In his blog Tim mentioned the Italian film Uccidete la democrazia! which documents a possible fraud during the last elections in Italy. The film is mixture of a documentary and a movie (in German: Doku-Drama). It starts with Clinton Curtis statement before the U.S. House of Representatives. Later in the film Clinton Curtis is interviewed and shows how election results can be manipulated. The film assumes that during the transmission of the results from the Prefectures to the Ministry of the Interior blank votes were changed into votes for the right-wing coalition House of Freedoms. This could have happened in those four regions where the transmission went through a computer-network system set up by the American firm Accenture. Berlusconi's government had signed a contract with Accenture in order to test the treatment and transmission of election results by a computer network.
The following observations endorse this hypothesis:
- The network transmission took very long and was interrupted several times.
- During the transmission the difference between the two coalitions diminished continuously (always by 0.5%), which seems to be a very peculiar behavior.
- The number of blank votes was significantly low.
- The difference between exit polls and the actual results was much higher than usual. The exit polls predicted a large victory for the left-wing coalition The Union.
- When the votes were being transmitted to Rome, the minister of the Interior Giuseppe Pisanu (whose son worked with Accenture on the project) left his office at least twice to meet Berlusconi.
- Berlusconi explained how votes could be manipulated at an internal party meeting before the elections.
- Blank votes are not counted, which facilitates their recycling.
- Normally, a thorough report on the elections is published by the Ministry of the Interior. This didn’t happen this time.
The question that remains open is why the right-wing coalition didn’t “win” the elections in the end. There are two possible explanations:
- Only four regions participated in the automated transmission of voting results. Perhaps, that wasn’t enough.
- There were less blank votes than expected. And more people voted for the left…
- Giuseppe Pisanu may have realized at a certain point that it was difficult to save the right-wing government and therefore did not carry through the manipulation to the end. Or he was too scrupulous and didn’t turn the screw far enough. Perhaps, information leaked through, or Pisanu played on his own. Perhaps, he himself was outside the plot. On the other hand, he had changed 14 prefects before the elections. And there could be a link to the arrest of a very prominent Mafia leader in Sicily at the same time. Pisanu must have known about it or may even have ordered or permitted the arrest in the case of Berlusconi’s defeat.
I’m not really sure what to think about the film. At least, it is very well made and interesting. I like the references to the history of Italy a lot. The election fraud seems possible, but of course no irrefutable evidence is presented. Still, the mere possibility of such a scenario is a good argument against electronic voting.