Election Fraud in 2008 or 2012

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  • Thread starter rachmaninoff
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What magnitude organized election fraud do you think there is?

  • No possibility of organized fraud; too transparent/secure. No one could affect >10 votes.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • An individual/organization could rig 100s of votes in a precinct; unlikely.

    Votes: 2 14.3%
  • Precincts are rigged, and this is typical in an election; > 6 precincts nationwide.

    Votes: 1 7.1%
  • Individuals/organizations could rig > 6 precincts at once, but this is unlikely.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Individuals/organizations could change the result of an election at the state level; unlikely.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • A typical election has at least one organized 'rig' that affects > 6 precincts simultaneously.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • A typical election has at least one 'rig' that could shift the vote of an entire state.

    Votes: 2 14.3%
  • There are now working national conspiracies that rig elections in multiple states.

    Votes: 6 42.9%
  • This poll does not represent my view, or is too biased/polarized.

    Votes: 3 21.4%

  • Total voters
    14
  • Poll closed .
  • #1
rachmaninoff

Main Question or Discussion Point

Consider a 'typical' U.S. presidential election. At what levels, to your understanding, would you expect to see votes being manipulated or fradulently cast? What magnitude of fraud do you think is conceivable given the current organization of the electoral system? In particular, I want to distinguish between what is

i) conceivable - i.e., what could happen and what you're afraid of; and for many of you suggests the need for greater transperancy in electronic voting systems (i.e.)
ii) typical - what you think is happening every election day, because no one's done anything about it.

Minor clarifications (if you point something out, I'll add it to the list):
1) "Rigged" means "affected in a dishonest manner"; it does not imply success in this context.
2) "Individuals/Organizations": To simplify the poll, I do not consider what agents are responsible for fraud, whether individuals who hack into the system, dishonest poll workers, a conspiracy of local officials, a vast national conspiracy of right-wing unicorns and chimeras, etc. I also do not consider the means of manipulation, i.e., 'backdoors' in electronic voting machines, etc.
What this does consider is what you think does or could soon happen: this would include (i.e.) your perception of the vulnerability of the system, and the how corrupt election officials are nationwide (and how easy it is for them to cooperate in fraud).

This is an offshoot from the earlier thread in which the effect of fraud on the 2004 election was discussed, and which spurred some very insightful discussion. However, I believe this poll warrants it's own thread, because (i) it is sufficiently distinct in scope (more general) than the previous thread; (ii) because the topic is of importance and interest to many PF members/voters, as they have demonstrated; and especially (iii) because I believe the previous poll(s) do not ask questions that reflect the statistical distribution of PF members' opinions in a fair and representative manner.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
russ_watters
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Polls are a little constricting, aren't they...?

I voted for the second option, but that doesn't really accurately reflect my view - it was just the closest. Allow me to explain:

In my estimation, there are three categories of screwing with the vote: fraud, tampering, and manipulation. These are my categories, so they require me to give my definitions:

Fraud is direct, criminal fraud, as in actually changing the vote tally itself (simple enough). The most common ways this is done, afaik, are ballot box stuffing and dead people voting. Ballot boxes are getting rare these days, so there is very little of that, but dead people vote on a pretty regular basis: (for example). But even these are pretty isolated - it is likely that spouses of dead people fill out absentee ballots in a lot of these cases, but on occasion, there may be more. However, obviously, if too many dead people vote, it would be pretty obvious. So while I think that direct fraud probably happens in virtually every big election, the effect is very small.

Tampering is screwing with the election process on election day. This happens all the time, but rarely rises to the level of fraud. There are laws for things like how close to a polling place a political operative can hand out leaflets, but these rules are flouted on a constant basis. (Note: most disenfranchisement is due to errors/problems, not malice - ie, long lines). This was very common in the past, as minorities would be harassed going to the polls, but it is much more isolated and much tamer today. While widespread, incidents are isolated (not coordinated) and have little effect on the outcome of the election.

Manipulation of the process is what politicians do before and after the elections. These include things like legal wrangling over targeted recounts, challenges of groups of votes, maintinance of the voter rolls, drawing of districts, etc. These go on on a constant basis and have a large impact locally and state-wide (cleverly-drawn districts can tip a state legislature), but their effects tend to even out when you get to the national level. Politics wouldn't be politics without this manipulation, but of course, it would be better if we could get rid of it.
 
