election rigging

Ok, first of all, I recognise that I WANT TO BELIEVE that the election was rigged, because I would feel less bad about a coup than I would about the people actually voting these fundamentalists into power. (But that there was a chance of the race being even close was already profoundly disturbing.)

That said, the mainstream media has been saying that there were a "handful" of "glitches" with the voting machines this time around. Well, the first-hand accounts being posted on blackboxvoting.com (syndicated on LiveJournal as bboxvoting_rss) are pretty extreme, e.g., "Franklin County's unofficial results gave Bush 4,258 votes to Democratic challenger John Kerry's 260 votes in Precinct 1B. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct."

I've also read many reports where people said that they clicked on "John Kerry", and when they got to the confirmation screen, it said "George Bush", which they then corrected. I have not read a single report of someone having the opposite problem (trying to vote for Bush and having the machine try to vote for Kerry.) Have you?

bellaciao.org has some graphs of the major discrepencies between exit polling and vote counts. They're pretty incredible! Now, maybe the exit polling methodology is just fundamentally broken, but isn't it funny when you see pictures like the one at the right, knowing that last year, Diebold's CEO swore that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to President Bush."

And in Florida, some numbers and graphs: districts using electronic voting machines tended to skew Republican, while those without electronic voting ran even with predicted ratios. "An analysis of variance conducted on the percent change for each party ([Actual vote minus expected vote]/expected vote) in each county, with 'machine type' as a predictive factor, indicated that machine type was a significant predictor of percent change in voting. Counties using E-touch machines showed significantly positive percent changes in vote for both Republican and Democrat candidates, with greater mean percent changes for the Democrat. However counties using Op-scan machines showed significant positive percent change only for the Republican candidate, the mean change for the Democrat being insignificantly greater than zero."

"Here's your 'mandate', right here."
You don't steal an election with a landslide, you steal it with 3%. You stay within the margin of error across the board so that it's not obvious.

So, I believe this vote was rigged.

I also think it's entirely possible that Bush would have won anyway without the rigging (since Rove is clearly better at mobilizing fundamentalists than the Kerry people were at mobilizing anybody else.) But I think the fix was in.

But like I said, the fact that it was even close is disturbing enough.

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81 Responses:

  1. solarbird says:

    I did, in fact, see a media report of electronic voting machines returning "Kerry" on the confirmation screen when someone selected "Bush." The same report also had the problems going the other direction.

    • sc00ter says:

      I saw something (I wish I remembered where) that showed that most of the electronic voting was a near dead heat, but where they used optical scanners with paper ballots it was a HUGE bush lead.

  2. weev says:

    It's clear that regardless of the legitimacy of this election, America is courting fascism.

    Something needs to be done.

    • solarbird says:

      One thing I've suggested is here, though it is, of course, special-purpose.

      • ammitbeast says:

        Y'know, I've never agreed with "outing," thought it unethical. But now, given this election, and our slide ever closer to all-out fascism... thanks for that. Makes me rethink the issue.

        Just imagine if Hitler's inner circle with Jewish heritage had been outed... quite a few other closets in that inner circle, too.

        • solarbird says:

          I didn't call for outing other people. I called for people who are still closeted to out themselves. Particularly people who moved to blue states who are from red states, and know the red stage social languages.

          Outing other people did also, however, become much fairer game in my mind. I'm not calling for it. I don't know yet how I feel about it. I'm not fond of it either. Historically, it's been... not my way.

          Anyway. Tired now!

          • ammitbeast says:

            I actually meant both, particularly someone in a red state playing the holier-than-thou game, but I'm mainly thinking of pressure on these people to come forward themselves. Hypocrisy has held sway among red-states, particularly at the highest political levels. Fair game to poke at a closet Republican, I say.

            But would it really matter? I'm not sure... apparently it's okay for Cheney to have a token lesbian in the family, so did that keep anyone from voting for Bush?

            • denshi says:

              But would it really matter? I'm not sure... apparently it's okay for Cheney to have a token lesbian in the family, so did that keep anyone from voting for Bush?

