Thursday, August 09, 2012

NDP Convention Hijacking Incident: Time To Call Bullshit

The source of the cyber attack that disrupted voting at the NDP's leadership convention in March remains a mystery, and further investigation to find out who was responsible has been dropped.


Scytl was able to determine that approximately 10,000 IP addresses were used in the attack and that each computer launched up to 1,000 requests per minute to the voting server. An IP address is a number assigned to an internet connection.

Let us review.  And I should say that I've read these numbers I've going to give you in various places, and I was physically there at the convention, but I'm not going to bother to find the old stories and link to them.


--Total votes for the NDP first round of voting was about 60,000, of which about 50,000 had been cast before the convention.  That's about half the number originally expected.   And I remember, coming into the convention center,  a couple of NDPers talking in  line in front of me.  "Are you persuadable?" one asked, and the other responded yes, but that they already cast their preferential ballot.  In the end, about 1,500 of the 4,500 NDPers present were casting ballots on the floor, and therefore could actually switch their vote.  I think it was Andrew Coyne who pointed out that, given the math, the convention itself was superfluous.  Mulcair would have won on the basis of the preferential ballots alone and nothing that happened on the floor or on-line made a lick of difference.

--In any case, that means that on-line vote was a pathetic < 10,000 (rather than the 60,000 expected).  Its worth noting that one of the sadder rumors NDP ops tried to spread on the morning of day two was that there would be  a "West Coast Wave"--a swath of BC voters   who were just getting up  and who would  bump up the on-line numbers in subsequent rounds of voting.  The wave, needless to say, did not materialize.  There's a message to the LPoC in this.  There is no reason to expect that the Liberal on-line contingent will show up to vote in any greater numbers than the NDP gang did.

So the upshot is that a cyber-attack would have involved about 1 1/2 rogue computers for every NDP voter, which would clearly have been overkill, and pointless anyway.  After all, a DOS attack could only slow down the proceedings.  It wasn't like the NDP was going to give up and go home.  And, if you had been there, you would have read all sorts of twitter complaints about the voting situation during the course of the convention's second day.  The standard bit of advice was: clear you cache and try again.  Until I see something a bit more substantive in the way of analysis from Scytl Canada, I am going to assume that this was just a bung-up and not an attempt to derail democracy.

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