2006 Hooligan v. Chancery (UC)

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Din el Cort Pü Inalt


DOMNUL MÀ LA MHÀ, BARÔN TEPISTÀ
Plaintiff
v.
CANTZELERÏA DEL REGIPÄTS TALOSSÁN
Defendant


Decided
26 July 2006/XXVII

Brief of the ruling
{{{ruling}}}

Opinion of the Court delivered by
Justice Siervicül, joined by Senior Justice Metáiriâ and Justice Lauriéir


Opinion

Justice Siervicül delivered the opinion of the Cort:

On 13 July 2006, during a general election, the Secretary of State received and counted two e-mail ballots purporting to be from John McGarry, citizen of Vuode province, and Albrec'ht Mananséir, citizen of Mussolini province. On 14 July 2006, the last day of the election, challenges to these two ballots were filed by Domnul Mà la Mhà, Barôn Tepistà, a citizen of Florenciâ province. We find that both e-mail ballots were cast illegally, and must be disregarded by the Chancery.

LAW

Talossan general elections are open to "all adult citizens (age 14 and over)." Organic Law, Art. VII, Sec. 1. Article VII, Section 7 of the Organic Law states that "(i)f a voter returns more than one vote, the first one cast is counted and the others are ignored."

According to the Election Law Act, 33RZ15, section 3:

All votes cast are be presumed to be valid. The validity of any vote may be challenged by any Talossan citizen after it is counted, by presenting the challenge as a case to the Uppermost Cort, with all available evidence. Should the Cort choose to hear the case, and subsequently find that a ballot has been cast or counted illegally, the final vote tally shall be adjusted to disregard the invalid vote. Special attention shall be paid to non-citizens who might attempt to forge ballots in order to interfere with or embarrass Talossa's democratic electoral process.


FACTS

The evidence presented to the Cort by the Chancery shows that the first challenged ballot, purportedly cast by John McGarry of Vuode Province, was sent from john_mc_garry@yahoo.com on 13 Jul 06 at 11:52 AM (Appendix 1, infra). The second ballot, purportedly cast by Albrec'ht Mananséir of Mussolini Province, was sent from albrecht_mana@hotmail.com on 13 Jul 06 at 1:53 PM (Appendix 2, infra). According to the Chancery's records, neither e-mail address had ever been used for Talossan purposes before. Analysis of the originating Internet Protocol Addresses (IPAs) revealed that the first ballot was sent using a free anonymous proxy server in Colombia, while the second was sent using a free anonymous proxy server in Norway.

After deciding to hear the case, the Cort directed the Secretary of State to attempt to contact S:reux McGarry and Mananséir to attempt to confirm their votes. All attempts to contact S:reu Mananséir were unsuccessful, but the Secretary of State was able to contact S:reu McGarry by telephone on 14 Jul 06. S:reu McGarry informed the SoS that he did not remember voting in the then-current election, and that he had never used the e-mail address "john_mc_garry@yahoo.com." Shortly after this conversation, S:reu McGarry called the Secretary of State, in accordance with the published election rules, to vote by telephone.

ANALYSIS

The Secretary of State originally counted these challenged e-mails as valid votes, reasonably applying the rule that all votes cast are presumed to be valid. Nevertheless, examining the messages themselves reveals several factors which cast substantial doubt on their authenticity. First, both e-mails were sent without warning using previously unknown e-mail addresses. Second, both e-mails were sent using webmail services which allow accounts to be created anonymously within minutes. Third, both e-mail addresses use a similar structure, with an underscore for a divider, which neither S:reu McGarry nor S:reu Mananséir had previously been known to use. Fourth, both e-mails were strikingly similar in content. Each contained the words "My Vote" in the subject line and the phrase "I wish to vote as follows" in the body of the message. Each used a single hyphen with a single space on each side as a divider for each ballot item. Each used the Talossan "üc" in response to each referendum question, with the first letter capitalized and no accent, despite the fact that S:reu Mananséir's surname had the correct accent in both the "from" line in the e-mail header and in the signature at the end of the e-mail. And fifth, the e-mails were sent barely two hours apart, which makes each of the other four factors appear even more suspicious.

Besides these suspicious features of the e-mails themselves, one of them has been flatly disavowed by the citizen who purportedly cast it. S:reu McGarry told the Secretary of State that he did not cast a ballot and does not use the e-mail address in question. This is almost conclusive as to the illegitimacy of the ballot purporting to come from S:reu McGarry, as we find it difficult to believe that he would deny a vote he had legitimately cast.

We have no similar statement from S:reu Mananséir, as the Secretary of State was unable to make contact with him. It appears highly likely that the two ballots were sent by the same person. Considering that the ballot bearing S:reu McGarry's name was apparently fraudulent, we conclude that the ballot bearing S:reu Mananséir's name was fraudulent as well, as we decline to infer that S:reu Mananséir would have committed vote fraud in the absence of any evidence to that effect.

Given the anonymous means used to cast these ballots, we have no indication at this point of whether they were cast by a citizen or a non-citizen. In finding that they they were illegally cast, however, we note the Election Law Act's instruction to pay "(s)pecial attention. . . to non-citizens who might attempt to forge ballots in order to interfere with or embarass Talossa's democratic electoral process."

CONCLUSION

We find that the challenged e-mail ballots received by the Chancery on 13 July 2006 and purporting to have been cast by S:reu John McGarry and S:reu Albrec'ht Mananséir, were not cast by said citizens and were therefore cast illegally. The Chancery shall adjust the final vote tally to disregard the invalid votes, as required by section 3 of the Election Law Act, 33RZ15.


Appendix 1

From: John McGarry [mailto:john_mc_garry@yahoo.com] Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 11:52 AM To: JohnWWoolley@comcast.net Subject: Elections- My Vote

Dear S:reu

I wish to vote as follows;

For Cosa - RUMP

For the provincial assembly - RUMP

35RZ35 - Uc 35RZ36 - Uc 35RZ37 - Uc 35RZ38 - Uc

Yours

John McGarry


Appendix 2

From: Albrec'ht Mananséir [mailto:albrecht_mana@hotmail.com] Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 1:53 PM To: JohnWWoolley@comcast.net Subject: My Vote

I wish to vote as follows:

Cosa- RUMP Provincial Assembly- RUMP 35RZ35 - Uc 35RZ36 - Uc 35RZ37 - Uc 35RZ38 - Uc

Albrec'ht Mananséir