              No, and that's because they spun it appropriately -- when Kerry mentioned it, Bush/Cheney lashed out with accusations that Kerry had outed her, with a tone indicating that this was some shameful family secret that Kerry had violated. Many red-state families have gay relatives that they aren't comfortable talking about, so in the end Bush/Cheney managed to pick up more sympathy points from their base.

  3. sc00ter says:

    I think there are three main problems.

    1. There were a lot of people that were on the "anybody but bush" bandwagon that had a hard time getting people to vote for Kerry because the only reason they had going for them was "well, he's not bush" and that's not enough for a lot of people.

    2. To much calling Bush supporters "stupid" and "dumb". That just pisses off Bush supporters and makes them want to go out and vote just to fuck with you.

    3. A lot of Kerry supporters could not figure out WHY somebody would vote for bush. It's very hard to form a decent game plan when you have no idea why people are backing Bush.

    There's some good comments on K5 about this as well

    First one here

    Second one here

  4. novalis says:

    I think the chart on the right shows pretty much nothing. Exit polls (like most other polls) have a margin of error -- assuming they're using the same sample size as most polls, it's +/-3% (for each candidate). That's random error, excluding any systematic error due to certain candidate's supporters being more willing to talk to pollsters than others, or lying, or other such effects. The chart on the right is well within that margin.

    • flipzagging says:

      Check out those other links -- the weird thing is that the error is always in Bush's favor.

      A simpler explanation though -- maybe Bush voters don't like to talk to CNN's exit pollsters?

      I'd like to see someone other than the Democratic Underground loonies look at this.

    • zkzkz says:

      Actually for breakdowns like the single-state results they're probably much more than the standard +/- 2%. They interviewed a _total_ of 13,000 voters across the entire country. That means if you're looking at any breakdown for less than 1/20th of the country you have less than a standard sample of 600.

  5. guyver3 says:

    listening to NPR on my way to vote that morning, they reported that a machine in Brooklyn was stuck on voting for the GOP candidates and was pulled from service. The machines are a crock, I'll never use one. Plus no reciept of your votes?? wtf, just add a stupid cash register tape machine, voila!

    • guyver3 says:

      oh also, on Lehrer news hour on npr, they had the person in charge of the exit polls and some survey company, and he explained that at most of the precincts used to take the exit polls, they showed higher kerry support because almost everyone who voted Democrat was excited to take the interview, whereas bushites didn't so much. Or at least that was his excuse for exitpolls showing kerry winning early on.

      • macguyver says:

        They record the refusals and various demographic information and make guesses - in other words they already take this into account.

    • purgatorius says:

      The reason that a receipt for votes is a bad idea:
      "Send me your receipt for Candidate X and I'll paypal you $20!"

      A better idea I've seen is electronic machines which print out paper ballots, which you visually confirm and then turn in to the poll workers.

      • hawke666 says:

        I don't think "receipts" in this context is intended to mean "something you take home" but rather "something you can verify, and which can be used in a recount if necessary.

      • jarodrussell says:

        "Send me your receipt for Candidate X and I'll paypal you $20!"

        How about, "Send me a phonecam picture of your paper ballot, and I'll send you $20." E-voting is a crock, paper or not.

        • jwz says:

          The real attack is not commerce but coersion, e.g., "show me your receipt that you voted for my guy, or I'll hit you." We're safe from that so long as it's not universally assumed that people have phonecams. But technology tends to erode privacy, so it will definitely get harder to keep secret ballots secret.

          • westyx says:

            the same problem occurs for punch card machines or written ballots - if the user can see the final result in any form, then a phonecam can take a picture of it.

            • Oregon is 100% vote by mail, I filled out my ballot at home, put it in a "secrecy envelope", which goes inside a coded envelope that I sign. the ballot and the secrecy envelope do not have any identifying information. rather than mailing it, I dropped it off at the county elections office, so the only point my ballot could be connected to me is when they open the outer envelope, before they put the inner envelope into an anonymizing pile. this is an observable process, I haven't watched myself, but it seems likely that partisan and nonpartisan observers are checking the process adequately.

