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Time for change

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Stealing Elections through Manipulation of County Central Tabulators

I'm currently working with a publisher, Biting Duck Press, to publish a book (title as yet undetermined) on the corruption in our election system. We hope that it will help to make Americans more vigilant and concerned about the way our elections are run. I’ve drafted most of the book. I am posting large portions of it on DU, in the hope of stimulating discussion and obtaining useful feedback.

This post deals with manipulation of the vote count by county central tabulators. Nobody knows how frequently central tabulator mediated election fraud is used to steal elections in our country. The concept is very simple. Monitoring it and therefore preventing it should theoretically be very simple. Yet in the 2004 Presidential election it proved impossible to adequately investigate it. Why is it that we are unable to verify whether a county’s sum total of votes from its individual precincts equals the county’s total votes?

Introduction to central tabulator mediated fraud

Every Election Day, after precincts tabulate their vote count, they send the results to a central location in the county, where the votes for the whole county are tabulated. The central locations generally receive the counts electronically by modem, and they receive a whole bunch of physical evidence (tapes from individual voting machines, memory cards, provisional ballots, etc.) as well. The machine that tabulates the county-wide vote is often referred to as the county’s central tabulator. The central tabulator reports out the county-wide vote count, along with the vote count from each of the county’s precincts. These vote counts are referred to as “post-tabulator” vote counts, which constitute the official vote count for the county, using processes that vary from state to state. These processes can be quite complicated, as indicated by an article from Verified Voting, which explains how people can monitor the tabulation process.

The vote count that each precinct sends in to the central tabulator is referred to as the “pre-tabulator” vote count. These vote counts should be posted at each precinct after the vote is tabulated. Obviously, the pre-tabulator vote count and the post-tabulator vote count for every precinct should be the same. If not, then something is wrong, since there is no legitimate reason why a vote count should change after a precinct sends its supposedly final count to the central tabulator.

Central tabulator mediated fraud may involve vote-switching, but it may not involve vote-switching. For example, if a central tabulator simply adds votes in the same proportion as the real votes to a heavily Republican voting precinct, that will help the Republican candidate even though his percentage of votes in that precinct will not change. Or, the same effect will occur if votes are subtracted from a Democratic voting precinct.

Reasons why central tabulator mediated election fraud may be more practical than vote switching on individual electronic machines

Though millions of people believe that the 2004 presidential election was stolen, I doubt that anyone but the perpetrators know precisely how it was done; nor does anyone know precisely why exit polls in 2006 predicted a much larger Democratic Congressional victory than the official election results indicated. More important, nobody knows what mechanisms of election fraud will be perpetrated in future elections.

But there are reasons, I believe, to think that central tabulator mediated fraud is a more practical way to influence a national election than is programming vote switching for individual voting machines. Few voting machines register much more than 100 votes per machine. So consider how many individual voting machines would have to be rigged to change the results of a presidential election.

County central tabulators, on the other hand, tabulate the results for a whole county, which in large counties may account for a million or more votes. So you’d have to rig the results of ten thousand individual voting machines to achieve the impact of rigging the results of a single large county central tabulator.

Another advantage of using central tabulators over individual machines to electronically rig the vote is that it is easier to cover up the statistical manipulations. When individual machines are relied upon to rig the vote, statistical anomalies are generally produced, showing up as big spikes for the favored candidate in selected precincts (unless voting machine rigging is evenly distributed over the whole county). Using central tabulators, a computer program can be written to make the theft evenly distributed over the whole county, thereby hiding the statistical manipulation in the event that statistical analyses are performed to search for evidence of election fraud.

Evidence of central tabulator mediated election fraud in recent elections

2004 Ohio Presidential election – Cleveland
As Election Day 2004 approached it became clear that Ohio was the most important key to victory for either presidential candidate. Hopes were running high in the Kerry camp because of reports of massive increases in voter registration in Cleveland, the most Democratic area of the state. These hopes were further encouraged by reports of very high voter turnout all over the state, especially in highly Democratic areas such as Cleveland, as well as the Ohio exit poll, which was trending heavily for Kerry. I later spoke with one of Kerry’s Ohio campaign workers, who told me that at the time the polls closed in Ohio, he and his fellow campaign workers were certain that Kerry had won. Exhausted from their days of continuous work, many went to bed that night thinking it was all over.

Very long voting lines in Cleveland
To verify the anecdotal reports of very high voter turnout in Cleveland on Election Day, I looked at data from the national Electronic Incident Reporting System (EIRS), which received tens of thousands of Election Day reports of voting complaints. This database contained 1,509 complaint reports involving long voting lines. Of these, more than a third, 548, came from Ohio. Of those, more than a quarter – 150 cases – came from Cuyahoga County, and of those Cuyahoga County reports which mention the name of the city, 46 of 75 reports were from Cleveland. Therefore, Cleveland accounted for about 6% of complaint reports of long voting lines in the whole United States, compared to only a little more than a tenth of a percent of votes in the 2004 election.

Very low official voter turnout in Cleveland
Yet despite the very long voting lines reported all over Cleveland, official voter turnout was not recorded as high. In fact, it was quite low compared to elsewhere in Ohio. According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website, the voter turnout percent in Cleveland was in the low 50s, compared to about 70% in the rest of Ohio. This finding had been earlier reported by Richard Hayes Phillips, a statistical expert in identifying statistical anomalies, whose findings have been widely publicized. Phillips had stated that there were at least 30 precincts in Cleveland with inexplicably low voter turnout, ranging as low as 7.1%. These findings translated into a voter turnout in Cleveland of 51%.

Why the very long voting lines in the presence of very low official voter turnout?
One theoretical reason why a city can have a very “low voter turnout” despite long voting lines is that insufficient voting machine allocation causes large numbers of voters to leave the voting lines because they couldn’t afford to wait for hours to vote. This is in fact what happened in Franklin County in 2004, which was allocated insufficient numbers of electronic voting machines (See Chapter 6). But Cuyahoga County used punch card voting in 2004, not electronic voting. According to data used to produce the Democratic National Committee report (Section IV, page 3) on the 2004 Ohio Presidential election, only counties that used electronic voting were characterized by long lines caused by too few voting machines. Counties that used either optical scan voting or punch card voting did not experience that problem. In Ohio as a whole, voter turnout was strongly related to the ratio of machines per voter – because of the problem posed by too few voting machines. However, this was not the case in Cuyahoga County, which did not use electronic voting machines.

To obtain some better insight into this perplexing issue I looked at the other Ohio counties that reported lots of complaints of long lines and that used punch cards for voting. Other than Cuyahoga, there were only two such counties that were characterized by 10 or more reports. Not including the 150 reports from Cuyahoga County, of the Ohio complaint reports that involved long voting lines, 61 came from those two counties – Summit (49 reports) and Hamilton (12 reports). So, what kind of turnout was reported in these other punch card counties that were characterized by complaints of long voting lines? Summit had 76.4% turnout, and Hamilton had 75.5% turnout. Furthermore, of the other 8 Ohio counties that reported any long voting lines to the EIRS database, all 8 had over 70% turnout.

