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FAIL

Re: You think too highly of us

We aren't talking about routing PACKETS we are talking about routing EMAILs.

Since you don't know how email works, allow me to explain it to you, here is an example email (with full headers (shamelessly stolen from http://abuse.msu.edu/email-tracking.html)):

Return-Path: [fake@address.com]

Received: from server.mymailhost.com (mail.mymailhost.com [126.43.75.123])

by pilot01.cl.msu.edu (8.10.2/8.10.2) with ESMTP id NAA23597;

Fri, 12 Jul 2002 16:11:20 -0400 (EDT)

Received: from aol.com (127-34-56-98.dsl.mybigisp.com [127.34.56.98])

by server.mymailhost.com; Fri, 12 Jul 2002 13:09:38 -0700 (PDT)

Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002 13:09:38 -0700 (PDT)

From: Hot Summer Deals <hot_deals@aol.com>

To: My.Friends@pilot.msu.edu

Subject: Just what you've been waiting for!!

The only thing that you know for sure here is that 126.43.75.123 (which is most likely a mail server, not an end user (although it could be an end user, but getting access to a domain would probibly be overkill, but not impossible)) sent this email to pilot01.cl.msu.edu. ANYTHING below that is AUTOMATICLY suspect. In this case aol.com is most-assuredly a forgery (as the reverse lookup went to 127-34-56-98.dsl.mybigisp.com), but even being sent by 127.34.56.98 would be trivially easy to fake. This is because the receveing machine at pilot01.cl.msu.edu just accepted (because it has no way to varify) whatever 126.43.75.123 said happened before, so all one would have to do it type that as text into the header when it was sent. In the example that is probibly not the case, and 126.43.75.123 is probibly an open relay. We know this because any one who was any good would have used an ip that actually corresponded to aol.com if (s)he was trying to fake a mail from there.

So, allow me to restate my point. without crypographic techniques you have no way of knowing the source of an email, if it has be tampered with, and CERTAINLY no way of knowing if it has been read by a 3rd party. Email is inherently insecure.

In the case of most spam this doesn't matter because the average use doesn't know how to read these headers anyway.

One last point, after 2/3s of your responce was devoted to a technical responce which was so off base we couldn't even consider it wrong, you devoted a whole 1/3 to a political rambling when I didn't even make an assessment one way or the other (and frankly this has little to do with). All I can say is "wow."

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Ferkme

A Palin botnet.. perish the thought.

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Anonymous Coward

Persih the though indeed but

'tis likely more intelligent than the real Palin

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Aaah, so you didnt read my replies then.

>So, allow me to restate my point. without crypographic techniques you have no way of knowing the source of an email, if it has be tampered with, and CERTAINLY no way of knowing if it has been read by a 3rd party. Email is inherently insecure.

Yes it is, when you're dealing with tech-savy people and high-stakes fraud. Here were talking about a TV show that allows vottes for a ~1h timeframe. For the people who vote in these, the Intarwubs are a blue 'e', and while it might be politically interesting to spend a few thousand emails with spoofed 'From:' headers, anything more technical is most probably:

1. far beyond the technical reach of the nutters involved, and

2. not worth the hassle and risk to begin with.

Also, as I said, filtering by IP is probably the only convenient way to avoid one single person voting through a hundred ad-hoc yahoo! or Gmail adresses (contrarily to what you seem to believe, yahoo! et al do report the originating IP.)

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Unhappy

voting integrity

Interesting that there's usually more fuss made about vote fraud on a reality TV show than there is during a presidential election.

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"Obi wan you're my only hope"

Sadly it is the likes of xfactor and celebrity jungle cuisine (or whatever) that will motivate the unwashed masses into action over voting fraud and with any hope actual systems of power and governance will have to be kept up to date with 'the (pop) industry standard'.

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And if El Reg had done even some cursory research instead of just linking to MSLSD,

they might have stumbled upon this little posting and had a whole different take on Bristol's Pistols:

http://hillbuzz.org/

It seems one of the organizers chose Palin and the show for precisely those reasons. Which would seem to mesh well with El Reg's typical concern about vote fraud in computerized systems with no backup paper trail. But hey, now that it's no longer possible to engage in BDS, I suppose PDS will have to suffice.