              • westyx says:

                upthread was talking about the problem of people "proving" they voted one way or another, in the case of bribes/threats to vote one way or another. Didn't have anyting to do with how anonymous the vote is to the actual elections office/officials.

                • oh, sorry, yeah, I misread. proving my vote to someone is easy. supplying false proof is also easy. it feels to me too costly to get proof that would be difficult to falsify, there's no point in buying just one vote, so it doesn't seem like much of an issue, but I haven't thought about it much yet.

            • vsync says:

              Clearly the answer is to require everyone to strip down and wear these:

              And pass through metal detectors on the way to the booth.

          • zkzkz says:

            If you have paper receipts then you can always test a sample of the votes. If a random sample of the paper ballots matches the counts the machines are giving you then you can be sure there's no systematic fraud going on.

        • jotunheim says:

          "Send me your receipt for Candidate X and I'll paypal you $20!"

          That sounds a lot better than P. Diddy's "Vote or Die." slogan.

        • macguyver says:

          Cell phones, or at least having them on, is illegal in most polling places anyway, and anything can be forged.

          E-voting, properly implemented, should lead to better security and fewer errors. In my polling I saw most people were pleased with the ease of use of new machines, for example, and tabulation was simple.

          Unfortunately, with no hard records and no independent verification of the machines, they are almost certainly already being abused.

    • fo0bar says:

      The electronic voting machines used in nevada (not sure of the manufacturer, but it's NOT diebold) do exactly what you want. I wrote up my experience of using it on tuesday.

  6. solarbird says:

    "Franklin County's unofficial results gave Bush 4,258 votes to Democratic challenger John Kerry's 260 votes in Precinct 1B. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct."
    NPR just moved this story. Short blurb.

  7. king_mob says:

    Franklin County is, of course, my place of residence.

    I direct your attention to this thread on the Columbus LJ community.

    Abridged version: reports of relatively low turnout from the Secretary of State's office do not seem to be compatible with observed reality.

  8. schnee says:

    *sigh* Not surprising really.

  9. postmaudlin says:

    I also think that the fact that they're diverse scandals geographically and methodologically also adds credence -- if it was just, say, e-voting that was fucked, it would be easier to untangle.

    • treptoplax says:

      Ok, maybe I misunderstand your point, but... if I was going to rig an election, I'd do it one way, not five, on the theory that five would be five times as likely to be caught, yes?

  10. phs says:

    Regardless of whether the election was rigged or not, we MUST get this fixed in the next two years. Everybody should contact their congresscritter and demand that legislation be passed to require a human-readable paper trail for all electronic voting machines.

    There's just no reason not to have a paper trail except to make the numbers easier to fool with.

    • ciphergoth says:

      The only way to have a paper trail I can see is to have people put pieces of paper or card into ballot boxes, and have the votes recorded on those pieces of card be the authoritative record of what the votes are. You must be permitted to get a new ballot card if you mark your ballot card the wrong way (this defeats phonecam coercion), or if you're not sure you've marked the ballot clearly enough.

      Before machine counting, ballots should be organised into bundles of, say 1000. Each bundle is marked with a serial number, and the count for each serial number is made publically available. Election observers should select bundles at random and hand-count them to ensure that the hand-count corresponds to the machine count.

      The same voting equipment should be used throughout a state.

  11. ioerror says:

    Did you see the EIRS system that I worked day and night on?

    I think it's sad that Kerry didn't fight this shit to the bitter end.

    I (as well as many people I know) feel the same way about the theft of the election.

    It's clear to me the left wing hackers/crackers have morals and ethics, either that or the right wing has better hackers that are much more sly.

    Either way, I hear bush has a ManDate. Good for him.

  12. j_v_lynch says:

    So, I believe this vote was rigged.

    So? What are you going to do about it?

    • jwz says:

      I'm going to whine about it on my LiveJournal, how about you?

      • j_v_lynch says:

        I was going to going to read your whining smug in the knowledge that I'm Canadian, but I think, perhaps, that my time would be better spent writing to my member of Parliament to see what we are doing to make sure we don't end up with the same problems.

