election integrity

Kos, “Raw Data,” and the Mainstream Media

Michael Collins

When DailyKos publisher and owner Markos Moulitsas demanded that his pollster produce raw data from the polls Moulitsas purchased, he established a principle of election polling transparency that could open up the checkered history of presidential elections in the United States.

The controversy erupted when Moulitsas (kos) fired his polling company.  He was unhappy with their results and demanded that his pollster, Research 2000 (R2000), turn over raw data for review.  Moulitsas said:

“Early in this process, I asked for and they offered to provide us with their raw data for independent analysis — which could potentially exculpate them. That was two weeks ago, and despite repeated promises to provide us that data, Research 2000 ultimately refused to do so.”  kos

When R2000 either refused or delayed (there’s disagreement on that), kos took their actions as a sign of “fraudulent polling practices” (from the kos lawsuit).  DailyKos published a searing criticism of R2000 and the National Council on Public Polls supported kos in his demand that R2000 release the raw polling data.  Blogger Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com and the New York Times supported kos, as well.

The request by kos is well justified.  He’d paid for the polling.  Like any customer in this type of arrangement, he had a right to the product of the work done in his behalf.

Reviewing the basis for the polling results, particularly the raw data and the analytic methods, could answer two key questions:  1) were the polls actually conducted and 2) did  the techniques used meet the professional standards of  other polling organizations.

The president of R2000, Del Ali, defended his polling and denied any and all accusations of improper conduct:  “Every charge against my company and myself are pure lies, plain and simple, and the motives as to why Kos is doing it will be revealed in the legal process and not before that.”  Some of the criticisms of R2000 polling methods have been answered by independent analysis at RichardCharnin.com (more…)

HARDBALL IN OHIO & THE LOST BALLOTS Democrats May Lose Big with Brunner Senate Bid

HARDBALL IN OHIO & THE LOST BALLOTS

Democrats May Lose Big with Brunner Senate Bid

Michael Collins

Also published at Scoop Independent News & American Politics Journal

“Democracy is mocked by the Senate candidacy of the chief elections official, Jennifer Brunner, who did absolutely nothing about the massive defiance by the 58 county election boards that lost or destroyed the legally mandated records of the 2004 presidential election.  Some champion of democracy, some Democrat.” — Michael Collins

Ohio election politics now rival the political hardball of Texas, Illinois, and Florida at their best.  As a result, the state’s Democratic Party may once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the 2010 election cycle.  Through a bid for the open United States Senate seat, the self described election reform Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner puts two critical goals of Ohio Democrats at risk.

The first is the Senate seat held since 1999 by Republican George V. Voinovich who announced plans to retire at the end of his term this January.  This provided a short-lived advantage for a unified Senate candidacy by Democrats.  But the unity ended when the candidacy of Lt. Governor Lee Fisher, the party favorite, was challenged by Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

Election 2008 turned the tables on Ohio Republicans.  President Obama’s 51 – 48% win inverted the questionable 2004 outcome, the Bush 51% to 49% “win” over Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).  Obama not only reversed the 2004 results, his 2.9 million vote total is the highest ever in Ohio, a state with static population growth since 2000.

The Brunner candidacy threatens an Ohio Senate win by Democrats in 2010.

The absence of a contested primary is always preferred by either party.  Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) has the solid endorsement of top Ohio Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland.  Strickland and Fisher ran as a team to defeat the Republican Governor-Lt. Governor ticket 60% to 35%.

Brunner will divide the party in the primary election.  Those costs and efforts will reduce money for the general election.

Ohio currently has 18 members of Congress, with a ten to eight advantage for Democrats.  Had Brunner chosen to run for re-election as Secretary of State, Democrats would have been virtually guaranteed an advantage on the state Apportionment Board.  With her departure, control of the three member board would be up for grabs should Republicans win the Secretary of State contest.

Brunner offers up a slow pitch for any future opponent by holding onto her office as the chief elections official of Ohio.  She’ll be running in a primary and general election (if she wins the primary then resigns) that she’s preparing for right now as the chief elections official.  Former Republican Secretary of State Blackwell was severely criticized for massive conflict of interest when he did the same thing in 2006.

Brunner’s Record as Secretary of State and the Lost Ballots

Jennifer Brunner was a local judge before running for Ohio Secretary of State.  She ran for and won that office as a Democrat in 2006, part of a sweep of state executive offices for the Democrats.  She replaced J. Kenneth Blackwell, the most controversial Secretary of State in any state for decades.  The resolutely partisan Blackwell ignored multiple warnings that helped create a catastrophe in the 2004 presidential election.  This is well documented as was the pattern of election fraud throughout the country.

Brunner’s qualifications for the United States Senate seat depend largely on her record as Secretary of State.  How did she do?

Brunner promised a fair and open elections program if elected.  She was tested early.  When a federal judge ordered the collection of 2004 presidential ballots from Ohio County election boards, 58 of 88 failed to return some to all of their ballots.  The ballots were to serve as evidence of election fraud in a federal lawsuit underway in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio charging election fraud in  the 2004 Ohio presidential contest.

The defendants are J. Kenneth Blackwell, the 2004 state Republican Party Chairman, and major election officials.  After initiating the suit, attorneys for the plaintiffs got a court order mandating retention of all 2004 presidential ballots.  By Ohio and U.S. Code, these were to be retained for 22 months.  The court order extended those dates by telling election boards to preserve all ballots “unless and until such time otherwise instructed by this Court.”  Each and every county elections board received a copy of the order.  But when it was time to deliver, a majority of counties said they’d lost, “inadvertently” destroyed, or in some other manner discarded 1.8 million 2004 presidential ballots.  This compromised the law suit.

More importantly, it was a massive show of defiance by county elections officials.

