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Time for change

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My Letter to Nate Silver on the Huge Exit Poll Discrepancies We’re Seeing in the Dem Primaries

Dear Nate:

I have followed your column with great interest from time to time. As an epidemiologist for over 40 years, I have a good amount of experience in statistics, and I have been very impressed with the great care you put into your statistical modeling, the way you explain it, and the accuracy of most of your predictions – Of course this Democratic primary season has been an exception to that accuracy, as it has frustrated and confused all pollsters, most notably in Michigan, but in many other states as well.

I have a big favor to ask of you, not on my behalf alone, but on behalf of our whole country: I have been struck by the huge discrepancies I have seen this year between exit polls and official election results in the Democratic Party primaries – most of them well outside of the margin of error. I believe that the following exit poll discrepancies in the Democratic primaries include all the primaries where exit polls have been taken this year:

Arkansas: 6.7 in favor of Clinton (official count compared to exit polls)
Alabama: 15.7 in favor of Clinton
Tennessee: 8.8 in favor of Clinton
Virginia: 4.5 in favor of Clinton
Georgia: 12.4 in favor of Clinton
Texas: 9.9 in favor of Clinton
Massachusetts: 7.8 in favor of Clinton
Oklahoma: 6.8 in favor of Sanders
Vermont: 0.9 in favor of Clinton
Mississippi: 10.4 in favor of Clinton
Michigan: 4.8 in favor of Clinton
Ohio: 10.2 in favor of Clinton
Florida: 3.2 in favor of Clinton
North Carolina: 1.8 in favor of Clinton
Illinois: 4.2 in favor of Clinton
Missouri: 4.0 in favor of Clinton
Wisconsin: 13.8 in favor of Clinton
New York: 12.0 in favor of Clinton

All of these discrepancies except one (Oklahoma) point in the same direction – They favor Clinton in the official count compared to the exit polls. In all but two of them, Vermont and North Carolina, they exceed the margin of error. I have not done formal statistical tests on this, but I’m sure you would agree that the odds against this happening by chance are astronomical.

I believe you would also agree that exit polls are likely to be far more accurate than pre-election polls: They measure how voters actually voted, rather than how they intend to vote at a later date; they do not rely on models (which can often be misleading) which estimate which voters are more likely to vote, and; it is far easier to get an accurate random sample because they do not rely on telephone samples, which are likely to misrepresent the population of actual voters. It has been pointed out that this last issue can also be a problem with exit polls when early voting /absentee ballots are taken into account. But that problem can be easily addressed by looking at exit poll discrepancies separately for early voting/absentee ballots vs. Election Day voting. And I believe that such an analysis would likely show some very interesting and informative results.

More importantly, exit polls are far more important than pre-election polls, in that they can be and are often used to monitor the integrity of elections (in other countries). Taken in the context of other extra-ordinary events happening during this Democratic primary season (I don’t know if the same thing applies to the Republican primaries because I haven’t been following them closely), the exit polls I quoted above make me extremely concerned that we are seeing here massive election fraud that threatens to destroy our democracy. The following items are the context that I’m talking about:

1) We have also seen massive voter disenfranchising in at least Arizona and New York. In Maricopa County, AZ (which constitutes about half the voters in the state), polling places were reduced from the previous election from about 200 to 60, with the result that voting lines reached as long as half a mile, and voters had to wait in line for several hours to vote. The result was that Election Day voters in that county (who voted heavily for Sanders) constituted less than 15% of total votes in the county (the rest being early voters, who voted heavily for Clinton). In both states, tens or hundreds of thousands of would-be voters who say that they were registered to vote in the Democratic primary found themselves to be purged from the voter rolls on Election Day. In Brooklyn alone, 70,000 would-be voters were purged from the voter rolls, and Mayor de Blasio (who endorsed Clinton) said “I am calling on the Board of Elections to reverse that purge”.

2) Sanders does far better than Clinton in caucus states and in primary precincts where ballots are hand counted rather than counted by machine. In both cases, massive election fraud would be much more difficult to perpetrate.

3) A public citizen observer, who attended a random precinct audit in Chicago, testified at a hearing that she observed that 21 Sanders votes were erased and 49 Clinton votes added to a hand count audit, in order for the audit to mimic the official results tabulated by the machine. As noted above, Illinois exhibited a 4.2% exit poll discrepancy, and if the official results were close to what the exit polls showed, Sanders would have won Illinois. We don’t know how many audited precincts in Illinois were characterized by apparent fraud (in both the initial count and the audit) and did not come to our attention because there was no vigilant public observer there to report her findings. I imagine that this finding by the public observer is just the tip of a very large iceberg.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, by any means. The most notable previous example is the Presidential election of 2004, which was characterized by substantial exit poll discrepancies nationally and in many states, most notably Ohio. Because the Electoral votes from Ohio determined the Presidency in 2004, it was thoroughly investigated. Even as early as January, 2005, the obvious “irregularities” in Ohio were so great that Senator Barbara Boxer officially objected to the results of the election, which required a public debate and vote in the U.S. Senate. Following numerous investigations by untold numbers of individuals and groups, eventually a hearing was to be held at which Michael Connell, Karl Rove’s “IT guru”, was to testify as to how he helped to orchestrate a massive electronic switching of votes in Ohio from John Kerry to George W. Bush on Election Day 2004. He had already signed an affidavit to that effect. Unfortunately, he died in a plane crash shortly before he was due to testify (just a coincidence?).

So let me now get back to my request of you. You are a very well-known and highly respected public figure. You discuss in your columns a great deal about your pre-election poll findings and methodology. But I see almost nothing in them about exit polls. I did read on the 538 Website, while the votes were being counted in Ohio and New York, a brief discussion of how your own final exit poll differed substantially from what you were seeing in the official results, and surprise over that fact, but the discussion was very brief, I have seen nothing on the subject from the 538 Website since that time, and I can no longer find that brief discussion at your website, though I saved the link.

So what I am requesting of you is that you begin some serious discussion on your website of the substantial exit poll discrepancies that we’re seeing in the Democratic primaries. I request that the discussion focus on the implications of those discrepancies and perhaps some further thorough analysis of them, on par with the analyses you devote to pre-election predictions.

