By I-Hsien Sherwood | ( | First Posted: Nov 17, 2012 09:02 PM EST

Flag of the group Anonymous (Photo : Wikimedia Commons / kizar)

A message purported to be from the hacker group Anonymous claims the loose collection of subversive computer users foiled an attempt by Republican strategist Karl Rove to rig the presidential election in Ohio last week.

Since membership in the aptly-named group is difficult or impossible to verify, there's no way to tell if the statement released last week is indeed from Anonymous, but the writing style and content match previous releases.

The statement claims that Anonymous members discovered that Rove's ORCA vote-tracking software was actually vote-flipping software, designed to switch votes to Romney during a power outage.

According to the statement, the system was supposed to "tunnel" votes to servers in three other states, change them, and send the flipped votes back to their original destination.

Anonymous discovered these tunnels and put in place a password-protected firewall to prevent communication between the location of the original votes and the out-of-state servers.

They left the firewall offline in the days before the election as Rove's workers tested the system, then turned it on election night, preventing the votes from being flipped.

So, very little about this claim can be verified. There's internet chatter about matching server crashes on election night in Ohio counties in both 2004 and 2012, taking place at nearly the exact same time each night.

The Ohio Secretary of State's website did go down this year shortly after 11pm, and Rove referenced it on Fox News when he talked about "refreshing the page."

And in 2004, servers crashed in Cuyahoga County, also around 11pm. But they also went down an hour earlier than that.

That's not good news, but it's more indicative of shoddy election procedures and equipment than a vote-flipping conspiracy.

And a video released by Anonymous in late October warns Rove not to "rig" the election, else the group will find out and release the information to the authorities.

If Rove did try to flip votes in Ohio and Anonymous stopped him, why haven't they turned him in? Why isn't Rove currently under investigation for voter fraud?

I am skeptical of this statement and the claim of conspiracy. But all is not well with our electoral system, and any effort spent to reform or rebuild it is welcome.

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