To summarize the quandary: Without the explanation of too few voting machines as a plausible explanation for the long voting lines in Cleveland, the most plausible remaining explanation is an exceptionally high turnout. This explanation is consistent with the massive efforts that went into obtaining a high voter turnout in Cleveland, as well as wide-spread observations of long voting lines on Election Day. And yet, official voter turnout in Cleveland on Election Day was exceptionally low, rather than exceptionally high.

What would explain a very high real turnout of voters in Cleveland, in the presence of a very low official turnout? That finding alone suggests foul play, since long voting lines should be associated with high voter turnout, not low voter turnout. And since Cleveland is a very heavily democratic city with over three hundred thousand registered voters, the potential for massive fraud is obvious. More specifically, votes from Cleveland precincts could have been deleted by the Cuyahoga County central tabulator after being reported there. This would have caused the apparent voter turnout from these counties to be low, in spite of the widespread reporting of long voting lines in Cleveland.

Incomplete attempt to verify the vote count in Cleveland
Some people would say to me, in response to my voicing of my suspicions of central tabulator fraud in Ohio, that that kind of fraud was unlikely because it could be so easily proven by simply comparing the pre-tabulator to the post-tabulator vote count, to see if they matched.

Because I was very suspicious of this, I tried to ascertain whether or not the pre-tabulator and post-tabulator vote counts for Cuyahoga County matched. The post-tabulator vote counts were published on the Cuyahoga county web-site, so that part was easy. I then requested the pre-tabulator vote counts from the Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Michael Vu. Though Vu repeatedly promised to obtain those for me, he never followed through.

Consequently, I collaborated on this issue with a computer science professional, Ron (last name withheld), who worked for Ray Beckerman’s Ohio Project. Ron’s initial audit of 15 precincts (out of 1458 in Cuyahoga County) showed the post-tabulator (official) vote count to be less than the pre-tabulator count, as indicated in the poll book summaries. The audit identified an apparent vote undercount of 163 votes that resulted in a net loss to the Kerry/Edwards ticket of 140 votes (almost all of that attributed to four precincts). Ron tried to proceed with a more thorough audit of the Cuyahoga County vote, but he ran into numerous technical problems, and he was never able to complete it.

2004 Presidential Election – Elsewhere in Ohio
Another county that likely involved central tabulator fraud was Warren County. That was the site of the infamous lockdown, which allowed Republican officials to tally the Warren County vote in private. Their initial excuse for disallowing any observers to watch the vote count was that they didn’t want interference with the counting process. Later, they changed that excuse to say that the FBI warned them of a terrorism alert of grade 10 on a 1 to 10 scale. That claim was later denied by the FBI, and county officials refused to name the FBI agent whom they claimed gave them the warning. Several months later I called Erica Solvig, the reporter who broke the story, in an attempt to find out more about what happened. She told me that she wasn’t at liberty to discuss it.

Yet the Warren County results continued to stand, and without any serious investigation. It also may be significant that this event occurred when it still looked very much as if Kerry would win Ohio. Bush picked up thousands of additional votes in Warren County, compared with his performance in the 2000 election against Al Gore, and the number of voters officially increased by 30% compared to the 2000 election. By the time the Warren County votes had been “counted”, victory had all but slipped away from the Kerry/Edwards ticket.

In Miami County, after 100% of precincts had reported, an additional 19,000 ballots were reported, giving Bush an additional vote margin of about 6,000 (in exactly the same percentage of the previous votes). What makes this additionally suspicious is that Miami County reported a 20.9% increase in turnout for 2004, compared to 2000, despite a gain in population of only 1.4%. Miami County reported the second largest vote gain for Bush of Ohio’s 88 counties (2nd to Butler County), compared to his performance in 2000. Furthermore, the final official voter turnout figure for Miami County, after the additional 19,000 ballots were added, was a highly suspect 98.55%.

2002 Alabama Governor’s race

Election night, November 5, 2002, Bay Minette, Alabama
Republican controlled Bay Minette is the county seat for Baldwin County, Alabama. In 2002, Baldwin County used optical scan machines to tabulate vote counts from paper ballots filled out by voters and fed into the machines. The paper ballots themselves were saved, which means that they were available for recounting in case of close or contested elections.

The machine tabulated results from each precinct in the country were recorded on individual “data packs”, which were picked up by sheriff deputies after the polls closed, and delivered to the Bay Minette Board of Elections, which then used a central tabulator to tabulate the county-wide vote count.

The initial vote count for Governor for Baldwin County, reported from the Bay Minette tabulator at 10:45 p.m., was quite surprising to say the least. It reported: Riley (R) 30,142, Siegelman (D) 11,820, and the Libertarian candidate, John Sophocleus, 13,190. Although it was expected that Siegelman would lose Baldwin County, the margin of the loss was not believable, as he had lost Baldwin County in the Governor’s race in 1998 by only a little over four thousand votes. Furthermore, the idea of his losing to the Libertarian candidate was not plausible.

So, “someone” from the sheriff’s office went into the tabulation room to look into the matter and returned a few minutes later, announcing that the problem had been fixed. The new totals, which were reported at 11:04 p.m. and picked up and distributed by the AP, were: Riley 31,052, Siegelman 19,070, and Sophocleus a much more reasonable 937. The pickup of 7,250 votes by Siegelman was enough to give him a slim state-wide victory.

But two minutes later, at 11:06 p.m., the results were changed again, reducing Siegelman’s total back down to 12,736, a decrease of 6,334 votes, which gave the election back to Riley. William Pfeifer, the Baldwin County Chairman of the Democratic Party, was just outside the tabulating room at 11:04 when the second report, giving Siegelman the victory, was announced. But he didn’t find out about the reversal until he returned home and turned on the news.

Next morning, November 6, 2002, Bay Minette
The next morning, Pfeifer arrived at the probate court building in an attempt to speak with probate officials to find out what had happened. Pfeifer related his experience:

No one could get back there to talk to the members of the panel for most of that time, and we didn't get to actually speak to them until just a few minutes before they went out and did the certification. [When I finally got to speak with them, just before the certification] I tried to persuade them to wait until Friday at noon (for the final certification). They were very insistent that the results were correct and that they were going to certify them that morning.

The board certified the election results a little after 10:30 a.m., and Riley gave his victory speech around 11:00 a.m.