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  • #3
loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
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I'd say fraud of some sort can conceivably occur that would shift maybe about 1% of votes in any given state, less nationwide. What I think actually does occur is less than that, probably a shift of less than a thousand. Meaningful fraud (that is, fraud that can actually change the outcome) probably doesn't occur at anything higher than the county level. I'd imagine city-wide elections experience a lot of trouble.
 
  • #4
rachmaninoff
I see your distinctions - I think we're definitely limiting the scope to outright fraud, the point being that we don't know anything about it directly (most of the time), so at best we're making educated guesses here. Gerrymandering is not a felony, and it doesn't directly changes what the votes are - just where they go, so I doubt most people consider it 'election fraud'. Likewise, getting a face full of poorly-xeroxed leaflets on election day doesn't really change peoples' minds (I hope).

To be precise, maybe we should be considering "polling fraud"?
 
  • #5
rachmaninoff
loseyourname said:
Meaningful fraud (that is, fraud that can actually change the outcome) probably doesn't occur at anything higher than the county level. I'd imagine city-wide elections experience a lot of trouble.
But what could happen, if an election gets really close? If the swing state is New Mexico with 200 votes, a statewide attempt to alter 1% of the vote would be a very successful hijack. It's not common, and probably hasn't happened yet, but it's not exactly inconceivable, is it?

What about a margin of 20,000 votes, and 3% rigging?
 
  • #6
SOS2008
Gold Member
24
1
I would vote that individuals/organizations could rig, and therefore it is likely (i.e., if it can be done, it will be done). However, the extent of the rigging remains unknown, because the lack of verification goes both ways--right?
 
  • #7
rachmaninoff
russ_watters said:
Pdead people vote on a pretty regular basis: (for example).
found this in your link:
These are not indications of fraud," said Bill Huennekens, King County's elections supervisor. "Fraud is a concerted effort to change an election."
 
  • #8
rachmaninoff
SOS2008 said:
I would vote that individuals/organizations could rig, and therefore it is likely (i.e., if it can be done, it will be done). However, the extent of the rigging remains unknown, because the lack of verification goes both ways--right?
Following your logic (if it can be done, it will): then what level of rigging can be done? Could a vast conspiracy remain secret? What about a small conspiracy, or three hackers in a basement somewhere? We're not out to prove anything here, I hope.
 
  • #9
288
0
Every option I would consider contains the word "could." These include two, four, and five. Two and four seem more likely than five. But I'd be hard pressed to choose one at the expense of the other.

I dismiss any option that displays certainty. These include one, three, and eight. I might choose them if they weren't phrased as certainties.

I also dismiss options with the word "typical," on the grounds that every election I have lived through has been very different from all others. My earliest memory is the Reagan 1980 landslide. Bush 1 came in on tailcoats. Clinton came in on new politicking techniques ("It's the economy, stupid") and also the Perot factor was atypical in 1992. Bush II campaigning is clearly a new "breed."

So I discount the idea of a "typical" election.

I might enter option 9, with my response being:

There is no typical election, but a wide array of election fraud exists in any election, from slashing tires to electronic tampering to stuffing boxes to every other method imaginable. In any election, we can expect to see this, and we can expect that a hotly contested and tight race will show greater motivation for people on the ground to cheat, as well as to organise (approaching "conspiracy.")

If you have a suggestion for which option to check, I'll listen. Can I check more than one?
 
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  • #10
loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
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rachmaninoff said:
But what could happen, if an election gets really close? If the swing state is New Mexico with 200 votes, a statewide attempt to alter 1% of the vote would be a very successful hijack. It's not common, and probably hasn't happened yet, but it's not exactly inconceivable, is it?

What about a margin of 20,000 votes, and 3% rigging?
A 3% margin couldn't be pulled off. The discrepancy between the exit polls (even taking into account margin of error) and the actual results would be too great; it would be obvious that something was fishy. 1% could be pulled off, but as you said, it isn't often that elections are that close and actually hinge on one state where the margin of victory is no narrow. The only example I can think of is Florida 2000. I think the closest in terms of popular vote was Kennedy/Nixon. How did that play out at the state level?

Edit: I should amend this and note that if the people responsible for the shift also had some means of getting to the polling services and affecting the way they calibrated their raw data, I suppose it is 'conceivable' that a 3% shift could be pulled off, but that would extremely difficult, given that there are multiple polling services. Getting to the chief statistician (or whoever adjusts the raw numbers) of each service would be difficult enough in itself, but since the calibration equations are public knowledge, they'd still have explaining to do.
 