Many counties simply reported the ballots were no longer available without any explanation.  Other counties offered a collection of excuses known as “the dog ate my homework letters.” The elections board in Allen County said the 2004 ballots were “compromised by water damage and subsequently destroyed.”  Water damage was a popular theme.  Holmes County said that the ballots fell on a coffee pot “and broken glass (was) strewn throughout the ballots.  These ballots were destroyed later that morning, as they were saturated and covered with glass.”  In Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), hundreds of thousand ballots were thought “lost.”  In an explanation letter to Brunner explaining the sudden appearance of the ballots, the acting elections director, in her own hand, said, “These ballots had been found (“hidden” crossed out) in Cuyahoga’s Canal Street warehouse,” she wrote.

The most instructive letter came from a County prosecuting attorney, not the elections board, who offered the following:

“Unfortunately, the actual ballot cards were inadvertently discarded and destroyed by the Ashtabula County Board of Elections just prior to the receipt by the Board of Judge Marbley’s Order and subsequent directive to your office.”  Thomas Sartini, Prosecuting Attorney, Ashtabula County Apr. 16, 2007

Did the prosecutor write this letter because federal and state laws were violated by said destruction?

This was a prime time opportunity for Brunner to open up an investigation into the sorry state of Ohio elections.  What did she do?  She offered this statement shortly after hearing of the lost ballots.

“If I had evidence of a cover-up, I would investigate,” Brunner said. “For me, the bigger question in 2004 was, ‘How many people were prevented from voting,’ (something) you can’t quantify.”  Jennifer Brunner, Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug 12, 2007

Brunner was never asked to explain how she could have any “evidence” without an investigation.  Brunner’s comment about “how many people were prevented from voting” makes little sense as an alternative pursuit.  It’s “something you can’t quantify,” she said.  What she failed to mention is that the widespread illegal destruction of ballots prevented a major election fraud case from answering that very question — how many citizens were prevented from voting or having their vote count?  If she wanted that question answered, she would have demanded a thorough investigation of the county boards of elections that didn’t do their job.

Mocking Democracy

The Democratic Party had a chance to live up to the meaning of its name when Jennifer Brunner was elected Secretary of State.  The events of 2004, the ballot measures election of 2005, the Hackett-Schmidt fiasco of 2005 and all the other well documented election disasters cried out for a comprehensive investigation.  There was a Democrat committed to democracy in charge.  Surely there would be some justice.

Yet when 58 counties defied a federal judge’s clear order to retain ballots and, in many cases, Ohio and federal laws on ballot retention, they got the endorsement of Ohio’s elected  defender of democracy.

A court filing in the federal law suit in Judge Marbley’s court by the Ohio Election Justice Campaign (OEJC) (pp. 54-63) elaborated on the cynicism of the ballot custodians.  This is an email exchange on Sept. 7, 2007 regarding the failure to preserve 2004 ballots.  These are actual board of elections executives:

One election official said: “Someone should tell them to give it up.”

Another responded: “I’m sorry. I’m just a little to busy trying to figure out how the government killed John F. Kennedy to deal with this.”

A third election official answered the question above:  “The Trilateral Commission did it.”  OEJC filing, Federal District Court, 07/10/08

OEJC continues to fight for recognition that ballot destruction is a bottom line issue by those charged with protecting the democratic rights of voters.’

Democracy was mocked in Ohio by those obliged by law to care for the election records when they lost or destroyed evidence in a federal law suit.  It was mocked by the ridiculous excuses offered by those election boards that bothered to explain their malfeasance.  Democracy was mocked when those who destroyed or lost ballots joked about it in emails.  It continues to be mocked by the Senate candidacy of the chief elections official, Jennifer Brunner, who did absolutely nothing about the massive defiance by the 58 county election boards that lost or destroyed the legally mandated records of the 2004 presidential election.  Some champion of democracy, some Democrat.

END

Permission to reproduce in whole or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article

Destruction of Evidence   Ohio’s 2004 Ballots Oct. 20, 2007

Stealing Ohio 2004   The Case Heats Up Nov. 8, 2007

Complete collection of “the dog ate my homework letters” – County election officials explaining why they destroyed/lost 2004 presidential ballots

“…the ballots shall not be counted in secret.”

..these ballots shall not be counted in secret.

South Carolina Constitution

An Appeal to John Edwards to Take a Stand for Voting Rights

Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, DC

Media, election, and judicial reform advocate Mark Adams, JD, MBA of Tampa, Florida discovered something very important in the South Carolina Constitution. It provides for secret voting but bans secret vote counting.

All elections by the people shall be by secret ballot, but the ballots shall not be counted in secret. The right of suffrage, as regulated in this Constitution, shall be protected by laws regulating elections and prohibiting, under adequate penalties, all undue influence from power, bribery, tumult, or improper conduct. South Carolina Constitution, Article II, Section 1

The South Carolina primary occurs Saturday Jan. 19th for Republicans and the following Saturday the 26th for Democrats. With a recount in New Hampshire and the questions about that outcome, we may be looking at a series of questionable results in subsequent primaries. U.S. meddling in elections overseas has blown back to “the homeland.” Secret vote counting is one of the key elements driving questions and forms a core criticism of the various state election schemes.

In a Zogby Poll in August 2006, 92% of the respondents said yes to the question: “Citizens have the right to view and obtain information about how election officials count votes.” In the same poll of over 1000 registered voters, over half expressed little to no confidence in the 2004 elections.

Welcome to 2008.

On January 16, 2008, Mark Adams sent this email to candidate John Edwards and others in the campaign offering a perfect opportunity to strike a blow for voters of both parties to challenge secret vote counting.

