Monday, November 29, 2004

Vote Result Irregularities in Oklahoma

Posted on the Cannonfire blog:

[One reader] draws our attention to the tallies mentioned the Tulsa World, then to the "more final" figures published by CNN:

Just look at the very first county in the Tulsa World link to see an example of the problem; Kerry had 3704 votes in Adair with 70% of the vote counted (according to the local paper), but only 2560 votes after they were all counted (according to CNN link).

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Jackson Points to Ohio Irregularities where Kerry Trails Behind Lesser Known Democrats in Vote Totals

from Steven Rosenfeld at Free Press:

... Jackson is referring to the latest analysis of the Nov. 2 vote by a coalition of Ohio voting rights activists. In analyzing the still-unofficial results, the totals reveal that C. Ellen Connally, an African-American Democratic candidate from Cleveland for Ohio Chief Justice, received 257,000 more votes than Kerry. [Editor's note: Rev. Jackson was referring to Connally's margin of votes as a benchmark, not actual more votes. Jackson was referring to margin calculations instead of actual votes. In Butler County, Connally the Democrat received 59,532 running against Republican Chief Justice Moyer who received 66,625 votes. Connally received 5347 more votes than Kerry. For example, in Butler County, the difference between Connally and Moyers's votes was 7093. Bush received 106,735 votes and Kerry received 54,185 votes, with a difference of 52,550. Subtracting 7093 from 52,550 equals 45,457. Statistically the margin is significant only as a place to look for votes that could have been electronically shifted from Kerry to Bush. The 52,550 difference in Butler County between Bush and Kerry, when contrasted with the 7093 vote difference between Moyer and Connally provides a place to investigate and recount. The Connally race should be seen as a Democratic benchmark in Republican counties with the sample ballot, since she is endorsed by pro-choice and civil rights groups. While the vote totals for Bush and Kerry should be higher than for Connally and Moyer, the percentage by which they won should not be so different. Moyer wins over Connally with 52.8% eliminating minimal third party votes, Bush won over Kerry with 66%. See below for details.*]

The reason these vote counts are suspect is because Connelly, a retired African-American judge, was vastly outspent in her race, and did not have the visibility of the presidential race.

�This looks like a computer glitch or a computer fix,� said Bob Fitrakis, a lawyer, political scientist and Editor of the Columbus Free Press (http://freepres.org) who has written about election irregularities since Bush was declared the winner. Fitrakis is among the team of lawyers who announced they would soon file an election challenge in the state�s Supreme Court.

�Statistically, Kerry, as the Democratic presidential candidate, should have more votes than Connally. In a presidential election, most voters have the priority of casting a vote for president and the votes for president are almost always much higher than those of candidates farther down the ticket. When voters vote for Democratic candidates farther down the ticket, it is usually being driven by a sample ballot from the Party, starting at the top with president. Many voters simply don�t vote for Supreme Court justices. It is highly improbable that Connally�s vote totals would be so much higher than Kerry�s,� Fitrakis said.

The fact that Warren County has such odd vote counts is no surprise to Fitrakis. �The Republican-dominated county threw out all the media and independent vote watchers when votes were being counted at the end of Election Day, claiming �homeland security� issues. This would have easily allowed for the wholesale shifting of a large amount of votes from Kerry to Bush. If you�re behind closed doors, it is easy enough to do. The November issues of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines show how easy it is to hack the vote and steal an election. The articles are called �E-vote emergency: And you thought dimpled chads were bad� and �Could hackers tilt the election?� I think they did,� explained Fitrakis.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Jesse Jackson to Call for Investigation into Election 2004

Jackson plans rally with ministers to call for election investigation
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson said he plans a Sunday rally in Columbus with ministers from around Ohio to call for an investigation of election irregularities in the state.

Jackson and his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition civil rights group want to call attention to the fact that votes in Ohio are still undergoing the official count, he said Thursday. Jackson also is questioning whether enough voting machines were provided in inner-city precincts and whether fraud could have occurred in counties that use electronic machines without paper records of ballots.

...

Lawyers who have been documenting election problems in Ohio said last week they would challenge the results of the presidential election as soon as the vote is official.

They say they will represent voters who cast ballots Nov. 2 and the challenge will be based on documented cases of long lines, a shortage of machines and a pattern of problems in predominantly black neighborhoods.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Zogby Calls for Investigation of Exit Polls & Election 2004

Last night, Keith Olbermann interviewed Zogby, the pollster, about the voting irregularities. Excerpts:


"I think that the gentlemen who are responsible for the exit polls should be fully transparent, release their data, discuss their methodology. Let us see what exactly it is that happened, and why it happened.”

...

“I think it's in the interests of the nation that we study what happened in this election and widen that, let's study what happened with the exit polls, and let's come out with a definitive conclusions by a blue ribbon panel to restore the legitimacy of this election.”

...

“I’ll take this opportunity right now to say I think that it’s in the interest of healing this country and restoring some unity to this country for us to have a thorough investigation of what happened both to the election and with the exit polls.”

See Olbermann's blog for longer account

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

GAO Will Investigate Voting Irregularities; 13 Congressman Now Call for Investigation

GAO to investigate voting irregularities

By William Jackson, Government Computing News, November 23, 2004

The General Accountability Office will investigate irregularities in the 2004 general election, including an examination of the security and accuracy of electronic voting machines.

The decision follows requests earlier this month from Democratic congressmen that GAO look into election problems reported to their offices.

In addition to voting technologies, GAO will look into the distribution and allocation of voting machines and counting of provisional ballots. The request initially was spurred by constituent complaints and news reports of problems in California, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio in which thousands of votes were erroneously recorded, deleted or added.

In a joint statement on the GAO investigation, the representatives said, “we will provide copies of specific incident reports received in our offices, including more than 57,000 such complaints provided to the House Judiciary Committee.”

New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler placed a form on his Web site to let individuals submit complaints and comments on the election. Nadler, one of the signers of the letters, is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.

Nadler’s Washington office director, John Doty, said Judiciary Democrats probably would call for hearings early next year on voting rights, technology and standards. Scheduling hearings would be up to the Republican majority. The investigation is not a challenge of the election, Doty said.

...

The initial requests to GAO were made by Democratic representatives Nadler; John Conyers Jr., Mich.; Robert Wexler, Fla.; Robert Scott, Va.; and Rush Holt, N.J. They have been joined by representatives Melvin Watt, N.C.; John Olver, Mass.; Bob Filner, Calif.; Gregory Meeks, N.Y.; Barbara Lee, Calif.; Tammy Baldwin, Wisc.; Louise Slaughter, N.Y.; and Gregory Miller, Calif.

-----

RottenDenmark notes that apparently Jan Schakowsky of Illinois has also signed on, thus maybe 14 representatives.

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Consider Bush's Reelection Illegitimate

From a story in Today's New York Times:

Still, in a telling contrast with the 2000 election, 82 percent of respondents said that Mr. Bush legitimately won on Nov. 2. Just before Election Day, 50 percent of respondents said they considered Mr. Bush's defeat of Al Gore in 2000 a legitimate victory....


Matthew Gross aptly comments:

"18% consider Bush's reelection illegitimate? That's pretty damned high for a conspiracy theory."

Monday, November 22, 2004

Irony of the Day: Urkaine's Exit Polls at Odds with Results, US Calls for Investigation of Voter Fraud

U-S says Kiev must investigate election fraud allegations

STATE DEPARTMENT The State Department is calling on Ukraine to investigate allegations of fraud in its presidential elections -- or risk souring relations with the U-S.

A spokesman says Ukrainian officials must "act to ensure an outcome that reflects the will of the Ukrainian people." Adam Ereli (EHR'-eh-lee) says that doesn't mean new elections -- just "quick action" to address concerns.

Otherwise, he says, the U-S will consider altering its relationship with Kiev.

One U-S senator says there was "a concerted and forceful program of election-day fraud and abuse."

Many international observers have expressed similar concerns.

...

Josh Marshall notes:
Hmmm. Exit polls showed opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko heading toward victory in Ukraine over current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. But now that the official results are in, Yanukovych holds what the Post calls an " insurmountable three point lead."

...

Ukraine Election Prompts Angry Protests
Guardian, November 22, 2004

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Tens of thousands of demonstrators packed downtown Kiev on Monday to denounce alleged fraud in Ukraine's presidential runoff election, local councils in the capital and several other cities cried foul, and a major chocolate producer closed its factories in protest.

...

Although official results, with more than 99 percent of precincts counted, showed Yanukovych with 49.42 percent to 46.70 percent for Yushchenko, several exit polls had found Yushchenko the winner.

Legally, There's Still Time to Overturn This Election

Two pieces today on the legality of the election as it stands now, emphasizing that a concession speech is not legally binding and that this election has time to be overturned by January 6, 2005, when Congress handles the electoral votes, not December 13, when the electors vote.

Cohn provides details on litigation issues, and Keith Olbermann discusses this topic as well on his blog today, posted below.

