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Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Hampshire Rigged? Electronic Vote Fraud a Possibility

Were the New Hampshire results fraudulent? In shades of the underreported Ohio election scandal in 2004--which saw the imprisonment of two Cuyahoga County Elections officers--the '08 New Hampshire Primaries saw large unexplained discrepancies between polls and the results.

Speculation is rampant that people from outside the State could have shown up and voted. I guess the sheer variety of explanations for why Hillary was able to engineer a spontaneous turnaround is a product of suspicion. While electronic vote fraud cannot be proved, it's hardly been disproved either. I'll guess that more theories will arise to explain Hillary's statistically improbable victory as more analysis comes out concerning poll discrepancies.

I haven't been able to dive into polls and have chosen rather to monitor what others have been saying about the issue. I'm not going to make a case for fraud but rather address the incongruities that suggest the election results were not accurate.

McClatchy Newspapers has an article out about "Why are polls sometimes so wrong?", an interesting twist on the notion that New Hampshire primary results were rigged. Rather than raise the possibility that the polls were right and the election results wrong, the easier and far less confrontational (trouble-brewing) response is to blame the polls for being way off, even if the polls have a very low probability of being off as much as they were.

It's deja vu all over again, to borrow the Yogi Berra classic. We saw all this before in Ohio in '04 and before that in Florida, where we were led to believe that the unprecedented variation between exit polls and actual results was merely a statistical anomaly. Well apparently these statistical anomalies are occurring at a rate that will put their rare status in danger.

Maybe the exit and pre-election polls matter less and less and that the deviations between actual and projected results is becoming too complicated to analyze. But statistics has in itself the means to account for variation. And the averages themselves mean that results should be within a range of standard deviations. This is the + (plus) or - (minus) with some percentage that we see associated with poll reporting.

When we see polls err so badly, I think we can at least question the legitimacy of electronic voting used to tabulate results. The widespread adoption of electronic voting machines appears to be the chief difference between the historical monitoring of poll results vs. election results and the present age. Since the dawn of black box voting, historical averages seem to have become increasingly irrelevant which would make pre- and post-voting polls less accurate.

Is the unpredictability of anticipated results from exit and other polls a product of electronic voting? I don't know, but it is clear that whatever statistical deviations that pollsters use going forward need to embrace the greater unpredictability of the new norms. Historical precedents need to succumb to the modern age, I guess, but this doesn't mean exit- and pre-polling can't determine results or that the final tally is beyond rigging. If anything the uniformity of electronic voting standards brought forth by Help America Vote Act has ushered in an unprecedented opportunity for vote manipulators and illicit programmers to rig results using undetectable methods.

I guess your willingness to accept the real results versus those anticipated in polling is a function of whether you supported the winning candidates or not. Accusations of vote-rigging and electronic manipulation are easy to make but hard to prove. Yet if hadn't been for the discrepancies in Ohio in '04, I really wouldn't be as skeptical as I am today. Like 9/11, the absence of a thorough investigation into vote-rigging allegations also makes me skeptical.

Now if our voting system is privatized, which voting rights advocates like Bev Harris of blackboxvoting.org claim, both political sides are exploiting the system in order to subvert the popular will of the people as expressed through the impartial recording and counting of their votes. Now if Democrats win an election, Republicans will make allegations of electronic vote fraud and vice-versa, so out of that political milieu must come a nonpartisan effort to make sure votes are counted, not an easy chore. This will most likely require a paper trail, as I cannot assume that Diebold or Sequoia will willingly admit their machines have fault. And even if Diebold isn't actively changing results, a major point in the HBO documentary Hacking Democracy proved that anyone who had access to the machines could do so, in an untraceable way using only basic PC skills. [See my post on consortiumnews--available in its entirety below.]

Gary Langer, director of Polling at ABC wih more than 15 years experience, raises the serious problems he has between analyzing polling results and those of the Primary. In a technically troubled link courtesy whatreallyhappened, Langer says:
There will be a serious, critical look at the final pre-election polls in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire; that is essential. It is simply unprecedented for so many polls to have been so wrong. We need to know why.

I'm analyzing the results, but there are clearly grounds to question the election outcome. Here is one post, by Doug, under the article Langer entry on abcnews.com:
If you look at the pre-vote polls for ALL other candidates, they match up exactly. I mean exactly. Then, it is as if the Clinton/Obama results are reversed. They're both off by 5+% each. The statistical odds of this happening by chance must be astronomically small. This should cause a serious investigation into potential vote fraud.

Among those posting, reactions swing from highly doubtful from guarded suspicion to firm beliefs in the integrity of Clinton's victory, alongside accusation that the doubters are anti-women.

Another poster, Linda, says of Clinton that "she was supposed to lose in almost every poll by at least 10 percentage points."

JC posts to the same abcnews posting on January 9th:
Our poll here in Iowa before the caucus ran by the Des Moines Register was dead on with the Clinton/Obama results. Why are the NH polls so off? I guess when the votes are counted behind the scenes vs. out in the open like the caucus, then results can be WAY different.

I couldn't help but think of the quote by Stalin: "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes."

