Ignore the rightist snickers. Ignore those who would straightjacket permissible thought. We have a right to ask difficult questions.
And the question of the moment concerns exit polls and electronic voting.
Some have criticized my pessimistic attitude toward this election, but I always heeded the warnings sounded by Bev Harris and others regarding the danger of computerized vote tampering. If Kerry did not win handily, he could not win at all. A truly lopsided vote would have been impossible to hide, because oversized gaps between polls and election night counts would prove too suspicious.
Although the vote was tight, such gaps nevertheless exists. And although those gaps were not massive, the pattern
is suspicious. Very suspicious.
Remember when networks used to trumpet the accuracy of exit polling? Last night, on-air talking heads (especially on CNN) loudly derided these same exit polls as untrustworthy. Perhaps polling methodology has become sloppy. Perhaps respondents have learned to enjoy fibbing to pollsters.
Or perhaps something in our current vote-tabulation system is fishier than an all-you-can-eat sushi bar.
Before proceeding, recall the commonly-heard axiom that Democrats tend to vote late, while Republicans tend to vote early. Many challenge that belief. Still, keep the notion in mind as you read what follows.
Exit polls published yesterday afternoon (by Slate and a number of blogs) gave this portrait of certain key results:
OHIO: Kerry 50, Bush 49.
FLORIDA: Kerry 50, Bush 49.
NEW MEXICO: Kerry 51, Bush 48.
At times, the poll data was even more favorable to Kerry in these three key states. See, for example, this screen capture
of CNN data in Ohio. No exit poll showed a Bush lead in any of these states.
Here we find grounds for suspicion. Electronic voting machines figured heavily in the final tabulation of the results in Ohio, Florida, and New Mexico. Moreover, in all three, paper audit trails do not exist
These states therefore offered the best, safest opportunity for manipulation of the final count.
Question 1: Even if we grant the potential inaccuracy of exit polls, how likely is it that in all three cases
the inaccuracy would show a "false positive" working toward the Democratic
advantage? Why doesn't the disparity ever work in the other direction?
Question 2: Why did problems afflict exit polling in three swing states that have widespread computerized voting with no paper trails?
In other states, where recounts are easier to accomplish, the exit polling matched the final results rather well. In Nevada, Illinois, and New Hampshire, computer votes do
have paper trails -- and in those instances, the exit polls mirrored the final totals.
To recap: In three states with no
paper trails, we have exit poll/final tally disagreement
. In three states with
paper trails, we have exit poll/final tally congruence
Let's return to the notion that Republicans vote earlier than Democrats. Many dispute that bit of folk wisdom. Even so, is it likely that the people waiting four, five or more hours in long lines, well into the cold of the night, underwent this endurance test to demand more of the same? Shouldn't the polls have showed Kerry's lead expanding
as the night went on, instead of evaporating?
Intriguingly, CNN's exit poll results underwent a mysterious revision
not explained by an increased number of respondents.
Black Box Voting
plans to file the world's largest FOIA request to uncover the internals of the compu-vote. Don't presume that such an inquest will come up goose eggs:
Such a request filed in King County, Washington on Sept. 15, following the primary election six weeks ago, uncovered an internal audit log containing a three-hour deletion on election night; "trouble slips" revealing suspicious modem activity; and profound problems with security, including accidental disclosure of critically sensitive remote access information to poll workers, office personnel, and even, in a shocking blunder, to Black Box Voting activists.
Today's Boston Globe
expands on some of the points I've made here:
Although some of John F. Kerry's leads in the state exit polls narrowed during the course of the day yesterday, there was a significant discrepancy between the actual vote total and the polling numbers, particularly in two states believed to be keys to the outcome.
While the exit data had Kerry winning Florida and Ohio by a narrow margin, the actual tabulated vote late last night had Bush carrying Florida by about five points and winning Ohio by two. In addition, a projected Kerry win of about five points in Wisconsin turned into a very tight contest, and what was projected as a close race in North Carolina turned into a double-digit win for Bush.
Again: Note the pattern. Why do exit polls always go wrong in the same way
? Pundits who assail these polls never
address this question.
Logic tells us that about half the exit polls would show false positives for the Republican side. But in the past two presidential elections, they have almost always (perhaps I should strike out the word "almost") delivered false positives for Democrats, and Democrats only
The simplest explanation: The Democratic false positives are not, in fact, false. The computerized tally is false
Remember: If malign parties have tampered with the electronic result, then our first, best -- and perhaps only
-- indication of fraud will be a conflict between the exit poll data and the "official" results.
A pattern of false positives functions much like a canary in a coal mine. It's a warning. Something is wrong.
As for what to do about it: May I suggest a visit to www.blackboxvoting.org
Others are catching the whiff of brimstone in the air. From News Target Network
Another burning question is surfacing: if this was such a record turnaround, with long lines all over the country, where did all the votes go? Because the vote totals don't show much of a difference from the 2000 election. It's as if a few million votes just vanished...
And from the good folks at the Raw Story:
In Wisconsin, where exit polls put Kerry up seven percent, Bush has a lead of one percent, an unexplained difference of eight percent.
In New Mexico, Kerry led Bush by 3.8 percent, yet Bush leads Kerry by 3 percent in actual reported voting.
In Minnesota, where a new law sharply restricts reporters’ access to polls, Kerry led 9.6 percent in exit polling. Actual voting counts found that Bush trailed by 5 percent, with a 5 percent discrepancy favoring Bush.
Ohio, which does have paper trail capability but does not mandate receipts, had exits showed Kerry and Bush in a dead heat; in the near-final results, Bush led by three percent.
Exit polls put Kerry up by 8 percent in Michigan; actual results show Bush trailing by just 3 percent.
Two states with mandated paper trails for electronic voting were within 0.1 percent margin of error.
Finally, at the Murdochian New York Post
, Dick Morris notes the astounding coincidence of Democratic false positives -- and implies that they prove a liberal conspiracy! This is not, of course, the first time Dick has suffered from foot-in-mouth syndrome.
Mr. Morris, your theory does not
explain why exit polls proved accurate in "paper trail" states. My theory does.