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  • #11
356
3
rachmaninoff said:
Following your logic (if it can be done, it will): then what level of rigging can be done? Could a vast conspiracy remain secret? What about a small conspiracy, or three hackers in a basement somewhere? We're not out to prove anything here, I hope.
Three hackers in a basement couldn't do squat... They have to actually be in the polling station to do anything, electronic or not. (at least I HOPE the US isn't dumb enough to hook these things up to the internet!?)
 
  • #12
rachmaninoff
(at least I HOPE the US isn't dumb enough to hook these things up to the internet!?)
I tend to err in favor of beauracrats being dumb, so yes I expect there'll be net-friendly voting machines sooner or later. And don't worry about security, it'll have the latest, most advanced version of IBM Windows, so it'll be very secure.
 
  • #13
Smurf said:
Three hackers in a basement couldn't do squat... They have to actually be in the polling station to do anything, electronic or not. (at least I HOPE the US isn't dumb enough to hook these things up to the internet!?)
The Wikipedia source provided earlier (don't know which thread now) mentions problems with Internet connections, and this for example:

Government agencies who purchased voting machines were usually denied access to the manufacturer's proprietary software, and the official certifications were routinely bypassed, either by failure to perform the prescribed tests by manufacturers, by use of uncertified software and updates, or by failure to apply instructions intended to safeguard their integrity once purchased. Even when the software was available for review, there were concerns that most agencies lacked the technical expertise to find problems or to audit changes to the software. In several cases, competent agencies and experts examining the machines expressed dismay at their poor quality and minimal security.

Some computer scientists have stated that these machines are not tamper resistant and encourage the use of open-architecture voting machines to make the process more transparent. At least one voting machine began counting backwards to zero when it reached 32,000 votes. The manufacturer, ES&S, allegedly had known of this issue for two years but had failed to fix the bug. [3] In two cases, a certifying company (Ciber Inc.) recommended voting machines for certification without testing core firmware or attempting to verify any of the crucial security aspects of the machines.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_U.S._presidential_election_controversy_and_irregularities

I think it would be helpful if members would provide evidence whether there is open source codes, modem/Internet connectivity, etc. rather than just expressing assumptions.
 
  • #14
288
0
Smurf said:
Three hackers in a basement couldn't do squat... They have to actually be in the polling station to do anything, electronic or not. (at least I HOPE the US isn't dumb enough to hook these things up to the internet!?)
Yep, we're that dumb.

I saw mention recently that Indiana votes are counted on a server in Texas, for example. Not sure if that was in place last fall or not.

There is additional shady business in this area. Like - all the reults go to a single location electronically. I know that somehow this ties into the stations' reporting on election night. I know that BBV claims that this is a vulnerability.

I'm not a programmer, but if there is electronic compilation of all the votes, etc - in a central location - it seems conceptually easy (in the sense that a single person with the right know-how and resources, might pull it off) to affect results on a large scale, in a single hack.

edit: per 2centsworth input I'll try to get a reference on some of this.
 
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  • #15
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6418513

Machine glitch gave Bush extra Ohio votes
Officials say 3,893-vote error did not affect state result


Updated: 9:17 p.m. ET Nov. 5, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio - An error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, elections officials said.

Franklin County’s unofficial results had Bush receiving 4,258 votes to Democrat John Kerry’s 260 votes in a precinct in Gahanna. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct. Bush’s total should have been recorded as 365.

Bush won the state by more than 136,000 votes, according to unofficial results, and Kerry conceded the election on Wednesday after saying that 155,000 provisional ballots yet to be counted in Ohio would not change the result.

Deducting the erroneous Bush votes from his total could not change the election’s outcome, and there were no signs of other errors in Ohio’s electronic machines, said Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.

Franklin is the only Ohio county to use Danaher Controls Inc.’s ELECTronic 1242, an older-style touch-screen voting system. Danaher did not immediately return a message for comment.

Sean Greene, research director with the nonpartisan Election Reform Information Project, said that while the glitch appeared minor “that could change if more of these stories start coming out.”

Problems in North Carolina, California
In one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost in Tuesday’s election because officials mistakenly believed a computer that stored ballots electronically could hold more data than it did.

And in San Francisco, a voting software malfunction could delay efforts to declare the winners of four county supervisor races.

In the Gahanna precinct, multiple copies of each ballot were recorded: two on the machine and three to a removable cartridge, said Matthew Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. When voting ends, each cartridge is taken to one of five zones in the county, where the results were loaded into a laptop. Those results were transferred by secure data lines to the county.

