Thursday, November 19, 2020

City Officials Blame Faulty Algorithm For Dead People Voting

By Ralph Cipriano

For the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to get a straight answer out of City Hall about why voting records stored in an official city database showed that a parade of 22 dead people, led by Smokin' Joe Frazier, voted in past city elections. 

First, I tried emailing all three members of the Board of Elections, especially Al Schmidt, a Republican who briefly became a star on CNN by proclaiming the sanctity of the vote count in Philadelphia for the presidential election. But neither Schmidt nor his Democratic colleagues on the board ever responded.  

On Sunday, a day after the city abruptly shut down that database, I finally got a dialogue going with Kevin Feeley, who had defended Philly election officials in an interview with Feeley's a PR guy who formerly flacked for Ed Rendell and the Democratic National Committee. According to the website for his PR firm, he specializes in "issue management" and "crisis communications."

That's great, because as far as Big Trial is concerned, records showing 22 dead people voted constitutes a crisis of confidence in city government. But when I sent Feeley a list of follow-up questions, Feeley was benched, and replaced by Andrew Richman, chief of staff in the city solicitor's office. Richman came forward to float a possibly credible alibi about a dormant database and a faulty algorithm that's been responsible for a flood of false data.

I ran the city's explanation past three computer experts, and they all said that Richman's alibi was plausible, but if true, it amounted to a damning indictment of the city's general incompetence and dysfunction. 

Cops, however, aren't buying it, and neither are a couple of Philly lawyers I ran it past. But if Richman's story is true, it means that the city has another scandal on its hands that's worse than 22 dead people voting. 

If Richman's story is true, for at least the past 15 years, city employees have been using a dormant database loaded with manufactured, outdated and completely false facts.

And for at least the past 15 years, cops have consulted that official but faulty database while preparing arrest warrants. 

And for at least the past 15 years, nobody in city government was smart enough to figure out that they were dealing with completely fraudulent data until a couple of weeks ago, when Big Trial started writing about Smokin' Joe. 

Is anybody buying all that?

The cops I talked to, who had previously gone into that database and discovered dead cops and dead relatives of cops voting, were unanimous in their opinion about the veracity of the city's official alibi. 

As one cop told me, "This is all bullshit. Trust me, they are lying." 

Since the city's official response came from the chief of staff in the city solicitor's office, I ran it past a couple of Philadelphia lawyers I trust, and they weren't buying it either.  

"Hell no," said the first Philly lawyer. 

"If the city always conducted itself with honesty and transparency, I might buy it," said a second Philly lawyer. "But the way it handled the election makes me seriously doubt it."

But according to the city's version of events, here's what happened. The database that showed 22 dead people voting is completely screwed up.

Here's what Feeley initially told me:

In consultation with the City’s Law Department and the Board of Elections, which investigated this claim last week, we have concluded that the screenshots/data you provided are not from a Board of Elections database.

 The Board of Elections uses the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors, known as the SURE system, and the data you provided does not come from the SURE system. The screenshots you posted online are from a dormant application called the General Voters File, a mainframe database that has not been updated in more than a decade and is not use[d] by the Board of Elections. 

 But in light of your inquiry, City Commissioners staff went back and took another look, and they have reconfirmed in the SURE database that none of the individuals you reference, including Joe Frazier, are recorded as having voted since they died.

Let's take a look at the database we're talking about, and specifically, the record that says that Smokin' Joe, who died in 2011, miraculously came back to life and voted in the 2018 general election:
Here's what Richman had to say about that.

"The data in the program is dormant and reflects voter data from 2005 and older," Richman said. 

"The City does not keep its own database of voter information, but instead uses the SURE system, which is a state database," he said. "We have confirmed that the 'year' column headings on the report are generated by a software algorithm which generated columns for the last five years."

But although the database is automatically updated every year, according to Richman, the data that it's updated with is old recycled past voting records. 

"What’s actually happened, however, is that while the algorithm generates columns from the previous five years (in other words, from 2019-2014 for example), the information contained in the columns hasn’t been updated. Thus, while it appears that voter information is current, it is not. The actual voter data shown is at minimum 15 years old." 

"We saw the screenshots you sent and understand why you were confused," Richman explained. 

"However, it is important that you understand that the City does not use this program to verify voter information," Richman said. "We use the SURE system. The alleged voting irregularities you wrote about were easy for us to quickly verify as false. And it was important that you brought this to our attention because we were able find out what was causing you to be misled and confused."

 "Unfortunately, it is clear that some City departments continued to access this database – perhaps as a means of identifying addresses – even though the voter information was not current." 

When I asked Richman why the city on Saturday abruptly shut down the database, he replied, "We had to shut down access to investigate the database. When we discovered the programming issue described above, we could no longer allow employees to use it, because the information in it is outdated."

