back to article Vote machine biz Smartmatic sues Fox News and Trump chums for $2.7bn over bogus claims of rigged 2020 election

Electronic voting machine maker Smartmatic has sued Fox News, three of its hosts, and two of Donald Trump’s loyalists – Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell – for an eye-popping $2.7bn in defamation damages over the false claims it stole the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden. The lawsuit, filed Thursday with the Supreme …

  1. Blank Reg Silver badge

    These morons thought that they were free to lie as much as they liked, but the bill has finally arrived.

    This one as well as the Dominion lawsuits are pretty much a done deal, the only question is the size of the awards.

    1. sreynolds

      Don't you have to show that you actually made a loss? I didn't realize that voting was such a big business and don't actual damages need to be claimed for? How many states have stopped using the voting machines?

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Apparently their sales world wide are suffering, same for Dominion. And then you have the damage to their reputation, it's hard to rebuild a brand that has been so severely maligned, it will take years. And if sales take years to recover then it's those years of losses that need to be covered, along with bonus payment for continuing to lie even after they were told there was no evidence.

        And in the case of Dominion there is also the matter of threats of violence against their staff because of these lies.

        1. sreynolds

          It's a slippery slope.

          Hmm interesting. I know of a case where false allegations and intelligence resulted in the actual death of over a hundred thousand individuals. I mean anyone with half a brain knows that you don't store nerve agents in glass, inside a warhead for dispersal. I mean given the shocks experienced during normal storage, let alone from the impulse a of a huge lump of oxidizing powder at the base of the warhead, any reasonable individual could tell that these were flagrant lies. So what's next, is someone going to hold Teflon Tony to account?

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Meh

          please let me know (with proof) what 'lies' you are referring to. Thank you.

          Jeanine Pirro (one of the defendants in the lawsuit) used to be a judge. On her show she's known as "Judge Jeanine".

          I would think that Jeanine Pirro would have a pretty good grasp of evidence, evidentiary rules, and so on with respect to what might be considered libel, slander, or "damaging". Many other hosts on Fox News are actual attorneys.

          So far I haven't seen anything like "lies" that would result in any kind of "damage", and I watch Jeanine's show regularly.

          And though I don't always watch the others named in the lawsuit, I haven't seen anything "damaging" from them, either.

          Please keep in mind, THIS.

          I expect to see more of the same in the near future. the thing about a court case is that actual EVIDENCE gets to be presented, and DISCOVERY gets to be demanded from the opposing party.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Evidence? And using it to test claims in a transparent way? What a novel idea. Perhaps some jurisdictions in the English speaking world should be introduced to that idea.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Is that the same Judge Jeanine who's husband was pardoned by Trump for his $1.2 million tax evasion conviction?

            (Drain The Swamp! Drain The Swamp ... !)

            1. Blank Reg Silver badge

              And the same Judge Jeanine on who's show Fox is airing a segment debunking their crazy election fraud claims

              https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/19/business/fox-smartmatic-news-package/index.html

              Fox doesn't want to do this, but they know they are screwed if they don't backtrack on all the lies

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Jeanine Pirro (one of the defendants in the lawsuit) used to be a judge. On her show she's known as "Judge Jeanine".

            I would think that Jeanine Pirro would have a pretty good grasp of evidence, evidentiary rules, and so on with respect to what might be considered libel, slander, or "damaging". Many other hosts on Fox News are actual attorneys.

            Yes, but these solons know (and depend on) the fact that most of their audience do not know the rules of evidence. And as for "actual attorneys", well, Guiliani is still one, although he and his group LOST some sixty cases trying to allege election shennanigans. You, to your credit, do not try to claim they are competent ex-judges or attorneys.

          4. Stuart Castle Silver badge

            Re: "I would think that Jeanine Pirro would have a pretty good grasp of evidence, evidentiary rules, and so on with respect to what might be considered libel, slander, or "damaging". Many other hosts on Fox News are actual attorneys."

            She and they probably would have a good idea of what constitutes evidence. Doesn't mean that what they have presented is considered evidence, even if they are claiming it is such. They are no longer legal professionals. They are TV presenters, and TV presenters do not have the same obligation to the truth that legal professionals are supposed to have.

            And I am bearing in mind the photo. All that shows is a couple of blokes using the machines. It provides no evidence of what they were doing, so based purely on that photo, they could have been doing something illegal, or they could merely have been configuring or testing the machines.

            I would class everything I've seen the Trump campaign (and I count Fox as part of that) in much the same way. Everything could have a perfectly legitimate reason, and they've produced no evidence it doesn't.

            As for Jeanine Pirro, I'd argue she has a very good reason for supporting Trump. He intervened in her husband's tax avoidance case. I would not be surprised if Trump used that against her somehow. Perhaps he withheld evidence initially that he could release later.

    2. PassiveSmoking

      You're assuming that the presiding judge will be a sane person. Given the last four years, I feel like making assumptions about the sanity of any American is a mistake, doubly so when it comes to Americans in authority.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "You're assuming that the presiding judge will be a sane person."

        Whilst I tend to agree with you, it's worth baring in mind that various bits of the Trump team trid at least 60 times to challenge election results and were basically laughed out of court, even by Republican judges, when they failed to produce the claimed evidence.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Jury of pissed off New Yorkers

        They've filed in New York State, and requested a jury trial.

        Note that civil actions in New York do not require a unanimous verdict (something like 5 of 6 or 10 of 12), and the bar is 'more likely than not', rather than 'reasonable doubt'.