Damschroder said the malfunction occurred when one machine’s cartridge was plugged into a laptop computer and generated faulty numbers in several races. He could not explain how the malfunction occurred. He had, however, ruled out a problem with software at the central vote collection office, as well as tampering.

“We tested if there was some possibility of human intervention, and it was not possible,” Damschroder said.
 
  • #16
Pengwuino
Gold Member
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Where is this 6 precinct number coming from? Aren't there tens of thousands of precincts???

And why are we predicting voter fraud when probably a good 90% of accusations come from nuts who are just pissed off that their side lost in whatever election is under consideration. Most problems seem to have come from glitches and bad-record keeping. I doubt theres any real national massive conspiracies or anything
 
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  • #17
pattylou said:
Yep, we're that dumb.

I saw mention recently that Indiana votes are counted on a server in Texas, for example. Not sure if that was in place last fall or not.

There is additional shady business in this area. Like - all the reults go to a single location electronically. I know that somehow this ties into the stations' reporting on election night. I know that BBV claims that this is a vulnerability.

I'm not a programmer, but if there is electronic compilation of all the votes, etc - in a central location - it seems conceptually easy (in the sense that a single person with the right know-how and resources, might pull it off) to affect results on a large scale, in a single hack.

edit: per 2centsworth input I'll try to get a reference on some of this.
http://www.itworld.com/Tech/2987/031202evoting/
Ohio e-voting machine review finds security flaws
IDG News Service 12/2/03

Elizabeth Heichler, IDG News Service, Boston Bureau

An independent review of electronic voting machines from four vendors has found security flaws sufficient for Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to delay implementation of the devices until problems can be remedied, his office announced Tuesday.

Systems tested on Ohio's behalf by Compuware Corp. of Detroit included machines from Diebold Inc., Election Systems & Software Inc. (ES&S), Sequoia Voting Systems, and Hart InterCivic Inc. Compuware examined the source code for each company's system and looked at the potential for intrusion and points of failure. A total of 57 potential security risks were identified that could be exploited in an election. The risks were categorized as low, medium and high. Of the high-risk areas, Diebold had five, Hart had four, Sequoia had three and ES&S had one. The full report with detailed descriptions of the risks can be viewed online at http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/hava/files/compuware.pdf [Broken].

With the U.S. states now eligible for a total of US$3.8 billion of funds to update their voting systems as a result of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, the issue of how to secure the new generation of electronic-voting machines has recently taken center stage.

Among the risks identified for the Diebold AccuVote-TS are that an unauthorized person can gain access to a supervisor card, all of which use the same PIN (personal identification number) nationwide, and access supervisor functions on the machine. Compuware also found that an unauthorized person with access to that system's database server, which uses MS Access to store election results, could change election results.

The risks for the other companies' machines include potential access to supervisor functions, ability to disrupt voting and ability to close polls early.

Compuware also recommended that the secretary of state implement an IT and security policy standard for any election using a DRE (direct recording electronic) system, and said that the state needs to consider the creation of a security director position to oversee policies, procedures, IT and security concerns in any election in which a DRE system is used. Such a position would require someone with a broad security background including IT, secure VPNs (virtual private networks), LAN-WAN management and policy and standards creation, Compuware said in its report.

Meanwhile, a concurrent review by InfoSentry Services Inc. of the vendors' procedures and processes has led the Ohio secretary of state to "ask vendors to implement industry standard security and quality practices and procedures," a statement from his office said.

The review also encouraged the secretary of state to require voting machine vendors to demonstrate their software development capabilities by achieving Software Engineering Institute CMM Level 2 certification within one year and achieving CMM Level 3 certification within three years.

The systems were set for implementation in March 2004, but Blackwell said that August 2004 special elections will now be the first scheduled use of the new systems. Vendors are currently fixing the problems identified by Compuware, according to Blackwell's office, after which they will undergo additional verification testing by Compuware and InfoSentry.
 
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  • #18
Pengwuino
Gold Member
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Might wanna try to keep it unbiased for once in your like TSM ;)

http://www.atsnn.com/story/97250.html [Broken]

original news source:

www.orlandosentinel.com
The cause of the error, Orange officials said Thursday, was a software program that could not tabulate more than 32,767 votes in a single precinct. On election night, officials anticipated the problem and adjusted for it, deputy election official Lonn Fluke said Thursday.

But the next day, workers failed to account for the glitch while posting precinct results online. When absentee-ballot totals exceeded the limit in one precinct, the software caused additional votes to be subtracted from Bush's total.