Marjorie Cohn
from Litigating the Election
TruthOut.org, Monday, November 22, 2004

...
 Results Not Final Until January

    Although John Kerry conceded that George W. Bush won the election, a candidate's concession is not legally binding. Electors will be certified on December 7, which gives a presumption of legitimacy to the vote; but electors actually vote on December 13. These votes are not opened by Congress until January 6, so there is still time to challenge the results in key states such as Ohio and Florida. A challenge requires a written objection from one House member and one senator. If that objection is recorded, both Houses separate again and they vote by majority vote as to whether to accept the slate of electoral votes from that state.

    Bush is claiming he has a mandate, planning to spend his "political capital." Curiously, virtually all of the so-called "anomalies" in the voting results favor Bush. The electors have not yet voted; the election results are not yet final. In the words of Yogi Berra, "It's not over until it's over."

-----

Keith Olberman's blog, saying "Relax about Ohio":

...

I addressed this topic with the wonderfully knowledgeable George Washington University Constitutional Law professor, Jonathan Turley, back on Countdown on November 9th. He noted the election process is a little slower— and has one more major loophole— than is generally known. It begins on December 7th, the date “when you essentially certify your electors… it gives a presumption to the legitimacy to your votes. And then, on the 13th, the electors actually vote.”

But, Turley noted, “those votes are not opened by Congress until January 6. Now, if there are controversies, such as some disclosure that a state actually went for Kerry (instead of Bush), there is the ability of members of Congress to challenge.” In other words, even after the December 13th Electoral College Vote, in the extremely unlikely scenario that a court overturns the Ohio count, or that the recount discovers 4,000 Gahanna-style machines that each recorded 4,000 votes too many for one candidate, there is still a mechanism to correct the error, honest or otherwise.

“It requires a written objection from one House member and one senator,” Turley continues. Once that objection is raised, the joint meeting of the two houses is discontinued. “Then both Houses separate again and they vote by majority vote as to whether to accept the slate of electoral votes from that state.”

In these super-heated partisan times, it may seem like just another prospective process decided by majority rule instead of fact. But envision the far-fetched scenario of some dramatic, conclusive new result from Ohio turning up around, say, January 4th. What congressman or senator in his right mind would vote to seat the candidate who lost the popular vote in Ohio? We wouldn’t be talking about party loyalty any more - we’d be talking about pure political self-interest here, and whenever in our history that critical mass has been achieved, it’s been every politician for himself (ask Barry Goldwater when Richard Nixon trolled for his support in July and August, 1974, or Republican Senator Edmund Ross of Kansas when his was to be the decisive vote that would have impeached President Andrew Johnson in 1868).

The point of this dip into the world of political science fiction is that the Ohio timeframe is a little less condensed than it seems. The drop-dead date is not December 13, but January 6.

It is noteworthy that the announcement of a legal challenge made it into weekend editions of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, the Associated Press wires, and other publications.

...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Zogby: Exit Poll Discrepancies were Not Caused by Pollster Incompetence -- "impossible."

in article posted at November 2 Truth

...

Zogby, whose firm was not among those that provided network TV coverage of the Nov. 2 election, described the possibility of either incompetence or fraud causing the controversial deviation as "impossible."

According to Zogby, it would have required "wrong sampling in wrong areas throughout the country," or the purposeful manipulation of data to obtain exit poll results so significantly different from the official totals. He viewed neither as a possibility.

When asked what exactly had happened then, Zogby replied, "a problem, but I don't know where it is ... something's wrong here, though."

...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Hearings on Ohio voting put 2004 election in doubt

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 18, 2004, FreePress.org

Highly-charged, jam-packed hearings held here in Columbus have cast serious doubt on the true outcome of the presidential election.

On Saturday, November 13, and Monday, November 15, the Ohio Election Protection Coalition�s public hearings in Columbus solicited extensive sworn first-person testimony from 32 of Ohio voters, precinct judges, poll workers, legal observers, party challengers. An additional 66 people provided written affidavits of election irregularities. The unavoidable conclusion is that this year's election in Ohio was deeply flawed, that thousands of Ohioans were denied their right to vote, and that the ultimate vote count is very much in doubt.

Most importantly, the testimony has revealed a widespread and concerted effort on the part of Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to deny primarily African-American and young voters the right to cast their ballots within a reasonable time. By depriving precincts of adequate numbers of functioning voting machines, Blackwell created waits of three to eleven hours, driving tens of thousands of likely Democratic voters away from the polls and very likely affecting the outcome of the Ohio vote count, which in turn decided the national election.

On November 17, Blackwell wrote an op-ed piece for Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, stating: �Every eligible voter who wanted to vote had the opportunity to vote. There was no widespread fraud, and there was no disenfranchisement. A half-million more Ohioans voted than ever before with fewer errors than four years ago, a sure sign on success by any measure,� Blackwell wrote. Moon's extreme right wing Unification Church has long-standing ties to the Bush Family and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Additional testimony also called into question the validity of the actual vote counts. There are thus serious doubts that the final official tally in Ohio, due December 1 to Blackwell�s office, will have any validity. Blackwell will certify the vote count on December 3.

While Blackwell supervised the Ohio vote he also served as co-chair of the Ohio Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, a clear conflict of interest that casts further doubt on how the Ohio election and vote counts have been conducted.

At the Columbus hearings, witness after witness under oath gave testimony to an election riddled with discrimination and disarray. Among them:

Werner Lange, a pastor from Youngstown, Ohio:
�In precincts 1 A and 5 G, voting as Hillman Elementary School, which is a predominantly African American community, there were woefully insufficient number of voting machines in three precincts. I was told that the standard was to have one voting machine per 100 registered voters. Precinct A had 750 registered voters. Precinct G had 690. There should have been 14 voting machines at this site. There were only 6, three per precinct, less than 50 percent of the standard. This caused an enormous bottleneck among voters who had to wait a very, very long time to vote, many of them giving up in frustration and leaving. . . . I estimate, by the way, that an estimated loss of over 8,000 votes from the African American community in the City of Youngstown alone, with its 84 precincts, were lost due to insufficient voting machines, and that would translate to some 7,000 votes lost for John Kerry for President in Youngstown alone. . . .�

�Just yesterday I went to the Trumbull Board of Elections in northeast Ohio, I wanted to review their precinct logs so I could continue my investigation. This was denied. I was told by the Board of Elections official that I could not see them until after the official vote was given.�

Marion Brown, Columbus:
�I am here on behalf of a friend. My friend came to my home very upset while she was away standing four hours in the voting, her husband passed away. The funeral was on yesterday, November 13th, at 2:00. Perhaps had she not stood so long in the line, she may have been able to save her husband.�

Victoria Parks:
�In Pickaway County, oh, my goodness, in Pickaway County, I entered there, I was shown a table, 53 poll books were plunked down in front of my. I noticed there were no signature on file in any of the poll books, in any of the poll books, and furthermore, a minute later the director of the Board of Elections of Pickaway County came into the room and snatched the books away from me and said you cannot look at these books. I said are you aware that what you are doing is against the law? She said I have been on the phone with the Secretary of State and he has instructed me to take these books away and you cannot see them. I paraphrase very slightly here. She took them away. I was persona non grata. I did not want to risk arrest, and I left. . . . There were no signatures, and furthermore, the writing in the book seemed to have been written in the same hand, because that is a requirement.�

More Accounts...

"Smoke Alarm": Berkeley Sociologists find Striking Anomalies with E-Voting Counties in Florida

from PR Newswire:

Today the University of California's Berkeley Quantitative Methods Research Team released a statistical study - the sole method available to monitor the accuracy of e-voting - reporting irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,00-260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The study shows an unexplained discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting methods - what the team says can be deemed a "smoke alarm." Discrepancies this large or larger rarely arise by chance - the probability is less than 0.1 percent. The research team formally disclosed results of the study at a press conference today at the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center, where they called on Florida voting officials to investigate.
The three counties where the voting anomalies were most prevalent were also the most heavily Democratic: Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, respectively.

...

The research team is comprised of doctoral students and faculty in the UC Berkeley sociology department, and led by Sociology Professor Michael Hout, a nationally-known expert on statistical methods and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center.
For its research, the team used multiple-regression analysis, a statistical method widely used in the social and physical sciences to distinguish the individual effects of many variables on quantitative outcomes like vote totals. This multiple-regression analysis takes into account of the following variables by county:

* number of voters
* median income
* Hispanic/Latino population
* change in voter turnout between 2000 and 2004
* support for Senator Dole in the 1996 election
* support for President Bush in the 2000 election.
* use of electronic voting or paper ballots

"No matter how many factors and variables we took into consideration, the significant correlation in the votes for President Bush and electronic voting cannot be explained," said Hout. "The study shows, that a county's use of
electronic voting resulted in a disproportionate increase in votes for President Bush. There is just a trivial probability of evidence like this appearing in a population where the true difference is zero - less than once
in a thousand chances."