I know that that is asking a lot of you. I realize that our national news media castigates anyone who dares to question the integrity of our election system. But our democracy and the fate of our country and the entire world depend on it. If election fraud is being perpetrated here to the extent that I believe it is, and if it is allowed to stand, our democracy is rapidly being destroyed. You can shine a lot of light on this issue with thorough and intelligent analysis and discussion on par with what you devote to pre-election polls. I know that that would result in serious risks to you and your career, and only a very brave person in your position would do this, but I am making the request because the fate of our country depends on shining a light on this issue and giving it a great deal more public attention than it has received.

Thanking you in advance,

Dale Tavris

Note to DUers:

I sent the letter to Nate earlier this afternoon.

Since then, for the sake of posting on DU, I’ve made some slight changes after I sent the letter, based on new information that came to me (additional exit polls) or something that I decided would be worth adding (Karl Rove’s electronic manipulation of the 2004 Presidential election vote, which gave George W. Bush the win in that election). If you agree with me that this is an issue of utmost and urgent importance and you are a member of other organizations where publicizing this issue would be helpful, please consider doing so.
Posted by Time for change | Sat Apr 23, 2016, 06:38 PM (136 replies)

I am Very Disappointed with the Democratic Party

I don’t know whether or not what I have to say in this post will be considered to be against DU rules, so I guess that there is a possibility that this the post could be hidden or even that I could receive some sort of warning from DU management for this. I am quite familiar with the rules as posted on the previous DU format, but I can’t find any rules on the current format. Anyhow, I’ll just take my chances here because if I can’t say what is most important to me, then I guess I may as well be banned anyhow.

But before I get to the main point of this OP, I’d like to say a few words about the time I’ve spent on DU. As I believe most of you know, DU was founded in early 2001, as a reaction to the tragedy of the 2000 Presidential Election. That election was characterized by a great amount of election fraud in Florida and a 36 day legal battle following the election, which was terminated when perhaps the most blatantly corrupt Supreme Court decision in U.S. history stopped the vote recounting in Florida and thereby made George W. Bush President by fiat.

My experience as a DU member

My son was one of the first members of DU. But I didn’t begin posting on DU until immediately after the 2004 Presidential Election. That election was characterized by substantial national and individual state discrepancies between exit polls and official results, with the exit polls favoring John Kerry and the official results favoring George W. Bush, well beyond the “margin of error”. I and many others strongly suspected massive election fraud because of this, very shortly after the election results came out, and that is why I joined DU. As an epidemiologist, I have a good amount of statistical training, and I had visions of grandeur that I could actually play a role in overturning the election results by showing the great improbability of so many large exit poll discrepancies, all pointing in the same direction (I was unaware at first that others, with better academic connections than me, were working on the same project). Others outside of DU became aware of some of my posts, and I became part of a small group organized to lobby U.S. Democratic Senators to officially object to the election results and thereby block them from going into effect. Other similar groups were formed for the same purpose, and one U.S. Senator (Barbara Boxer) agreed to officially object to the results, thereby mandating a couple of hours of public Senatorial debate, which was seen on national TV – to no avail in the end, except to make some U.S. citizens aware of this terrible situation.

That’s what got me started on DU, and I then became a very active member, posting about 700 relatively long OPs between early 2005 and late 2012. During that period of time, DU became a great source of political information for me, and writing OPs and posting on DU became an immense source of satisfaction for me. I’m sure that the same applies to perhaps tens of thousands of other DU members, and for that I have much admiration and appreciation for Skinner and the others who founded DU.

Then I virtually stopped posting on DU, posting only 3 OPs during the next 3 years. I never made a conscious decision to do that – I just stopped. There may have been several reasons for that. But probably an important one was the nasty comments I was eliciting from my anti-Obama posts. Why was I posting many anti-Obama posts? For reasons similar to why I posted anti-Bush posts while Bush was President. I very much resented the direction he was taking our country, and I thought it required serious discussion. One of my last anti-Obama posts was in June, 2012, a few months prior to the general election. It was titled “Whether or Not to Vote for Obama – Two Sides of the Question”. It was voted to be “hidden”, I think for the reason that I was in part advocating not voting for Obama – though I think I made it clear that I preferred Obama to Romney.

My growing disgust with the Democratic Party

The Party’s turn to the right
As the influence of money in politics has continued to grow, the Democratic Party has drifted further and further to the right, as has the Republican Party. When liberals challenge establishment/corporate candidates in Democratic primaries, the Democratic Party almost always puts its money and influence behind the establishment candidate. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the support they’ve given to Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. At this point I consider the Democratic Party to be the Republican Party of the past and the Republican Party to be nothing but a bunch of crazed psychopaths. The bottom line is that I feel that my party (I don’t consider it my party any longer) has deserted me, as it has deserted the vast majority of American citizens, in favor of the wealthy interests that support their campaigns. I vote liberal before I vote Democratic (before 2008 I had voted Democratic in every Presidential election since I became of voting age in 1972).

I am proud to say that I am a liberal. I am a liberal before I am a Democrat. As the Democratic Party has drifted further and further to the right, I have felt more and more alienated from it. My basic definition of the word liberal (which is a virtual synonym for progressive, but even liberal Democrats abandoned the liberal label in exchange for “progressive” because the Republicans and our national news media made “liberal” into a term of abuse) is simply a belief that all human beings deserve the opportunity to have a good life. Actually, that is too simple a definition because if you asked any politician of either Party whether they believe that all human beings deserve the opportunity to have a good life, they would all say yes. But actions speak louder than words, and the truth is that today there are few high elected officials in either major party who truly act as liberals. So if you want to understand my more specific interpretation of what a liberal is, you can read the post I referred to and linked to above, “Whether or to vote for Obama…”. I consider Obama to be the most conservative Democratic President we’ve had in over a century, with the possible exception of Bill Clinton (and I don’t think that Hillary Clinton is going to be much different than him). My post describes the many reasons why I believe that.