        These guys are going down.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >These morons thought that they were free to lie as much as they liked,

      They didn't 'lie', they are a satirical comedy show

      Rudy is just doing a Sacha Baron Cohen (possibly Rudy is Sacha Baron Cohen!)

    4. Danny 14 Silver badge

      I would so love this to succeed but in the US it is hard to win defamation cases. A solid defence would be "im too atipid to know the difference" as you need to prove that the person did actually lie. Sk unless they have emails or recordings to that effect it will be hard.

      Still, there is hope that the orange one will also be dragged through the courts too.

  2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Smartmatic now wants Fox News et al to cough up $2.7bn $27bn to cover economic losses and damages to its reputation, and for any false statements made to be retracted.

    TFTFY

    Murdoch has plenty of money. $27bn is lose change for his empire.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      I can understand the sentiment, but I assume the company did some calculations what the damages are, and ended up with 2.7 billion, not 27 billion.

      1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        but I assume the company did some calculations what the damages are

        This is, after all, America. And in America, there are three ways to get rich:

        1. You earn it;

        2. You inherit it; and

        3. You sue for it.

      2. Sherrie Ludwig

        Reply Icon

        I can understand the sentiment, but I assume the company did some calculations what the damages are, and ended up with 2.7 billion, not 27 billion.

        Go read the lawsuit. It's only 285 pages. Yep, a plausible case is made for the amount, I think they aimed too low, actually. And while, in the style of legal briefs, it has to be somewhat repetitive, there's enough meat on these bones to choke every single defendant.

    2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

      Murdoch has plenty of money. $27bn is lose loose change for his empire.

      FTFY

      Always beware of Muphry's law

    3. Cuddles Silver badge

      "Murdoch has plenty of money. $27bn is lose change for his empire."

      I think you may be overestimating a bit. The combined total wealth of both Fox and News Corp is only around $37 billion. Murdoch's personal wealth is significantly less, and will mostly consist of shares in those two anyway. This isn't Apple or Google we're talking about; a $27 billion penalty would be enough to wipe out most normal companies, even the ones you might think of as big.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Mushroom

        "The combined total wealth of both Fox and News Corp is only around $37 billion....a $27 billion penalty would be enough to wipe out most normal companies, even the ones you might think of as big."

        And the problem there is...?

        1. Blank Reg Silver badge

          If someone managed to take out the Murdoch empire then they should be nominated for the Nobel peace prize.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Trollface

    Smartmatic lawyers got lucky

    They found someone at Fox who could read

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I think they should vote on the result of the lawsuit.

    Oh, wait...

  5. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

    Should be fun

    Watching them have to deal with true facts for a change.

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Should be fun

      Watching them have to deal with true facts for a change

      I wonder if either side is going to call Mr Donald J Trump as witness.

      1. onemark03 Bronze badge

        Re: Should be fun: Donald J Trump as witness.

        That I'd love to see, if only to see him lie in his teeth and then get tried for perjury.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: Should be fun: Donald J Trump as witness.

          Trumpo has ignored many subpoenas in the past. He thinks he is still Presidente, given the letter he sent to the Screen Actors Guild. He signed it "President Donald J Trump".

          There will be lawyers all over the world salivating at the chance to get him under oath. Sadly, I don't think they'll ever get a chance to question him unless the DA from Manhatten charges him with State Crimes. Then any [cough][cough] hidden self-pardon that he granted himself will be invalid. Presidential Pardons only apply to Federal Charges.

          If you want to see Rupert's take on the whole thing, tune into Sky News Au. There are plenty of clips on YouTube of them being even more Q-Anon than NewsMax.

          1. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: Should be fun: Donald J Trump as witness.

            >He signed it "President Donald J Trump".

            Ex-Presidents can still use the title "President" as an honorific. They don't use it in everyday use, its not as if we're likely to forget who they are, but it turns up on things like their Presidential Library.

            (Now that's any interesting concept...."Trump" and "Library" in the same sentence.....)

            1. Just An Engineer

              Re: Should be fun: Donald J Trump as witness.

              Nah, any money he "raises" for the "library" will only go into his or his Spawns pockets. The Donald J. Trump Presidential Library will never be built.

              Unless the My Pillow Guy does it for him.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: Should be fun: Donald J Trump as witness.

                Typically you don't build the library until you stop being president.

                But he is still president because he won the election, and he gets 3 extra turns because he found a golden ticket and he played the joker in a double bonus round.

                So he won't actually build the library until 2230, but keep sending the contributions now -

            2. Someone Else Silver badge

              Re: Should be fun: Donald J Trump as witness.

              It will be filled with boxes of black Sharpies, and various broken crayons.

              And nothing else....

              1. very angry man

                Re: Should be fun: Donald J Trump as witness.

                it would be on tawater, and the account blocked

          2. Justin Clements

            Re: Should be fun: Donald J Trump as witness.

            >There will be lawyers all over the world salivating at the chance to get him under oath.

            I doubt anyone wants to get Trump under oath because discovery rules go both ways.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: discovery rules go both ways.

              The code used in Dominion and Smartmatic machines had been audited by the Federal Election Commission (or something like that).

              They won't be afraid of showing that to the likes of Rudi.

              An awful lot of what was said by Rudi, Trump and 'The Kraken' (Ms Powell) is so far out there that it will not be difficult to prove that it is a lie. Hugo Chavez died in 2013 so unless he has risen from the grave, he could not have played a part in the election process.