...

Two Press Conferences Today on Analyses of Voting Problems: Berkeley & DC

from PR Newswire via BuzzFlash:

BERKELEY:

Research Team Calls for Immediate Investigation

When: Thursday, November 18, 2004, 10:00 a.m. PST

Where: UC Berkeley campus, Survey Research Center Conference Room

What: A research team at UC Berkeley will report that irregularities
associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded
130,000 - 260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in
Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The study shows an unexplained
discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic
voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting
methods. Discrepancies this large or larger rarely arise by chance -- the
probability is less than 0.1 percent. The research team, led by Professor
Michael Hout, will formally disclose results of the study at the press
conference.

DC:

from E-Voting Experts:

Coalition Provides Post-Election Analysis and Solutions

A national coalition of voting rights and computer security experts will hold a post-election press conference to provide a preliminary analysis of electronic voting problems and solutions, and their implications for increasing voters’ confidence in the legitimacy of elections.

WHO:

Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation
Lillie Coney, National Committee for Voting Integrity/Electronic Privacy Information Center
David Dill, Ph.D., Verified Voting Foundation
Will Doherty, Verified Voting Foundation/Election Incident Reporting System
Chellie Pingree, Common Cause
Matt Zimmerman, Electronic Frontier Foundation


WHEN:

Thursday, Nov. 18, 10:30 a.m. to 12 Noon

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"Dueling lawyers, election officials gnashing teeth": Bev Harris Acquires Evidence of Probable Voter Fraud in Volusia County, Florida

Bev Harris posted to Black Box Voting and at Democratic Underground an update on their FOIA search requests, which appear to be making some ground:


Dueling lawyers, election officials gnashing teeth, Votergate.tv film crew catching it all.
by Bev Harris of Black Box Voting

Here's what happened so far:

Friday Black Box Voting investigators Andy Stephenson and Kathleen Wynne popped in to ask for some records. They were rebuffed by an elections official named Denise. Bev Harris called on the cell phone from investigations in downstate Florida, and told Volusia County Elections Supervisor Deanie Lowe that Black Box Voting would be in to pick up our Nov. 2 Freedom of Information request, or would file for a hand recount. "No, Bev, please don't do that!" she exclaimed. But this is the way it has to be, folks. We didn't back down.

Monday Bev, Andy and Kathleen came in with a film crew and asked for the FOIA request. Deanie Lowe gave it to us with a smile, but I noticed that one item, the polling place tapes, were not copies of the real ones, but instead were new printouts, done on Nov. 15, and not signed by anyone.

I asked to see the real ones, and they told us for "privacy" reasons we can't have copies of the signed ones. I insisted on at least viewing them (although refusing to give us copies of the signatures is not legally defensible, according to our attorney). They said the real ones were in the County Elections warehouse. It was quittin' time and we arranged to come back this morning to review them.

...

Kathleen Wynne and I showed up at the warehouse at 8:15 this morning. There was Lana Hires looking especially gruff, yet surprised. She ordered us out. Well, we couldn't see why because there she was, with a couple other people, handling the original poll tapes. You know, the ones with the signatures on them. We stepped out and they promptly shut the door behind us.

There was a trash bag on the porch outside the door. I looked into it and what do you know, but there were poll tapes in there. They came out and glared at us. We drove away a small bit, and then videotaped the license plates of the two vehicles marked 'City Council' member. Others came out to glare and soon all doors were slammed.

So, we went and parked behind a bus to see what they would do next. They pulled out some large pylons, which blocked the door. I decided to go look at the garbage some more. Kathleen videotaped this. A man came out and I immediately wrote a public records request for the contents of the garbage bag, which also contained ballots -- real ones, but not filled out.

A brief tug of war occurred, tearing the garbage bag open. We then looked through it, as Pete looked on. He was quite friendly.

We collected various poll tapes and other information and asked if they could copy it for us, for our public records request. "You won't be going anywhere," said Pete. "The deputy is on his way."

Yes, not one but two police cars came up and then two county elections officials, and we all stood around discussing the merits of my public records request.

They finally let us go, about the time our film crew arrived, and we all trooped off to the elections office. There, the plot thickened.

We began to compare the special printouts given to us with the signed polling tapes from election night. Lo and behold, some were missing. We also found some that didn't match. In fact, in one location, precinct 215, an African-American precinct, the votes were off by hundreds, in favor of George W. Bush and other Republicans.

...

By now, a county lawyer had appeared on the scene, suddenly threatening to charge us extra for the time we took looking at the real stuff they had withheld from us in our FOIA. Other lawyers appeared, phoned, people had meetings, Lana glowered at everyone, and someone shut the door in the office holding the GEMS server.

Andy then went to get the GEMS server locked down. He also got the memory cards locked down and secured, much to the dismay of Lana. They were scattered around unsecured in any way before that.

...

The full account

RNC's Ed Gillespie Wants to End Exit Polls

Restoring Trust in the Vote
by Thom Hartmann, November 15, 2004, CommonDreams

...

On November 11th, 2004, Doug Halonen reported in TV Week that former Enron lobbyist and current RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie had, at a National Press Club event that day, called for an end to exit polls. Gillespie, it turns out, is concerned about the emotional well being of Republicans who may feel as "discouraged" as he felt when he saw the initial exit polls.

"In 2000 the exit data was wrong on Election Day," Gillespie said, an observation ironically in agreement with Dopp's Florida analysis. "In 2002," he added, "the exit returns were wrong on Election Day." (An observation that Max Cleland could agree with.) "And in 2004," Gillespie moaned, "the exit data were wrong on Election Day - all three times, by the way, in a way that skewed against Republicans and had a dispiriting effect on Republican voters across the country."

...

New Hampshire Recount Probably Won't Begin Until Late November

[UPDATED: AP announces some NH counties will begin recounts this Thursday, acc. to The Brad Blog]

By KATHARINE WEBSTER
Associated Press Writer,
in Guardian, Tuesday November 16, 2004 6:01 PM

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire is about to become a test case for the accuracy of optical scan vote-counting machines because third-party presidential candidate Ralph Nader has asked for a recount.

The request covers 11 of the state's 126 precincts that use Diebold Inc.'s Accuvote optical scanning machines to count paper ballots. Depending on the results, his campaign could ask for recounts in other states, spokesman Kevin Zeese said Monday.

...

Backers urged Nader to request a recount after a statistical analysis posted on the Internet appeared to show that some New Hampshire precincts using the Accuvote machines gave President Bush up to 15 percent more votes than had been expected on the basis of exit polls and the 2000 presidential vote.

Claims of vote fraud are ``spreading like wildfire around the Internet, and if it keeps going people are going to be suspicious always, so why not check it out?'' Zeese said.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner has not set a date for the recount. His office is recounting state Senate and House races through Nov. 23, so the recount is unlikely to begin until after Thanksgiving.

Ida Briggs, a Michigan software developer and database manager who did the statistical analysis, said she found that precincts using the Accuvote machines deviated from the expected voting trend more often and by larger margins than those using a different optical scanning system or hand-counting.

...

Monday, November 15, 2004

David Brooks has His Own Conspiracy Theory to Explain the Exit Polls

On PBS's Newshour, Jim Lehrer interviews a head of the National Election Pool, which ran the exit polls (with lame, unconvincing explanation as to why they are off). Lehrer then asked Brooks and Sheilds to offer their views. Unbelievably, they offer conspiracy theories on how the exit poll data was manipulated by secret campaigns of Democrats: "I've heard plausible people, serious people say they think there was some conspiracy, that Kerry people were told at certain precincts 'Go talk to this guy'." According to him, this must have been done on a massive scale. Think about it: people guiding Democratic voters in all the states with discrepancies -- Oh wait, the national exit poll was off, so this "conspiracy" was undertaken on a nationwide scale; and in all various manners of precincts (urban, suburban, rural); and on a scale so huge it greatly affected the large sample size the pollsters used.

This is passed off by Brooks as "the most likely explanation." Brooks is goddamn Occam's Razor of reason. How is he writing op-eds for the New York Times? To be fair, Mark Shields offered a conspiracy theory as well, but Brooks elaborated his more.

It's really baffling that the media largely debase genuine concerns of voting irregularities as conspiracy theories unworthy of investigation, but then offer conspiracy theories to debunk those concerns.


This Newshour comment and exchange was posted at the netenvironment blog:


Warren Mitofsky, now Co-Director of the new National Election Pool which has replaced the Voter News Service as the source of election day exit polls, provided variously squirrely and contradictory explanations for how the exit polls could have got the data so "wrong." The main reason he gave for the discrepency: that Kerry voters were more anxious to talk to pollsters than Bush voters.

David Brooks and Mark Shields responded to the report thusly:

JIM LEHRER: David, what did you make of Warren Mitofsky's explanation of what the problem was with the exit polls?