Democrats making jokes about massive election fraud in the Democratic Party primaries
I recently returned to posting on DU due to my great excitement over the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. Many of my recent posts have dealt with evidence of massive election fraud in the Democratic primaries this year. Two of those posts warned of massive vote purging in New York, apparently targeted against Bernie Sanders. What was the response from the vast majority of Clinton supporters to that? All they did was make jokes and snarky remarks about it. Almost no intelligent discussion about it. Just jokes and blaming the voters themselves for being purged. This is the kind of behavior we saw from Republicans in response to accusations of the massive fraud in the Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. Nobody on DU joked about that or blamed the voters then. Those Democrats whose only response to reports of election fraud this year is to joke about it or blame the voters may as well be Republicans.

But the evidence of “irregularities” in Tuesday’s New York Democratic primary were massive enough to force various people to take notice and acknowledge it, as noted in a New York Dailey News article titled: “Bungled NY Primary Voting Brings Board of Elections Probe”:

A record-setting deluge of Primary Day voter complaints led Tuesday to the angry promise of a full-scale investigation…. The flood of gripes, running the gamut from locked doors to botched voter rolls, led irate city Controller Scott Stringer to announce an immediate probe of an incompetent agency….

Presidential primary voters in the five boroughs ran an obstacle course of ineptitude to cast their ballots: Broken machines, shuttered precincts and purged voter rolls. The most complaints came from Brooklyn, where entire sections of poll books listing the names of eligible voters were reported missing, according to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman….

Mayor de Blasio {who has endorsed Clinton, by the way} issued a statement charging that entire buildings and city blocks of voters were among the 126,000 voters purged from the Brooklyn books since last fall. “These errors indicate that additional major reforms will be needed to the Board of Election,” said de Blasio. “The perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process, and must be fixed.” The purged Brooklynites included 12,000 who moved out, 44,000 shifted to inactive voting status, and a stunning 70,000 removed entirely from the books. “I am calling on the Board of Election to reverse that purge,” said de Blasio. “We support the Comptroller’s audit and urge its completion ... so corrective action can be taken.”

What is missing from this article is even a remote suggestion that the botched voting process may have been purposeful, or that all the evidence points to the fact that it was targeted at Sanders voters. My daughter has seen tons of reports on Facebook of Sanders voters disenfranchised by all this.

Also missing from the article is the fact that there was a huge discrepancy between the exit polls and the official results, more than I’ve seen in any other state so far. I’ve noted exit poll discrepancies in a previous post in several other states, all favoring Clinton in the official results and Sanders in the exit polls. The magnitude of these discrepancies has been on average even greater than what we saw in the Presidential Election of 2004, which gave George W. Bush the Presidency. In New York on Tuesday it was a stunning 12%. Such things would cause almost universal outrage among DUers if a Republican had gained an advantage over a Democrat from such actions. Instead I see a deluge of jokes and blaming the voter from Clinton supporters.

This is not the kind of Party or people who I want to have any association with.

Disrespect for Independent voters
We all know that tons of voters who consider themselves independent have legally registered to vote in Democratic primaries this year in order to vote for Bernie Sanders in closed primaries. This is legal. States have deadlines for doing this, and the vast majority of such voters have registered as Democrats prior to the deadlines, though many tens or hundreds of thousands have then found themselves purged from the voter rolls.

From Clinton supporters I have seen a good deal of disrespect for these independent voters, with comments indicating that even if they have a legal right to vote in Democratic primaries, they have no moral right to do it, and so if they find themselves purged, that is what they deserve.

Why do these Clinton supporters feel that independent voters have no right to participate in the process that determines the only two viable candidates for the general election? We live in a country that has only two viable political parties, largely because we have an oligarchic national news media that gives no attention or credence to any presidential candidate outside of the two major parties. But as I noted earlier, both parties are so influenced by money from powerful corporations and multi-millionaires and billionaires that they now fail to represent the vast majority of their constituents. That is the reason why wealth inequality in our country has now reached the highest levels since the 1920s. This situation is intolerable and will not change until the monopoly of the two major parties is broken.

Independents are not a fringe group. They now outnumber both Republicans and Democrats by quite a bit (Republicans 26%, Democrats 29%, Independents 42%) – and for good reasons. Why shouldn’t they have a role in choosing our presidential nominees?

The only solution

So the only solution is the formation of a viable 3rd party that takes its responsibility to represent ordinary American citizens more than it sucks up to powerful corporations, millionaires and billionaires.

Bernie Sanders is a true phenomenon, who is one of the few non-establishment politicians who has managed to break through all the obstacles to reach supreme national prominence. He is the only presidential candidate of either party who currently has a net positive favorability rating. His national net favorability rating is about 20 points better than that of Hillary Clinton. He has come from low single digits in national polling to draw almost even with Clinton in national polls of Democratic voters. Those Democratic voters are only a small minority of voters who will be voting in the general presidential election in November. The vast majority of non-Democratic voters favor Sanders over Clinton, and he does far better than her in head to head competition in polls against every Republican candidate. But he cannot overcome massive election fraud, when it is tolerated by the Democratic Party. Nobody could.

Therefore, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many other Sanders supporters, the only hope for our country now is a third party, and Bernie is the only candidate at this time who could win running as an independent this November. Under the circumstances, given the numerous virtually insurmountable obstacles thrown in his path to the Democratic nomination, I think it is time for him to give serious consideration to doing so – and the sooner the better.

This would start with doing 3-way polling between him, Clinton, and the likely Republican nominees individually. If Bernie comes out ahead in such polling, which I believe he will, and if he now decides to run as an independent, he will very likely be our next president, and the American people will finally have a President to represent them.

Lastly I would like to say that if you consider me to be a former “disloyal” Democrat, please consider the idea that a political party should earn the support of its members and that they have no good reason to take it for granted. In other words, principle is more important than party, and when a party fails to represent the principles that their members feel are of great importance, they should be prepared to lose members – as both major parties have in recent years.