“Subject: Senator Edwards, Will You Take Action to Make Sure that South Carolina‘s Elections Comply with its Constitution

“Senator Edwards:

“I heard your call for eliminating touch screen voting machines. Of course, being from South Carolina you are certainly aware of its use of touch screen voting machines. Last Friday afternoon, I looked into South Carolina’s use of the infamous iVotronic touch screen voting machines, and I discovered that it’s banned by South Carolina’s Constitution.

“Some of the key information from my article “South Carolina Elections Are UNCONSTITUTIONAL” I published on Monday January 14, 2008 on OpEdNews.com follows.

“Article II, § 1 of the Constitution of South Carolina states, “the ballots shall not be counted in secret.” Although there is case law which supports the right to have votes counted in public, this is the election integrity jackpot, a Constitutional provision prohibiting counting votes in secret! No more need to refer to case law, evidence, or logic to argue against secret vote counting, at least in South Carolina.

“Many are worried about election integrity. In fact, a Zogby poll from August of 2006 indicates that 92% of Americans are worried about our votes being counted in secret. See, Zogby Poll

“South Carolina is the best opportunity to make a case against allowing computers to count the votes in secret. I’ve discussed this with two leading election law advocates who have also brought election contests. They both think that this is the best opportunity to act that they have seen. The South Carolina Constitution prohibits secret vote counting! The election reform community expects one of the Presidential candidates to take action. Snip

“You know what to do, but to help expedite things, I suggest that you or your representative send a letter to the South Carolina State Election Commission pointing out that using touch screen computers to count the votes in secret violates the prohibition in Article II, § 1 against secret vote counting, and I would demand that they take immediate action to implement the use of paper ballots which are counted by hand in public to conduct the upcoming primary. I would notify them that you will take legal action as soon as possible to seek an injunction requiring that the election process comply with Article II or postponing the primaries until such time as they can be conducted in a Constitutional manner.” Snip

Carpe diem,

Mark A. Adams JD/MBA (Full letter here)

Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again

In a very real sense, each primary will be about doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. We’ve got federally mandated and funded electronic voting machines throughout the United States thanks to the bipartisan Help America Vote Act and billions of taxpayer dollars. We have just a few voting machine types, with demonstrated security problems in every state. And we have the foundation for suspicion and disaffection with the political process through secrecy and obscurity in voting systems, regulations. All this is consistently dismissed by a political class irritated with the increasing demands for openness and accountability.

One more ingredient in the mix is the foreshortened primary season. We’re rushed to pick a final candidate through “super” Tuesdays designed to force a selection with months to go before the national conventions this summer. What do we really know about the leaders in the field? One thing for certain is that they’re the best funded of the lot. They have to be. The compressed primary schedule requires one thing above all others, money and lots of it.

So we’re on the precipice of what has to be the most important election in the nation’s history given the stakes and all we’ve got is the vulgar quatrain of anti democratic processes in place: heavily funded campaigns from private interests (i.e., legalized bribery); ongoing voter suppression of the poor and minorities; secret vote counting; and a rush to judgment that prevents real deliberation and debate. It’s another mission accomplished by The Money Party.

“Those few of you who still think that we can trust having our votes counted in secret will be happy to know that your view is shared by many powerful and influential people. For example, Joseph Stalin said, “Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.” If you want to roll back the evolution of civilization from citizen influence over government to a form of feudalism, then you might as well quit reading now.”

Mark Adams, JD, MBA

END

VoteCount2008.org – Adams web page
Mark Adams at FCC hearings, Tampa.
South Carolina Elections Are UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Mark Adams

“Microsoft 811”


© 2004-06 Rand Careaga/salamander.eps
With Permission

Making the World Safe

For Voting Machine Vendors

Michael Collins
Scoop Independent News
Washington D.C.

At a New Jersey town meeting this July, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) said of his bill, House Resolution 811, “It’s not my bill anymore.”

Why shouldn’t the world be safe for vendors? Microsoft in particular? After all, they pay the bills. Just let them have whatever they want and let the rest of us be thankful we’ve got jobs. This is the prevailing philosophy in Washington, DC, your capitol and the supposed heart of modern democracy.

House Resolution 811 (“The Holt Bill”) is coming up for a vote this week, word has it. The questions are stark. What will our Congress be voting for? Whose interests are represented in the final mark up of this legislation?

Voting in the United States is hardly inspirational. In fact, it’s become down right depressing for both those who follow it closely or those who keep their distance due to the dreadful outcomes in terms of legislative performance.

Let’s look at the close up. But first an acknowledgment. It’s hard arguing with those who say they wouldn’t let us vote if it made a difference because it hasn’t. It’s been eight months since the new Congress was seated and where are we? We’re still hip deep in Iraq and the Senate has done nothing to prevent the president from starting his next project, a military attack on Iran. We have no solutions to universal health insurance. and the rebuilding of New Orleans has been paid for but not begun. What a record! No wonder so many people don’t bother to vote.

For those of us who do vote, what is on the line with H.R. 811, the Holt Bill?

The Vendor Protection Act: Microsoft Uber Alles

A cardinal principal of almost all factions of the election integrity movement has been open computer source code for voting machines. Open source code is defined as, “…source code of software that is available to the general public with relaxed or non-existent intellectual property restrictions.” The basis for computerized voting machine software and methods could be examined by any citizen. As a result, it would be much easier to examine those nail biting elections we have so often or simply check on the integrity of any election, no matter how close. For the technically informed, this is one of the key elements required for transparent and fair elections where computerized voting (e-voting) is in place.

Advocates argue that open source computer code in voting machines will give greater access to understand how the machines operate. Quite simply, open source code will make it easier to assure that the votes cast are those counted. Not only will it be easier to check on any private vendor’s voting machine operations, with open source, this inspection will take place on an even playing field.

That was the original idea behind H.R. 811. The 2003 version of Holt’s bill was very clear. It stated:

No voting system shall at any time contain or use undisclosed software.

