|Review of reports of November 2, 2004 Election Irregularities
Compiled by David E. Scheim
On November 8th, updated thru November 11th, an MSNBC news host, a respected and veteran journalist, reported what he called as a “blood curdling group of reports of voting irregularities and possible fraud” in the recent Presidential election. You can view the 16-minute video from http://www.truthout.org/multimedia.htm.
A new report, with a link posted on Zogby.com (http://www.zogby.com/soundbites/ReadClips.dbm?ID=10398) to the original (with charts) on (http://www.freezerbox.com/archive/article.asp?id=321), raises more questions concerning the vote result disparities in Florida reported by MSNBC.
Summary: Many Florida counties that were overwhelming Democratic by voter registration, up to 88%, wound up voting overwhelming for Bush, as much as 4-1. The interesting thing is that this situation occurred selectively in counties with a certain type of vote-counting technology (optical scanning) provided by Diebold. See details below.
See www.solarbus.org/stealyourelection and www.votersunite.org for links to breaking news and information on investigations into reports of fraud in the past November 2 election.
Also of interest is an academic report (http://www.solarbus.org/stealyourelection/articles/exit-poll-discrepancy-1110.pdf ) which concludes that the discrepancy in Bush votes tallied v. sampled in exit polls is sizable and difficult to explain. See, for example, the exit polling for Ohio reported late election night (third attachment) which put Kerry 4.2% ahead; the official vote count has Bush ahead 2.5%. (Note, by the morning of November 3rd, posted media exit polls had all been adjusted to reflect official vote counts.) The tallied v. exit poll discrepancies for Bush in other states, for example, were 9.5% in New Hampshire, 6.5% in Pennsylvania, 5.5% in Minnesota, and 4.9% in Florida. Nationally, exit polls put Kerry 2% ahead, not 3% behind as totaled from the official vote counts. This paper lists exit polling v. tallied results for several states, with sample sizes.
It provides some interesting background on exit polling data, including this quote from Republican pollster Dick Morris: “Exit polls are almost never wrong.... So reliable are the surverys that actually tap voters as the leave the polling places that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries.” And this interesting bit of history: “Last fall, international foundations sponsored an exit poll in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia during a parliamentary election. On Election Day, the pollsters projected a victory for the main opposition party. When the sitting government counted the votes, however, it announced that its own slate of candidates had won. Supporters of the opposition stormed the Parliament, and the president, Eduard A. Shevardnadze, resigned under pressure from the United States and Russia.”
In North Carolina, a study of November 2nd election results find some strange anomalies comparing the absentee vote with the live results in various races. In most of these races the result were quite similar. In the governor's race, for example, there was only a 0.5% difference between the absentee and live results. But in the senatorial race the pro-GOP gap was six points higher in the live results than in the absentee vote. And in the presidential race the difference was 9 points.
HOWEY POLITICAL REPORT – In North Carolina, election equipment counted straight party votes for Democratic candidates as Libertarian votes, in an error "that could affect election outcomes in as many" as 9 counties. Democrats discovered the error in Franklin County on 11/9 after noticing a final tally they couldn't "decipher."
The reports above square with several other credible reports I have seen in news sources and from direct accounts by acquaintances watching the November 2nd election of voting machines having Republican candidates selected by default, of significant discrepancies in voter count v. total presidential vote in individual precincts, and other problems.
MSNBC, 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Nov. 8, 8 PM ET
EXCERPTS: “There is a small but blood curdling group of reports of voting irregularities and possible fraud. . . . In Dixie County [Florida], 77.5 percent registered Democrats, Bush 4,433, Kerry 1,959. Lafayette County, 83 percent Democratic, Bush, 2,460. Kerry, 845. . . Five examples in 29 counties [in Florida] with decided Democratic margins that suddenly voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Bush.
The 29 counties in which that happened were among the 52 in the state that tallied their votes using paper ballots that were optically scanned by machines produced by the Diebold Corporation, the Sequoia Company or Elections Systems and Software. . . . In Florida counties where optical scanning of paper ballots was not used, no such violent swings were reported Counties with heavy Democratic registration voted Democratic, counties with heavy Republican registration voted Republican. . . .
From the report cited above, by Colin Shea
I work with statistics and polling data every day. Something rubbed me the wrong way. I checked the exit polls for Florida - all wrong. CNN's results indicated a Kerry win: turnout matched voter registration, and independents had broken 59% to 41% for Kerry.
Polling is an imprecise science. Yet its very imprecision is itself quantifiable and follows regular patterns. Differences between actual results and those expected from polling data must be explainable by identifiable factors if the polling sample is robust enough. With almost 3.000 respondents in Florida alone, the CNN poll sample was pretty robust.
The first signs of the rat were identified by Kathy Dopp, who conducted a simple analysis of voter registrations by party in Florida and compared them to presidential vote results. Basically she multiplied the total votes cast in a county by the percentage of voters registered Republican: this gave an expected Republican vote. She then compared this to the actual result.