Posted by Time for change | Thu Apr 21, 2016, 04:28 PM (112 replies)

Emergency Lawsuit in NY Filed over Massive Voter Suppression

Evidence of a massive voter purge in New York is amassing, reports coming in “hour by hour”. It involves mostly young voters and is apparently aimed at disenfranchising Sanders voters, and there is a report that over 63,000 Democratic voters in Brooklyn alone have been disenfranchised.

The lawsuit is being brought by Election Justice USA, with the aim of restoring the right to vote of the purged voters.

I hope that the outrage in New York tomorrow is on par with the outrage that this situation warrants, as this issue becomes more evident as the day proceeds. Against all odds, I hope that our national news media takes this very seriously and gives it the attention it deserves. Our democracy is in great trouble. If this is allowed to stand, I see no reason to call our country a democracy anymore.

Posted by Time for change | Mon Apr 18, 2016, 10:47 PM (95 replies)

How Polling Firms Condone the Many Deficiencies of our Election System

For those of you who don’t believe that the United States has serious problems with our election system, a 2015 report by the Electoral Integrity Project, which gathered assessments from over 2,000 experts on the subject, found the United States to rank last among Western democracies. There are many reasons for this, but suffice it to say that all the problems that contribute to this ranking have very serious consequences to our democracy and make it considerably less democratic.

Yet most Americans are blissfully unaware of most of these problems, mainly because our national news media refuses to cover them in any serious depth. As an example, the 2004 Presidential Election was characterized by massive fraud, especially in Ohio, which gave the election to George W. Bush. Only one national news person, Keith Olbermann, deigned to discuss this on national TV, and he eventually lost his job because of that.

How polling firms condone our failed election system

I will use Nate Silver as an example here, not because I believe that he is worse than any of the others, but because I have read more extensively about his methods – in his own words – than that of any other pollster or polling firm. There are basically three ways in which pollster methods and/or silence about various issues condone, and therefore contribute to, some of our many election system failures.

Poll adjusting
One is through the “adjustment” of poll data. The polls we see are generally adjusted to give more weight to “likely voters”. In turn, who is a likely voter is determined based on past experience with exit polls from previous elections. But what actually determines who is a likely voter?

It is of course true that some demographic groups are actually more likely to attempt to vote than others. But what else in our country contributes to who is a likely voter? Many nefarious activities, legal and illegal, have been found to contribute to this. One of the “legal” mechanisms is the many voter ID laws that have been passed in many states in recent years, with the obvious purpose of disenfranchising poor and minority voters.

Other mechanisms are the reduction of polling places and the selective purging of voters, both with the purpose of helping one’s preferred candidate. We saw this recently in the Arizona Democratic primary, where in Maricopa County, which contains about half of Arizona’s population, polling places were reduced from the previous election from over 200 to 60, and untold numbers of prospective Democratic voters were erroneously told that they couldn’t vote because they were not registered as Democrats. As the result of the massive reduction in polling places, where voting lines stretched for as long as a half mile, and prospective voters had to wait for several hours to vote, Election Day voters constituted less than 15% of total Maricopa County voters – the remainder being early voters. Both of these processes contributed greatly to Bernie Sanders’ large loss in Arizona. The polling place reduction because Sanders fared far better among Election Day voters (61% for Sanders) than among early voters (34% for Sanders) because many early voters voted at a time before Sanders became well known. The purging of voters also hurt Sanders greatly, as an investigation was able to identify 113 prospective Sanders voters and only 2 Clinton voters who were purged.

My main point here is that the “adjustment” of polls by pollsters, which give greater weight to “likely voters”, are often if not usually based on the fact that whether or not a voter is a “likely voter” is in large part dependent upon the preventing of certain demographics of voters from voting by nefarious and/or illegal means in previous elections.

But I have never seen any pollster acknowledge this.

Additional “polls plus” adjusting
Nate Silver talks about further adjustment that he uses in his predictions, which he refers to as “polls plus”. This constitutes his final predictions. He discusses some of the considerations that go into this “polls plus” adjustment. The discussion is not very specific, but one of the major considerations is who has control of the state. For example, if the election is between a Republican and a Democrat, a Republican Governor and major election officials would go a long way towards adjusting the “polls plus” number in favor of the Republican.

But what is it about control of the election apparatus that would cause an adjustment in favor of the party in charge? Again, we get to the issue of rigging the election in various ways in favor of the preferred candidate. How much does a governor of one of the candidates’ parties contribute to the end result? I have heard that this makes a difference of 3% in the average election. How much of this is due to illegal means? We don’t know exactly, but we certainly know that it often contributes something to it. In discussing his “polls plus” adjustments, Nate Silver doesn’t even mention this as a possibility.

A few words about exit polls
Those of you who spent much time on DU during the 2004 Presidential election and the months and years that followed will remember the great exit poll discrepancy of 2004, in which, according to national exit polls John Kerry won the national vote, whereas George W. Bush won the national vote according to the official vote count. The difference between the exit polls and the official vote count was about 4% nationally. The difference was particularly great in the important swing states, where slight differences in the vote count might make a difference between winning and losing. But there was only one state where it did make a difference, and that was Ohio, where the exit poll discrepancy was over 6%. Ohio would have given the election to John Kerry.

Further investigations found numerous anomalies in Ohio, and eventually a mass of evidence was accumulated that made it highly probable, if not certain, to make a long story short, that the 2004 Presidential election in Ohio was electronically manipulated to give the election to Bush (and there was massive evidence of voter suppression as well). I wrote many DU posts on these issues at the time, but I think that perhaps the best summary I wrote of the evidence for electronic manipulation in Ohio occurred many years later, when Bush was no longer president, in this post.

Exit polls tend to be far more accurate than pre-election polls, for several reasons: 1) They assess whom the voter actually voted for, rather than whom he or she intends to vote for at some later date; 2) Pre-election polls use models that estimate which poll respondents are likely to vote in an election, based on data from previous elections. These models may or may not accurately apply to the current election. To the extent that they don’t apply, the results can be substantially biased; 3) The accuracy of pre-election polls depends on obtaining a representative sample of voters for the poll. That is no simple matter. One very large potential source of error is that voters who use cell phones rather than land lines may be grossly under-represented in pre-election polls. These problems are almost totally eradicated by exit polls. Exit polls are taken of voters as they leave their polling places. It doesn’t depend on telephones or other overly complicated sampling methods.