Failed request for recount
Two days later, Pfeifer petitioned for a hand recount of the Baldwin County ballots. But Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor ruled later that day that the seals on the boxes containing the ballots could not be broken without a court order to do so. He claimed that his ruling was based on the Alabama Constitution. Don Siegelman contested the ruling and continued to seek a recount, which may have been the reason that he was framed for bribery and sent to prison, as testified to by Dana Jill Simpson:

The Simpson affidavit says the conference call focused on how the Riley campaign could get Siegelman to withdraw his challenge. According to Simpson's statement, William Canary, a senior G.O.P. political operative and Riley adviser who was on the conference call, said "not to worry about Don Siegelman" because 'his girls' would take care of’ the governor.” Canary then made clear that "his girls" was a reference to his wife, Leura Canary, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Alice Martin, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Canary reassured others on the conference call that he had the help of a powerful pal in Washington. Canary said "not to worry that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl and Karl had spoken with the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice was already pursuing Don Siegelman…”

In an apparently unrelated incident, Bill Pryor was appointed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals by George W. Bush during a Congressional recess in 2004.

Statistical anomalies
It is worth noting that when the original computer error was identified, which resulted in adjusting Siegelman’s vote upwards from 11,820 to 19,070 and reducing the Libertarian candidate’s vote downward from an implausible 13,190 to 937, there were also five other races that had to be re-adjusted at the same time. But when the third and final report was issued, the totals in those five other races remained at what they had been adjusted to, while Siegelman’s vote total was the only one that was re-adjusted (downwards).

I’ve already noted that Siegelman’s vote total in 2002 in Baldwin County was totally out of line with what would be expected from his performance in 1998.

James H. Gundlach, a professor of sociology at Auburn University, performed an analysis of the data and concluded that someone with a wireless connection must have changed the tallies. He presented his analysis at the 2003 annual meeting of the Alabama Political Science Association in a paper titled "A Statistical Analysis of Possible Electronic Ballot Box Stuffing". In that paper Gundlach emphasized the reduction in Siegelman’s vote count from 19,070 to 12,736, saying that such a dramatic decrease is:

commonly found in data that is intentionally changed but rarely the result of random errors… The circumstances surrounding it are really hard to believe… The notion that the software is designed to count votes {but that it} comes up with different results means somebody is messing with the software…. Computers do not accidentally produce different totals… Someone is controlling the computer to produce the different results.

Columbia national election 1998
An intriguing example of how an apparent case central tabulator mediated election fraud was thwarted in mid-stream comes from Ingrid Betancourt’s “Until Death Do Us Part – My struggle to Reclaim Columbia”. Betancourt was running for Senator as a third party candidate, for the Oxygen Party, which she had just recently founded, in the Columbia national elections of 1998. A victory for her or her party in that election posed a great threat to the status quo powers of the country.

After viewing the initial returns, which appeared to show a clear and very surprising victory for her, and experiencing momentary elation, she goes on:

Something tells me that these men who’ve tried to assassinate me won’t let me win so easily…. A terrible fear eclipses my first moments of happiness. They control everything, they control most of the people who are counting the votes, and they’re going to steal this victory from us, I’m sure of it….

My intention is to follow the returns city by city…. We sit down in front of a terminal. It’s six in the evening, and almost half an hour goes by without a single problem. Then, the returns from Cali suddenly stop coming in. While everywhere else the figures keep rising, the ones from Cali don’t budge….

I say, "let’s go up to see the Registiador"....

Betancourt: What’s happening? Cali is no longer transmitting results.…. I want to know why….

Registrar: They’ve had a power outage, no reason for concern….

I call our people on the scene. They’ve closed the Registraduria, and they’re not letting anyone in…. There’s no outage, the lights are working perfectly….

This time I explode: “Listen here, there’s neither wind nor a power outage in Cali. It’s obviously a ploy to conceal fraud. I’m warning you, I was leading in that region before the interruption, and if my votes decline after the returns start coming in again, I’m going to inform the reporters.”….

When the results start coming in again twenty minutes later, the trend has completely reversed. I had about fifteen thousand votes in the Cali area when the reporting was interrupted, but for the rest of the night, I don’t get a single additional vote. Of course the votes for the other candidates continually increase.

Betancourt went on to win a resounding victory and become a first term Senator. A month later she was told by employees who worked in the Registrar’s office that about 42 thousand votes were stolen from her on Election Day. She notes that if she had not gone up to the Registrar’s office that day she might have lost the election.

Solutions: Identifying central tabulator-mediated fraud early

In theory, monitoring for central tabulator-mediated fraud should be very simple. A county’s central tabulator totals up the votes for every precinct in the county. A precinct’s total vote counts for each race are typically posted at the precinct for a designated period of time after the polls close. If one has access to the pre-tabulator vote counts at each precinct (the counts posted by each precinct after poll closing), all one has to do is add up all the pre-tabulator precinct counts or simply compare the pre-tabulator precinct counts with the post-tabulator precinct counts to see if they match. If they do not match, and especially if the central tabulator count favors one candidate more than the sum of all the pre-tabulator precinct counts, that means that there is something very wrong with the way that the central tabulator counted up its totals. The concept can be visualized as follows:

Precinct 1 count + precinct 2 count + ….. + precinct N count = central tabulator count (also known as “post-tabulator count” or the official vote count).

The post-tabulator counts are easy to identify, since they are the official counts and are posted on the county Board of Elections web site as soon as the results become official. The pre-tabulator counts are more difficult to obtain. Because of the difficulties I had obtaining those counts following the 2004 Presidential election (in my attempt to verify the accuracy of the vote count in Cuyahoga County) I spoke with Ellen Theisen of Voters Unite! about her experiences with this issue. She told me that persons interested in investigating the 2004 election were having a hell of a time trying to get pre-tabulator vote counts from anywhere in the country.

Thus, it appears that within weeks or days following the 2004 Presidential election, many of the pre-tabulator vote counts either disappeared, or else county Boards of elections simply refused to make them available to enquiring citizens – as my experience with Michael Vu demonstrated. Apparently there was no systematic nation-wide effort in 2004 (or any other year) by election protection organizations to obtain pre-tabulator vote counts for President throughout the country.

This raises several questions: How difficult would it be for election integrity organizations to obtain those counts throughout the nation on Election Day or later? In how many precincts throughout the country are the pre-tabulator counts not posted – either because the law doesn’t require it, or because election officials choose to ignore the law? If election integrity organizations could show a discrepancy between the pre-tabulator counts and the central tabulator (post-tabulator) counts, what legal bearing would that information have on the election results if fraud was suspected? Can election officials be required to provide pre-tabulator counts days, weeks, or months following an election, if requested by concerned citizens? If so, how could it be determined whether that information was accurate?

In the absence of answers to all these questions, I can only suggest the following: Election integrity organizations should be able to obtain accurate pre-tabulator vote counts in all precincts, and should actually do so, as a check against central tabulator-medicated election fraud. Where state or local law doesn’t allow for this, federal law should require it.