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But why?

Why Tux,

what has the tea party got to do with Linux?

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Bristol will win

If the rules are changed then they'll be challenged in Court, just like 2000.

Bristol will win there 5-4 (or better), just like Dubya.

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Grenade

ABC is reportedly considering changing the voting system

"ABC is reportedly considering changing the voting system, placing more weight on the opinion of the judges, for Monday's final"

Yeah, I can just imagine how Fox News would cover that.

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Bristol has improved immensely and ABC may indeed change the rules.

Yes, I can believe that is possible as liberals do like to use that method to win for their candidate by changing the rules during the contest.

Lets face it. Bristol and her partner has improved more than ANY other of the contestants. If the liberals wanted to embarrass Bristol, they might have put more than two professional dancers into the lineup.

Brandy stared in a Disney movie called Cinderella in which she danced a fine waltz. She danced no better and show no improvement during this competition over what she did in that movie.

Jennifer, is a favorite of mine due solely to her performance as a professional in the movie "Dirty Dancing". She has injured knees evidently and has tried repeatedly to gain sympathy for that to improve her scores. I love her dancing, but no improvement during this competition.

What is this, a show horse for professional dancers, or a competition between showing new ability and a willingness to improve and learn?

Lets face it, these judges are not judging this as I would have expected from professional judges. I strongly believe the public vote is a better reading of the quality of improvement and dancing.

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Grenade

Why?

What are you on about? You're seriously discussing on a UK site a tv programme nobody here can watch. Well -- the equivalent show is here of course (as it is in every country), but not yours.

And nobody cares here; it's a tech site not a tv review. Why blabber about Palin improving much because there was (and is) so much room for improvement (or that's what I guess, TL;DR)?

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FAIL

Watch

<quote>

What are you on about? You're seriously discussing on a UK site a tv programme nobody here can watch.

</quote>

See title

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WTF?

Public Vote for high profile personality

who is consistently given mediocre marks by expert judges...

Of course it couldn't happn here...

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Flame

So I'm blaming...

... The Tea-Party (Tea-Baggers) for Wagner's continuance in the xFactor...

No one else I know vote for him. but he always gets through.....

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Anonymous Coward

You miserable lot

Is it just possible that Bristol Palin has caught the imagination of the American viewing public?

Her qualification to participate on DwtS is certainly down to who her mother is (though she has a profile as a "teen activist", also based on who her mother is). But she presents a wonderfully contradictory figure: a member of a neo-con family who has become a teenage mother yet eschewed the shotgun marriage and then gone on to promote sexual responsibility. And she came to DwtS with no dancing experience, and her dancing has developed and blossomed on the show.

Yes, I'm sure that there is Tea Party support for her which would be there even if she did a John Sargent/Ann Widdicombe, but she hasn't: she's learned to dance well. I have to admit to being a SCD and DwtS addict, and I enjoy watching her dance even though her mother's politics are obnoxious.

Give the girl a break.

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Pirate

But she's awful

According to the contractor and chippe who have been doing some renovations in my apartment this last week.

And they both then incidentally asked later why I don't have a tv .... to avoid rubbish like this. Anything good can be found on the interwebs and you avoid most advertising.

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Short Answer:

"Is it just possible that Bristol Palin has caught the imagination of the American viewing public?"

Short answer: No.

Next question?

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FAIL

Nope impossible

Devil spawn for the win? You MUST be joking!

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Boffin

We did this for lulz

The first year "Stars in Their Eyes" had an online poll they had nothing to stop multi-voting. So we whipped up an auto-voting script. Was funny hearing Matthew Kelly say "we've had an amazing response to our Internet voting".

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Dead Vulture

Because everyone knows...

Because everyone knows that this is the first time in history that someone has stuffed a ballot box to favor someone... Our liberal friends seem to be forgetting the U.S. Presidential Election of 2008.

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Duh

It seems pretty rich for a group of nutcases claiming "voter fraud" in the 2008 election, while engaging in actual voter fraud on a reality show.

You also seem to forget the Presidential Election of 2000 as well.