The bill, as introduced in 2006 was just as clear:

…source code, object code, executable representation, and ballot programming files [shall be made] available for inspection promptly upon request to any person.

The current version of Holt’s bill up for vote this week backs off of the public right to inspect voting machine software, open source code, in a big way and lets vendors keep secret the software and methods that determine your elections. Let me put it another way, you don’t get to see how the voting machines work that elect the officials who govern you – ever!

Washington to Citizens: Drop Dead

Citizens of the United States of America still believe that the government is a servant, hence the designation public servants for politicians and government officials. The idea wasn’t for them to serve themselves or private interests, like voting machine vendors. They’re supposed to serve us!

Here’s the new Holt Bill language:

an accredited laboratory that inspects voting machines shall hold the technology in escrow (read hold in secret). The laboratory (a private company, likely) can disclose technology and information to another person, if and only if that person or entity is a government agency responsible for voting, a party to litigation over an election or an academic studying elections. H.R. 811

What happened to disclosure of software and methods upon request of any person?

The Washington Two Step

Here we go again. We elect people to make our laws more open and transparent in order to know what is being done by those whose job it is to serve us. What do they do? They take the most fundamental right that we have, voting – electing our representatives – and they make it secret. Sure, a government agency can look at the software that counts the votes, the agency run by the politicians elected by the machines that need inspection. That will do a lot of good won’t it? Oh, and if you have the six or seven figures required to bring a law suit, you might be able to look at source code. Finally, as if to show that they‘re not as anti-intellectual as they seem, the bill says academics can look at the source code and other software and methods. That will do a lot of good, years from now …. maybe.

Nancy Tobi of Democracy for New Hampshire wondered how this all happened. The word from Capitol Hill was “take up your concerns with Microsoft and others in the proprietary software industry.”

It’s Official – Voting is Now a Rigged Game Run by the Government

Why not just change the name from elections to voting lotto? Except in this lotto game, the contestants are the very same people who make up the rules, pick the winners, and hand out the cash. It’s all so elegant and logical:

Politicians administer elections that determine whether or not they keep their jobs. They expect us to believe that they’ll catch each other when there’s any cheating going on and that they’ll report it to us right away. But we’re not allowed to see how the game works, how the equipment operates, or who does what behind the scenes.

Can any of you imagine how Mr. Trump would respond to any casino machine vendor who said, “Look buddy, it’s our software, our machine, and our game – mind your own business.” The words are (correct me if I’m wrong), “You’re fired!”

Long term researcher and activist Ellen Theisen of Voters Unite has supported the Holt Bill in its various forms since 2003. This is no longer the case. Theisen outlined her objections to the current Holt Bill clearly on June 11, 2007. I recommend a review of this brief but comprehensive editorial. She pulled her support because the current bill leaves some ballots uncounted; endorses secret vote counting and secret voting software; allows some wireless communication to slip through the cracks; and perpetuates the Election Assistance (sic) Commission, appointed solely by the president.

But I’ve saved the most ironic and outrageous aspect of all of this for last. If you’re still reading, check out these articles by voting issues author Michael Richardson. He did a comprehensive series of articles on the laboratories that will have the honor of holding tight the computer software, source code that determines the outcome of our elections.

Here they are, the laboratories who will store voting source code software; the vote taking and vote counting software that elects our representatives:

Banned Lab Certifies Nearly 70% of US voting machine 15 Jan 2007

State Elections Directors approved test labs rejected by National Institute of Standards and Testing 19 Jan 2007

CIBER Voting Machine Test Lab Failures is ‘Old News’ Known by Top Election Officials for Years 02 Feb 2007

U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chair, Donetta Davidson, Knew About Problems of Voting Machine Test Labs But Kept Quiet 20 Feb 2007

This is not quite as outrageous as giving the president the ability to start a war with Iran, but its damn close. Great legislating Congress! We knew you had it in you.

ENDS

Disclosure: I’m an advocate for an immediate return to hand counted paper ballots. However, since my view has not prevailed, I’m more than willing to discuss and critique improvements in any system in use.

Permission to reprint in part or in whole with a link to this article in “Scoop” and attribution of authorship.

Notes from the Underground – Why 2004 Matters!!!

Why the 2004 Election Matters More than Ever


Notes from the Underground
Richard Jacksties © with permission

Part 1: The Meaning of the Legend

Michael Collins
Initially Published “Scoop” Independent News
Washington, DC
Part 1 of series on
Election 2004: The Urban Legend

Election Magic

Imagine a night at the theater.* A magician comes on stage with a corpse in tow. A doctor from the audience confirms that it is in fact the very real human corpse of a middle aged white male. The magician passes his hand over the corpse just once. It gets up, dances a gig, and leaves the stage. The reanimated middle age man who was once dead returns for an encore.

You’re aghast! You go back stage and confront the magician, “How did you do that?” The magician responds sincerely, “I have no idea.”

Does that make him a magician?

Now imagine that after you question the entertainer, he rolls out another corpse, which is undoubtedly a quite dead middle aged white male. The magician says, “Just pass your hand over the corpse once.” You do, and the corpse arises, dances a gig and leaves the dressing room asking the first person he sees where to get a cab.

Does that make you a magician?

*************

On election night 2004, the networks came on the air and announced that George W. Bush had won the presidential contest to become 43rd president of the United States.

Earlier in the day, there were leaked reports revealing the results of the networks’ own exit polls conducted by a distinguished polling firm. The reports had the White House in a panic. Bush was sure to lose given the trends. According to the exits, he was losing his base, the rural segment of the population that had carried him to victory in 2000. Turnout in the Republican suburbs was not much greater than in the country as a whole, and new voters were going for Kerry 60% to 40%.