One voter, brendan, brings up the contradiction between New Hampshire's independent-mindedness and the selection of the two most establishment candidates, Clinton and McCain. I believe McCain won the Republican primary there in 2000, so perhaps McCain might appeal to the independent spirit of the people of New Hampshire as an maverick candidate even though he may have changed to a more mainstream ideology. Personally, I think McCain's promise to keep the US in Iraq for 100 years is sheer madness.

In some of the narrative accepted by the MSM, the unexplained swings are attributed to Clinton's tearful admission at the last minute, playing a victim as she had done in New York to win her Senate seat, one poster explained. Was the shedding of tears a modern day equivalent of husband Bill's proclamation in 1992 that he would stand with New Hampshire voters "til the last dog died"?

My opinion of Hillary's tear-filled antics was that they made her look old and sad. Using even my own very active imagination, I couldn't stretch the political significance of what was clearly the verge of an emotional breakdown into positive currency no matter how hard I tried.

The principle of Occham's razor is very important here. We cannot conclude that simply because the vote results did not match up with the polls election fraud occurred. Occham's razor is useful in de-link effects from causes and helps shut down conspiracy theory; it does not however give us proof that the election results were not rigged.

Even if we did know that the Diebold machines were hackable does not prove that they were hacked. Their hackability is in large part a function of the ethics of the companies which have been accredited, licensed, and chosen to maintain and distribute the machines.

For those familiar with the HBO documentary Hacking Democracy, the Diebold machines can be easily reprogrammed through their data cards. One test of a Diebold machine, yielded a completely untraceable outcome when new paper ballots were entered. I discussed this very important revelation in a previous post; people who want to see their votes counted should be extremely concerned about this vulnerability. Clearly if nothing has been done to rectify the security concerns, the potential for vote-rigging persists.

I'd say the risk of digital manipulation is particularly high when a partisan outfit is given responsibility for installing and programming new machines. Zealotry is a notable and in some way respectable trait that can often digress into wanton cheating in the absence of legal or regulatory authority.

John Kerry's unwillingness to confront the outcome of the voting in Ohio shows the very unassuming attitude that prevails in accepting the outcome of digitized, black box voting. And even where no hackable machines are used, we can see the effects of other schemes that discourage participation in places like Kenyon College (liberal college where students waited over five hours to vote) or in urban areas populated by minorities who traditionally vote Democratic--where machine shortages forced would-be voters to wait needlessly as additional machines idled in a suburban Columbus warehouse, at the discretion of Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell, who led Bush Cheney's reelection effort in that state. The chief executive of Diebold--also a main Bush campaign contributor-- likewise promised the state would go to George W. Bush.

For more on these crimes, see the excellent article by Kennedy in Rolling Stone on the stolen election in Ohio. {BTW, Rolling Stone just came out with a great story on the Drug War by Ben Wallace-Wells.}

I just posted on consortiumnews.com, a good site run by Robert Parry, which had the gall to claim that the McCain and Clinton's victories signified proof that the Iraq War no longer mattered in the campaign. However sweet that might sound to the Israel-first MSM and ruling elite, the fact is that Iraq is more unpopular than ever. It's mostly been the control over the debates by the MSM that's supported the theory that Iraq is irrelevant--in at least one Republican debate, any and all discussion of Iraq was prohibited.

The underlying article on their site is by Mary MacElveen under the awkward title "Where are the Tears for GIs, Iraqis?" (no direct link available). Here's the response I posted there:
I'm sorry but the Editor's Note is highly inaccurate: Iraq is a very important issue in this campaign. Iraq has simply dropped off the M$M radar. It's unfortunate that consortium news has bought into the theory that Iraq doesn't matter to Americans. A recent poll showed that Iraq was tied to the economy as the #1 issue of importance to Americans.

I would not presume that Iraq has diminished the slightest in its importance to Americans. As a matter of fact, resistance to the war is stronger than it's ever been.

Presuming that the Iraq war is of diminished significance because Hillary and McCain won the voting is illogical. As a matter of fact, I would say the preponderance of data from both the 2000 case in Florida and the 2004 presidential election in Ohio shows that the Diebold machines are vulnerable to hacking.

The New Hampshire Primary employed systems vulnerable to hacking and run exclusively by a Republican consulting outfit out of Connecticut. You may have seen the video titled "Silvestro the cat and the New Hampshire election" on youtube. The video might only be the tip of an iceberg of interlocking relationships between Republican business donors and the increasingly privatized network of vote machine vendors with exclusive distribution rights, like Silvestro's company, LHS Associates, which programs up to 81% of all New Hampshire's voting machines, according to the youtube video. Bev Harris offers an article on Silvestro here; rumormillnews cites that article in a post here.

Is the accusation all wild conjecture? We do have some large anomalies to think about like the Presidential election in '00 and '04, where polls did not match election results. In New Hampshire, we have evidence that vote total fell and votes disappeared in at least one town, Sutton.

We cannot at this point assume that the election results were not fraudulent. I don't have proof that they are fraudulent, nor do I think any evidence could be produced if the testing done by Ion Sanchez of Leon County, Florida, as shown in Hacking Democracy is in fact accurate. See this post on Sanchez's test. It's worth mentioning that Sanchez put hundreds of thousands of Help American Vote Act dispensations from the Federal government at risk by failing to certify the machines, which to Sanchez's credit would have been far easier than challenging the machines.