DAVID BROOKS: I think that's the most likely -- that Kerry people wanted to talk to him and Bush didn't. I've heard plausible people, serious people say they think there was some conspiracy, that Kerry people were told at certain precincts "Go talk to this guy." I don't know why you'd do that - why do you rig an exit poll -- but I think that's the most likely explanation.

JIM LEHRER: What do you think?

MARK SHIELDS: I've been told the other thing, that by serious people some of the Bush folks were told "Don't cooperate with the media."

Shields went on (and on), eager to demonstrate his willingness to dance for the man. It really seemed as if they fabricating, or at least fanning, a conspiracy theory designed to distract attention from what could be real voter fraud.... Will we ever know? Brooks continued in this odd exchange w/Lehrer:

DAVID BROOKS: To be fair, Rove sent out e-mails right away saying "this is wrong."

JIM LEHRER: Did he do that.

DAVID BROOKS: I've seen that.

JIM LEHRER: I didn't know that.

DAVID BROOKS: He understood -

JIM LEHRER: All right.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Voting Irregularities are similar to those of the Georgia Senate Election of 2002

It's worth recalling the Cleland/Chambliss election, as detailed in this treatment.


All the President's Votes?

A Quiet Revolution is Taking Place in US Politics. By the Time It's Over, the Integrity of Elections Will be in the Unchallenged, Unscrutinized Control of a Few Large - and Pro-Republican - Corporations.

by Andrew Gumbel, The Independent, October 14 (available in full at CommonDreams

Something very odd happened in the mid-term elections in Georgia last November. On the eve of the vote, opinion polls showed Roy Barnes, the incumbent Democratic governor, leading by between nine and 11 points. In a somewhat closer, keenly watched Senate race, polls indicated that Max Cleland, the popular Democrat up for re-election, was ahead by two to five points against his Republican challenger, Saxby Chambliss.

Those figures were more or less what political experts would have expected in state with a long tradition of electing Democrats to statewide office. But then the results came in, and all of Georgia appeared to have been turned upside down. Barnes lost the governorship to the Republican, Sonny Perdue, 46 per cent to 51 per cent, a swing of as much as 16 percentage points from the last opinion polls. Cleland lost to Chambliss 46 per cent to 53, a last-minute swing of 9 to 12 points.

Red-faced opinion pollsters suddenly had a lot of explaining to do and launched internal investigations. Political analysts credited the upset - part of a pattern of Republican successes around the country - to a huge campaigning push by President Bush in the final days of the race. They also said that Roy Barnes had lost because of a surge of "angry white men" punishing him for eradicating all but a vestige of the old confederate symbol from the state flag.

But something about these explanations did not make sense, and they have made even less sense over time. When the Georgia secretary of state's office published its demographic breakdown of the election earlier this year, it turned out there was no surge of angry white men; in fact, the only subgroup showing even a modest increase in turnout was black women.

There were also big, puzzling swings in partisan loyalties in different parts of the state. In 58 counties, the vote was broadly in line with the primary election. In 27 counties in Republican-dominated north Georgia, however, Max Cleland unaccountably scored 14 percentage points higher than he had in the primaries. And in 74 counties in the Democrat south, Saxby Chambliss garnered a whopping 22 points more for the Republicans than the party as a whole had won less than three months earlier.

Now, weird things like this do occasionally occur in elections, and the figures, on their own, are not proof of anything except statistical anomalies worthy of further study. But in Georgia there was an extra reason to be suspicious. Last November, the state became the first in the country to conduct an election entirely with touchscreen voting machines ....

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Limited Voting Machines Were a Problem Primarily in Ohio's Democratic Districts

The Perfect Election Day Crime

Steven Rosenfeld
TomPaine.com, November 12

...

Across Ohio’s minority-rich cities, there were fewer voting machines than during past elections, including March’s presidential primary. As the number of voters grew by as much as 50 percent in some precincts, according to pro-Kerry field organizers, the number of voting machines on Election Day shrank by a third. Precincts that usually had five machines only had three.

The lack of voting machines was a disaster.

“I don’t think this story has been told,” said Miles Gerety, a public defender from Bridgeport, Conn., who went to Ohio as a legal observer and discovered this trend by overhearing elderly voters talk about fewer machines. “The press and election protection people weren’t looking for this. They were looking for poll challenges. But this is the perfect way to suppress the vote.” 

The shortage of voting machines didn’t just create long lines. It kept thousands of new and longtime voters from casting ballots in the state’s minority communities—the Democratic strongholds. The accounts of people who had to leave the polls for work or family obligations were everywhere. But on Election Day, very few Democrats realized this was happening. They just saw long lines.

"The lack of adequate voting machines helped the GOP in Ohio," said Brian Clark, site coordinator for SierraClubVotes.org in Franklin County, where the city of Columbus is located. He managed a voter contact and get-out-the-vote effort in 43 precincts that reached a third of the county’s 250,000 voters. "There were fewer machines in some inner city precincts than in 2000, despite Board of Elections and secretary of state’s projections of record turnout."

...

"It’s interesting to note that the inner-city precincts where we spent most of our time working, turnout was about 50 percent higher than it was in 2000," Clark said. "Yet the Franklin County Board of Elections moved voting machines from the inner city precincts out to the suburbs. It was pretty dispiriting to know that we spent months trying to get new voters to the polls and they didn’t even have machines to go to once they got there."

...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Comparison: Media Treat Blogs with Praise for 'Rathergate,' as Conspiracy Theorists for 'Votergate'

Blogs are taking a hit now for being the homebases of "conspiracy theorists" for questioning the election results.

Media Matters provided a brief analysis showing that "Beyond 'conspiracy theories,' election irregularities get scant media attention." It's remarkable that it wasn't long ago that blogs were praised for tearing down Dan Rather and 60 Minutes for their forged documents and putting a lid on the Bush's history in the National Guard.

Here, a quick search of Lexis-Nexis provides a comparison of blog treatment before and after 11/2.

Blog Treatment after the Dan Rather/60 Minutes National Guard story; before 11/2:


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Blind Eye: Blunder Raises Questions about Future of "60 Minutes," Dan Rather and Journalism"
Rob Owen, September 22, 2004

"... the role of bloggers was crucial in this story..."

"Mainstream media has no idea what they're up against because there are tens of thousands of bloggers out there. It was fashionable [for members of the mainstream media] to sneer at these folks until they got their brains beat in. ... It's like a gale-force wind, as evidenced by the fact that CBS said they spent five or six months working on this story, and it took bloggers about 12 hours to prove it false [quoting Mark Krempasky of (www.redstate.org)]."


Seattle Times
"Web logs catch fire as kindling for change: The growing 'blogosphere' of online journals is gaining clout in places as varied as Congress and the local ballpark."
Kristi Heim, September 22, 2004

"Bloggers, those crusading individuals ranting away on their keyboards to anyone with a live modem, have already influenced national political debates, including the firestorm over Dan Rather's reporting."


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Internet has Become More of a Force in the Political System"
November 4, 2004

"One valuable service the bloggers performed this year was to become media watchdogs, however uncomfortable that is for those of us in traditional journalism.

"Dan Rather and his colleagues at CBS News, who broadcast a story about Bush based in part on questionable documents, discovered that bloggers could be adept fact-checkers, or at least questioners. I'll bet no one at CBS will denigrate bloggers as those people 'in pajamas,' as one former CBS executive did in an interview."


The Independent
"The US Election: How the Bloggers have Driven the News Agenda; Traditional Media have been Left Trailing by the Internet"
David Usborne, October 31, 2004

"Dan Rather of CBS purporting to have a memo showing that George Bush ducked his National Guard duties. Mr Rather was tripped up when word surfaced that the memo may in fact have been forged - in the blogs.

"'Bloggers, in some instances, are pushing the envelope in defining the political agenda and news coverage,' remarked Pete Blackshaw of the press monitoring service Intelliseek.

"It is a new world that can be uncomfortable for reporters. Blogs have been ruthless in monitoring their reports for any hint of political bias and then skewering them."


New York Times
"Web Offers Hefty Voice to Critics of Mainstream Journalists"
Jim Rutenberg, October 28, 2004

"When ''60 Minutes'' reported on documents purporting to show Mr. Bush received preferential treatment in the Air National Guard, questions about the documents' authenticity originated and caught fire on the FreeRepublic and PowerLine blog Web sites; mainstream outlets followed. CBS News admitted two weeks later that it could not authenticate the documents."


Washington Post
"After Blogs Got Hits, CBS Got a Black Eye"
Howard Kurtz, September 20, 2004

"Several major newspapers quickly began questioning the Guard documents, but they lagged behind the online critiques."


San Antonio Express-News
"There's no denying impact of bloggers : Their challenge to CBS News makes it increasingly difficult to dismiss them as simply amateurs in pajamas."
Editorial, September 16, 2004

"The verdict on the accuracy of the "60 Minutes II" report may not be conclusive. The growing impact of blogs, however, is undeniable."


Los Angeles Times
Peter Wallsten, September 12, 2004
"No Disputing It: Blogs Are Major Players: Netizen's late-night post questioning CBS claims about Bush's service spreads at warp speed."



