Cambridge Analytica — Did They Target Voter Registration Files?


In October 2017, the author of this article found the GitHub repository of a programmer with a email address. The repository has since been emptied, but we were able to access an archived version. Did Cambridge Analytica target voter registration files?

What the Files Tell Us

Two files in the repository are very interesting. They are scripts written in the programming language Python.

One is for guessing the political interests of a Twitter user. Interesting indeed, given Cambridge Analytica’s involvement with social media manipulation.

The other script initially seems rather innocent. It contains code to determine the latitude and longitude of a given address.

The crazy part about that script is in the comments. The data the script is built to analyze contains fields called “voter_id” and “CongressionalDistrict”. This is disturbing.

This would be exactly what you would use to target and perhaps manipulate a voter registration database.

Was Cambridge Analytica Targeting Voter Registration Databases?

Anyone who had access to a voter registration database could use this script to figure out the latitude and longitude of any address in the database.

It would also be easy to find the coordinates of all the polling places. Add demographic and historical data. Mix to taste.

With very little work, these scripts could be used to figure out where you need more votes in order to win. They could used to assign given voters to new polling places.

Notice the “sleep” command in the code. This causes the execution of the getLatLngGeopy function to pause for a random amount of time between 0.1 and 2.1 seconds. The only reason to add this to the function would be to make traffic to a server seem like normal human traffic, rather than script-generated traffic. This line of code indicates that the script was used to harvest a large amount of data illicitly, from a server that throttles excessive traffic from a single source.

With these scripts and access to a voter registration database you could move voters to where you needed them to be.

If you move a voter to a different precinct or county, two things happen.

> That voter will not be able to vote

> That voter’s ID could then be used to cast an electronic vote

You could move voters to different polling stations. You could make sure the name or birth date in their registration record doesn’t match their ID.

Final Thoughts

We know these databases were targeted. These attacks weren’t a training exercise. They had a goal and a plan.

Weaponized information doesn’t end at micro-targeting. It starts there.

Why the hell did Cambridge Analytics design these scripts? Who provided them with voter registration files? Did they actually hack voter registration files? Did they alter the results of the Election?

Written by Unhackthevote

Read More Commentary about Cambridge Analytica:

Molly Schweickert of Cambridge Analytica – What Did She Just Say?

Cambridge Analytica and the Flipping of an Election – the Law of Small Numbers

Americans Should Be Alarmed by the UK Report on Cambridge Analytica and Big Data

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Author: Unhackthevote