The final leaked poll was enough to bring broad smiles to the faces of Democratic leaders and committed campaign workers who had gathered in union halls and hotel ballrooms across the nation.

Then, as if by magic, the 11 pm Election Day vote tallies told a different story. These were accepted by the network reporters as an ex cathedra dictate from the American electorate. We were told that the pious Red prevailed once again over the decadent Blue, a replay of 2000 we were told. Bush was reelected.

The optimistic mood of the Kerry campaign and Democratic faithful was crushed in the twinkling of an eye. What happened? What about the exit polls?

The still corpse of the Bush campaign had been reanimated. It arose from the death of certain defeat, danced a gig, and trotted off center stage to do its considerable damage for the next three years: death and destruction in Iraq; dismantling of the United States Constitution; the abandonment of Katrina’s survivors (for all the world to see); augmented by an impressive and elaborate parade of other calamities that are all attributed to this feat of magic on election night.

How Did They Do It?


Steve Rhodes Creative Commons

Quite simply … by magic. According to the final exit poll, the only heat Bush won, he had two million less votes in the rural segment of the population. That segment went from 23% of the electorate in 2000 to 16% in 2004. Bush made marginal gains in the suburbs. He was headed for disaster rolling into the cities. He picked up steam in cities with populations 50,000 to 500,000, by breaking even in 2004 after a 17% loss to Gore in 2000.

But it was big city dwellers that passed their collective hand over the Bush corpse and brought it to life. He was on life supports before the big city totals were factored in. All that Kerry had to do was match the Gore big city percentage and he would be the next president. According to the day after election final exit poll, big city turnout was up 66%, Bush votes increased 153% (Fig. 5) over 2000 there, and white voters (Figs. 6 & 7) in big cities went from five million in 2000 to nine million in 2004.

Had some would-be campaign operative passed his hand over our largest cities and reanimated white males in sufficient quantity to save the seemingly doomed Bush and doom the rest of us?

Election 2004: The Urban Legend

On June 13th of this year, “Scoop” Independent News published Election 2004: The Urban Legend. I wrote the article based in large part on the research of Internet poster Anaxarchos. The figures cited above from the final national exit pool exit poll and the absurdist conclusions forced from those figures demonstrate that there is no reason to have faith in the final poll result and, as a result, no reason to believe that there is a coherent narrative to justify the election results and the Bush victory.

We’re like the incredulous audience member who went back stage to confront the magician. Even though we can do the trick ourselves by passing our hands over the questionable reported results and the final exit poll to justify continued political life to someone who looked like a sure loser, there’s a foul magic to the process.

Where are the Critics of the Urban Legend?

When the article was published, it received wide spread attention across America’s only uncensored news source, the Internet. Multiple sites posted the article in full, not a common event for a 7,500 word analysis. Major figures in the free and fair elections movement provided their endorsement including Mark Crispin Miller and Ernest Partridge.

We anticipated a full scale assault from friends of the network’s long time polling company, Edison Mitofsky (EM). Nothing much materialized. This was surprising since our reporting and interpretation of the network – EM presentation of the urban results dooms that poll to the status of a failed effort, at the very least, and, more likely, one of the biggest ever failures in public opinion polling.

Anaxarchos Responds to the Missing Critics

Recently, I received a letter (see appendix) from Anaxarchos containing his remarkable comments on the few criticisms offered and, more importantly, an elaboration on the initial article. I’d encourage you to read the full letter (see Appendix) as well as this article.

Anaxarchos: “Having looked carefully at the critical reviews, it appears to me that your critics have entirely missed the import of your piece and its underlying analysis. I could review many of the subsidiary points they raise, but that seems unimportant compared to the two larger points that they don’t mention.”

He’s correct. Those who ridicule critics who question the results of the 2004 election were restrained to say the least. This was surprising. The Bush defenders have left no criticism of the election results unturned, particularly those related to the exit polls. Why the restraint?

There were no substantive responses to Urban Legend because there could be none. The claim that turnout in the big cities (500,000 or greater) went up 66% was demolished entirely through simple political commentary. Why would urban residents’ turnout in waves propelling Bush to victory when the rest of the country was only at a 16% increase in turnout? What had Bush done for them to justify this first ever rousing level of support? More importantly, when in our history did an incumbent president lose share and actual votes in his strongest area (in this case, the rural segment) and gain steam and secure an election victory in hostile territory (the big cities)?

The claim of the 66% increase in turnout was also put to a final rest by the incorporation of actual city turnout data made available on election night and finalized shortly there after. Specifically, actual city voting results showed that city turnout increases were only about 16%, (Chart 1) the reported average for the country. These big city results were, in some cases, reported on election eve by the very networks that paid for the exit polls and by the exit pollsters who claim to reconcile their final results to the election results. One must wonder if the right hand was giving to the left the full story.

Could the polling company and their sponsors, the major networks (plus CNN and the Associated Press) have been this ignorant of what was happening in New York City? The results reported on local news outlets owned by the networks showed a 12% increase in turnout? That’s 54 points below the claimed urban increase of 66%. New York is, after all, the headquarters of the television network poll sponsors and near the headquarters of the polling company. Did they simply ignore these results in their haste to produce their version of the final exit poll the day after the election? And why wasn’t there any comment on the more than obvious disparity between the actual results for big cities, particularly on turnout, and the polling results they continued to show long after the certified vote count for big cities became available to everyone. This is a critical question addressing the integrity of the entire exit polling and reporting process for 2004.