Compare to treatment of blogs after 11/2:

New York Times
Tom Zeller Jr., November 12, 2004
"Vote Fraud Theories, Spread By Blogs, Are Quickly Buried." 


Washington Post
"Latest Conspiracy Theory -- Kerry Won -- Hits the Ether"
Manuel Roig-Franzia and Dan Keating, November 11, 2004

"Even as Sen. John F. Kerry's campaign is steadfastly refusing to challenge the results of the presidential election, the bloggers and the mortally wounded party loyalists and the spreadsheet-wielding conspiracy theorists are filling the Internet with head-turning allegations."


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Election conspiracy theories persist"
Julia Malone, November 10, 2004

"None of the conspiracy theorists has provided proof of widespread errors that might have changed the outcome of the election, which official tallies say Bush won with a 3.5 million popular vote margin and 286 electoral votes, 16 more than needed. Independent groups that monitored the voting found problems scattered around the country, but nothing decisive, and election officials have generally dismissed the Internet chatter. . . .

"Election Day shortcomings have provided plenty of fodder for "bloggers," Internet users who run opinion and discussion Web site."


The Baltimore Sun
"Election Paranoia Surfaces: Conspiracy Theorists Call Results Rigged."
Dan Thanh Dang, November 5, 2004

"John F. Kerry barely had time to concede the presidential race before the conspiracy theory began circulating.

"Democratic Underground, a Web site founded in January 2001 "to protest the illegitimate presidency of George W. Bush," immediately questioned how Bush ended up with "a mysterious 5 percent advantage," despite early exit polling that showed Kerry with the lead."

Worst Voter Error Is Apathy Toward Irregularities

By Donna Britt
Washington Post
Friday, November 12, 2004; Page B01

Is anyone surprised that accusations of voter disenfranchisement and irregularities abound after the most passionately contested presidential campaign in memory? Is anybody stunned that the mainstream media appear largely unconcerned?

To many people's thinking, too few citizens were discouraged from voting to matter. Those people would suggest that not nearly enough votes for John Kerry were missed or siphoned away to overturn President Bush's win. To which I'd respond:

Excuse me -- I thought this was America.

Informed that I was writing about voter disenfranchisement, a Democratic friend admitted, "I'm trying not to care about that." I understand. Less than two weeks after a bruising election in a nation in which it's unfashionable to overtly care about anything, it's annoying of me even to notice.

But citizens who insist, election after election, that each vote is sacred and then shrug at hundreds of credible reports that honest-to-God votes were suppressed and discouraged aren't just being hypocritical.

They're telling the millions who never vote because "it doesn't matter anyway" that they're the smart ones.

Come on. If Republicans had lost the election, this column would be unnecessary because Karl Rove and company would be contesting every vote. I keep hearing from those who wonder whether Democrats are "too nice," and from others who wonder whether efforts by the mainstream media to be "fair and balanced" sometimes render them "neutered and less effective."

Perhaps. But the much-publicized voting-machine error that gave Bush 4,258 votes in an Ohio precinct where only 638 people cast ballots preceded a flood of disturbing reports, ranging from the Florida voting machine that counted backward to the North Carolina computer that eliminated votes. In Ohio's Warren County, election officials citing "homeland security" concerns locked the doors to the county building where votes were being counted, refusing to allow members of the media and bipartisan observers to watch.

Bush won the county overwhelmingly.

Much of the media dismisses anxiety over such irregularities as grousing by poor-loser Democrats, rabid conspiracy theorists and pouters frustrated by Kerry's lightning-quick concession. Some of it surely is.

But more people's concerns are elementary-school basic -- which isn't coincidental since that's where many of us learned about democracy. We feel that Americans mustn't concede the noble intentions upon which our nation was founded to the cynical or the indifferent. We believe in our nation's sacred assurance that every citizen's voice be heard through his or her vote.

The point isn't just which candidate won or lost. It's that we all lose when we ignore that thousands of Americans might have been discouraged or prevented from voting, or not had their votes count.

If it were us, we'd be screaming bloody murder.
continues

Analysis of Exit Polls Indicate Discrepancies are Still Unexplained

The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT

BuzzFlash was forwarded a copy of a new research paper (271k PDF) on the exit polls from the 2004 election.

In "The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy," Dr. Steven F. Freeman says:

"As much as we can say in social science that something is impossible, it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts in the three critical battleground states [Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania] of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error."

The odds of those exit poll statistical anomalies occurring by chance are 250,000,000 to one. 250 MILLION to ONE.

He concludes the paper with this:

"Systematic fraud or mistabulation is a premature conclusion, but the election's unexplained exit poll discrepancies make it an unavoidable hypothesis, one that is the responsibility of the media, academia, polling agencies, and the public to investigate."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Genealogy of Votergate Media Coverage 2004

Through the Eyes of GoogleNews

another from OpEdNews:

By Matthew Cardinale
November 10, 2004

A textbook case of media diffusion is unfolding before our very eyes. So with the help of the ever-resourceful GoogleNews, I have charted how over the last week progressive websites forced the corporate media to pay attention to Votergate 2004.

I’ve been refreshing GoogleNews and the Blackboxvoting.org site almost every 30 minutes awaiting news on whether Bev Harris has saved America yet or not. My key word searches have been “Bev Harris” and “John Conyers” (both with quotation marks) and several strings of words like “electronic,” “voting,” “fraud,” “election,” and “2004.”

Sorry I’m obsessed, but I mean it’s only the entire basis of our democracy at stake here. The fact that the US corporate media has systematically conspired to suppress news coverage of what is now being called “Votergate” is an absolute atrocity putting into sharp visibility the need to increase and enhance progressive daily news sources in the United States.

...

To be sure, the New York Times, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Columbus Dispatch, and others have been reporting county-wide problems, some more troubling than others, since Election Day. Yet, for a reader of any one of these papers, there isn’t much information with which to connect any dots regarding a larger problem. So here’s where the story begins first, in terms of claiming evidence of a problem big enough to overturn election results…

It started with an innocent-looking November 3rd USA Today article on Bev Harris’ recent Public Records Requests for voting records and mentioned some irregularities. So this is noteworthy but not a mobilizing piece.

Then, November 3rd, Buzzflash.com had contributor, Mike Whitney’s, “Sour Grapes or Voter Fraud.” Then, Counterbias.com had Joseph Cannon’s “The Case for Fraud.” . . . .

Ralph Nader & Bev Harris Press Conference: Recount Ohio & Florida

Perhaps Nader will actually redeem his slipping reputation with these actions:

from OpEd News:

Bev Harris (BlackBoxVoting.org) and Ralph Nader had a press conference in DC today. They have teamed up with BallotIntegrity.org and have set up a 527 special fund HelpAmericaRecount.org to buy recounts. They worked with Bev Harris's lawyer who is an election specialist attorney. They have found a little used law that allows a recount if it's requested by five citizens who voted in that state and did not vote for the candidate who won. The state wants a down payment of ten dollars a precinct, so they need money fast!

Send to the fund HelpAmericaRecount.org. All the funds are for recounts and will be prioritized by the most suspicious counties first. It will be about $200,000 to recount Ohio, which is the first target because it has very provable anomolies that show massive fraud--Bev says, "Very strange and impossible math"; then Florida.

...

Ralph Nader is going to pay for a recount in New Hampshire to audit the Diebold machines there.

Kerry Campaign Lawyers Checking Ohio Vote

Senator Promises To Make Sure Every Vote Is Counted

UPDATED: 8:04 AM EST November 11, 2004
Associated Press, via San Jose Mercury News, The Brad Blog

CLEVELAND -- Lawyers with John Kerry's presidential campaign are in Ohio on what they describe as a "fact-finding mission" following the Democrat's election loss to President Bush last week.

Dan Hoffheimer, the statewide counsel for the Kerry campaign, said they are not trying to challenge the election but are only carrying out Kerry's promise to make sure that all the votes in Ohio are counted.

"We're not expecting to change the outcome of the election," Hoffheimer said.


In unofficial returns, Bush outpolled Kerry by 136,000 votes in Ohio.

Hoffheimer said the goal is to identify any voting problems and quell doubts about the legitimacy of the Ohio election being raised on the Internet.

He said the Kerry campaign has compiled a list of more than 30 questions for local election officials. They are asking about the number of absentee and provisional ballots, any reports of equipment malfunctions on election night and any ballots that still listed third-party challenger Ralph Nader as a candidate.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Olbermann Covers "Election Mess" for Third Night Straight

Olbermann's show is the only television show addressing these irregularities; an unusual instance where TV news (though cable) is covering a story that the large print organizations haven't yet touched.

Do-over (Keith Olbermann)
November 10, 2004 | 12:43 p.m. ET

NEW YORK— With news this morning that the computerized balloting in North Carolina is so thoroughly messed up that all state-wide voting may be thrown out and a second election day scheduled, the story continues.