I have plenty of links on the '04 election fraud. Here is one by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman. The authors have been very active documenting and combatting electoral cheating in the State of Ohio; they've received no MSM coverage that I am aware of. They have a new book out on the topic.

For those who fear not the light of truth, the absence of MSM coverage should be a green light to learn more, especially when the facts are presented as effectively as they are by Fitrakis and Wasserman. See their site freepress.org for more.

An accurate and ongoing investigation is needed to track the key players in the Ohio election saga, which may unfortunately represent a new pattern in voter disenfranchisement through the use of paperless electronic voting. For an account of the dealings of two-time felon Michael Vu, a Cuyahoga County elections official fired in Ohio and hired in san Diego County, see this summary by Rady Anada, with some good links at the bottom.

I think the idea of hacking democracy to bring results in line with the desired media narrative is quite plausible. Obama winning New Hampshire might not be the storyline the MSM wants. Theoretically, the Clinton machine had the means and opportunity to influence Silvestro's LHS or others in control of the vote-counting software. The election results do appear to defy statistical precedent and the most recent and accurate poll data available, although my analysis is far from complete.

Update: 1-10-07 5:00 PM
I found two articles on the vote fraud issue in New Hampshire. Apparently hand-counted ballots differed considerably in the allocations between Hillary and Obama from those counted by Diebold machines. See Ron Corvus' post on opednews for specific numbers.

Also on opednews, this article by Jean Hay Bright addresses the discrepancies.



  • At 5:32 AM, Anonymous Ms. Caldwell said…

    Spot-on analysis. I've been a Democrat for quite a while, but I'll never vote for Hillary. She's too cozy with the establishment, pro-war, in favor of the richest and most corrupt corporations and in general a shill for all the institutions that are tearing the country apart.

    There's just too much BS to take the NH result at face value. The exit polls consistently showed a big Obama victory (and indeed they were accurate on the GOP side), yet somehow they're worthless on the Dem side?

    And among the precincts that used paper ballots (more more traceable and transparent), Obama came out on top by quite a bit, but somehow those results are reversed on the opaque Diebold machines? WTF?? And it's not like there's anything measurably different from the paper-ballot precincts vs. the electronic-count districts. Sure, there are more rural districts using the paper ballots, but many use electronic, while some urban regions use paper ballots.

    This whole thing has the stench of fraud, all over it. Democracy in the USA is in critical danger as it is, and Hillary, with all her polarization and corporate rubber-stamping, would make things much, much worse. I'll never vote for her, I might even vote for the Republican candidate if she were nominated.

  • At 12:19 AM, Blogger jbpeebles said…

    This story continues to develop. I just saw that bradblog is reporting that Kucinich is requesting a recount!

    The bradblog link is here. Post on potential NH vote fraud are all over that site.

    Here is a bradblog post concerning Chris Matthews' comments concerning NH exit polls. Another link covers the night-long post session they apparently had over the NH results.

    I was pleased to see much of what I said posted there at bradblog considering I just saw their coverage for the first time. This story appears to have big legs on the web...

  • At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I liked the article a lot. I am almost 60 years old, white, suburban, female and very upset that people like me are being used as the scapegoat rather than consider election fraud, which has so much historical precedent. Why is it so easy for the media to think that older white women would swing their votes overnight for such flighty reasons? We're kind of invisible people; our children are grown so we don't meet others at school functions any more; we're retired and our husbands are retired so we don't meet others at work. Somehow, we became convenient mystery motive voters. Its not true and I don't want this suspicion lingering around me.

  • At 1:34 AM, Blogger jbpeebles said…


    I can feel your pain. I've heard the isolation phenomena described as "atomization". The idea is that we are all self-absorbed, cocooning and preoccupied with the mundane details of everyday life (not coincidentally a pattern of buying decisions shaped around corporate marketing.) To quote Rachel Corrie, we should be so much more than what we buy. I hope to blog on this topic.

    Interesting also how our collective disconnectedness is becoming fully exploited as the consequences of privatizing our voting system begin to manifest. We need to act collectively--hard to do if we are hyper-individualized. Media consolidation is another technique. Awake, before we are body-snatched!

    Back to New Hampshire. I found a must-read article on alternet.
    Others are summarizing the case for fraud quite well, including David Lindorff, who's leading off at counterpunch on this story.

    Some more for the fire,

  • At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It is so obvious that the primary was rigged. Proof in one word -- Diebold. This the company which promised to deliver Ohio to W in 2004 -- and did exactly that. Same old story, people not allowed to vote (this time "ran out of ballots"). What innovative thinking required for that excuse!!! The corporate/ruling plutocracy will not release its grip on our civil society under any circumstances -- the constitution be damned! Just keep watching those TV's, admire the aristocracy, try to look like the 'stars', and live the life of luxury on your credit cards and reverse mortgages -- everything will be alright America. 'Til your grandkids wonder what the hell happened.
    John Brown, Ph.D.


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