Her analysis is startling. Certain counties voted for Bush far in excess of what one would expect based on the share of Republican registrations in that county. They key phrase is "certain counties" - there is extraordinary variance between individual counties. Most counties fall more or less in line with what one would expect based on the share of Republican registrations, but some differ wildly.
How to explain this incredible variance? Dopp found one over-riding factor: whether the county used electronic touch-screen voting, or paper ballots which were optically scanned into a computer. All of those with touch-screen voting had results relatively in line with her expected results, while all of those with extreme variance were in counties with optical scanning.
The intimation, clearly, is fraud. Ballots are scanned; results are fed into precinct computers; these are sent to a county-wide database, whose results are fed into the statewide electoral totals. At any point after physical ballots become databases, the system is vulnerable to external hackers.
It seemed too easy, and Dopp's method seemed simplistic. I re-ran the results using CNN's exit polling data. In each county, I took the number of registrations and assigned correctional factors based on the CNN poll to predict turnout among Republicans, Democrats, and independents. I then used the vote shares from the polls to predict a likely number of Republican votes per county. I compared this 'expected' Republican vote to the actual Republican vote.
The results are shocking. Overall, Bush received 2% fewer votes in counties with electronic touch-screen voting than expected. In counties with optical scanning, he received 16% more. This 16% would not be strange if it were spread across counties more or less evenly. It is not. In 11 different counties, the 'actual' Bush vote was at least twice higher than the expected vote. 13 counties had Bush vote tallies 50 - 100% higher than expected. In one county where 88% of voters are registered Democrats, Bush got nearly two thirds of the vote - three times more than predicted by my model.
Again, polling can be wrong. It is difficult to believe it can be that wrong. . . . The facts as I see them now defy all logical explanations save one - massive and systematic vote fraud. We cannot accept the result of the 2004 presidential election as legitimate until these discrepancies are rigorously and completely explained.
MSNBC, 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Nov. 8, 8 PM ET
(Keith Olbermann, a veteran broadcast journalist, received an Edward R. Murrow Award for his coverage of the events of 9/11. In addition to his extensive broadcasting experience, Olbermann has written for dozens of publications, including The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, and Sports Illustrated.)
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Did the new voting technology tamper with last week‘s presidential election? Why did an Ohio county lock down its vote count, claiming it was for homeland security purposes? [Update, 11-11: This claim was contradicted by an FBI spokesman, and apparently fabricated; see below.] Why did 29 heavily Democratic Florida counties, with optical ballot scanners, wind up voting heavily Republican? Full coverage ahead. . . .
Good evening. An Associated Press poll tonight suggests that 54 percent of us Americans have been given renewed confidence about the nation‘s electoral system based on last week‘s decisive presidential election. You guys might want to put that poll back into the field again next week.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, there is a small but blood curdling group of reports of voting irregularities and possible fraud principally in Ohio and Florida. That group of reports is moving from that end of the spectrum in which believers are likely to be wearing hats made out of Reynolds wrap to the other end of the spectrum in which the believers are going to the general accounting office and perhaps the FBI. The mainstream newspaper, the “Cincinnati Inquirer,” reports that officials in Warren County, Ohio, that‘s 20 miles northeast of Cincinnati, locked down their administration building last Tuesday night to prevent anybody from observing the vote count. Moreover the secrecy, unique among all 88 of Ohio‘s counties, was attributed to concerns about potential terrorism. [This was contradicted by an FBI spokesman; see update below.]
The newspaper reports that Warren County emergency services director Frank Young had recommended the walling off of the vote count based on information received from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI Mr. Young did not explain whether al Qaeda might have been planning to hit Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville or the King‘s Island Amusement Park. After some negotiating, reporters were finally admitted to that building around midnight. They were kept in the lobby. The counting went on unobserved two floors above them. Warren County‘s polls were among the last in Ohio to close, thus among the last to report and thus among the votes that clinched the state and the election for President Bush. A local television news director called the homeland security explanation a, quote, “ red herring.”
County prosecutor Rachel Hutzel told the newspaper that the Warren County commissioners were, quote, “within their rights to lock the building down, even though no other Ohio county did so because having photographers or reporters present could have interfered with the count.” You bet, Rachel. . . .
The “Cincinnati Inquirer” reporter who broke the story of the homeland security inspired lockdown of the vote count there is Erica Solvig. She joins me now. . . .
Follow up report by Keith Olbermann, Nov. 11, 2004: Questions about Ohio moved back into the mainstream yesterday with another cogent article in The Cincinnati Enquirer. The rationale for the bizarre “lockdown” of the vote-counting venue in Warren County on election night suddenly broke down when it was contradicted by spokespersons from the FBI and Ohio’s primary homeland security official.