In the recent Ohio Democratic primary, the exit poll discrepancy was more than 10%, with Clinton doing more than 10% better in the official results than in the exit polls. She did better in the official vote count than in the exit polls in every state for which I could find data, but Ohio was the worst. This 10% difference is huge. Compare that to the 6-7% exit poll discrepancy in the Ohio 2004 Presidential election, which determined the Presidency in favor of George W. Bush. DU rightly made a huge big deal out of this, with thousands, or maybe even millions of posts on the subject. Shouldn’t the even bigger exit poll discrepancy in the Ohio (and other) Democratic primary warrant more discussion than we’ve seen? Also, this was one of the very few states for which Nate Silver over-estimated Sanders’ performance in his pre-election polls. Yet, not a word from any of the pollsters about this very surprising anomaly – as we saw in 2004.

How pollsters contribute to our election problems by totally ignoring these issues
As I said, there are many reasons why the U.S. ranks last among Western democracies in its election integrity. Yet many or most Americans continue to believe that we have the most democratic democracy in the world. As I hope I made clear, many of our election failures are reflected in the various poll adjusting models created by most if not all professional pollsters. Yet, they never mention the fact that their models actually incorporate these failures.

If pollsters would me honest about their models by acknowledging even the possibility that those models, based on exit polls from previous elections, often or usually reflect illegal and/or nefarious means of purging voters, and if they would note when the official results of elections show large discrepancies from exit polls, well outside the “margin of error”, that would greatly help to call attention to the American people about our many election failures. That might generate the political pressure to do something about those failures. Conversely, when pollsters choose not to mention these issues, which is almost always the case, the “accuracy” of their pre-election polls tends to add to the authenticity of the official results. This in effect condones our many election problems, which hurt our democracy tremendously.
Posted by Time for change | Sat Apr 16, 2016, 02:26 PM (2 replies)

How Clinton Bought the Loyalty of 33 State Democratic Parties

I just heard Bernie on TV acknowledge that Hillary Clinton would make a much better President than any Republican candidate – before going on to state his many differences with her (which in my opinion make him far more qualified to be our President than her.)

But I have to say that it makes me sick to see the many ways that this campaign is stacked against Bernie. Perhaps he ought to be saying more about this, but of course our national news media would just make him out to be a “Conspiracy theorist” if he did that. But the fact is that among Western country democracies, the United States election system is ranked last. This is related to money in politics, voter purging, and elections run by electronic machines that produce votes that cannot be accounted for or recounted. We all know that Hillary has much more money than Bernie, coming from the big money interests in our country. What went on in Arizona and is now going on in New York, along with good evidence that the purging is directed against Bernie, shows the major role that voter purging is playing in the Democratic primaries this year. And the fact that exit polls are consistently deviating from official election results, in favor of Hillary, also suggest substantial problems with our election system that is working against Bernie.

Now we have another revelation of how big money is working against Bernie in highly undemocratic and immoral ways. I have to admit that I don’t understand all the legal discussion in this article, but I think that this is something that all voters ought to know about. Here is my brief summary of what I do understand, quoted directly from the article:

Collusion between the Clinton campaign and the DNC allowed Hillary Clinton to buy the loyalty of 33 state Democratic parties last summer…. The Super Delegates now defying democracy with their insistent refusal to change their votes to Sanders in spite of a handful of overwhelming Clinton primary losses in their own states, were arguably part of that deal.

In August 2015, at the Democratic Party convention in Minneapolis, 33 democratic state parties made deals with the Hillary Clinton campaign and a joint fundraising entity called The Hillary Victory Fund. The deal allowed many of her core billionaire and inner circle individual donors to run the maximum amounts of money allowed through those state parties to the Hillary Victory Fund in New York and the DNC in Washington…

The idea was to increase how much one could personally donate to Hillary by taking advantage of the Supreme Court ruling 2014, McCutcheon v FEC, that knocked down a cap on aggregate limits as to how much a donor could give to a federal campaign in a year….

Not only did Hillary’s multi-millionaire and billionaire supporters get to bypass individual campaign donation limits to state parties by using several state parties’ apparatus, but the Clinton campaign got the added bonus of buying that state’s Super Delegates with the promise of contributions to that Democratic organization’s re-election fund.

What do billionaires like... all have in common? They all appear to be brilliant business people who have all given millions to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and to her various PACS…. None of these are awful people; they are simply awfully rich…. And if some of their millions will buy her way into the White House then so be it. None of this is illegal. But it makes a mockery of Ms. Clinton’s pledge to further the cause of campaign finance reform….

Being told who to vote for in a primary by your party’s big wigs is not part of that tradition….“It just becomes a way to funnel more to the DNC to support the Clinton Campaign”, said Paul S. Ryan, deputy executive director of the Campaign Legal Centre, which advocates for campaign finance reform.

The Democratic spokespeople for the17 states that refused to go along with the Clinton campaign’s plan… were clear that it seemed less than democratic to be choosing sides in a primary that hadn’t happened yet. That the very purpose of a primary was to let the people choose which candidate they wanted to represent them and to not let the party establishment load the dice in their own favor. They made it obvious that they were choosing democracy over kick-backs.

“A joint fundraising committee linking Hillary Clinton to the national Democratic Party and 33 state parties is routing money through those state parties and back into the coffers of the Clinton campaign and all its PACS and Funds” “It is a highly unusual arraignment if only because presidential candidates do not normally enter into fundraising agreements with their party’s committees until after they actually win the nomination. And second, Clinton’s fundraising committee is the first since the Supreme Court’s 2014 McCutcheon v FEC decision eliminated aggregate contribution limits and congress increased party contribution limits in the 2014 omnibus budget bill”…

What it really does is seriously handicap the Democratic Primary Race. Every one of the states charging electoral interference by the Clinton campaign is a state that made a deal with the Hillary Victory Fund. Insinuations of conspiracies are unprovable in these cases. But the perception of fraud and corruption is glaring and damaging.