The Entire Narrative of the Election

Anaxarchos elaborates the first big error of the exit pollsters and network consortium

Anaxarchos: “It seems to me that the most important implications of “Urban Legend” are these:

1) The entire narrative of the 2004 election is built on the foundation of the exit polls. There is virtually no other real-time source of data on who voted how, why, and where. Indeed as the critics of the use of exit polls for fraud detection have pointed out on many occasions, this voter survey is precisely what the exit polls are “intended” to provide, and why they are funded by the consortium of media outlets, the NEP. The Charlie Cook reference in your piece was typical. The Exits provided the sum total of the data behind his analysis of the election.”

Based on the final exit poll two distinguished analysts, Charles Cook and Ruy Teixeira stuck their necks out in different directions. Cook called the Bush victory a display of political genius and immediately made a fundamental mistake. He claimed that defections from the Kerry camp by black, Latinos, and Jewish voters had done the trick for Bush. Had he examined the data available at the time, he would have known that there were only marginal changes in these groups. Teixeira was more precise as Anaxarchos points out:

Anaxarchos: “Unfortunately, so committed was Teixeira to the impossibility of widespread election fraud, that he assumed that there was disconnect between urban data as the NEP defined “urban” and county data, with the observation that, “urban doesn’t mean urban and rural doesn’t mean rural”. Teixeira promised a detailed county analysis to reconcile the differences. Of course, no such “reconciliation” was forthcoming. My guess is that Teixeira, like Cook, underestimated the magnitude of the “reconciliation” that would be required and also underestimated the final turnout of the 2004 election which only further widened that gap.”

One of the most astute analysts, Cook, jumped to the self-informed conclusion that the Bush urban victory had to be due to a shift in ethnic voting. It’s easy to see why. He was unaware that the white big city vote increased from five million in 2000 to nine million in 2004. We can suppose that it never occurred to him that such a thing could or would happen. Why would we expect him to check the exit turnout rate against actual city voting totals?

Teixeira’s response and follow up are even more perplexing. He’s the author of The Emerging Democratic Majority and a recognized polling expert. After dropping his confusion of terms argument, he promised a county analysis to show how Bush won, a common response of establishment Democrats. But he never produced the study? Why? Maybe he stared into the abyss and the abyss stared right back.

He dismissed claims of fraud based on exit poll analysis by writing “… it is possible that the magnitude of these corrections has been greater than normal.” That depends on what your definition of normal is. What’s normal about increasing turnout by a factor of four (16% actual to 66% claimed) to achieve an absurd result? The basis for the urban data correction (actual city results) was available when he made this statement. Had he bothered to look? We’d like to hear from him on this and the questions we outlined clearly in the original article (presuming he’s given up his role as a Democratic apologist for questions about Bush election integrity).

So what does this mean?

Anaxarchos: “ It means at a minimum that either one must try to support the indications of the Exit Polls that the Bush winning margin in 2004 came in the Urban centers, implausible as that seems, or one must craft a new narrative of the 2004 presidential election. Believe it or not, the former option is not nearly as difficult as the latter. Your critics have missed what it means to simply declare that “the Exit Polls must have been wrong”. With that dismissal, much of the supporting evidence for how Bush “won” in 2004 disappears as well.”

For over 30 years, the way we’ve made sense out of “who voted where and why” is through exit polls which are designed to and accepted as answering those very questions. There have been few complaints, other than Florida 2000 when the exit poll showed a narrow Gore victory. Given the trashing of 100,000 mostly minority spoiled ballots, who could criticize the pollsters if they initially showed a Gore victory as a result of interviewing voters in minority precincts whose ballots had been “spoiled.”.

If we don’t know how Bush won, ratifying the election results is mindless magic. If we don’t demand an understanding of how he won, then can we dismiss the notion of election fraud made over and over with to an ever widening and receptive audience? Are elections the one area of administration activity that escapes critical analysis? Perhaps the election fraud doubters have been listening to Alberto Gonzales and his crew on these questions.

Anaxarchos offers a compelling case for the election polls failure across the board, not just in the big cities.

Anaxarchos: “Consider the following:

If the Bush winning margin did not come in the cities, where did it come from? If the urban vote as reported by the Exits is incorrect, then the remainder of the Exit Poll narrative must also be incorrect. It is true that the big city vote underlines the anomaly but take a look at the three-category demographic (Urban, Suburban, and Rural) and you get a slightly more muted version of the same story. If the cities don’t hold Bush’s winning margin, then that clearly means that it must have come from somewhere else. While the erosion of the Bush rural margin is significant, reversing it is not enough. We must also “offset” the loss of Bush’s urban margin in the suburbs and we must do this while constantly living under the overhang of an 18% increase in turnout (which clearly favored Kerry). The result is that the Exit Polls must not only be “wrong” in the cities, they must also be “wrong” across the board and this to a significant degree. In truth, the degree of this “wrongness” must increase as we go from city to countryside because, as we have seen, the Exit Polls weight the Bush urban margin into existence.”

Painful choices regarding the outcome of the 2004 presidential election.

We can accept the official election results simply as reported by discarding or denying any and all questions and anomalies. Doing so makes us no better than the uncritical magician in the opening passage. It just happened. We don’t know why. We agree that it doesn’t make much sense but that’s just the way it is (in this best of all possible worlds). Move along.

We can accept the election results and totally dismiss the exit poll adjustments as indicative of a flawed poll that should be dismissed. Our argument here is no better than in the first option. Its faith based. That’s just the way it is but we’ll discuss it a bit, feign erudition, and impress you with our obscure knowledge of polling methods and math.

Or we can face the reality and the dreadful conclusion. There’s no way to tell if Bush truly won the vote total in 2004 while there are many reasons to doubt that he did. The parallel measurement of the actual vote, the exit poll, can only concoct a Bush victory through egregious adjustments to its own raw data for the big cities. Why would such adjustments be required? Was the measurement off for the smaller cities where Bush gained 17 points over 2000? Was it off for the suburbs and rural segment? What about the voluminous reports of voter suppression and voting irregularities across the nation; reports including consistent vote flipping from Kerry to Bush?