If we could do that, it would then be possible to spot central tabulator fraud almost immediately after a county announces its official results. In a close election, the election may not have even been called by then. Indentifying situations where a county’s official vote count fails to reflect the sum total from its individual precincts (i.e. where there are substantial mismatches between pre-tabulator and post-tabulator vote counts) should signal a high likelihood of election fraud. In any county where that occurs in a close race, automatic hand recounts should be required. With that kind of evidence in hand, it could immediately be made available to the candidate, who would then be a fool to concede the election if the mismatch between pre-tabulator and official (post-tabulator) vote counts seemed great enough to alter the results of the election. Such a scenario very likely could have prevented John Kerry from conceding in 2004, and very well could have altered the results of that election.
Posted by Time for change | Sun Jul 8, 2012, 05:04 PM (37 replies)

So Many Ways to Make Votes Disappear

I'm currently working with a publisher, Biting Duck Press, to publish a book (title as yet undetermined) on the corruption in our election system. We hope that it will help to make Americans more vigilant and concerned about the way our elections are run. I’ve drafted most of the book. I am posting large portions of it on DU, in the hope of stimulating discussion and obtaining useful feedback.

In Chapter 3, "Can You Trust the Corporations that Make the Computers to Count Your Vote?", I began by discussing the hazards of “black box” voting (i.e. voting on electronic machines that produce vote counts that cannot be verified and have the potential to switch votes from one candidate to another) and presenting evidence of vote switching, in the 2004 and other elections. This post continues Chapter 3 by providing some examples of disappearing votes in U.S. elections.


Oval stickers to prevent Kerry votes being read – Clermont County, Ohio, 2004

Several volunteer workers participating in the recount in Clermont County shortly after the 2004 presidential election signed affidavits stating that they observed several white oval stickers covering the Kerry/Edwards choice on the optical scan ballots used in that election. Some of these workers noted that beneath the white oval stickers the Kerry/Edwards ovals were filled in. The white sticker would have prevented the optical scan machine from counting those ballots as votes for Kerry. None of these witnesses noted a problem with the Bush/Cheney ovals. Clermont County was one of the three Ohio counties with the largest vote increase for Bush from 2000 to 2004.

Votes disappearing on DRE machines – Florida District 13 U.S. House race, 2006

As explained by Paul Krugman in an article titled “When Votes Disappear”, the 2006 election for the U.S. House in Florida Congressional District 13, which was “won” by the Republican candidate by 369 votes, was almost certainly determined by faulty (whether intentional or not) DRE voting machines. In Sarasota County, which used ES & S voting machines, 15% of voters did not register a vote for the House race (these are termed ‘undervotes’), compared to 2.2% to 5.3% of voters who did not register a vote for the House race in neighboring counties. That amounted to almost 18,000 ballots that did not register a vote for the House race in Sarasota County. Furthermore, those who failed to cast a vote in the House race were shown by their other votes to strongly favor Democrats.

Why did 15% of the voters voting on ES & S machines in Sarasota County fail to vote for a House candidate? The answer to that question can be ascertained from an interview of voters by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which found that one third of voters couldn’t find the House race on their ballot, and that 60% said that they did vote for a House candidate, but their vote didn’t show up on their summary page.

Unexplained undervotes – Florida District 24 U.S. House race, 2006

In the 2006 U.S. House election in Florida’s 24th District, Republican candidate Tom Feeney defeated Democratic candidate Clint Curtis by 16% of the vote, despite election eve polls that showed Feeney and Curtis to be in a statistical dead heat. An investigation into that election using door-to-door canvassing to interview voters demonstrated that Curtis received 12% to 24% more votes in every precinct canvassed than stated in the official election results. Sworn affidavits were used to document Curtis’ votes. Curtis’ research team was able to garner substantially more sworn affidavits – far more than needed to swing the election – from voters attesting that they voted for him than votes that were officially counted by the electronic voting machines in the election.

Disappearing Hispanic and Native American DRE machine votes – New Mexico, 2004

An extensive analysis of the 2004 Presidential vote in New Mexico demonstrated serious problems with electronic voting, with much higher undervote rates in Hispanic and Native American precincts than in Anglo precincts. In precincts using direct record electronic (DRE) voting in 2004, Hispanic and Native American precincts demonstrated undervote rates (for President) of 6.3% and 7.6%, respectively, compared to only 2.2% in Anglo precincts. In marked contrast, the average undervote rate was under 2% for each of the three ethnic groups in precincts using paper ballots in 2004, with no substantial difference by ethnic group. And, the undervote rate for governor in New Mexico in 2006, when all precincts used paper ballots, was under 2% for each of the three ethnic groups, again with no substantial difference by ethnic group. It is also important to note that if the DRE precincts in 2004 had had undervote rates comparable to the paper ballot precincts, John Kerry would have won New Mexico in 2004.

What could explain these findings? Why was the extremely high undervote rate confined to Hispanic and Native American precincts? Could that be explained by a propensity of these ethnic groups to voluntary decide, after going to their polling place to vote, not to cast a vote for president? No. If that were the case, Hispanic and Native American precincts that used paper ballots would have demonstrated a similar undervote rate. Instead, where paper ballots were used, the undervote rate was far lower, regardless of race or ethnicity. The only explanation that seems worth considering is that the DRE voting machines used in Hispanic and Native American precincts caused votes to disappear. Theoretically that could have been purposeful or accidental. But why did that occur only in Hispanic and Native American precincts?

Huge undervote rates on Diebold machines, Ohio Senate race, 2006

In connection with my role as a volunteer for the Election Defense Alliance, I conducted an analysis of the undervote rate in the 2006 Ohio race for U.S. Senate. An undervote for the purpose of that analysis was defined as a ballot that was cast, but for which there was no vote registered for Senator.

The state-wide undervote rate for Ohio Senator was 3.9%. But there was a great difference in undervote rate by county and machine type, with the Diebold counties averaging a significantly higher undervote rate (4.8%) than counties using the other machines (3.2% for counties using Votronic DREs, 3.3% for counties using optical scan systems).

Furthermore, there were six counties that were definite and extreme outliers (all Diebold) compared to the other counties. Those six counties (Mercer, Darke, Highland, Montgomery, Adams, Perry) had undervote rates ranging from 11.2% to 16.3%, with an average of 13.8%, while the other 82 Ohio counties had undervote rates ranging from 0.6% to 6.8%, with an average of 3.4%. The undervotes in the six outlier counties amounted to almost a quarter of the undervotes in the whole state, whereas the total votes in those six counties amounted to only 7.1% of the total votes in the state. Without those six counties, the average undervote rate for the other 41 Diebold counties was quite similar to the average undervote rate for the other types of machines.