  13. ghosthacked says:

    If they were going to rig it, they'd rig it so that it would LOOK like a close win. A "narrow" win. This psychologically looks "feasible" for the loser to accept, as well as makes them disheartened. They don't want martyrs, or obvious false victories.

    ..Leastwise that's what I did in my high school student elections.

  14. 1eyedkunt says:

    has anyone compared this year's exit poll->votes counted skew to charts and graphs from previous elections?

    • ammonoid says:

      Even if anyone did that it would be of questionable value because of the massive turnout this year/so many new voters etc.

      • 1eyedkunt says:

        it might at least give us an idea of what kind of shifts tend to happen - giving the data a little context never hurts.

      • 1eyedkunt says:

        if, as many commentators are speculating (and it's a rather tenuous argument, if you ask me), the shift was the result of republicans being reticent to talk to pollsters, this lopsidedness would be evident in previous elections as well. i suppose there have been some arguments that this year in particular republicans were encouraged not to talk to exit polls, but i can't imagine why that might be, and i haven't heard a convincing argument for that yet...

  15. holywar says:

    I just posted this in a similar thread elsewhere:

    Read this. If this guy (the editor of an extremely left-leaning weekly paper in Atlanta) doesn't think there's a problem, I'd say there's not a problem. It's the single most rational, unbiased thing they've said about the election in months, if not longer, and I was really surprised to see it.

  16. volkris says:

    Of course, after the 2000 election all you would hear from the left was that Gore won the popular vote. They were so excited about yelling this from the rooftops. And yet, he too won it by a margin below the margin of error on our voting systems.

    Somehow it mattered back then, while it's apparently not even a callable victory here.

  17. mattholland says:

    the fact that it was even close is disturbing enough.

    this is pretty much my feeling. the fact that it only takes a few thousand votes here and there is much more disturbing than whether or not they were stolen.

  18. wilecoyote says:

    The Mystery Pollster blog addresses this. He says the following:

    "...since 2000, the exit pollsters have tracked the type of voting equipment used at their sampled precincts. If the discrepancies could be explained, as some suggest, by precincts using the newer Diebold touch-screen voting machines, the exit pollsters could prove it. With their own reputations on the line, the NEP officials report no such evidence."

  19. the "surprising pattern of Florida's election results" can be explained easily if you assume, a) Florida Dems tend to be more conservative than Dems nationwide, so they tend to vote for their local Dem candidates who are more liberal than their local Rep candidates, but they tend to vote against the national Dem candidates who are more liberal than they like. b) counties that chose touchscreen machines tend to be more liberal than counties that chose op-scan.

    I looked at one of the small op-scan counties, Lafayette, which is 80% registered Dem but voted 80% for Bush. since 1988, they've consistently voted for Dem senators, Dem representatives, Rep presidents. it's plausible that much of Florida is like that, so that table doesn't necessarily show anything strange.

    there are better anomalies to look at.

  20. ammitbeast says:

    For those interested, I googled some other links last night. Be sure to read the articles about the Diebold CEO promising to deliver electoral votes to Bush.

  21. kiskadee says:

    I can't confirm trouble voting for the presidential office, but the voting machine (early voting in Palm Beach County) gave me trouble for one of the lesser items. It was a yes/no question, and I swear I kept selecting "no" but the checkbox for yes repeatedly lit up. My final solution was touching slightly below the no area, and then it worked. It only happened for that one question; the other 20 or so behaved fine.

  22. rzr_grl says:

    Counties using E-touch machines showed significantly positive percent changes in vote for both Republican and Democrat candidates, with greater mean percent changes for the Democrat. However counties using Op-scan machines showed significant positive percent change only for the Republican candidate, the mean change for the Democrat being insignificantly greater than zero.

    I may be mistaken, but this quote seems to describe the opposite:

    E-touch machines had positive increases for both, greater for democrat.
    Op-scan had "significant positive" change only for republican.

    Here in red mecca, people were calling the local talk radio show (yes, I do torture myself) with reports that their vote would "jump" to the candidate above their intention; sounded like an overly-sensitive touch screen, perhaps with poorly drawn hot zones. Since the venn overlap of "people who live here" and "people who listen to talk radio" must be approaching 100% republican, I must assume that their vote was jumping to someone other than Bush.