 

If there were no problems with the actual vote count, problems that the exit poll analysis clearly indicates, why on earth would two thirds of Ohio counties destroy the ballots and election records from 2004 well before the required retention period?

And what about this question, perhaps the simplest of all with the greatest potential for understanding just what happened in 2004? Why does the network consortium refuse to release the raw data for 2004? The raw data has been closely guarded by the pollsters and the networks despite at least two requests for examination of this data by now Committee on the Judiciary Chairman, John Conyers, Democrat, Michigan.

Has that data suffered the same fate as the destroyed Ohio ballots?

Would the handling of the raw data that produced this unbelievable narrative embarrass the networks and indicate that they should have known shortly after the election; that they certainly know by now, without any doubt, that there are huge problems with the final exit poll, the poll the national election pool and its polling company have defended to consistently and vigorously?

Or would the freeing of this privately held data concerning our public election show what many suspect: the real winner of the 2004 election is not sitting in the White House.

You can be sure that the four major networks, CNN, and the Associated Press would be in court right now demanding the release of the exit poll data were it any concern other than them holding back the data from the rightful public review demanded.

ENDS

*Metaphor based on a story from S. John Macksoud, Other Illusions, 1977. Published by the author.

Permission to reprint in part or whole with a link to this article in “Scoop” and attribution of authorship.

Appendix: Full Letter from Anaxarchos to Michael Collins

Initially Published “Scoop” Independent News

Kucinich Says NO to Holt Bill

 

Cong. Dennis Kucinich (R-OH) just announced that he no longer supports the Holt Bill, H.R. 811. This article was originally published after Dennis Kucinich introduced H.R. 6200, a bill requiring paper ballots only for presidential elections. The bill was introduced in the 109th Congress. With the new Democratic majority, Kucinich became a co-sponsor of the Holt bill, H.R. 811, a bill that critics argue further erodes voting rights and confidence. The public input to H.R. 811 has been intense and consistent. Kucinich made his announcement at Democracy Fest, a DFA event put together by voting rights advocate Nancy Tobi. Tobi has been one of the harshest critics of the Holt bill. She’s a frequent contributor to OpEdNews. Additional coverage can be found from BlackBoxVoting.Org, election law attorney Paul Lehto, and Internet Poster Einsteinia.

M. Collins: Paper for President

The Time is NOW

Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, DC

The United States just endured another election that inspired more suspicion than confidence. Two years after the fiasco of Election 2004 in Ohio and elsewhere, four year years after the never investigated mystery of Georgia 2002, and six years after the disgrace of Florida which saw the loser of the popular vote (s)elected President by the Supreme Court; major problems pervade the US election system. The new problems created by computerized voting and tabulation merge with traditional race and class based election fraud in an assault on free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections.

The Democratic controlled House of Representatives may be 10 to 12 members shy on the left side of the aisle due to election irregularities. Jonathan Simon of the Election Defense Alliance just published a major paper demonstrating that as many as three million votes may be missing from the 2006 election. Problems of this sort were anticipated by internet poster TruthIsAll and this author in a three part series in “Scoop” which developed a vote fraud model that identified likely races for those photo finishes that always seem to put a Republican in office.

Snip – Full Article

Paper for President: House Resolution 6200

Representative Dennis Kucinich, D, Ohio introduced HR 6200 on September 27, 2006. His bill will “amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States to conduct Presidential elections using paper ballots and to count those ballots by hand, and for other purposes.”

The main features of the bill include special rules for Presidential elections.

  • Presidential elections will be conducted entirely with paper ballots;
  • Each precinct will include no more than 500 paper ballots per ballot box;
  • Paper ballots will be counted by hand in the precincts where voting takes place and vote counting will be witnessed by a representative of each political party with a candidate on the ballot “as well as any interested member of the public.”

HR 6200 takes the logical step of moving Washington’s birthday celebration to election day during presidential election years making it easier for working people to vote.

If passed, the bill takes effect in time for the November 2008 presidential election.

Rep. Kucinich announced HR 6200 at the
9/06 “We Count” Conference in
Cleveland

The Only Viable Alternative for Balloting: A Clear Public Consensus

A Zogby Poll of 1018 likely voters in August 2006 found that 60% are aware of the problems posed by electronic voting, 80% oppose private vendors keeping the operation of their electronic voting devices a trade secret, and 92% support the right of the public to watch vote counting. Other surveys, online and by phone, show that public confidence in US elections is below 50%.

Governor, Ohio, 2006

 

Democrat Ted Strickland crushed former Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in the race for Governor but voting problems remain in Ohio and around the country (from CNN).

Snip – Full Article

Paper balloting has the advantage of producing ballots that actually exists, can be counted in public, stored indefinitely, and reviewed for purposes of recounting and election auditing. The alternative, so called voter verified paper ballots are appendages of the failed and likely corrupted electronic voting machines that they are supposed to verify. By seeming to correct a problem with touch screen voting, voter verified ballots serve to both enshrine and ratify an electronic voting system that has failed again and again. Proponents of this approach trail public sentiment by a significant degree given the Zogby results, other recent polls, and internet polls where up to 85% consistently vote to cease electronic voting of all kinds.

The Kucinich bill currently has 20 cosponsors. It is one smoking gun election fraud scandal away from passage by acclamation given the current distrust of everything electronic and computerized in our electoral system.

picture

Hand counted paper ballots do not address two other vipers at the throat of US democracy, race and class based voter suppression and private funding of political campaigns. These twin threats to democracy must be addressed as well. However, hand counted paper ballots for presidential elections will provide greater assurance for those who vote that their vote was taken correctly and counted openly in front of witnesses from the political parties and the general public. Under the Kucinich bill, any US citizen reading this article can request and be granted the right to witness vote counting. It’s about time!