Another finding of note is that a previous similar analysis of the unofficial Ohio data by Richard Hayes Phillips resulted in findings that were substantially different than my analysis of the official Ohio Senate data (though our general conclusion of high undervote rates in several Diebold counties was similar). This means that in some respects there were major changes in the data from the time of the first unofficial postings to the time that the official results were posted.

What explains the very high rate of undervotes in the six Diebold counties? It seems highly likely that there was something wrong with the Diebold machines, at least a good portion of them, in six Ohio counties, which caused the relatively high undervote rates. That could have been due to difficulties voters had in finding the Senate candidates on those Diebold machines, or it could have been due to failure of the machines to record the votes that the voters intended. Alternatively, it could have been due to the fact that 11% to 16% of voters in six Ohio counties decided not to vote for Senator – but no reasonable explanation comes to mind to explain why that would happen in six Diebold counties and not in other counties.

Why use so many different methods to steal elections?

As I document in my book, the powers that be have used numerous different methods to steal elections in recent years: Electronic machines that count our votes using secret software and produce unverifiable results; ballot tampering, as noted in the first example in this post; illegal voter purging; dirty tricks such as pamphlets distributed to poor neighborhoods telling voters to vote on different days or different places than when and where they are supposed to vote; intimidation; insufficient allocation of voting machines to Democratic precincts, and; sham recounts to cover-up their fraud.

Why so many different methods? If they used only one method a pattern would likely emerge, and it would be easier to expose them. Anyhow, they have nothing of value to offer 99% of American citizens, so who would vote for them in a fair and honest election? The more methods they use the more votes they can get in their effort to overcome the fact that so few people really like what they have to offer.
Posted by Time for change | Fri Jul 6, 2012, 06:06 PM (54 replies)

Can You Trust the Corporations that Make the Voting Machines to Count Your Vote?

I'm currently working with a publisher, Biting Duck Press, to publish a book (title as yet undetermined) on the corruption in our election system. We hope that it will help to make Americans more vigilant and concerned about the way our elections are run. I’ve drafted most of the book. I am posting large portions of it on DU, in the hope of stimulating discussion and obtaining useful feedback.

Chapter 2, "Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen Too?", began by discussing the large discrepancies between the exit polls (which favored John Kerry) and the official vote count (which gave the election to George W. Bush) in the 2004 Presidential election. This discrepancy raised the strong suggestion that votes might have been switched electronically from Kerry to Bush. Chapter 3, “Can You Trust the Corporations that Make the Computers to Count Your Vote?”, follows up on that suggestion by discussing the hazards of “black box” voting (i.e. voting on electronic machines that produce vote counts that cannot be verified and have the potential to switch votes from one candidate to another) and presenting more substantial evidence of vote switching, in the 2004 and other elections.

The hazards of using Direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines to register and count our votes

Direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines are those that directly record the voter’s vote electronically, without the necessity for any paper evidence of the vote.
What do you think would be the reaction of most U.S. citizens if they were told that a law had just been passed that gave the Party in power the right to count the votes and determine the winner of elections in private – without any oversight? Outrage, I would hope. And yet, today we find ourselves in a situation where votes are counted by computer software that is written in secret and made inaccessible to the public, with the rationale that the machines and software that count our votes are “proprietary”. Just as bad, they leave no record of the vote counting process, making recounts impossible. These systems are often referred to as ‘black box voting’, to emphasize the fact that the voting process employed by them is opaque. Is that situation different than giving one Party a box of paper ballots and allowing them to count them and determine the winner in private? And yet, where is the outrage?

Involvement of voting machine companies in our political process
The corporations that make the computers and software that count our votes often donate money to political candidates, including those who could potentially benefit if the election machinery is programmed to help them win elections. They sometimes employ convicted felons. And nobody questions the fact that it is possible to secretly program their computers to rig an election. An important question is, “Is that what actually happened in the 2004 Presidential election?”

According to a report by electionline.org on campaign donations by voting machine companies:

The largest share – $411,320 from 2001 to 2003 – came from Diebold, given to Republican candidates and party coffers…. Diebold and its board members gave mostly to Ohio candidates and office holders, and President George W. Bush. CEO Walden O'Dell vowed in a fundraising letter last year (2003) to "deliver" Ohio's electoral votes to Bush.

Why DRE machines are unfit to be used in our elections
A book by Andrew Gumbel, “Steal this Vote”, talks at great length about why DRE machines in the U.S. today are unfit to count our votes. Here is a general statement by Gumbel as to why these machines should not be used in our elections:

… there were two fundamental problems with the touch-screen DREs. First, as computer scientists had been warning for years without anyone paying much attention, they were inherently unsafe because of their vulnerability to software bugs, malicious code, or hack attacks. Even in the best designed system, removing votes from the physical world and storing them exclusively in electronic form was a risky proposition, because there was no way of being sure that the data put into the machines during an election would be the same as the data later spat back out. Hence the strong recommendation of academic experts… to create a system of paper receipts enabling voters to confirm their individual choices and providing election administrators with the wherewithal to conduct meaningful recounts.…

The second problem with the new-generation DREs is that they are often poorly programmed by their manufacturers and inadequately tested by government-contracted laboratories charged with their certification. This was a well-kept dirty secret… Because of the proprietary nature of the software, state and county officials had to take assurances about security almost entirely on trust. And take those assurances they did…

Gumbel then goes on to discuss how the Florida Task Force recommended that optical-scan machines are a much preferred alternative:

Jeb Bush appointed the twenty-one member Select Task Force on Election Procedures, Standards, and Technology… just forty-eight hours after the Supreme Court decision handing the presidency to his brother. They in turn reported back ten weeks later with thirty-five recommendations. By far the most important of these… stated that only one state-certified system met acceptable standards… That was the optical-scan system – with the added proviso that votes should be tabulated precinct by precinct, not centrally at county headquarters.

He then goes on to discuss how, due to Republican control of the state and a cozy relationship between ES&S and state officials, the Task Force recommendations were largely ignored, and touch screen machines were sold to twelve Florida counties. Similar events transpired in Maryland and Georgia.

Then, on National Bureau of Standards identification of DRE problems:

In his prescient survey of voting systems written in 1988, Roy Saltman of the National Bureau of Standards identified four problem areas in verifying the outcome of computerized elections: the absence of a paper audit trail, poor program design, trade secrecy provisions that stop public officials from examining those programs, and inadequate administrative oversight. The new DRE systems introduced in the wake of the 2000 election suffered from every one of these pitfalls…. The risk, he wrote, was that these oversights would be tantamount to an “abdication of control over elections to vendors.”