  23. jwz says:

    Chris Lightfoot says: "My take on this -- there's a little bit of evidence for fraud. Enough to justify more detailed research, not enough to cry `wolf'."

  24. fantasygoat says:

    There would be no issue at all if the fucking Democrats could pick someone even half likable to run.

    Kerry was very much a "hold your nose and pull the lever" person - he was greasy, evasive and lacked even the most basic of personalities. When they picked him over people like Dean or even Edwards I figured they were planning to lose anyway and didn't want to waste a good candidate against Bush.

    The mistake they made in that strategy was Bush falling on his face and making it possible to actually win. I think if they'd had someone like Dean in there, the Dems would have won.

    • macguyver says:

      Dean lost the primary for himself, it's up to primary voters to select the candidate.

      • fantasygoat says:

        He lost because he wasn't bland and inoffensive enough, which is stupid. The idea that the best candidate is often not selected at the convention is well known.

        Also, the idea that any asshole registered as a Democrat can vote for the party leader seems stupid. Here in Canada, the official members of the party which is usually sitting members of parliment pick the party leader. That makes way more sense.

        • denshi says:

          Also, the idea that any asshole registered as a Democrat can vote for the party leader seems stupid. Here in Canada, the official members of the party which is usually sitting members of parliment pick the party leader. That makes way more sense.

          s/party leader/President/

          Yeah, I don't know about your line of reasoning there.

          • fantasygoat says:

            The idea is that people who know something about the process and the people involved pick a leader, and then the people in general pick which of the chosen candidates they like better.

            As for the people picking the president, I think that's dumb too. Here in Canada the parties pick leaders, and the party that gets the most seats in Parliment becomes Prime Minister. That way, the people pick a local representative for their own needs, and if enough people like a certain party, they get to make overall decisions.

    • irma_vep says:

      You are absolutely right. Teresa Heinz Kerry was obnoxious and lacked refinement, and Kerry didn't have the personality or focus to have a consistent strategy. I don't know about greasy, but evasive and lack of personality is true. Bush is such a poor speaker and dork, someone like Dean or Edwards would have made much bigger strides.

  25. irma_vep says:

    You're right. Rove did mobilize the fundamentalists. Those fanatics have some serious pull. But a poll on CNN indicated that the most voters who voted for Bush thought he came across as a better leader. The Republicans effectively portrayed Kerry as a flip-flopper, even though Bush himself is one. The Democrats ran a poor campaign. Kerry did contradict himself, and change his mind. He wasn't the best choice for a presidential candidate.

  26. 21cdb says:

    I wrote everything up here: http://www.neurobashing.com/blog/archives/001509.html

    Take from it what you will.

  27. ckn says:

    jwz, awesome post, I've started to collect all of the hacked election articles and statistical analysis I can find: and I have some other links (about 80) that may interest you at: http://www.fuckthesystem.net/

  28. mulad says:

    Heh, yeah this story is beginning to look more and more like Mulder and Scully should be heading the investigation. The numbers pointed out at ustogether.org disturb me a lot. Either the Florida Secretary of State has been mislabeling Republicans as Democrats for years on end, or votes have been getting swapped in rural counties over the last few/several elections.

    Considering that the (theoretically) 88% Democratic Liberty County went to Bush 64% to 35%, something is seriously wrong. Apparently the tiny county voted heavily for Bush in 2000 as well, and also recorded high Democratic registration that year.

    As has been suggested in Thom Hartmann's article for CommonDreams.org, I suppose this could be a strange "Dixiecrat" phenomenon, but I strongly doubt that.

    Well, I'm practically doubting that Florida even exists at this point.

  29. granny6x says:

    On the subject of our election system and what has happened to it in recent years, here is a magnificent article by Cheryl Gerber that shows what we are facing:

    Too long to include here due to website limits, but everyone concerned with this keystone issue should follow this link:

    http://www.chronogram.com/issue/2006/01/news/