What the Clinton campaign appears to be in stunning denial about is that most of us “regular folks” are not burdened with an inability to confuse morality with legality. Corruption is corruption is corruption no matter how many laws there are allowing it. Very few brilliant business people give presidential candidates upwards of six million dollars without expecting something in return. There is a reason they are brilliant business people…. Many local politicians become terrified of voicing support for alternative candidates out of fear of being cut off the Democratic Party gravy train.

The article goes into many examples and specifics of the funding mechanisms that I’ve left out here, in the interest of keeping this relatively short. The writer goes on to say, specifically with regard to Montana:

Our state party leadership signed a deal with a woman who out here, on our turf, possibly wouldn’t last a week. They signed away our unobstructed right to choose which Democratic candidate we supported for President. Given that we have 15 pledged delegates and seven Super Delegates, we have lost our absolute right to have Super Delegate endorsements proportional to the wishes of the primary voters. For what?

Posted by Time for change | Fri Apr 8, 2016, 03:45 PM (20 replies)

Sanders Wins Nevada Caucuses

At the Clark County Nevada Democratic Convention it was determined that Sanders will have more delegates than Clinton for the state convention after all, though it was thought at the time of the initial caucuses that Clinton had more delegates.

The story is very confusing and acrimonious, but here are the essentials: There is a four person credentials committee who decides on who are legal delegates. Two are Sanders representatives and two are Clinton representatives. At the Convention, there was a great deal of disagreement between the two campaigns on the issue of who the legal delegates were. The Clinton campaign didn’t like the direction that the credentials committee was going, so they tried to have the Chairperson of the credentials committee, Christine Kramer, removed, and even called the police to have her arrested for trespassing. However, that effort failed when all 4 members of the credentials committee, including the two Clinton representatives, stood together to resist the effort. The police came, but they said they would not be arresting anybody.
Posted by Time for change | Sun Apr 3, 2016, 12:30 PM (39 replies)

New York Election Fraud: Is Arizona Happening Again?

According to a recent news article:

Huge problems plagued the Arizona primary earlier this week, with allegations of election fraud resounding across the Internet. People who said they were previously registered Democrat suddenly found their registrations inactive and couldn’t vote in the primary. Now people are discovering the same thing in New York.

What the article doesn’t say, perhaps because the writer is unaware of it, further investigation into the voter suppression in Arizona strongly suggested that it was targeted at Bernie Sanders. In an attempt to shed more light on the voter suppression in AZ, an attempt was made to identify as many voters as possible who were disenfranchised because they found out on Election Day that they were no longer registered as a Democrat, and find out who they intended to vote for. Other than a few whose voter preferences the investigation could not discover, 113 intended to vote for Sanders and 2 intended to vote for Clinton. Much anecdotal evidence from New York (there are also reports of it happening in Pennsylvania, but this article is just about New York) suggests that this voter suppression in similarly targeted at Sanders.

The article goes on to say that the New York Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner, Douglass Kellner, extended the registration deadline to March 25, so that anyone whose registration was purged could re-register. The article goes on to say:

Unfortunately, many people reported technical problems with the DMV site on Friday. If you’re listed as inactive or unaffiliated, you can still change your registration, but it won’t help in time for the primary.

In my opinion, the Commissioner’s “fix” to the problem is woefully inadequate. That is not only because of the “technical problems” with the website prevented people from re-registering, but because in all likelihood, the vast majority of voters whose registration was purged will not become aware of it until Election Day, when it will be way too late. The reports of purged voters in New York are coming from those who, suspicious about what happened in Arizona, re-checked their voter registration status. I doubt that more than a small fraction of voters actually re-checked their registration status.

I want to know: Since the purging of voter registration was the fault of the election system and not the fault of the voters, and because the website continued to have “technical problems” even after the purge, why stick with an arbitrary deadline? It seems to me that the only decent fix to this problem is to allow same day on-site registration in New York this year, at the very least for voters who present valid Democratic registration cards at the polls.


Evidence strongly suggests that Bernie Sanders would have won the Arizona primary if not for the voter suppression there, especially the voter suppression that was targeted specifically at him. He continues to surge in polls everywhere. He is the only candidate in either Party with net positive favorability ratings. But he cannot win the nomination if his supporters continue to be purged of their voter registrations and little or nothing is done to stop it.

This kind of thing is outrageous for a supposed democracy. I ask Hillary and her supporters to join in the calls to stop this voter suppression and fix it immediately in states where it has already occurred but the election has not yet been held.
Posted by Time for change | Fri Apr 1, 2016, 12:50 PM (34 replies)

Why I Now Consider Myself an Independent

I decided to discuss this issue on DU because of what I consider to be many unfair things being said about independents recently by some DU members – specifically that the Democratic Party should not consider them when making decisions or even allow them to vote in their primaries or caucuses. I assume I’m not out of line here, because the last I read, the DU rules say that they welcome independents who are not conservatives.

I’ve been a registered Democrat since I was old enough to vote (with a one year exception in 2000, when I changed my Party registration to Republican so that I could vote against George W. Bush in a Republican primary), which was about 46 years ago. Even now, that I no longer consider myself a Democrat, I still am registered as a Democrat. Why? So that I can vote in Democratic primaries. Some on DU would say that that is hypocritical. It is not. In my opinion, independents deserve to be represented in picking the Republican or Democratic nominees just as much as anyone else. Unfortunately, in this country, in general elections, we only have two viable choices to vote for. (That is in large part because our communications media gives other parties no attention or credence.) We deserve to have a role in picking who those nominees are just as much as any other U.S. citizen.

As far as the two major Parties are concerned, they both absolutely need to consider independents when running for office, because neither of the two major parties would win many elections without the support of independents. Enough said about that.