Gumbel talks about how Bev Harris came upon files of code for Diebold machines on the internet. Harris copied these files and made them available to computer scientists, so that they could examine the files and ascertain their potential. Here is what Avi Rubin and his associates at Johns Hopkins University found:

What they found left them so incredulous… describe the Diebold code as amateurish, stunningly inadequate, and downright scary…. Every single Deibold machine was crackable… A malevolent developer could easily make changes to the code that would create vulnerabilities to be later exploited on Election Day. Specifically, it was possible through a variety of techniques to alter the outcome of an election without leaving a trace.

Gumbel notes that many of Diebold’s internal e-mails were leaked. Some made a big point of the need for them (Diebold) to have access to vote counting codes from outside during an election. He notes that there is great resistance of at least some DRE manufacturers to include auditable paper trails (i.e. where voters are given a paper receipt that denotes their vote, which they deposit in a ballot box for a later potential recount) in an election. Both of these things – access to the machines from outside during an election and the absence of paper trails – are recipes for election theft. Allowing access to the machines from outside during an election facilitates electronic manipulation of the vote. The absence of paper trails precludes the possibility of a recount of the vote. We should ask why voting machine companies insist on these things, and why they are allowed in our elections.

Evidence of vote switching

One of the scariest aspects of the DRE machines is the potential to switch votes from one candidate to another. There is much evidence that this occurs. Let’s consider some of this evidence.

An analysis of nation-wide vote switching reported by voters during the 2004 election
In order to assess the potential role of vote switching in the 2004 presidential election, I conducted an analysis of reports by U.S. voters to the Election Incidence Reporting System (EIRS) developed by the National Election Data Archive Project. All reports included in this analysis involve the U.S. national election of November, 2004. The EIRS database included 28,734 reported incidents, including 2,115 “machine problem” incidents. The material for this analysis was obtained by searching these “machine problem” incidents only in counties that used electronic voting machines, according to a database provided by Voters Unite!.

A report was categorized as a presidential vote switching incident if: 1) the report specifically referred to the presidential vote OR to one or both of the two major parties (unless referring specifically and only to non-presidential candidates); and 2) The report noted that the voting machine made it easier or more difficult to vote for one of the two major candidates. Typically these reports involved a voter attempting to register a vote for one candidate, and then the machine noting that another candidate has been selected. These “vote switches” involved switches from one to the other major party candidate, from a major party to a 3rd party candidate, or vice versa.

The analysis showed 87 cases where the vote switch favored Bush and 7 where it favored Kerry – a 12 to 1 ratio in favor of Bush.

Of the 87 vote switches that favored Bush, 67 were reported from one of the 11 battleground states. The rate of these reports (per voter using electronic voting machines) from the battleground states was 9 times greater than in the other 39 states. The distribution of incidents by state and county was very uneven. Of the 67 vote switches reported from swing states, all were reported from four states: Florida (47 incidents), Ohio (8 incidents), New Mexico (8 incidents), and Pennsylvania (4 incidents)

Four voting machine vendors accounted for all but three of the 87 reported incidents that were favorable to Bush. These included Diebold, Danaher, Sequoia, and ESS. The rate of reported incidents was more than 5 times greater with touch screen machines than with other electronic voting machines.

Many of the voters who experienced vote switches from Kerry to Bush tried to vote for Kerry several times before the correct vote finally registered. Three voters said they ended up voting for Bush because they lost patience trying to change their vote. 24 of the reports noted that there were numerous additional reports of similar incidents in the same polling place, which used phrases such as “happening all day”.

Most of the reports did not specify precisely how the vote switch took place, although one gets the impression from reading many of these reports that the vote switch often took place immediately after the voter registered his/her vote, and that it was immediately apparent. On the other hand, 15 reports specifically noted that they were not aware of the switch until the end, when they checked the “review” or “summary” screen, or when they tried to “confirm” their vote. One of these voters noted that the switch on the summary screen took place right before her eyes as she was registering her vote, which meant that she accidentally voted for Bush. Several voters noted that the vote switch was difficult to identify, and only their watchfulness prior to registering their vote prevented them from voting for Bush.

Discussion of the results
What is the meaning of the voter reported incidents of vote switching that favored George W. Bush over John Kerry by a ratio of more than 12 to 1? Let’s examine the possibilities:

Statistical analysis showed that the odds against random chance (like flipping a coin and getting 87 heads and 7 tails) accounting for the large preponderance of vote switches favoring Bush over Kerry exceed ten million to one. So there is no reasonable probability that random chance explains the degree to which Bush was favored by these vote switches.

Bias would explain the disproportionate percent of cases favoring Bush if in reality the Bush and Kerry favorable incidents occurred with approximately the same frequency, but the Bush favorable incidents were more likely to be reported by the voters who experienced them. This possibility is similar to the hypothesis posed by Warren Mitofsky to explain the discrepancy between his November 2004 Presidential exit poll (which had Kerry winning by 3 %) and the official election results (which had Bush winning by 2.4%). Although I don’t find it difficult to believe that such a bias could exist, I do find it very difficult to believe that the magnitude of such a bias could be so great as to result in a 12 to one ratio. I can’t say it’s not possible. But it seems like a very unlikely explanation. Why would Kerry voters be so much more concerned about vote switches than Bush voters?

The remaining possibility is that there were many voting machines throughout the country for which it was more difficult to vote for Kerry than for Bush (or which switched or attempted to switch votes from Kerry to Bush), that such occurrences greatly outnumbered problems in the opposite direction, and that these machines were concentrated in certain areas of the country.

Vote switching on electronic machines can be accidental. But if they were accidental, then why would the vast majority of these incidents tend to favor one candidate over the other? And furthermore, why would the incidents be concentrated so heavily in battleground states? I cannot think of an explanation for how this could have happened accidentally.

If the tendency of these voting machines to favor Bush was not accidental, that means that someone programmed them to act this way. Depending on the magnitude of this phenomenon, that could have compromised the integrity of the election. This is especially true given the fact that Florida and Ohio were the two states where this problem was reported with the greatest frequency, and the fact that if either if these states had gone for Kerry, he would have won the election.

If voting machines used in the 2004 Presidential election were in fact programmed to make it more difficult to vote for Kerry than for Bush, or to switch votes from Kerry to Bush, what significance could that have had to the integrity or outcome of the election? 87 individual incidents of vote switching in an election involving more than a hundred million voters doesn’t seem like very much. But what if these 87 incidents represent only the tip of an iceberg – the known part of a much larger problem? Let’s consider some possibilities that would suggest that a much larger problem exists than these 87 reports.

No one knows what fraction of problems discovered by voters at the polls in November, 2004, were reported to the EIRS. It seems likely that the great majority of voters weren’t even aware that the system existed. Or even if they were aware of it, most people just don’t feel the necessity of taking the time to report such things.

A typical report noted that a voter would attempt to register a choice for President (or other candidate), and then prior to finalizing their choice would note that the screen registered a vote for the other candidate. How many voters would have noticed this, and how many voters would have failed to notice it, and therefore cast their vote for the other candidate?