Tonight on 'Countdown,' we'll examine the N.C. mess (which would not include a second presidential vote), new fuzzy math in Nevada, allegations against the Democrats in Pennsylvania, Ralph Nader's news conference, and the other voting developments as they occur. A Stanford computer expert will address the vulnerability of the Optical Scanning system (and answer the question: which is easier to hack, electronic voting or exit polls?), and Newsweek's Jonathan Alter will join me to report on the reporting.
...

Olbermann's blog

International Monitors Found Faults with US Election

By Thomas Crampton, International Herald Tribune
Wednesday, November 3, 2004

MIAMI The global implications of the U.S. election are undeniable, but international monitors at a polling station in southern Florida said Tuesday that voting procedures being used in the extremely close contest fell short in many ways of the best global practices.
.
The observers said they had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system.

...
full piece

Nader Demands Recount in New Hampshire, Citing "Irregularities": Exit Polls Show 15% Kerry Lead; 1% in Final Count

Losing by 335,000 in N.H., Nader Demands a Recount

Washington Post
By Jonathan Finer and Brian Faler
Wednesday, November 10, 2004; Page A07

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who lost by about 335,000 votes in New Hampshire, has asked the state for a recount.

No, the longtime consumer advocate is not hoping to change last week's outcome in the Granite State, where Democrat John F. Kerry was the winner. Rather, he said, he is concerned about the veracity of the results.

"We have received reports of irregularities in the vote reported on the AccuVote Diebold Machines in comparison to exit polls and trends in voting in New Hampshire," Nader wrote Secretary of State William M. Gardner. "These irregularities favor President George W. Bush by 5% to 15% over what was expected."

New Hampshire uses Diebold machines at 132 polling places. Gardner's office received Nader's fax at 4:59 p.m. Friday, one minute before the deadline. Under state law, if a candidate requesting a recount finished more than three percentage points behind, he must pay for the process. Gardner said that if the Nader campaign sends a check for $2,000 and promises to pay any additional charges, he will round up the ballots and initiate a hand count.

Spokesman Kevin Zeese said Nader was planning to send the check yesterday. "Either it will allay people's fears about the results, or it will open the door to looking at other states," Zeese said.

Monday, November 08, 2004

11/2

"As far as I'm concerned, 11/2 is becoming the 9/11 for democracy in this country, folks."
Brad Friedman (The Brad Blog), a fine sourcebook on this issue.

Democrats officially request investigation of voting irregularities

November 5, 2004

The Honorable David M. Walker
Comptroller General of the United States
U.S. General Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20548

Dear Mr. Walker:

We write with an urgent request that the Government Accountability Office immediately undertake an investigation of the efficacy of voting machines and new technologies used in the 2004 election, how election officials responded to difficulties they encountered and what we can do in the future to improve our election systems and administration.

In particular, we are extremely troubled by the following reports, which we would also request that you review and evaluate for us:

In Columbus, Ohio, an electronic voting system gave President Bush nearly 4,000 extra votes. ("Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes," Associated Press, November 5)

An electronic tally of a South Florida gambling ballot initiative failed to record thousands of votes. "South Florida OKs Slot Machines Proposal," (Id.)

In one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost because officials mistakenly believed a computer that stored ballots could hold more data that it did. "Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes," (Id.)

In San Francisco, a glitch occurred with voting machines software that resulted in some votes being left uncounted. (Id.)

In Florida, there was a substantial drop off in Democratic votes in proportion to voter registration in counties utilizing optical scan machines that was apparently not present in counties using other mechanisms.

The House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff has received numerous reports from Youngstown, Ohio that voters who attempted to cast a vote for John Kerry on electronic voting machines saw that their votes were instead recorded as votes for George W. Bush. In South Florida, Congressman Wexler's staff received numerous reports from voters in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties that they attempted to select John Kerry but George Bush appeared on the screen. CNN has reported that a dozen voters in six states, particularly Democrats in Florida, reported similar problems. This was among over one thousand such problems reported. ("Touchscreen Voting Problems Reported," Associated Press, November 5)

Excessively long lines were a frequent problem throughout the nation in Democratic precincts, particularly in Florida and Ohio. In one Ohio voting precinct serving students from Kenyon College, some voters were required to wait more than eight hours to vote. ("All Eyes on Ohio," Dan Lothian, CNN, November 3)

We are literally receiving additional reports every minute and will transmit additional information as it comes available. The essence of democracy is the confidence of the electorate in the accuracy of voting methods and the fairness of voting procedures. In 2000, that confidence suffered terribly, and we fear that such a blow to our democracy may have occurred in 2004.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this inquiry.

Sincerely,

John Conyers, Jr., Jerrold Nadler, Robert Wexler

Ranking Member, Ranking Member, Member of Congress
House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution

cc: Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Chairman

Media Black Out on Vote Fraud Allegations

Media Black Out on Vote Fraud Allegations
By DAVID SWANSON
CounterPunch

The "mainstream" media has fallen down on the job by failing to cover efforts since November 2 to ensure that all votes in the presidential election are accurately counted. The conclusion by John Kerry that an investigation could not possibly reverse the election may quite possibly have been premature. But the question that both activists and the media should be asking is not whether there was enough fraud and errors to decide the election, nor even whether there was more than is usual, but whether there was any fraud or errors, where the problems occurred, how they can be prevented in the future, and -- in particular -- whether new kinds of fraud were permitted by new technologies and by the privatization of our election process.

The International Labor Communications Association is particularly concerned, because of indications, detailed below, that fraud may have occurred in areas where there are heavy populations of workers, African-Americans, and other progressive voters that our member organizations represent. People deserve to have their votes counted, and the strategists who will spend four years studying the election results deserve to have the facts. Some citizens and independent media outlets are raising these issues, but the corporate media is AWOL. An investigation by the media would seem especially appropriate, since the 2000 election led to investigations in Florida that determined the loser was occupying the White House.

Evidence existed before this election that quite possibly "the fix" was in: the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio was running the 2004 election in that state and had for weeks been demonstrating every intention to disenfranchise Democrats; the head of a company manufacturing electronic voting machines for use around the country had announced his intention to help Bush stay in the White House. The weaknesses and susceptibility to abuse of electronic voting machines, including the machines that many people vote on and the machines that add up the votes from multiple precincts, had been well documented.


QUESTIONS ABOUT EXIT POLLS

If the pre-election context wasn't enough to put the media on alert, the exit polls on election day should have been. The polls by the National Election Pool, throughout the day, showed Kerry ahead in a number of swing states. Media commentators made it quite clear that they had seen and took seriously the polls. Professional pollster John Zogby took them seriously enough to call the race for Kerry. Wall Street took them seriously enough to start dropping stock prices.

...

As pointed out in various analyses, the exit polls were accurate within their margin of error in many states but were surprisingly far off in a number of swing states, and always off in the same direction, showing more support for Kerry than was found in the official counts. Warren Mitofsky, co-director of the National Election Pool, told the News Hour with Jim Lehrer that "Kerry was ahead in a number of states by margins that looked unreasonable to us." Mitofsky speculated that perhaps more Kerry voters were willing to participate in the exit poll, but did not suggest any reason for that speculation other than the difference between the exit polls and the final counts. He and his colleagues have since produced other speculative reasons why the exit polls could have been wrong, all grounded in circular reasoning. Mitofsky told the News Hour that on the evening of November 2 he decided to wait for the official counts and then use those to "correct" the exit polls, thus rendering the hugely expensive exit polls useless as either predictors of the election outcome or measurements of the count's accuracy. Media outlets "corrected" the exit polls on their websites early in the morning of November 3. Mitofsky promised in the future to keep exit poll results secret, thus fully rendering them useless for any stated purpose related to election outcomes (they will still be able to tell us after the fact how many voters were female or Jewish or go to church weekly or believe health care is the most important issue, etc.).

. . .

Nor has the corporate media touched on the topic of spoiled ballots and hanging chads in Ohio, which BBC reporter Greg Palast believes wrongly cost Kerry the election there.

The stories of election problems that would seem to merit investigation are numerous.

. . .

The mainstream media will not report these claims unless indisputable evidence is produced that Kerry won the election. And, if the 2000 election is any guide, the media will bury the story even then. In the meantime, following the narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson, the media has announced that Bush has a "clear mandate" to enact his agenda an agenda that the media is reporting on more now than prior to the election.

Columbus Free Press: "Kerry won the vote in Ohio. The exit polls are correct."

Tue Nov 09 2004

None dare call it voter suppression and fraud
Bob Fitrakis
November 7, 2004

Evidence is mounting that the 2004 presidential election was stolen in Ohio. Emerging revelations of voting irregularities coupled with well-documented Republican efforts at voter suppression prior to the election suggests that in a fair election Kerry would have won Ohio.

Democratic hopeful Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts conceded on November 3, based on preliminary postings by the highly partisan Republican Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. These unofficial results showed Bush with 136,483 more votes than Kerry, although 155,428 provisional ballots, 92,672 �spoiled� ballots, additional overseas ballots, and some remaining absentee ballots remained uncounted.