              Counting votes in Germany and Venezuela is another lie that won't be difficult to prove. After all, it is the states that run the elections.

              Then there is the fact (well not well publicised) that in the districts that used these machines, around 60% of them returned Trump as the winner of the election.

              This will run and run for years.

              Oh, and Fox News has 'cancelled' the Lou Dobbs show...

  6. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    hope the defence doesn't find any bugs when they go for discovery of the source.

  7. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "Truth matters"

    Nah.

    The bigger the lie, the more it is believed.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: "Truth matters"

      Until you are caught in it and are forced to make the retraction stick.

  8. A.P. Veening Silver badge

    Smartmatic now wants Fox News et al to cough up $2.7bn to cover economic losses and damages to its reputation, and for any false statements made to be retracted.

    I think the latter part will hurt the most, having to publicly retract their lies as that will seriously undermine their credibility with their target public (they already had none where I am concerned).

    1. druck Silver badge

      It will be a retraction similar to what used to happen in tabloids. After running 144pt headlines on the front page for weeks, six months later they put a mealy mouthed apology in 6pt text at the bottom of page 22, in whichever edition has the lowest circulation.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Most people (including judges) are wise to that. The correct sentence would be the same publications/editions, the same duration of time with identical days of the week, front page and 288pt headlines.

        In the case of Foxconn that would be prime time, same anchors and free advertising for a couple of weeks.

        1. vincent himpe

          have them run an apology video 24/7 for a month.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        To anybody I have offended, I apologize for the offense.

        That should be a sufficiently mealymouthmumblefuck "apology" to meet the letter of the law without damaging the Asshat-in Chief's delicate ego or psyche.

    2. David Robinson 1

      "We are sorry that we were caught out in a lie and won't let it happen again."

  9. gnasher729 Silver badge

    I thought Dominion was there first with a $1.3bn lawsuit.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      It says at the end of the article about Dominion...

      It says at the end of the article about Dominion...

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      I thought Dominion was there first with a $1.3bn lawsuit.

      Against Giuliani, not against Fox News.

      I wouldn't shed a tear if Giuliani, Fox News or both had to declare bankruptcy.

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Maybe tears of joy

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          That would be if Trump were held personally liable as well with subsequent bankruptcy.

          1. Kane Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            "That would be if Trump were held personally liable as well with subsequent bankruptcy."

            No, those would be tears of rapture

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "as well with subsequent bankruptcy."

            In his case it's just SoP.

      2. vincent himpe

        De-bar , behind bars and barred

  10. Pangasinan Philippines

    I was watching on election night, both Fox News and CNN by switching the two channels.

    Early results showed Fox presenters smugly announcing Trump leading.

    When the postal voting results swung towards Democrats, the Fox team were firing of all types of accusations against the Dems and the voting 'irregularities'.

    They were not happy bunnies.

    It was a good popcorn session.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ballot Marking Devices

    These are BMDs. There is a paper audit trail. These are ballot marking machines, you can simply count the paper ballots and confirm the validity of the count independent of the machines.

    https://www.smartmatic.com/fileadmin/user_upload/VSAP_component_callouts.pdf

    ALL VOTING NEEDS PAPER. If Smartmatic had a voting machine without a paper audit trail, it would be impossible to prove the votes had not been changed by malicious software. Ultimately someone intent on rigging an election that has access to the machines could rig such a machine.

    Here's Princeton researchers showing how easy it is to rig an Accuvote TS. A voting machine used in Texas Republicans for this election:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYnUksWt5HQ

    You need a human readable/verifiable paper ballot treated as the definitive ballot and secured and observed just as if it is the real ballot. It should be mandatory, no more Republican excuses.

    Lots of paperless voting machine still used in Republican controlled Texas:

    https://www.votetexas.gov/systems/accuvote.html

    https://www.votetexas.gov/systems/ess-ivotronic.html

    https://www.votetexas.gov/systems/hart-intercivic.html

    Republican controlled Texas, still using paperless voting machines. Projection.

    Fox "the cure is worse than the disease" News, needs a fresh look, new direction. I turn it on for 1 minute, 4 talking heads were whining about how Mayer Cuomo and his brother on CNN were joking about swab sizes used in Covid tests. Blah blah blah whine whine whine bitch bitch bitch. Good grief, is the Karen market your focus now Declan? Declan Murdoch, please give the world a courtesy flush already!

    1. cd

      Re: Ballot Marking Devices

      I don't know why everyone says their name wrong, it's Mudrock.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ballot Marking Devices

      If you read the complaint (or even just the summary), Smartmatic was involved in only ONE COUNTY in the past election. That County was Los Angeles. California. Not Georgia. Not Pennsylvania. Not Arizone. Not Michigan. Not Wisconson. Not even Nevada.

      In none of the contested states was Smartmatic involved in any way, and that fact would have been blindingly apparent to anybody who spent 30 seconds researching matters.

      Furthermore, there is no corporate relationship between Smartmatic and Dominion. None, nada, zilch. They had one agreement (to lease equipment) years ago that ended in lawsuits... they don't speak to each other anymore and are in fact competitors.

      This ALSO was easily verifiable.

      Yet Rudy and Sydney went on multiple Fox News shows and said Smartmatic changed votes in critical state, had back-doors, is owned by Dominion, OWNS Dominion (yes, apparently both were alleged at different times), yada yada yada.