If the machines were programmed to switch votes, the person(s) behind this crime would not have wanted the machines to register any visual evidence to that effect, thus enabling the voter to have a chance to correct the problem, or bring it to the attention of election officials, and potentially a much wider audience. But what if it was not possible to program the machines in such a way that they wouldn’t occasionally provide this evidence, or what if doing so would have required a level of skill that many of the programmers didn’t have? The bottom line is that it is possible that the great majority of vote switching went unnoticed, uncorrected, and unreported.

Other investigations have been conducted that strongly support the idea that the EIRS reports represent only the tip of an iceberg:

First there is a report by Paul Lehto and Jeffrey Hoffman that identified 19 reports of electronic vote switching in Snohomish County, Washington – all which favored Bush – from the Washington State auditor’s office, the Washington Secretary of State’s office, and a Snohomish County voter complaint hotline. This compares with only three reports made to EIRS.

Even more compelling is an investigation undertaken by the Washington Post regarding electronic vote switching in Mahoning County, Ohio. This investigation identified 25 electronic voting machines in Youngstown, Mahoning County, each which transferred an unknown number of votes from Kerry to Bush. The Post report goes on to state “Due to lack of cooperation from Secretary of State Blackwell, we have not been able to ascertain the number of votes that were impacted or whether the machines malfunctioned due to intentional manipulation or error.”

Supporting the supposition of election fraud as an explanation for the vote switches described in the EIRS analysis, as well as the exit poll discrepancy nationally and in Ohio, sworn testimony of computer programmer Clint Curtis before the House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic staff (which I will discuss in detail in chapter 4) suggests an intention on the part of Republican functionaries to utilize electronic vote switching software in the 2004 election. The strange "suicide" death of the Florida investigator who was in the midst of investigating Curtis’ allegations (after telling Curtis that his investigation revealed corruption “all the way to the top”) provides additional reason to believe that the implications of Curtis’ revelations were very important.

Nobody knows how many votes the electronic vote switching described in this article cost John Kerry. Clearly, these are issues that should be thoroughly investigated and widely publicized to the American people. The implicated voting machines should have been analyzed by the relevant experts in order to determine why they malfunctioned. Attempts to do this since 2004 met with objections by the voting machine companies to the effect that their machines are “proprietary” and therefore legally immune to government confiscation and analysis. I don’t understand how that argument can be given any serious consideration in a democracy, where failure to ensure the integrity of our voting machines is tantamount to failure to ensure the integrity of our elections.

Georgia, 2002 – Senate and Governor race
The elections for U.S. Senate and Governor in Georgia in 2002 were conducted entirely on unauditable DRE machines. Both races resulted in huge upsets for the Republican candidate. Andrew Gumbel says about this election:

On June 10 <2002>… six tabulation machines and a touch-screen voting terminal were stolen…. The theft was also an extremely serious security breach, because a technically adept hacker who gained access to the tabulation machines and the associated GEMS election management software could effortlessly – and undetectably – alter the outcome of an election not only in Georgia but anywhere in the United States where Diebold machines were used.

The November 2002 elections in Georgia were screwy in more ways than one. The state had its share of machine malfunctions … Most troublesome, however, were the results of the races for governor and U.S. Senate, which suggested wild double-digit swings in favor of the Republican candidates from the final pre-election opinion polls. Sonny Perdue became the first Republican governor to be elected since Reconstruction, thanks to a sixteen point swing away from the Democratic incumbent, Roy Barnes. And Saxby Chambliss, the colorless Republican Senate candidate, pulled off an upset victory against the popular Vietnam War veteran Max Cleland, representing a nine- to twelve-point swing… But it wasn’t just the opinion polls that were at variance with the result. The voting pattern was also drastically different from Georgia’s open primary … in 74 counties in the Democrat-heavy south of the state, Chambliss improved on his own standing by a whopping 22 points. Were these statistical anomalies, or was something fishier going on? In the absence of a paper backup, or of any hint of transparency from state officials, the question was for the most part unanswerable.

Bev Harris writes about her investigation:

In early February, 2003, programmers for Diebold Election Systems admitted that they had been parking highly sensitive company files on an unprotected web site, a serious security mistake by anyone's reckoning. The very next week officials from the state of Georgia admitted that a program 'patch' was administered to over 22,000 unauditable touch-screen voting machines in Georgia. This took place shortly before the November 2002 election... Putting patches on 22,000 voting machines without looking at the underlying code has put the Georgia election results in doubt... No official at Diebold or the Georgia Secretary of State's office has provided any explanation at all about the OTHER program patch files – the ones contained in a folder called 'rob-georgia' on Diebold's unprotected FTP site. Inside 'rob-georgia' were folders with instructions to 'Replace what is in the GEMS folder with these'...GEMS is the Diebold voting program software.

Exit poll discrepancy in the 2008 Presidential election
On Election Day 2008, the Election Defense Alliance undertook an effort to capture exit poll statistics from all major statewide races (President, Senator, and Governor) prior to “correction” of the statistics to match the official election results (Once the statistics are “corrected” to match the official election results they are worthless for the purpose of assessing the exit poll discrepancy because the “correction” erases the discrepancy.) Barack Obama won the national popular vote in that election by 6.1%, whereas the national exit poll predicted an Obama win of 8.3%. Thus, the exit poll discrepancy from the official vote count (‘red shift’) in this election was 2.2% -- much smaller than the red shift of 5.4% found in the 2004 Presidential election.

Why was the red shift in the 2008 Presidential Election so much less than that seen in 2004? Nobody knows, and we can only speculate. Maybe it had to do with the fact that those in a potential position so steal an election in 2008 recognized that this particular election was being watched very closely for signs of election theft. Maybe they realized that Obama had a large enough lead in this election to make it too difficult to steal. Maybe they did not consider Obama as much of a threat to them as john Kerry. Nobody knows.

Whatever the reason, monitoring of elections with exit polls needs to be continued. Exit polling is considered a standard tool for monitoring elections, and it is especially important when vote counts are conducted electronically, with no paper trail. There is a good reason for this: Large discrepancies between exit polls and official vote counts provide an important warning sign regarding the integrity of elections.

Posted by Time for change | Wed Jul 4, 2012, 08:16 PM (32 replies)

Corrupted Ohio Recount in the 2004 Presidential Election

I'm currently working with a publisher, Biting Duck Press, to publish a book (title as yet undetermined) on the corruption in our election system. We hope that it will help to make Americans more vigilant and concerned about the way our elections are run. I’ve drafted most of the book. I am currently intending to post large portions of it on DU, in the hope of stimulating discussion and obtaining useful feedback.

Chapter 2, "Was the 2004 Election Stolen Too?", deals with some of the initial evidence for a stolen election. This post concludes Chapter 2 with a discussion of the corrupted recount in Ohio and a summary of some of the initial evidence for a stolen 2004 Presidential election.