County Emergency Services Director Frank Young said last week that in a face-to-face meeting with an FBI agent, he was warned that Warren County, outside Cincinnati, faced a “terrorist threat.” County Commissioners President Pat South amplified, insisting to us at Countdown that her jurisdiction had received a series of memos from Homeland Security about the threat. “These memos were sent out statewide, not just to Warren County, and they included a lot of planning tools and resources to use for election day security.
“In a face to face meeting between the FBI and our director of Emergency Services,” Ms. South continued, “we were informed that on a scale from 1 to 10, the tri-state area of Southwest Ohio was ranked at a high 8 to a low 9 in terms of security risk. Warren County in particular, was rated at 10.”
But the Bureau says it issued no such warning. “The FBI did not notify anyone in Warren County of any specific terrorist threat to Warren County before Election Day,” FBI spokesman Michael Brooks told Enquirer reporters Erica Solvig and Dan Horn.
Through a spokeswoman, Ohio Public Safety Director Ken Morckel told the newspaper that his office knew of no heightened terror warning for election night for Warren County or any other community in Greater Cincinnati. Despite the contradiction from both security services, Ms. South again amplified, telling the Enquirer “It wasn’t international terrorism that we were in fear of; it was more domestic terrorism.”
So the media was kept two floors away from the vote counting at the Warren County Administration on election night on the basis of a “10” FBI terror threat that the FBI says was never issued.
Appearing with us on Countdown last night, Newsweek Senior Editor and columnist Jonathan Alter said the Warren ‘terror’ story was likely to grab the interest of the mainstream media: “I think you’ll see in the next few days, other reporters start to get their act together… you’ll hear more about this story in the days and weeks to come.”
[Continuing from the 11-8-2004 transcript] OLBERMANN: And the Ohio numbers are straightforward compared to Florida. Their county totals in Tuesday‘s election might be attributable largely to largely Democratic districts suddenly switching sides and all voting for Mr. Bush at the same time, except that the 29 counties in which that happened were among the 52 in the state that tallied their votes using paper ballots that were optically scanned by machines produced by the Diebold Corporation, the Sequoia Company or Elections Systems and Software. All this data here is from the office of Florida‘s secretary of state.
Baker County, Florida, on the Georgia border for instance. 69 percent of voter registered Democrats. 24 percent Republicans. Yet President Bush got 7,738. And Senator Kerry, just 2,180. In Holmes County, in the panhandle, seven Democrats for every two Republicans in the district. Bush beat Kerry 6,410 to 1,810. In Dixie County, 77.5 percent registered Democrats, Bush 4,433, Kerry 1,959. Lafayette County, 83 percent Democratic, Bush, 2,460. Kerry, 845. In Liberty County, Bristol, Florida, 88 percent of registered voters there are Democrat. 8 percent Republican. Bush, 1,927. Kerry, 1,070.
Five examples in 29 counties with decided Democratic margins that suddenly voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Bush. In Florida counties where optical scanning of paper ballots was not used, no such violent swings were reported. Counties with heavy Democratic registration voted Democratic, counties with heavy Republican registration voted Republican. . .
And while a losing Florida congressional candidate reportedly says he has evidence of tampering with the results of those optical scans and is headed to the FBI with it six House winners from last week have turned instead to the GAO, the General Accounting Office. John Conyers of Michigan, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Robert Wexler of Florida, having written to the GAO to, “immediately undertake an investigation into the efficacy of voting machines and new technologies used in the 2004 election.” Today added three other representatives to their fold, Rush Holt of New Jersey, Robert C. Scott of Virginia, and Melvin Watt of North Carolina.
And added further evidence of improprieties in last Tuesday‘s vote, including quoting them here, “Poll workers in Broward County, Florida expressed concern that boxes of absentee ballots remain uncounted in the central storage facilities and were promptly escorted out of the supervisor‘s office by security after raising that concern.” . . .
OLBERMANN: By the way, that “Associated Press” poll with which we began which asked if the results of the election made you feel more or less confident in the fairness of this countries electoral system, 39 percent said less confident. [End of excerpted transcript].
What to do: Third party candidates, with the financial support of respected organizations, are well on their way to raising the funding necessary to successfully launch a full recount in Ohio. A recount has already begun in New Hampshire, focusing initially on counties in which Kerry’s margin of victory was much smaller than expected, at the request of Ralph Nader. Other recount and FOIA requests are under consideration; there is still plenty of time to do this before election results are certified in December. The concession of a presidential candidate has no legal standing if a recount establishes a different result. But an overriding purpose of these recount efforts is to preserve the integrity of the American electoral system, and to fix any systematic problems if identified.
To help fund these recount efforts, directed toward the non-partisan objective of preserving electoral integrity: please go to www.helpamericarecount.org.
To help fund FOIA requests and continuing work investigating questionable electronic voting technologies: go to
From the best information I have gathered over month of tracking, both are respected organizations, and the efforts they are pursuing are critically important.
- David Scheim, 540 552-8014, firstname.lastname@example.org