When I was a kid, the catchphrase “Computers don’t lie” was very common, implying that machines were unbiased and accurate, in order to engender faith in the results they produced. Maybe that’s why I am in security – because I found the concept to be very strange. Machines, and certainly computers, do pretty much exactly what we tell them to do, and implicit trust is misguided. As their inner workings are rarely transparent, they are perfectly suited to hiding all sorts of shenanigans, especially when under the control of power hungry despots.

It is being reported that Honduran law enforcement has seized a number of computers that contain certified results for an election that never took place. It appears that former President Manuel Zelaya attempted to rig the vote on constitutional reform, and might have succeeded if he had not been booted prior to the vote. I cannot vouch for the quality of the translated versions, but here is an except:

The National Direction of Criminal Investigation confiscated computers in the Presidential House in which were registered the supposed results of the referendum on the reform of the Constitution that was planned by former President Manuel Zelaya on last June 28, the day that he was ousted.

“This group of some 45 computers, by the appearance that present, they would be used for the launch of the supposed final results of the quarter ballot box”, he explained. The computers belonged to the project ‘Learns’ of the Honduran Counsel of Science and Technology directed towards rural schools. All of the computers had been lettered with the name of the department for the one that would transmit the information accompanied by a document with the headline: “Leaf of test”, that contained all the data of the centers of voting.

From the translated articles, it’s not clear to me if these computers were going to be used in the polling places and would submit the pre-loaded results, or if they were going to mimic the on-site computers and upload fraudulent data. You can pretty do anything you want when you have full access to the computer. Had this effort been followed through, it would have been difficult to detect, and the results would have been considered legitimate unless proven otherwise.