A word about so-called “Party Loyalty”

I am against “party loyalty” of any kind. The political parties should exist to serve the interests of us, their constituents, not the other way around. That is what we elect our public officials for. Even when I considered myself a Democrat at heart, I never was of the mindset that I would ever vote for a person just because they are a Democrat, as long as I know anything about the candidates. I vote for the candidates, not the Party. If I ever encountered a Republican Presidential nominee who I preferred to the Democratic nominee, I would vote for the Republican nominee. That has never yet happened, but it is always a possibility. A Presidential candidate has to earn my vote, not take it for granted. I definitely would have voted Republican in 1860, when Abe Lincoln was the Republican nominee. Keep in mind that he ran as a third party candidate that year.

Parties change over time, and when they fail to represent the interests of their constituents, those constituents should not feel an obligation to continue to vote for them. Whenever one’s Party nominates someone who is unacceptable to them, they should not vote for them, except possibly on the idea of voting for the lesser of two evils.

What kind of Democrat I was

I have always considered myself a liberal Democrat. Voting liberal is more important to me than voting Democrat. What do I mean by that? I think JFK said it as well as anyone I ever heard, defending himself as a liberal at the Democratic Convention of 1960:

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who…. welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

Why I no longer consider myself a Democrat at heart

Over the last several years I have seen the Democratic Party move further and further to the right. Perhaps in large part it is the result of the increasing influence of money in politics. The leaders of the Democratic Party in general appear to believe that it is more important to satisfy the wealthy and powerful entities that fund its campaigns than the majority of its constituents. I have seen the DNC time and time again back its establishment candidates against liberal challengers. I have heard some DUers say that the DNC has the right to do whatever they want to further their interests because they are not part of our government. But though they are not part of our government per se, they are responsible for supporting the politicians who become part of our government. It may be true that they can do whatever they want, but they’re not going to do it with my money anymore.

Perhaps the biggest example of moving to the right is Barack Obama himself. I gained my first in-depth familiarity with him when I read his autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope”. I found the first chapter to be extremely irritating. It reeked of “bipartisanship”. In his effort to bend over backwards to be fair to Republicans he disparaged his own party and cast them as too liberal. Consistent with that, he has been in my opinion the most conservative Democratic President in over a century, with the possible exception of Bill Clinton, for reasons discussed in my previous posts, including this one. This is reflected in his job creation record, which is worse than the administrations of any other Democratic President since records began to be kept on this issue in the 1920s. Until his administration, job creation per term under every Democratic President since FDR had exceeded that of every Republican President since FDR.

“Too big to fail” (or prosecute) financial institutions and our economy

One of our worst problems today is our economy and associated income inequality, which is as great as any time since records have been kept on the issue. The recession of 2008, followed by its jobless recovery, was no accident. It was caused by reckless actions by our huge financial institutions, assisted by severe loosening of government controls over those institutions, many which had been in place since they were introduced during FDR’s administration. One could say that the loosening really got going during Bill Clinton’s Presidency, when he signed the law that repealed Glass-Steagall. Huge financial institutions were bailed out with taxpayer money during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, at a total cost to us of $17.5 trillion, as the CEOs of the responsible institutions walked away from it all with huge bonuses. Worse yet, there were no strings attached to the bailouts, and there was no federal prosecution of the banks for their illegal activities that led to the crisis. William Greider explains, in an article titled “How Wall Street Crooks Get out of Jail Free”:

The nation is left to face a disturbing spectacle: crime without punishment. Massive injuries were done to millions of people by reckless bankers, and vast wealth was destroyed by elaborate financial deceptions. Yet there are no culprits to be held responsible.

Now the DNC is supporting the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, whose campaign has been largely funded by those same financial institutions. They tried to coronate her as the inevitable nominee of the Democratic Party even before any serious competition arose. I cannot condone such activities.

In the early money race to launch the campaigns of the leading contenders, an article titled “Wall Street is Putting Money Behind These Presidential Candidates”, the following statistics were given for campaign contributions from “big bank institutions”, which include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and others:

Clinton: $432,610
Bush: $353,150
Rubio: $105,669

So ask me if I believe that Hillary is going to be more responsive to the economic welfare of those financial institutions or to the economic welfare of the vast majority of her constituents. Ask yourselves that same question.

On the “Bernie or Bust” Phenomenon

I will not say that I will not vote for Hillary if she is the Democratic nominee. I will be terribly disappointed, but I will have several months to make up my mind. If she chooses Bernie as her running mate, or someone with similar liberal and courageous leanings (there aren’t many of them), that will certainly sway my decision in her direction, if I feel that her running mate is likely to have some substantive influence in her administration. I did not vote for Obama in either election. I voted for Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party candidate in 2008, and voted again for the Green Party in 2012. But I lived in a safely blue state at the time. I did campaign for Obama in Virginia (a swing state) in 2008, but voted for McKinney in Maryland. By 2012 I was so disappointed by his rightward leanings that I neither voted nor campaigned for him (See link above if you want more specific reasons on why). This time my decision will be more difficult because I live in a swings state – Florida.

But though I don’t consider myself part of the Bernie or Bust group, I certainly can understand and respect their reasons. I just recently read a DU post that postulated 4 potential reasons for a Bernie or Bust position: Personal animosity towards Hillary; Marxism; Blackmail, or; Narcissism. That’s ridiculous. I don’t have much if any personal animosity for Hillary. But if you feel that a candidate will not represent your interests because their campaign is funded by powerful wealthy interests who have done tremendous damage to our country and are likely to do more damage, what reason do you have to vote for them other than that you are even more turned off by the only other viable candidate in the race – and we don’t even know who that will be yet. Bernie is not a Marxist, and I don’t see what narcissism could possibly have to do with it. Bernie supporters are not narcissists. They are just very excited about having the possibility of electing the most liberal, independent minded, honest, and best U.S. President in their lifetime. And the majority of them are liberals who have a hard time voting for candidates who appear to be far to the right on some very important issues.