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Silver badge

You mean the Minnesota Senatorial Race of 2008.

While it is true the 2008 presidential election was corrupted, that occurred on a whole different level when the entire press corp abdicated their job of asking tough questions to ALL candidates. It was the 2008 Minnesota Senatorial race that seated Al Franken in which the vote stealing methods of the Democrat party were on display for anyone with eyes to see. To wit: One of the towns for which "new" votes were "found" for Franken had more ballots cast than the town had registered voters.

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Go

Whining Crybabies

I'm sick of the Bristol-bashing. (why no complaining the low-scoring Kyle Massey is in the finals?) Absolutely no evidence of fraud, right? Absolutely no evidence! And you're not happy that the rest of the country doesn't HATE like you do? O.K., so hallucinate a fantasy technical scenario about fraudulent votes and let's ignore the fact that ABC not only specifically blocks that technical scenario about fraudulent votes, but that' it's ridiculously easy to block those fraudulent votes as well.

C'mon, does anyone doubt that when you vote online ABC records your IP address, user agent, proxy, and any and all info they can get about you? For crying out loud, ABC's own TOS spells out that they record all that information so they can profile who's voting and from where!

And let's not forget that ABC WANTS to block fraud, they NEED to block fraud, it's ESSENTIAL to guarantee the ratings. Yes, ABC's Viewer Voting System *guarantees* them ratings by bringing back next week only the dancers people most want to see. Voting off the legitimately less popular dancer GUARANTEES maximum ratings for next week. Any other scenario brings in less ratings.

There is one thing that all these whiners agree upon - they absolutely refuse to believe that the American people legitimately voted to keep Bristol Palin on every week. These whiners can't accept a world where everyone doesn't hate the same people they hate - if they don't get their way, there must be something underhanded going on. I pity those people.

I can absolutely guarantee that Bristol is there because the voters want her there.

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WTF?

Put your analyst on danger money baby

You must be insane~!

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Paris Hilton

Too dumb to vote..

Wow, just WOW, you really are naive aren't you.

Keeping a dreadful contestant and a good contestant or causing some sort of rift between fans of different contestants guarantees ratings, it also guarantees that the morons who watch that sort of shite fill the coffers with the proceeds of 'phone votes, that they buy merchandise and newspapers that cover it favourably.

Never, ever forget that the business of entertainment is exactly the same as every other business, to make maximum ROI, to do that they will use every trick in the book, if it means manipulating a vote, then so be it. It happens and often.

Paris, plastic reality at it's very best

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Wow

You didn't have your caps lock on, but it still felt like shouting!

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Coat

"""I'm sick of the Bristol-bashing. """

fnar fnar

Actually, Bill, also completely wrong facts in your comment. Controversy doesn't bring in ratings? I think you will find it does!

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You're doing well up to the last line.

There are certainly people out there who claim, and probably are trying to rig the vote for her. The point they are trying to make is that vote by mail, vote by internet, and anything else except some system where you must physically present yourself and you have a clear and unbreakable chain for forensic examination later is subject to tampering and fraud.

I do suspect Bristol might actually be winning without the manipulation. Someone on a radio show tonight noted her three daughters keep voting for her because she wears modest costumes unlike other contestants. Her back story (normal kid unexpected thrown into the spotlight, makes a mistake, tries to do the right thing after making the mistake) pulls at the heart strings of all but the most hate-filled libtards. And unlike a presidential election, there isn't really anything of import at stake in the voting for this show, so why not vote your heart?

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Anonymous Coward

Sh te

I always thought that shouting was raising your voice.

Having your CAPS lock on is no more than typing in capital letters.

Caps or not, I still think your daft!

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Sh te

DON'T BE SO LITERAL. IT'S INTERNET SHOUTING.

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Gold badge

A failure in ABC's systems?

"a failure in ABC's systems to validate whether an email address submitting a vote is real or not"

Er, is that a failure? I think if you could figure out a way to determine the validity of an email address then quite a lot of spammers and anti-spammers would like to hear from you.

No, the real failure in ABC's systems is using an internet poll and then actually caring about the final result. Internet polls can be fun, but only a complete idiot would use an electronic voting system for something that mattered.

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