A similar discrepancy affected vote totals posted online for the U.S. Senate race between Republican Mel Martinez and Democrat Betty Castor. But neither online counting problem made it into the real totals sent to Tallahassee, election officials insist.

"The election results we certified to the state are correct," Fluke said. The presidential and U.S. Senate absentee results posted online were "garbage."
giving 8400 extra votes to Kerry...
 
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  • #19
Pengwuino said:
Might wanna try to keep it unbiased for once in your like TSM ;)
I beg your pardon?

I quoted an entire MSNBC article.

I then Quoted an article from IDG pre-election warning of the flaws in the system with links to the OSU PDF file containing all the potential errors within the system.

Now you seem to have tripped off to a Florida (Jeb Bush) web site and accuse me of being biased??? That's a tad rich.

You might want to read a further post on the page you linked to:

Bull. If they favored Kerry, then regardless it needs to be checked. Jesus. Stop with partisanship and let's get the damn voting system fixed. Fraud is fraud, glitches are glitches. Who cares. I want a fair election. PERIOD. :mad:
 
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  • #20
Pengwuino
Gold Member
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The orlando newspaper is a Jeb Bush website???

Hell MSNBC is owned by Bill Gates whos a democrat so I guess you gave me biased information too :confused: :confused: :confused:
 
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  • #21
Pengwuino
Gold Member
4,989
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We also have...

http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/may05/324933.asp [Broken] (reg required)

Inquiry finds evidence of fraud in election
Cast ballots outnumber voters by 4,609
By GREG J. BOROWSKI
gborowski@journalsentinel.com
Posted: May 10, 2005

Investigators said Tuesday they found clear evidence of fraud in the Nov. 2 election in Milwaukee, including more than 200 cases of felons voting illegally and more than 100 people who voted twice, used fake names or false addresses or voted in the name of a dead person.

....
 
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  • #22
loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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Actually, that issue with the Ohio machines wasn't an issue in the last election. Due to the problems arising, most of the state (85%) ended up not using e-machines.

As far as computer hacking, let us remember how US elections work. Working from a central location and swinging, say, 2% of the vote in the other direction isn't necessarily going to help either candidate. To win electoral votes, a candidate needs to win states, and the margin of victory in each state is generally more than 2%. The only real opportunity to do a hack that might change the outcome of a nationwide election comes when there are one or two key battleground states that alone determine the outcome (which has happened the last two times) and at least one of those states is won by a margin within a 1-2% swing that would result in a discrepancy between exit polls and results that wasn't hugely obvious. The only time I know of that all of those circumstances definitely existed were in 2000 and 2004 with Florida and Ohio, but neither state at the time had enough voting machines for anyone to be able to do such a statewide hack. To effect a 1% swing statewide in Ohio, a hacker would have had to swing 7% of the vote in precincts using e-machines. Now that definitely would not have gone unnoticed. I can guarantee you that no county showed more than a 7% difference between predicted and actual results, and if every precinct using e-machines just happened to show that discrepancy, nothing could explain that away.

In short, the chance of a small group of hackers effecting the outcome of a presidential election is astronomically small.
 
  • #23
loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
1,749
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Pengwuino said:
We also have...

http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/may05/324933.asp [Broken] (reg required)
As I said, citywide and countywide elections are what we should really be worried about. Those can definitely be affected, without huge outlandish conspiracies.
 
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  • #24
Pengwuino said:
We also have...

http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/may05/324933.asp [Broken] (reg required)
What is it with you Pengwuino?

I don't live in the USA.

I don't care.

I was looking for evidence of the machines being flawed because I have spent 25 years as a systems analyst and the problem intrigues me.

I can also tell you that the OS being used had to be Unix and the programmer chose the wrong type of variable to define which results in the 32k limit.

This is one of the most basic of errors a programmer can make and they seriously need to haul the juviniles off the project and put some programmers with experience on it.

I say again from your link:
Bull. If they favored Kerry, then regardless it needs to be checked. Jesus. Stop with partisanship and let's get the damn voting system fixed. Fraud is fraud, glitches are glitches. Who cares. I want a fair election. PERIOD. :mad:
 
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  • #25
Pengwuino
Gold Member
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Yes but im just pointing out your bias as usual. I mean, for someone who started a thread called "We can't sell Oil to the Chinese ....", you sure do sounds like you care (at least, when it comes to bashing Bush or America). I mean... unless... ya know, "We" meant China and your mad that you can't sell stuff to yourself.

And again, its the article being quoted that matters, not what the 2nd source says in reaction.
 

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