The day after his concession, Kerry drew 3,893 votes closer to Bush when a computerized voting machine �glitch� was discovered in an Ohio precinct. A machine in ward 1B in the predominantly Republican Gahanna, Ohio, recorded 4,258 votes for George W. Bush when only 638 people cast votes at the New Life Church polling site. Buried on page A6 of the Columbus Dispatch, the story also reported that the voting machine recorded 0 votes in a race between Franklin County Commissioners Arlene Shoemaker and Paula Brooks. Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matt Damschroder told the Dispatch that the voting machine glitches were �why the results on election night are unofficial.�

. . .

The nonpartisan Citizen�s Alliance for Secure Elections (CASE) is investigating various other voting irregularities in Ohio, among them:

+ In Auglaize County, a letter dated October 21 under the signature of Ken Nuss, the county�s former deputy director, alleges that Joe McGinnis, a former employee of Election Systems & Software (ES&S), violated election protocol with his unauthorized use of the county�s central tabulating computer that creates ballots and compiles election results. Nuss, who resigned on October 21, alleges that McGinnis was improperly granted access to the computer the weekend of October 16.

+ In Miami County, with 100% of the precincts reporting at 9am EST Wednesday, Nov. 3, Bush had 20,807 votes (65.80%) and Kerry had 10,724 (33.92%). Miami reported 31,620 voters. Inexplicably, nearly 19,000 new ballots were added after all precincts reported, boosting Bush�s vote to 33,039 (65.77%) to Kerry�s 17,039 (33.92%). CASE is investigating why the percentage of the vote stayed exactly the same to three one-hundredths of a percentage point after nearly 19,000 new ballots were added. CASE members speculate that it�s either a long-shot coincidence with the last three digits remaining the same, or that someone had pre-set a database and programmed a voting machine to cough up a pre-set percentage of votes. Miami County uses an easily hackable optical scanner with the central counter provided by the Republican-linked vendor ES&S.

+ In Warren County, administrators and election officials locked down the county administrative building and prohibited all independent election observers from watching the vote count. County officials cited �homeland security,� according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. WCPO-TV Channel 9 News Director Bob Morford told the Enquirer that he had �never seen anything like it.� Morford asserted that throwing the media and independent observers out of the centralized counting area under the guise of �homeland security� was a �red herring.� He said, �That�s something to put up when you don�t know what else to put up to keep us out.� In Warren County, Bush picked up an additional 12,000 votes over his 2000 election total.

+ In Franklin County, where Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matt Damschroder is also the former Executive Director of the county�s Republican Party, the county Board of Elections building looked like a bunker. Scores of city buses blocked parking spaces on the street outside, numerous concrete barricades surrounded the parking lot, and a metal detector was stationed at the only entrance. A phalanx of armed deputy sheriffs swarmed the only site where provisional voters could cast a guaranteed ballot. The Columbus Dispatch confirmed an Election Day Free Press story that far fewer voting machines were present in predominantly black Democratic inner-city voting wards than in the recent primary election and the 2000 presidential election, with their lighter turnouts. The reduced number of machines caused voters to wait up to seven hours and wait an average of approximately three hours. One Republican Central Committee member told the Free Press that Damschroder held back as many as 2000 machines and dispersed many of the other machines to affluent suburbs in Franklin County.

+ In rural Drake County, Kerry received 78 less votes than Al Gore in 2000, but Bush received 3000 more votes. Drake is the only county in Miami Valley where Kerry�s votes was less than Gore�s and where Bush�s vote rose dramatically.

. . .

Unofficial Ohio presidential results provided by the Secretary of State�s Office show 155,428 provisional ballots cast. Blackwell was all over the national news telling everyone who would listen that these ballots were randomly distributed and not disproportionately for Kerry. As former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani raved on national TV demanding Kerry�s concession, a basic analysis of the provisional ballots suggested that they were disproportionately for Kerry.

Historically, provisional ballots are far more likely to be cast by poor and minority voters, who live in the urban centers and move more often. Ohio has 88 counties, the vast majority of them rural. Kerry won 15 counties in Ohio, virtually all large urban centers. In those counties, 85,096 provisional ballots remain uncounted. Past elections point to the fact that these provisional ballots are hardly ever cast in the affluent, primarily Republican municipalities, but are overwhelmingly from the central city. Also, an additional 17,038 provisional ballots are from Hamilton County and Wood County. Bush won Hamilton with 53% of the vote and Wood County with 53.5%. Traditionally, the provisional ballots in Hamilton County come from Cincinnati and its poor central city areas. These are areas where John Kerry won handily on Election Day.

Thus, 102,134 of the provisional ballots, nearly two-thirds (65.7%) in all probability come from solidly pro-Kerry areas and are most likely cast by pro-Kerry supporters such as African Americans and the poor. These fit the same socio-economic demographics and racial profiles of voters targeted by the GOP for challenges in Ohio.

[Greg] Palast also points to the 92,672 so-called �spoiled� ballots in Ohio that have yet to be counted, and may never be tallied. The most famous spoiled ballots were the 2004 Florida punch cards that could not be machine read, but when looked at manually the voter�s intent could be determined. Expert statisticians who investigated spoilage in the 2000 election in Florida found that 54% of these discarded ballots were cast by blacks. In Ohio, most of the spoiled votes were lost through punch card ballots in 2004.

By Blackwell directing county Boards of Elections not to count the provisional ballots for 11 days, it benefited the Bush campaign since an immediate counting would have no doubt made the race tigher between Kerry and Bush, and perhaps prompted Kerry to request a recount. This would have the 92,672 discarded "spoiled" ballots that were also likely to favor Kerry.

Daniel Tokaji, Professor of Law at the Ohio State University College of Law commented: "One other point. Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has reportedly said that provisional ballots won't be counted for 11 days. I'm not sure where he's getting this, but he may be relying on ORC 3505.32. This statute provides that the boards of election are to begin canvassing election returns between 11 and 15 days after the election and �continue the canvass daily until it is completed.� Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see how this precludes provisional votes from being counted earlier than that, even if the canvass doesn't begin until the 11th day."

Spoiled ballots will only be counted if someone with standing, such as five Kerry electors or the Ohio Democratic Party, demands and legally qualifies for a recount. Thus, the exit polls may have been correct. A majority of people voted for Kerry in Ohio; but 250,000 votes were not counted, most favoring Kerry over Bush. If Kerry had won by even one vote in Ohio, he would be the next President of the United States.

Irregularities in other key battleground states have prompted three U.S. representatives to urgently request that the Comptroller General of the United States David Walker and the General Accounting Office �immediately undertake an investigation of the efficiency of voting machines and new technologies used in the 2004 election.� Tom Hartmann, in his post election article on CommonDreams.org (�Evidence mounts that the vote was hacked�), reminds readers that Bev Harris, who started blackboxvoting.org, showed Howard Dean how to hack a county �central tabulator� computer in 90 seconds live on CNBC.

The Diebold Corporation, which helped count the Ohio vote with e-voting machines and optical scan machines, is run by a notoriously pro-Republican CEO, Wally O�Dell. Last year O�Dell wrote a letter to Ohio Republican donors telling them that he is �committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year.� O�Dell is a proud member of Bush�s Pioneer and Ranger team of major donors who visit the Crawford ranch. The other major election vote counting firm is ES&S, which is being investigated for allegedly having a machine that subtracted votes when the totals surpassed 32,000.

On Election Day, the Election Protection Coalition observers who covered 58 polling places in central Ohio, documented thousands of voter complaints over long lines and recorded numerous people leaving the polls for work or because they were elderly or handicapped and physically unable to wait for hours to vote. Professor James K. Galbraith, of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, wrote the following summary of Election Day in Ohio: �. . . I drove a young African-American voter, a charming business student, seven months pregnant, to her polling place at Finland Elementary School in south Columbus. We arrived in a squalling rain to find voters lined up outside for about a hundred yards. . . . The real problem was a grotesque shortage of voting machines.�

Ohio State University Law Professor Edward B. Foley told the New York Times, �When your lines get to two or three hours, it�s system failure.�

Other bizarre tactics emerged in the run-up to the election:

. . . [see the full article for the whole list]

No Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying Ohio. The voting irregularities suggest that Bush is the first Republican President to win the presidency without winning the actual Ohio vote. Kerry won the vote in Ohio. The exit polls are correct. The mainstream media, instead of investigating the massive irregularities, are busy concocting theories as to how all the exit polls, the safeguards for fair elections, were all wrong on election night in the Buckeye State. None dare suggest voter suppression and fraud.

Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked

Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked
Karen Hughes had told Bush he lost in a landslide, November 2, based on the exit poll data

by Thom Hartmann, Common Dreams, Nov 6, 2004

When I spoke with Jeff Fisher this morning (Saturday, November 06, 2004), the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida's 16th District said he was waiting for the FBI to show up. Fisher has evidence, he says, not only that the Florida election was hacked, but of who hacked it and how. And not just this year, he said, but that these same people had previously hacked the Democratic primary race in 2002 so that Jeb Bush would not have to run against Janet Reno, who presented a real threat to Jeb, but instead against Bill McBride, who Jeb beat.

"It was practice for a national effort," Fisher told me.

And some believe evidence is accumulating that the national effort happened on November 2, 2004.

The State of Florida, for example, publishes a county-by-county record of votes cast and people registered to vote by party affiliation. Net denizen Kathy Dopp compiled the official state information into a table, available at http://ustogether.org/Florida_Election.htm, and noticed something startling.

While the heavily scrutinized touch-screen voting machines seemed to produce results in which the registered Democrat/Republican ratios largely matched the Kerry/Bush vote, in Florida's counties using results from optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC and thus vulnerable to hacking – the results seem to contain substantial anomalies.

In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.

In Dixie County, with 9,676 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.

The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats, went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25% for Bush.

Yet in the touch-screen counties, where investigators may have been more vigorously looking for such anomalies, high percentages of registered Democrats generally equaled high percentages of votes for Kerry. (I had earlier reported that county size was a variable – this turns out not to be the case. Just the use of touch-screens versus optical scanners.)

. . .

While all of this may or may not be evidence of vote tampering, it again brings the nation back to the question of why several states using electronic voting machines or scanners programmed by private, for-profit corporations and often connected to modems produced votes inconsistent with exit poll numbers.

Those exit poll results have been a problem for reporters ever since Election Day.

Election night, I'd been doing live election coverage for WDEV, one of the radio stations that carries my syndicated show, and, just after midnight, during the 12:20 a.m. Associated Press Radio News feed, I was startled to hear the reporter detail how Karen Hughes had earlier sat George W. Bush down to inform him that he'd lost the election. The exit polls were clear: Kerry was winning in a landslide. "Bush took the news stoically," noted the AP report.

But then the computers reported something different. In several pivotal states.

. . .

Dick Morris: "Exit polls are almost never wrong."

I usually don't quote or refer to Dick Morris, but this time his main points are correct, but his conclusions are off. He thinks the exit polls indicate a conspiracy by Democrats that election day to cause lower Republican turnout. This is from The Hill, the newspaper for Congress:


Those faulty exit polls were sabotage
Dick Morris, The Hill

By now it is well-known and a part of the 2004 election lore how the exit polls by the major television networks were wrong.

Likely this faux pas will assume its place among wartime stories alongside the mistaken calls on Florida’s vote for one side and then for the other in the 2000 election. But the inaccuracies of the media’s polling deserve more scrutiny and investigation.

Exit polls are almost never wrong. They eliminate the two major potential fallacies in survey research by correctly separating actual voters from those who pretend they will cast ballots but never do and by substituting actual observation for guesswork in judging the relative turnout of different parts of the state.

So reliable are the surveys that actually tap voters as they leave the polling places that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries. When I worked on Vicente Fox’s campaign in Mexico, for example, I was so fearful that the governing PRI would steal the election that I had the campaign commission two U.S. firms to conduct exit polls to be released immediately after the polls closed to foreclose the possibility of finagling with the returns. When the polls announced a seven-point Fox victory, mobs thronged the streets in a joyous celebration within minutes that made fraud in the actual counting impossible.

But this Tuesday, the networks did get the exit polls wrong. Not just some of them. They got all of the Bush states wrong. So, according to ABC-TV’s exit polls, for example, Kerry was slated to carry Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa, all of which Bush carried. The only swing state the network had going to Bush was West Virginia, which the president won by 10 points.

To screw up one exit poll is unheard of. To miss six of them is incredible. It boggles the imagination how pollsters could be that incompetent and invites speculation that more than honest error was at play here.

The mistaken exit polls infiltrated all three networks and the cable news outlets and had a chilling effect on the coverage of election night.

While all anchors refrained from announcing the exit-poll results, it was clear from the context of their comments that they expected Kerry to win and wondered if Bush could hold any key state.

Indeed, one network hesitated to call Mississippi for Bush because of the uncertainty injected by the bogus exit polls. Dark minds will suspect that these polls were deliberately manipulated to dampen Bush turnout in the Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones by conveying the impression that the president’s candidacy was a lost cause.

The exit pollsters plead that they oversampled women and that this led to their mistakes. But the very first thing a pollster does is weight or quota for gender. Once the female vote reaches 52 percent of the sample, one either refuses additional female respondents or weights down the ones one subsequently counted.

This is, dear Watson, elementary.

Next to the forged documents that sent CBS on a jihad against Bush’s National Guard service and the planned “60 Minutes” ambush over the so-called missing explosives two days before the polls opened, the possibility of biased exit polling, deliberately manipulated to try to chill the Bush turnout, must be seriously considered.

At the very least, the exit pollsters should have to explain, in public, how they were so wrong. Since their polls, if biased or cooked, represented an attempt to use the public airwaves to reduce voter turnout, they should have to explain their errors in a very public and perhaps official forum.

This was no mere mistake. Exit polls cannot be as wrong across the board as they were on election night. I suspect foul play.

New York Times, Oct 17: Exit Polls Protect the Vote

The New York Times
October 17, 2004 Sunday

Exit Polls To Protect The Vote
By MARTIN PLISSNER.

Martin Plissner, a former CBS News political director, is the author of ''The Control Room: How Television Calls the Shots in Presidential Elections.''

SINCE the 1960's, the exit poll, that staple of election-night television, has been used along with other tools to declare winners when the polls close in each state, and its accuracy is noted later when the actual vote count proves it right. A landmark exception, of course, came in 2000, when the networks initially gave the decisive Florida vote to Al Gore.

But now exit polls are being used in some places to monitor the official vote count itself, either to validate the outcome or to mount a challenge to it.

That has happened in several countries in the last year, and in the United States one organization plans to use exit polls in five closely contested states in November to measure whether there have been impediments to voting.

Last fall, an American firm, whose polling clients have included Al Gore and John Edwards, was hired by some international foundations to conduct an exit poll in the former Soviet republic of Georgia during a parliamentary election. On Election Day, the firm, Global Strategy Group, projected a victory for the main opposition party. When the sitting government counted the votes, however, it announced that its own slate of candidates had won. Supporters of the opposition stormed the Parliament, and the president, Eduard A. Shevardnadze, later resigned under pressure from the United States and Russia.

In August, exit polling figured in a bitter fight in Venezuela over what amounted to competing landslides for and against a recall of the sitting president, Hugo Chavez, a socialist with ties to Fidel Castro.

The recall's proponents sponsored an exit poll, supervised by Penn, Schoen & Berland, an American firm whose clients have included Bill Clinton and Michael Bloomberg. Sometime before the polls closed on Aug. 15, Penn, Schoen reported that 59 percent of Venezuelan voters had said yes to throwing the president out of office.

A few hours later, the official count, by an election commission under Mr. Chavez's control, declared him the winner, with 58 percent of the total. Both the Organization of American States and the Carter Center, the Atlanta-based human rights organization founded by Jimmy Carter, said that their observers had seen no irregularities at the polls. In response to the exit poll, they called for a random audit at selected polling stations and again found nothing suspicious.

Mr. Schoen acknowledged in an interview that the poll's field workers were recruited by a group that helped organize the recall, but he said the volunteers had been trained to conduct the poll professionally, and that his firm would have no reason to put its reputation at risk by participating in a fraudulent poll. The recall's supporters continue to believe the election was stolen.

In Afghanistan, ballot counting in last weekend's presidential election may not be over for a few weeks, and a United Nations panel is investigating claims of irregularities. But a survey of voters leaving the polls projected that Hamid Karzai, the current president, had received enough votes to avoid a runoff. The poll's sponsor, the International Republican Institute, is a Republican-run, federally financed vehicle for promoting democracy abroad. (The Democrats have one, too.)

Could exit polls also play a role in the American presidential election on Nov. 2? The potential is there.

Votewatch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, plans to conduct exit polls in selected states to monitor election procedures and record impediments to voting, including voting equipment flaws, confusion over ballots and perceived discrimination by polling officials.

Steven Hertzberg, a San Francisco systems engineer who founded Votewatch, said he planned to use volunteers supplied by civic groups like Common Cause, among other recruits, and that they would be trained and supervised by polling professionals.

From its exit polling, Votewatch hopes to go beyond anecdotal indicators and get a measure of how many people encountered which kind of problems, Mr. Hertzberg said.

The group has also decided to ask people whom they voted for, or meant to vote for, to assess whether one candidate's backers are more affected by irregularities. But Fritz Scheuren, president of the American Statistical Association and a principal adviser to Votewatch, said it was important to note that ''we are not competing with the networks, and we don't want to appear to be.''

In any event, its backers say, Votewatch won't be projecting who will win or lose in November -- only the incidence of voting problems that might affect the outcome.