      They are going down and they are going down bigly. This is a very straightforward case and Fox 'and Friends' have screwed the pooch... the favor is about to be returned.

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage ..."

    I have no doubt that you are very proud of having relentlessly lied about everything in your blind obedience to the GOP and it's values that date from the days of slavery.

    The amount of lies and false information made up to prop up those lies is completely staggering. You did a very good job, really. 60 lawsuits filed and all of them lost, what a record.

    Unfortunately for you, all of that pile of trash is public information, you will have no chance refuting it, nor will you be able to brush it away by saying that it was satire.

    You're going to be in front of a judge this time, and judges are not well known for appreciating being taken for fools.

    I hope Fox News will find the bill very heavy, and I hope that those three pundits will get what's coming to them as well.

    It is high time Fox News begins to understand that they are not immune, and are accountable for what they say.

    1. Thought About IT

      Re: “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage ..."

      I'm alarmed that the government has greenlighted Murdoch to set up a Fox News here in the UK. Having seen how successful an election tactic it was to divide the nation over Brexit, more division seems to be what they intend to encourage.

      1. Adelio Silver badge

        Re: “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage ..."

        I thought that in the states FOX is not designated as a news network, Probably because the one thing they do little of is report on news. They are an opinion network.

        In other news:

        In 2017, Ofcom, the United Kingdom’s communications regulator, ruled that the shows “Hannity” and “Tucker Carlson Tonight” had breached their impartiality rules while reporting on the Manchester Arena bombing and President Donald Trump’s travel ban:

        Ofcom’s ruling concluded there was “no reflection of the views of the UK

        1. teacake

          Re: “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage ..."

          With the news that Paul Dacre is being lined up to head OFCOM, I wouldn't be relying on enforcement of impartiality or accuracy rules in future.

        2. Shooter

          Re: “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage ..."

          In the US we have the Fox Network, which is an over-the-air/cable/satellite broadcaster (similar to ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.). It runs shows such as The Masked Singer, The Simpsons, movies, and sports programming.

          Separately, there is the Fox News Channel, where the talking heads such as Dobbs, Bartiromo, Hannity, and Carlson hang out. They do some actual news reporting, but the prime time shows are all opinion pieces.

          They are distinct entities, but I can see how someone could easily get confused.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fox News in the UK

        Isn't that what Sky News already is?

        I guess he'll just rebrand everything from 'Sky' to 'Fox'. Job done.

      3. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

        Re: “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage ..."

        Alarmed, but not surprised, surely?

    2. BazNav

      Re: “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage ..."

      "brush it away by saying that it was satire"

      I'd love it if Fox tried to use satire as a defence and the judge ruled that for now until the end of time they had to start every story they ran with a disclaimer that it is most definitely not news, not true and is only intended as satire. And fined them $2.7bn

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage ..."

        "And fined them $2.7bn"

        Why would a judge fine them? This is a civil suit, he would be asked to award damages.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage ..."

          "Why would a judge fine them?"

          Because he can? If they handle their defence the way they handle their "news", contempt of court is quite likely.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: “We are proud of our 2020 election coverage ..."

      To be fair, Fox *News* did a good job covering the election, including making the correct call regarding Arizona. The problem is that the channel called "Fox News" has a news arm and an "entertainment" or "opinion" arm. The entertainment arm covers topics from the news, but does so in a way to entertain the right wing audience. The company has been very clear about this, but a lot of their fans either pretend they don't know about it, or truly believe Tucker Carlson is a newsperson.

      Why do both, you ask? Goebbels knew why. 24/7 propaganda isn't as effective a propaganda mixed with straight news and entertainment. That's what will limit the Fox wannabees from the same level of success.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fox

    Rhymes with pox

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I look forward to the day...

    ...when Biden, Harris, Obama and all their supporters get sued for claiming the only reason Trump won was because Facebook, Twitter and the Russians told people to vote for them.

    Or does this sort of bull only work one way?

    (Especially funny is that so few people seem to have noticed that Facebook and Twitter, apparently so instrumental in getting President Trump elected, are now being applauded for blocking him and his supporters on their platforms - but I can't help wondering how far these companies will be allowed to go in stifling proper, fair debate in three years time when the whole election circus kicks off again... not exactly "democratic" when only one side is allowed to spread their current version of the truth, is it?)

    1. Santa from Exeter
      FAIL

      Re: I look forward to the day...

      " only one side is allowed to spread their current version of the truth"

      There are no versions, there is the truth and then there are lies.

      I leave it a a simple exercise to the reader to decide which side currently uses which in American politics.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: I look forward to the day...

        There are no versions, there is the truth and then there are lies.

        Soo.. was AOC in the Capital Building during those 6th Jan antics?

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: I look forward to the day...

          Curious if the 8 downvotes are objecting to me incorrectly spelling Capitol, or objecting to me making political capital out of AOC's attempts to do the same.

        2. Falmari Silver badge

          Truth has no voice

          @Jellied Eel “There are no versions, there is the truth and then there are lies.” That is just not true ;) all there are, are versions.

          Truth has no voice only the versions have a voice. Every time some says this is the truth it is their version, their interpretation from their viewpoint.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I look forward to the day...

        " which side"

        Seriously? the two parties keep the fight between them to keep others out. there is only one "side" in use politics, and that is greed. Always has been.

    2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Re: I look forward to the day...

