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On Election Night, viewers watched in shock as Karl Rove refused to accept the call, confirmed by Fox News analysts, that Ohio had gone to Obama.
A release claiming to be from hacker collective Anonymous alleges there was more behind Rove’s freak-out than first met the eye. The group says that it foiled Rove’s attempt to steal the election in Florida, Virginia and Ohio by using the GOP’s ORCA system.
Two weeks prior to Election Night, a typical Anonymous video was released warning Rove against rigging the election. “We want you to know that we are watching you, waiting for you to make this mistake of thinking you can rig this election to your favor,” Anonymous’ ubiquitous Guy Fawkes character warned.
Then, following Obama’s win and Rove’s very public outburst, a group calling themselves “The Protectors,” believed to be comprised of Anonymous hackers, sent a letter to election transparency non-profit, Velvet Revolution, claiming to have thwarted attempts by GOP strategists to flip votes and rig the election in three swing states.
The letter claims that the GOP’s ORCA — a GOTV (Get Out the Vote) system — was in fact designed to rig votes in favor of Romney (although the letter does not verify this or specify how ORCA was designed to do this.) The Protectors claim that they installed a password protected firewall to block attempts to digitally rig votes:
We coded and created, what we call, The Great Oz. A targeted password protected firewall that we tested and refined over the past weeks. We place this code on more than one of the digital tunnels and their destination’s that Karl’s not so smart worker bees planned to use on election night.
The Protectors alleged these “digital tunnels” were leading to servers in three different states. The release claims that Rove’s operatives attempted to unsuccessfully breach The Great Oz firewall to access these tunnels throughout election night. “We watched as Karl’s weak corrupters repeatedly tried to penetrate The Great Oz. These children of his were at a loss-how many times and how many passwords did they try? — exactly 105.”
The details in the Anonymous claim are currently unverified and there are many lingering question. For one, as our own Alex Seitz-Wald pointed out via email, “they never explain how Rove was stealing the election in Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. [There are] not many e-voting machines and not sure how else you’d do it.”
Secondly, it seems questionable whether the ORCA system (which belonged to Romney’s campaign, not Rove, as the Anonymous letter suggests) was capable of rigging an election — it barely functioned as a GOTV project. Writing at Ace of Spades, John Ekdah called Project ORCA an “unmitigated disaster“. He details a long list of problem that indicate the massive undertaking lacked the necessary “planning, training and coordination” to be successful.
Even without Anonymous’ alleged efforts, it is unclear that ORCA had the sophistication to rig votes. Although perhaps nefarious intentions behind the project account for its failure as a GOTV system. Again, we can only speculate — the onus is on Anonymous to provide further proof before we can believe these (albeit delicious) claims.
Watch the Anonymous warning video to Rove:
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com.More Natasha Lennard.