When I asked about the cops who used this database for research when they're preparing arrest warrants, Richman responded, "This was one tool among many that employees could use to try and locate known criminal suspects . . . Investigators are still required to submit affidavits of recent probable cause to satisfy a judge that a certain individual resides at a specific location. Many information systems are used in this process."

When I asked Richman where the data in the database originally came from, a question I previously asked Feeley without getting a response, Richman similarly did not respond. 

A senior systems engineer said if Richman's story is true, somebody wrote "a bad program."

"If I view the scenario as if I wrote a bad program, the program could be taking the last five years of voter status in the file, assuming they were actually the last five years, and assigning the year headers to them," the senior systems engineer said. "This would be really sloppy, but it is very possible this was done by a 'regular employee' who 'knows excel.' " 

"So, without them supplying/demonstrating the actual program, it IS possible what they said happened, did happen," the senior systems engineer said. "As for who voted, it is easily verifiable by cross checking the physical poll books."

"The story is plausible enough," another senior software engineer said. "The database looked rather long in the tooth, and I can imagine the kind of behavior he's talking about."

"Granted, that anyone would ever design a system like that (to just overlay years over the previous five years' data because the data didn't have the year in it) is evidence of some pretty shoddy craftsmanship," he said. "I can imagine it coming about as a symptom of organizational dysfunction surrounding the process that birthed the database."

So which is it, folks? Is the city just corrupt, or is it merely sloppy, shoddy and dysfunctional? Or all of the above?

For the skeptics among us, what's needed is an outside investigation, since even the local cops don't trust the veracity of the city officials they work for.

If only the feds would show up at the Board of Elections flashing some badges and a search warrant. 

Before the party hacks at the Board of Elections are done "fixing" that database.


  1. So the official explanation is that the Board of Elections uses a State database but keeps an outdated database that includes the information of dead voters and assumedly the names of people who no longer live (or vote?) in the City?

  2. And this id why after Donald Trump was elected President the first thing out of lying Kenny's mouth was nobody looking at phila voter rolls.

  3. Social Security makes arrangements for hospitals and nursing homes to immediately notify them of a patient 65 years and older passes away. That way they can stop SSA payments from going to the decedent's bank account.

    If Social Security can do this, then why can't Philadelphia take attention to clean up voting records by removing dead people. I know we have people register to vote to and then their job goes to another state and they leave Philadelphia. It may not be easy to just remove the deaf, but those who move out.

    Pennsylvania has a procedure, if you don't vote for more than two years, you are kicked out of the system. I don't know if Philadelphia has that capacity to remove people who move out from Philadelphia or who live but simply don't vote

    We need to create an ironclad system to prevent city workers from voting for the deaf or those who move out of the city

  4. Dead people voting has been going on for years in Philly. Does anyone remember the Bruce Marks and William Stinson lawsuit from the 90's over a state Senate seat.

  5. Just more evidence of data manipulation.

  6. if (alive() or dead())

    Easy mistake!

  7. Richman is an attorney in the Office of the City Solicitor, which department represents and acts in the BEST INTERESTS OF CITY LEADERSHIP, INCLUDING THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL. Who in city government represents and acts in the best interests of the CITIZENS OF PHILADELPHIA?

  8. Are these the same "computer glitches" causing a spike in violent crime?

    1. Probably. And has anyone else noticed the homicide numbers? I’ve been keeping tabs.....we should have well over 445. City data is showing 435. Let me guess, this is another effort of them cooking the books. Why should any of us trust the city government? They’ve been lying for over 100 years. Why would they stop now?

  9. Based on Your Previous Experience collaborating with Harvey Silvergate, who has an established relationship with Sidney Powell, have you had discussion with Attorney Silvergate regarding these Matters, and what is Your level of confidence that Winning Legal Arguments will be upheld in Higher Courts in favor of the Trump Side??

    More specifically if Sidney Powell is not part of the Trump Legal Team, as was announced following her Hissy Fit with Tucker Carlson, and her refusal to present evidence to him as if he was a Judge ruling on the Case, does Sidney Powell still have standing before the Court???

    Jason Brando

  10. Interesting explanation except it does not explain why the records seem to reflect that dead people only vote in the General Election.

    Are there any examples of dead people voting in the Primary?

  11. As we await further Great Investigative Reporting involving Systemic Voter Fraud in the 2020 General Election, how interesting that Former Governor Ridge who supported Biden knew nothing about Voter Fraud during his stained Political Career.

    Evidence has been produced in Michigan that there were 1.8 Million registered Voters and 2.5 million ballots were cast.

    What a strange turn of events, but the Demand to Rush to Certification and Judgement continues.


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