      RE: "but I can't help wondering how far these companies will be allowed to go in stifling proper, fair debate in three years time when the whole election circus kicks off again... not exactly "democratic" when only one side is allowed to spread their current version of the truth, is it?)"

      I suspect if it gets too troublesome, they'll just ban all politicians and political discussion. The right wing like to say their 1st Amendment rights are being violated. I've listened to lawyers who say the First Amendment does not apply. It applies specifically to government, not outside organisations, who are therefore fairly free to decide what they want discussed on their sites and in their facilities. Remember, if you join a social network, you are required to stick to their rules (usually shown in the terrms and conditions of service). If you don't like them, you are free to post on other services, even set up your own where you make the rules. The same applies to social networking sites used external hosting/cloud providers. They are free to leave, and move elsewhere.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The machines

    Before the last US election, back a few years ago at DefCon, there test and demonstrations of how many popular voting machines were literally child's play to hack.

    Suddenly they are so secure they can sue? It would be great PR for the companies to demonstrate what hardening they did over the last few years.

    2017 https://www.theregister.com/2017/07/29/us_voting_machines_hacking/ "It took DEF CON hackers minutes to pwn these US voting machines"

    2018 https://www.theregister.com/2018/09/28/defcon_vote_hacking/ "DEF CON hackers' dossier on US voting machine security is just as grim as feared"

    I suspect if this case goes to court, there will be hacking demonstrations on the systems.

    So, I'll place my bets on "out of court settlements" End results; people get money, nobody complains about election results, security goes unchecked, and the largest financially backed candidate wins the next election, SNAFU

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Litigation is in the DNA

      Before the last US election, back a few years ago at DefCon, there test and demonstrations of how many popular voting machines were literally child's play to hack.

      Yup, and in other news, an accused gets the right to review source code of a DNA testing machine-

      Kit Walsh, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, hailed the appellate ruling. "No one should be imprisoned or executed based on secret evidence that cannot be fairly evaluated for its reliability, and the ruling in this case will help prevent that injustice," she said in a blog post.

      But civil litigation for $4bn is fine. Which given the DNA ruling, could become an issue. You want how much? An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof, so hand over the source code for both voting systems.

      Which is really a GoodThing(tm). This election was characterised by increased use of mail-in & e-voting. Future elections will probably do the same. Past elections have shown that mail-in voting increases the potential for fraud. The election in question resulted in several arrests for election fraud.

      Personally, I don't think voting machines and fraud swung the election, ordinary voters did by voting against Trump. But there's also almost always scope for improvement. So things that caught my eye-

      Validating mail-in ballots, and 'curing' process. Under US law, if a vote is from someone who's not eligable to vote, or received late, it doesn't count. But with a population of 328m spread across many voting districts, plus elligible Americans posted or working overseas, and increased mobility due to Covid.. Ensuring you have 'clean' electoral rolls is a wicked problem. If you don't know who's legally entitled to vote, issuing and validating ballot papers is error (and fraud) prone. Some of the IT claims related to this, ie problems of OCR systems being unable to validate signatures, so settings change. Obviously that increase the risk of FMR & FRR (False Match Rate and False Rejection Rate), which increase the risk of both fraud, and disenfranchising voters. This is a widely known problem for any of us IT types who've ever had to deal with OCR or document scanning systems.

      So it would seem sensible to look at spoiled or cure rates, to see if those were within expectations, and what could be done to improve the election process.

      Auditing the vote. I think this is both technical, and a human thing. I've said before that I've been an election scrutineer/observer in the UK. Part of that process is to be able to see votes as they're counted, and especially any spoiled/questioned ballots. So those were held up for observers for closer scrutiny. During this election, there were complaints that observers weren't allowed close enough to see ballot papers, or allowed to observe at all, ie the infamous 'lockout' complaints. Technology could improve that, ie cameras and screens for remote viewing. But ballot papers may contain votes on many things, making that process more complex and prone to human error. And of course with e-voting, fairly impossible given votes can be entered & tallied automagically.

      But that's potentially an easy IT fix, ie the audit trails from voting machine to tabulation, especially as that's one of the most obvious means to 'hack' the election. And I guess is also hard to virtualise observer/scrutineer function, if counts are just totals sent on memory sticks and plugged into a State consolidator box.. Which might then be wiped so it can be used for the next election, ie Georgia.

      But such is politics. Again I don't doubt the results, but I do think the process could be improved. The US is still very polarised, and a fair number of Americans still seem to think the election was stolen. Which isn't exactly good for democracy. Neither are obvious comparisons with vote rigging in US and Venezualan elections. Elections need to be 'free and fair', not just seen to be fair.. Which is also where there's heavy polarisation, ie pro-Biden think all claims of fraud are 'lies', yet a lot haven't really been tested because claims were thrown out of court.

      So personally I think there needs to be a commission formed to review the election process, and look for process improvements. Part of that should be to test the various claims, and demonstrate that they either didn't happen, couldn't happen, or wouldn't have changed the result. Then hopefully it'd finally put to bed claims that the election was stolen, and Americans can trust their form of democracy.

      And just for fun, Oops-

      https://www.wsj.com/articles/pennsylvanias-top-election-official-leaves-post-11612207940

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Litigation is in the DNA

        More than 20 states are already lining up laws that will make it harder to vote in 2022. Georgia is going to make it really difficult. Gerrymandering at its finest.

        We are so lucky to have a very different system here.

        The process to elect a US President is totally broken and not fit for purpose.