END

More information on hand counted paper ballots at Count Every Vote.

©Copyright. Please feel free to reproduce and distribute this in any fashion you feel suitable with an attribution of authorship and the publisher, “Scoop” Independent News, plus a link to the article.

Appendix:
House Resolution 6200, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D,
Ohio
109th CONGRESS 2d Session
H. R. 6200

To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States to conduct Presidential elections using paper ballots and to count those ballots by hand, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 27, 2006

A BILL

To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States to conduct Presidential elections using paper ballots and to count those by hand, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the Paper Ballot Act of 2006′.

SEC. 2. REQUIRING USE OF HAND-COUNTED PAPER BALLOTS IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.

Section 301(a) of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15481(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

`(7) SPECIAL RULES FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS- Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection, in the case of a regularly scheduled general election for the electors of President and Vice President (beginning with the election in November 2008), the following rules shall apply:

`(A) The State shall conduct the election using only paper ballots

`(B) The State shall ensure that the number of ballots cast at a precinct or equivalent location which are placed inside a single box or similar container does not exceed 500.

`(C) The ballots cast at a precinct or equivalent location shall be counted by hand by election officials at the precinct, and a representative of each political party with a candidate on the ballot, as well as any interested member of the public, may observe the officials as they count the ballots. The previous sentence shall not apply with respect to provisional ballots cast under section 302(a).’.

SEC. 3. MOVING OBSERVATION OF WASHINGTON‘S BIRTHDAY TO ELECTION DAY DURING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEARS.

Section 6103(a) of title 5, United States Code, is amended—

(1) by inserting ‘the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November in 2008 and every four years thereafter, and after ‘Washington’s Birthday,’

and

(2) by inserting ‘in any other year’ after ‘February’.

Full Article

U.S. Attorneys: Asleep at the Switch

 

How About Election Fraud?

Michael Collins
Washington, DC April 2, 200
First Published in “Scoop” Independent News

The sacked eight, as we’ll call the fired federal prosecutors, are a hot topic nationwide. Their inauspicious Dec. 7, 2006 firing became a major controversy when New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias caused a furor in early March by actually objecting to his firing. It seems his former sponsor for that position, the intense Senator Pete Domenici, (R-NM) had called attorney Iglesias and implied (as in insisted) that that he prosecute some Democrats before the midterm elections.

Senator Domenici is not amused.

Why? We can only guess but as things look now, the prosecutions would have benefited Domenici’s heir apparent, Cong. Heather Wilson, (R-NM). Seems Heather was in a fix. She’d been accused of sequestering a file that New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Families had on her husband. There was bad publicity with the implication of nepotism (Wilson was head of the department at the time).

This meant that her tight race was going to be even tighter. Democratic challenger Patricia Madrid had any number of things going for her: a comfortable lead in the polls, the support of a popular governor, and high name recognition. Heather couldn’t count on the same breaks got from the state’s voting machines in 2004. This was a real fight.

Wilson won which by just under 900 votes. This raises some questions. First, what if Iglesias had charged the two Democrats Domenici fingered? Would the Wilson margin have been greater? Second, were there any election irregularities or machine malfunctions worth looking into? That’s a pretty tight margin for a race with over 210 thousand votes. Madrid’s pre election polling alone should have triggered at least a look see. In the late breaking polls, Madrid lead Wilson 53% to 46%. Was there a Wilson surge or could it be…

 

Heather’s happy.

There were controversies in New Mexico’s 2004 elections. . Greg Palast investigated and found thousands turned away from voting due to restrictive voter identification laws (just the type encouraged by the “voter fraud” prevention program). He also noted:

Last year, I flew to New Mexico to investigate the 33,981 cast but not counted ballots of that state in the 2004 race. George Bush “won” New Mexico by 5,988 votes. Or did he? I calculated that, of the all the ballots rejected and “spoiled,” 89% were cast by voters of color. Who won New Mexico? Kerry won–or he would have, if they had counted the ballots.

(more…)

“SHOW ME THE VOTE” – PAPER BALLOTS NOW!

Show Me the Vote!

Major Voting Rights Initiative Announced

Missouri Activists Say “Show me the vote”
George Caleb Bingham’s “The County Election,” Boone County, Missouri” 1851


Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, DC

Kansas City, MO. A diverse group of Missouri activists made history today when they announced a 2008 ballot initiative to return their state elections to paper ballots. The country has adopted electronic voting at a break neck pace since 2000 propelled by over $6 billion in subsidies by the White House and Congress.

This announcement marks the first major resistance to the e-voting trend. If the initiative gets on the ballot and passes, Missourians will be voting on and hand counting paper ballots. Canada, Ireland, Italy, and England all vote on hand count paper ballots. The United States did as well until the rush to electronic voting rendered the traditional paper ballot all but extinct.

Phil Lindsey a Missouri activist and Director of ShowMeTheVote.Org, presented the initiative in a speech tonight at the University of Missouri, KC before a packed hall. The initiative announcement was preceded by Stealing America: Vote by Vote, a film by Emmy award winner Dorothy Fadiman. A panel of election experts discussed the film and American elections in the age of e-voting.. lections activists iscussion bytonight.ct from your initiative?

On allinaces that the orority ized voting machines the return o

Show Me!

Lindsey offered a stark assessment of the U.S. elections today by reviewing the short but intense history of wide spread electronic voting since 2000. He pointed out the thousands of reported failures plus key election results that were simply without explanation. He argued for the return of citizen access to and participation in elections. Under the proposal, citizen involvement in taking and counting votes represents the cure for inaccurate vote counts, suspected election fraud, and declining voter.

(more…)