Hillary is now refusing to debate Bernie in New York, on the lame excuse that she doesn’t like his “tone”. This campaign isn’t about her, and it isn’t about Bernie. It’s about the important issues that face the American people. New Yorkers have a right to hear what she now has to say about those issues. She receives huge sums of money for making speeches to Wall Street, and then she refuses to release those speeches to the American people. What did she say to Wall Street that she doesn’t want the American people to hear about? And she’s been as quiet as a mouse about the voter suppression that is occurring in the Democratic primaries. Hillary supporters: Don’t these things bother you about her? Don’t they help you understand why some people don’t want to vote for her?

Posted by Time for change | Wed Mar 30, 2016, 12:31 PM (82 replies)

Investigation by Anonymous Provides Evidence that Bernie was Targeted in AZ Voter Suppression

For those of you who are not familiar with the group known as “Anonymous”, perhaps their most amazing accomplishment was their foiling of Karl Rove’s attempt to electronically steal Ohio for Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Election. As it turned out, Obama didn’t need Ohio to win the Presidency in 2012, but that wasn’t known at the time that Ohio was called for Obama on Election Day, and Karl Rove had a conniption fit on FOX News over the call. The reason that Anonymous was ready to foil Rove’s plan in Ohio was largely due to the fact that he had successfully stolen Ohio electronically for George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential Election, when Ohio was the state that decided the winner of the election. In other words, I would call “Anonymous” a secret voter protection organization with extra-ordinary skills, especially computer skills.

As such, they were as concerned about the voter suppression that took place in the Democratic Primary in Arizona last Tuesday as much as anyone, and they were determined to investigate the reasons for it. There were two aspects of the voter suppression. One was a severe reduction in polling places, which resulted in voting lines as long as half a mile, and thousands of people waiting to vote for several hours. I discussed that aspect of it in this post. The other was that many people were not allowed to vote when they finally got to the front of the line because it was claimed that they were not registered Democrats. Between those two voter suppression methods, the end result was that Election Day voters in Maricopa County, by far the largest county in Arizona, accounted for less than 15% of the vote in the Democratic Primary that day (early voters accounting for more than 85% of the votes). This hurt Bernie Sanders tremendously, because while more than 60% of early voters voted for Clinton, more than 60% of Election Day voters voted for Sanders.

Anonymous’ investigation, reported in an article titled: “Anonymous Report: Was Arizona’s Voter Registration Hacked and Changed?” centered on the other aspect of voter suppression in Arizona – the claiming that voters who knew themselves to be registered with their Party were actually not registered. In this investigation, Anonymous searched the Internet to find all the claims that they could of voters who were disenfranchised in this way, and they attempted to ascertain their preferred candidate, by phone if they could, and otherwise from the Internet claim. The results are startling:

Unknown Party or preference: 25
GOP: 12
Clinton: 2
Sanders: 113

Keep in mind that this is not the extent of those who were disenfranchised in this way. These are only the claims that Anonymous could find on the Internet. Anonymous gives an example of the extent of the disenfranchisement by pointing to Phoenix (a big part of Maricopa County), which has a Democratic mayor, where 80,000 Republicans voted on Election Day, compared to only 33,000 Democrats.

Clearly there could be some bias in this survey. Maybe Sanders voters were more likely to voice their complaints of disenfranchisement than Clinton voters. Maybe a proportion of the Bernie claims are lies (I don’t believe that at all, but I can’t prove it). But this was as close to a random sample as Anonymous could get. And the extent of the difference between the Clinton and Sanders disenfranchisement in this survey is so huge that it is very hard to believe that most of it was due to bias.


Here is Anonymous’ conclusions in full (I don’t understand some of the technical computer jargon):

At this point, Anonymous quite obviously does not have the required proof to point a finger at any particular person or campaign for the findings in our database and of our vulnerability scan. Non-conspiratorial alternative explanations may emerge for why perhaps tens of thousands of voters showed up to the polls expecting to be able to vote with the party they had registered with previously and were either denied or forced to vote provisionally. What is unmistakable, at this point, is that something went very badly wrong well beyond the lack of polling stations. The evidence does point to the possibility that something more malicious is happening.

In that vein, we should note that there are now likewise dozens and dozens of reports of Sanders supporters in places like Pennsylvania and New York, with upcoming closed primaries, finding that their own registrations have been switched. One such report arrived in our inbox on Friday morning, the final day for new voter registrations in New York. The e-mailer told us that the website for New York was going up and down intermittently. We asked what link they were using. When we checked it, our Tor Browser informed us that the website was insecure, presenting an invalid encryption certificate.
Suspicious, for damn sure. We’ll allow readers to draw their own further conclusions at this point.

Posted by Time for change | Wed Mar 30, 2016, 12:08 AM (22 replies)

Will the Voter Suppression we Saw in Arizona Be Repeated in New York?

Yesterday evening my daughter brought to my attention Facebook accounts of several Bernie supporters who were registered Democrats, and, worried about the accounts of voter suppression in Arizona, decided they’d better check to find out if they are still registered. And guess what? They were not. So I thought I’d better look into it.

What I found was an article titled ”New York Election Fraud: Is Arizona Happening Again?”

For those of you unfamiliar with what happened in the Arizona primary: Voter suppression in Maricopa County, which includes about half or more of the population of Arizona, was so bad that only 14.7% of Democratic voters who voted in that county voted on Election Day. This was extremely important to Bernie’s chances in Arizona because more than 60% of Maricopa County voters who voted on Election Day voted for Bernie, while more than 60% of early voters voted for Hillary. In other words, because of voter suppression on Election Day, the election was virtually decided prior to Election Day.

The article that I referred to above talks about something very similar to what my daughter is finding in the Facebook accounts she’s reading: previously registered Democratic voters finding out that they are no longer registered. It concludes: “The more you look, the more stories are reported”. The article provides information to voters on how to check to see if they are still registered, and how they can still rectify the situation if they find out that they are not.

But how many prospective voters won’t read that article and won’t find out until Election Day that they are no longer registered, when it will be too late to do anything about it? We don’t know the answer to that. But Bernie’s campaign can ill afford another episode, in a large state like New York, of what went down in New Mexico. That could very well be a death blow to his campaign. And this whole thing has ominous implications for our democracy.

Posted by Time for change | Tue Mar 29, 2016, 11:09 AM (110 replies)
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