      2. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Litigation is in the DNA

        I work as a volunteer election officer in the US and so are familiar with the process used in our state and county. On the surface it seems like validating registrated voters and ensuring that they cast just one vote seems like a Hurculean task but in practice its a lot simpler than it looks because the system is highly devolved and the results can be analyzed statistically. A devolved system means that we're not just dealing with 328 million voters as a bloc but with much smaller, managable, groups in what are essentially many thousands of independent elections. Statistics easily identifies anonolous voting patterns and so points to areas where the vote needs extra scrutiny. On balance its a lot easier to tweak an election by managing the voter pool -- this is the purpose of restrictive voter laws -- and district gerrymandering, both widespread practices in minority (Republican) governed jurisdictions.

        One thing I've noticed about the people who are so knolwedgeable about problems with voting systems is that none of them actually spend the time working those elections. The last election was different not just because of Covid but because we'd tightened up all of our procedures in anticipation of legal challenges (since Trump had made no secret he was going to do this well in advance of the election). We had a team of 'observers' who sat in the polling place (this is perfectly legal, BTW) taking notes and looking for every little thing that wasn't done right. The only carp they had with our place is that they thought we were not offering a voters a choice between a self-marked ballot or a machine marked one (we were but it wasn't obvious -- again, figuring out how things work before trying to take them apart saves a whole lot of effort). Nit-picking was their game -- and I hope they were bored to tears.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Litigation is in the DNA

          Statistics easily identifies anonolous voting patterns and so points to areas where the vote needs extra scrutiny. On balance its a lot easier to tweak an election by managing the voter pool -- this is the purpose of restrictive voter laws -- and district gerrymandering, both widespread practices in minority (Republican) governed jurisdictions.

          There are lies, damn lies and.. ? :p

          But again, such is politics. Some claimed that their own statistical analysis showed 'fraud'. Or just bad analysis. Or just ignore voter sentiment, ie voting against Trump rather than for Biden. Or it becomes a battle of the quants and who can torture the data to reflect their preferred reality. Also I don't think gerrymandering is restricted to one party, eg claims that donors were paying bail for potential Democrat voters who might otherwise be unable to vote.. Which I think is a broader issue involving how the US bail system works (or doesn't), and whether being in jail pre-trial/conviction should really disenfranchise a potential voter. And of course there's the fear/suspicion that the Dems will grant statehood to DC, and grab those new Electoral College votes.

          The last election was different not just because of Covid but because we'd tightened up all of our procedures in anticipation of legal challenges (since Trump had made no secret he was going to do this well in advance of the election).

          But that's not unique to the last election, ie it happened with the whole Gore/Bush hanging chad thing in Florida, with Gore pretty much running it down to the wire before conceding. But there's still the problem of perception, especially given a lot of the challenges weren't really addressed in court, which then feeds back into conspiracy ideation about the election being stolen. So that's where I think a commission would help rather than relying on dubious sources like Snopes to determine truth.

          I also wonder if electoral reforms should just do away with the Electoral College and just decide Presidents based on popular vote. That after all was a long running claim from the previous election, ie Clinton won the national vote, not Trump.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Litigation is in the DNA

          you are the subject matter expert here, thank you for sharing.

          I don't know how may years/times you've done that, I hope it is many.

          If you have done this for many years, do you see the last couple of elections as improved (trustable) or the same as prior elections? or anything you can think to mention of things being better or worse during different election periods (I don't want to ask party related questions)

          thank you

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge
      WTF?

      AC innuendo

      "Suddenly they are so secure they can sue?"

      This lawsuit isn't about security, or lack of it.

      It's about Giuliani, Fox et.al publicly claiming that the machines were operated by Venezuelans communists, and that they were operated to swing votes to one nominee.

      Please explain why you think they couldn't sue. Can Google sue anything since Chrome is found to have multiple vulnerabilities each year? How about Microsoft or any other IT house really?

      I checked your links and neither mentions Smartmatic. The DEFCON paper didn't mention Smartmatic either.

      "I suspect if this case goes to court, there will be hacking demonstrations on the systems."

      The defendants can demonstrate all they want but the case is not about security. They need to proove how the vote swinging was done and to also show how the voting machines were operated by the Venezuelan govenrment.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: AC innuendo

        This lawsuit isn't about security, or lack of it.

        I think you'll find it will be, or at least should be..

        It's about Giuliani, Fox et.al publicly claiming that the machines were operated by Venezuelans communists, and that they were operated to swing votes to one nominee.

        Or it's about reporting. GIulliani made the claim(s), Fox reported it or repeated it. Venezuela gets a little more interesting given, well, Venezuela. Or just-

        https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180306005537/en/Smartmatic-Announces-Cease-Operations-Venezuela

        LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--After 15 years of service and 14 elections assisted providing a secure and auditable voting system, Smartmatic closed its offices and ceased operations in Venezuela.

        And various claims that Maduro somehow stole the election, and Guaidó really won. Which may sound somewhat familiar. Or explain why Venezualan political warfare types may have tried to influence US elections in a turnabout is fair play kinda way. Ah, politics. But those aspects would seem to have potential for fun & popcorn, if e-voting aspects of involvement in those elections are explored. Wiki doesn't necessarily help on that subject-

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Venezuelan_presidential_election

        Smartmatic, the electoral product company which had participated in the majority of elections under the Bolivarian government, ceased operations in its native country in March 2018, stating that they could not guarantee the validity of election results through its machines

        Which isn't strictly what was said in wiki's source. But Smartmatic had a point, ie they'd lost custody of the machines, so couldn't guarantee they hadn't been tampered with.