A corrupted recount in Ohio

A hand recount of the vote can theoretically be a last line of defense against machine error, accidental or purposeful, in the counting of votes – assuming that there is a “paper trail” to count. For example, optical scan voting machines leave paper trails – ballots with filled in ovals adjacent to the candidate’s name. Punch card voting machines leave paper trails – ballots with holes punched out (or at least some evidence of an attempt to punch a hole) adjacent to the candidates name. Some electronic voting machines also are made to leave paper trails, but there can be serious problems with those (See Chapter 3). But many electronic voting machines leave no paper trail at all. In those cases, it is not possible to perform a hand recount of the vote because there is nothing to count.

But even when hand recounts are performed, the system can be rigged to make them ineffectual. Such was the case in the Presidential election of 2004 in Ohio, under the direction of Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who simultaneously served as the Bush/Cheney campaign Chairman in Ohio.

Because of the numerous suspicions surrounding the election in Ohio, an assurance to the citizens of this country that fraud played no major role in the outcome of this election should have been based on a full investigation. A fair, lawful and transparent recount of the votes, consistent with Ohio law, would be the first step in this process, and money was soon raised for such a recount. The law required that 3% of randomly selected precincts from each county be selected for an initial recount, and then if the recounted vote totals from those randomly selected precincts did not match the initial count of the respective precincts, the whole county would be recounted by hand.

Numerous irregularities in the Ohio recount
Yet from start to finish, every effort was made to prevent full county recounts, as described in a review by Georgia10, so that when it all ended, only one county in the whole state had been recounted. In order to accomplish this, numerous violations of Ohio law were perpetrated, including: At least 17 counties where the precincts to be recounted were chosen by Ohio election officials rather than by a randomization process; at least 6 counties where tampering with the tabulating machines by voting machine company technicians was confirmed, including a case in Hocking County where the technician actually gave the election officials a "cheat sheet" with instructions on how to make the counts match (The whistle blower of this felony, Sherole Eaton, was subsequently fired from her job), and; at least 6 counties for which, even when it turned out that the vote totals from the recount didn’t match the official count, election officials still refused to do the required recount.

And to top it all off, when workers were attempting to examine records during the recount in order to identify discrepancies, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell issued a surprise order stating that the public voting records were now private rather than public, and disallowed access to them – contrary to Ohio law. Then, when Congressman John Conyers’ U.S. House Judiciary Democratic Staff attempted to question Blackwell about this and numerous other violations of Ohio law, Blackwell repeatedly refused to answer any questions of the Committee, as described in the Committee's landmark report, "Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio?"

Convictions in Cuyahoga County
Cuyahoga County (containing Cleveland) was of particular concern, as there was much evidence suggesting that that county’s officially reported vote totals were wrong. One good way to find out if votes were deleted by the Cuyahoga County central tabulator would be to compare the individual precinct totals, as reported by precincts prior to being sent to the Cuyahoga County central tabulator (pre-tabulator results), with the official results reported after the central tabulator added up the votes in all the precincts (post-tabulator results).

I tried numerous times to obtain the pre-tabulator results from Michael Vu, the Executive Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. He promised them to me several times, but he never delivered on his promises. Consequently, I collaborated on this issue with a computer science professional, Ron (last name withheld), who worked for Ray Beckerman’s Ohio Project. Ron’s initial audit of 15 precincts identified an apparent vote undercount of 163 votes that resulted in a net loss to the Kerry/Edwards ticket of 140 votes. Ron tried to proceed with a more thorough audit of the Cuyahoga County vote, but he ran into numerous technical problems, and he was never able to complete it.

There was also a “recount” of a 3% “random sample” of the Cuyahoga County votes. However, we now know that that recount appears to have been rigged. Three elections workers faced criminal charges for that, and at least two of them were convicted. As reported by The Free Press:

Three criminal prosecutions in Ohio's biggest county have opened with strong indications that the cover-up of the theft of the 2004 presidential election is starting to unravel… According to the AP, County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter opened the Cuyahoga trial by charging that "the evidence will show that this recount was rigged…”

Jacqueline Maiden, the county election board's third-ranking employee, faces six counts of misconduct involving ballot review. Rosie Grier, the board's ballot department manager, and Kathleen Dreamer, an assistant manager, are also charged…. Cleveland, which usually gives Democrats an extremely heavy margin, was crucial to Bush's alleged victory of roughly 118,000 votes out of 5.5 million counted….Official turnout and vote counts varied wildly and improbably from precinct to precinct… Several predominantly black precincts, where voters went more than 80% for Kerry, reported turnouts of 30% or less. In one ward, only a 7% turnout was reported, while surrounding precincts were nearly ten times as high…

In the Cuyahoga case, the poll workers are charged with circumventing state recount laws that require a random sampling of at least three percent of the votes cast in a given precinct, to be recounted by hand and by machine. The prosecution charges that the workers instead hand picked sample precincts to recount that they knew did not have questionable results. Once they were able to match those recounts with official results, they could then do the rest of the recount by machine, in effect rendering the entire process meaningless. "This was a very hush operation," said prosecutor Baxter.

Similar allegations have been made in other counties. Indeed, such illegal non-random recounting procedures appear to have been common throughout the state, carried out by board of election employees with the tacit consent of Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell was officially charged with administering the election that gave Bush a second term while simultaneously serving as the Ohio co-chair of his Bush's re-election campaign.

Additional evidence of a corrupted recount comes from the observations of an election observer representing the Green Party of Ohio at the recount, who noted:

Anomalies were found. Almost all of the witnesses that I spoke with felt that the ballots were not in random order, that they had been previously sorted. There would be long runs of votes for only one candidate and then long runs for another, which seemed statistically improbable to most. From what they were able to get through, witnesses found that signature counts were very much different from the official recorded number of ballots

Brief summary of initial evidence for a stolen Presidential election in 2004

More than anything else, it was the discrepancy between the exit polls and the official vote count (red shift), in conjunction with the fact that they each favored different candidates (Kerry favored by the exit polls, Bush favored by the official vote count), that initially generated widespread concern about a stolen presidential election. The fact that the hand recount in Ohio was never accomplished in the manner required by law except in one county adds greatly to the suspicions surrounding this election. The fact that ballots and election records from 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties were destroyed despite a federal order to preserve them substantially exacerbates that suspicion.

This chapter discussed initial evidence that pointed to a problem with election integrity as the major cause of the red shift. This initial evidence led to numerous investigations into the integrity of the 2004 election, which found a great amount of additional evidence for a stolen election. Chapters 3 through 7 discuss that additional evidence, as it pertains to the 2004 Presidential election, as well as to other elections.
Posted by Time for change | Mon Jul 2, 2012, 10:37 PM (46 replies)
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