        Can Google sue anything since Chrome is found to have multiple vulnerabilities each year?

        Probably. They can afford to spend a lot on lawyers. But you may have it bass-ackwards, ie could people sue Google because Chrome has multiple vulnerabilities? But see previous comment about lawyers.. And probably EULAs.

        I checked your links and neither mentions Smartmatic. The DEFCON paper didn't mention Smartmatic either.

        It does however mention Dominion stuff several times, and several flaws. But 2 yrs is a lifetime in security, so hopefully Dominion took note and addressed issue raised by the DEFCON crew.. Especially regarding auditing. Which is kinda back to previous comments about an election commission to review procedures, which could include DEFCON-style tiger teams attacking the systems and processes as used. Which could also be part of any defence in these defamation claims, although it's a lot easier to demonstrate vulnerabilities than actual exploits, especially if there's no audit capability..

        The defendants can demonstrate all they want but the case is not about security. They need to proove how the vote swinging was done and to also show how the voting machines were operated by the Venezuelan govenrment.

        Again I suspect you'll find it will become about security. Smartmatic's a bit odd given AFAIK their systems were only really used in California.. And that state suddenly swinging Republican would no doubt raise a few eyebrows. But the voting machines were operated by the Venezuelan government, and it should be fairly easy to demonstrate that Venezuelans were rather familiar with the systems, potential vulnerabilities and may have had an obvious motive to embarass the US given US interference in Venezuela's politics. And it's a civil case, so the standards of proof are lower than in criminal cases.

        But such is politics.. Always looking out for the popcorn industry.

  16. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Rudy Giuliani better get down to 4 seasons landscaping for another urgent press conference

  17. martinusher Silver badge

    That's what happens when you don't know what you're talking about

    I work the polls and so I was amused by the bad mouthing that the usual suspects were giving the voting systems manufacturers. I thought this would end in tears -- the obviously wouldn't react at first because they'd have to wait for all the legal challenges to play themselves out to avoid muddying the water but these politicians and their advocates were threatening the reputation of businesses that depend on their reputation so there were bound to be consequences.

    We used the Dominion ballot marking system but it differs from Smartmatic's offering only in its ergonomics. As both a user and an engineer I can criticise the system but those criticism are things like "its top heavy", "its got difficult to find controls" and "its paired with a printer but doesn't tell you which printer its paired with" (i.e. "thanks, Windows USB drivers") and I wouldn't expect to get sued for this, they're valid opinions which are debatable. What I definitely could not say is "these systems silently record change ballots" and all the other crap I heard from the pols because, apart from being ridiculous from an engineering perspective, this attacks the core of the business model of these companies. They not only have to be trustworthy but provably trustworthy, its the foundation the business is built on. Mounting an attack from the highest levels of the US government mandates a response -- these companies have to not ony clear their names but do it in a very public way. Hence the lawsuits. Dominion itself has stated that its not interested in an out of court settlement -- it wants to go to trial. I suspect Smartmatic is the same. Its not about the money, its the reputation. Good luck to them.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: That's what happens when you don't know what you're talking about

      In other words, Dominion and Smartmatic are out for blood and won't settle for first blood either.

      1. JK63

        Re: That's what happens when you don't know what you're talking about

        This was an attack on the most fundamental aspect of their business. Namely accurate recording and tabulation of votes and speaks to the integrity of the companies. If the allegations were true they'd deserve to be out of business and the cost would be immeasurable beyond the businesses.

        Their freedom of speech wasn't impeded in any way, and they should not be immune from consequences for that.

    2. yetanotheraoc

      Re: That's what happens when you don't know what you're talking about

      I regret that I have but one upvote to give.

      These voting machines have to be approved, if not theirs then a competitor's. In some places Republicans will do the approving. Having a court win in pocket to answer the inevitable challenging questions is critical for future business.

  18. Jaybus

    Quite a markup

    Smartmatic USA Corp has annual revenue of $4.58 million. So the suit is for a little over 598 years worth of their revenues. Their sense of self-worth may just be more overinflated than Trumps. It's a fantastic voting machine...much better than any other...the best that has ever been or ever will be...

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Quite a markup

      Smartmatic USA Corp has annual revenue of $4.58 million. So the suit is for a little over 598 years worth of their revenues.

      Details, details. The damages amount claimed is just poltical theatre to get attention. Assuming they win, the court will decide damages, which could then be appealed. Key bit being having to show actual damage, which could be tricky, even if multiplied as punitive or egregious claims. Curious if the defendents could try for a SLAPP dismissal based on both public interest, and amount of damages claimed.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Quite a markup

      Smartmatic USA Corp has annual revenue of $4.58 million. So the suit is for a little over 598 years worth of their revenues.

      After the threats to staff, the security had to be increased, that doesn't come cheap and will have to continue for an indefinite period.

  19. nautica
    Happy

    Even El Reg can make a 'headline mistake'...

    "Vote machine biz Smartmatic sues Fox News and Trump chumps for $2.7bn over bogus claims of rigged 2020 election"

    There. Fixed that right up for you.

  20. mark4155
    Holmes

    Jeeves saves the vote!

    Wooster Towers,

    Brambly Bottom

    London. SE1.

    Telephone: CENtral 2278

    6th May 2021.

    Good afternoon El Reg readers,

    Jeeves awoke me at some god earthly hour with the cup that cheers and a silver platter containing letters from various people I've been trying to avoid like the plague and also during this plague.

    I asked Jeeves to deal with these coves in his usual expeditious style.

    However, Jeeves held out a communication marked "Polling Card". Strange I thought, how did the bally blighters got my info?

    Jeeves informed me that he'd held the card back for a few weeks as it was not needed until today. I gave him a short stare.

    The penny dropped after breakfast... Aunt Dido is currently stepping out with this bounder "Bingo Johnson", and the word on the old bush telegraph is that he's currently flying in rather high circles in the Civil Service or Government, not much difference I guess.

    The old grey matter stewed a bit more and I concluded that Aunt Dido had slipped Bingo Johnson my address to sign me up for a vote!

    The card gave the date of the poll, today. Opening times and location being Brambly Bottom Village Hall, it contained an instruction to "BYOB" - Jeeves interjected and solemnly informed me that this stood for "Bring Your Own Biro".

    I told Jeeves I would happily take a bottle of Port to the hall, but a Biro, certainly not. Bingo Johnson has the old finance to stump up a few shillings for a writing instrument.

    As the card was posted from Her Majesty I could hardly refuse the invite, Jeeves agreed, he had apparently had an invite for these "polls" for a number of years.

    The invite specified our polling station and opening times, so no need to rush, I suggested to Jeeves we scoot round after luncheon.

    Well I tried to telephone Aunt Dido without any luck about the poling situ in the afternoon, was even tempted to send her a Telegram.

    Though Aunt Dido is careful with money and would disapprove of not getting a "bang for your buck" in the strongest possible terms.

    So at 6.00 on the dot Jeeves got the old two seater and we trundled from the nest to the Village Hall.

    We turned into the village square and parked outside the hall. Bob Merryweather was on the gate outside the hall and helpfully told us to put the plague masks on, unless we had TB or smoked 40 Captain full strength a day. We donned the masks that Jeeves had managed to purchase a job lot from Debenhams.

    Above the entry to the hall I spotted Bill Baxter* from nearby Middleton. He was aloft his ladder and was putting the finishing touches to the new sign "Nightingale Bottom Village Hall" a whiff of fresh oil paint and stale pipe tobacco emanated from his direction.

    On the door to the inner sanctum stood a rather rotund bald chappy wearing a black full length jacket, tie and trousers coupled with a white shirt.

    He was a rather menacing type, an armband strapped to his arm with a plastic badge he polished at regular intervals. A walkie talkie was squawking from his large waist the muffled voice repeating "make sure the punters have got a biro, no biro they ain't fucking coming in...over and out" He replied "Roger" though I'm bally sure the voice sounded very much like Aunt Dido....

    He grimaced at Jeeves and I. More me for some reason. He questioned us about our supply of Biro's and cautioned us that we must have them in our possession.

    I took the lead (as usual) and told him we had suitable writing instruments that met his criteria. I think the words "writing instruments" had too many syllables for his grey matter to process.

    He snarled at us and let us pass. Jeeves at this point buttonholed me and pointed out we had no "Biro" instruments on our persons. I told the fellow to get a grip and we proceeded to the tellers desk. "Name?" she asked I said we had our cards. "No" we want your name "Bertram Wilberforce Wooster" I replied. "Address?" I furnished it to her with the greatest respect I could muster. Jeeves got the same interrogation. The polling cards were just a ploy, redundant, forlorn and placed in a dustbin.

    We were handed on to a more happy chappy, "Hi my names is Sandy how can I help you today, thanks for visiting the Nightingale" the previous minion whispered loudly that we had passed the identity check i.e Name, Address.

    Sandy flung open his ballot sheet papers and proceeded to give them a good banging with his stamping machine. He appeared to gain great satisfaction from a small machine. Finally having being presented with the ballots Sandy enquired as to whether we were in possession of our own Biro's individual Biro's.

    This was the time to come clean and spill the old beans. I informed Sandy that we didn't have the requisite items and could he lend us a bookies or Argos pen for the duration.

    In a blink of a second Sandy rose to his feet and in a high, very high pitch tone shouted "Security Security Code Biro". In a flash the grimacing door chap rumbled over and restrained and sat upon ... Jeeves.

    Jeeves had been spotted pulling something out of his waistcoat pocket.

    A short while later Jeeves and I retired to the Portobello Club (Est. 1867) (No Riff Raff allowed) We sat there in a numb fashion and happened upon a couple of American guys from the Dominion Voting Company Of America Inc.

    We had a few drinks together, they preferring this ghastly Southern Comfort concoction. We played safe with the newly invented "High Commissioner" blended whisky.

    We chatted about things that are different over the pond. Jeeves explained he has secreted two Biros on his person and was about to flash them at Sandy. Well in the end no harm done. Jeeves voted Socialist, I for Bing Johnson.

    As for the American voting machines Johnnie's. I told them straight. Nothing more than a pen (or pencil) is need in this Great British Democracy.

    Toodle Pip.

    Bertie.

    * Bill Baxter, a gentleman and superb signwriter from Middleton, Morecambe. Lancashire. Bless you Bill RIP.

  21. caradoc

    "false claims, bogus claims" If they were never examined, how can they be so labelled? There were masses of evidence and it may be a court case is the place where it can come out. The collusion of the MSM has jus been revealed by Time magazine.

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