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OK, Mig, I know you've worked hard on this, but I remain unconvinced.  Absolutely, it's worth investigating, but I just don't see a smoking gun.

A bunch of random thoughts and links in no particular order.  (Sorry for the incoherence, I'm still pretty sick and my head is kinda fuzzy.)

My main problem is that few of the sites you link to cite where they got their data, and at least one of those that does cite a source (but doesn't link to it) uses numbers that don't match the source.

Examples:  The guy from Election Defense Alliance says he got his data from the NH Secretary of State web site.  He doesn't link to it, but the data is here.

He says Clinton had 91,717 optical-scan votes and 20,889 hand-counted votes, for a total of 112,606 votes.  But the NH Secretary of State says Clinton got a total of 112,610 votes.  He says Obama got 81,495 optical-scan votes and  hand-counted votes for a total of 105,004 votes, but the NH SOS says he got a total of 105,007 votes.

He also doesn't say how he determined which votes were machine-counted and which were hand-counted.  Here's the official list of machine-counted municipalities, fyi.

The statistical exploration post  you were so impressed with says he got his data from this post at Reddit.  But the very first comment on his post points out that he got the machine/hand count towns wrong, so those data and calculations are useless until he gets those right.

An interesting post that I don't think you linked to gets different numbers and breaks it all down county-by-county.  I will note that he (I assume it's a he) says he got his data from politico.com, which is a commercial political journalism site, not an official source.  I haven't had time to poke around politico to see where their data came from, but if they're not idiots (and they're not) then it probably comes from the secretary of state.  But still, I wonder why the guy would rely on a middle-person rather than go directly to the source.

Also just FYI, this might be interesting to play around with.

Next, here's the AP's take on the matter, citing "experts" (whatever those are) who are skeptical about the claims of fraud.  I link to it because I do think it makes a couple of points.

First, the AP's own numbers don't show this weird percentage-switching either:

An analysis by The Associated Press' Election Research and Quality Control service found that Clinton led Obama by about 6 percentage points in machine-counted towns, where she earned 53 percent of the vote and Obama earned 47 percent. Obama led Clinton by about 8 percentage points in hand-counted towns, where he earned 54 percent of the vote and Clinton earned 46 percent.

I will note that the AP is very good at elections.  They did not call Florida for Bush in 2000.  They have screwed some stuff up in the past, but they take this stuff seriously and have some solid people working on it.

Second, they offer this explanation of the patterns we see, and note that it is not new.

Joe Lenski, executive vice president of Edison Media Research, one of two firms that conduct election exit polling for The AP and television networks, said those numbers fit the pattern.

"If you do a little more statistical digging, you find out that this isn't proving what they think it's proving. It's a pattern that's been around for years," he said.

In 2008, 2004 and 2000, towns and cities using ballot-counting machines skewed toward Democratic primary winners Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore, while those where ballots are hand-counted went to second-place finishers Obama, Howard Dean and Bill Bradley.

Lenski said it's all of a piece: Education, income and age -- factors that influence voters' candidate choices, also play into where they choose to live.

"We see those patterns in the vote, we see those patterns in the exit poll. It's not surprising we'd see those patterns when we looked at the types of equipment used because it's not randomly assigned, there are reasons why certain towns use paper ballots and certain cities use machines," Lenski said.

Manchester, for example, New Hampshire's most populous city, is largely working class and uses machines at its 12 polling stations. Clinton won there Tuesday, just as previous winners Kerry and Gore did. The small White Mountains towns of Franconia, Sugar Hill and Bethlehem, which hand-count ballots, all went to Obama as they did for Dean in 2004 and Bradley in 2000.

"Clinton, Kerry and Gore all seem to have a similar profile in New Hampshire. Their voters in New Hampshire were older, less likely to be college-educated and had on average lower incomes. For Dean and Obama and Bradley, they're most likely to have college degrees or postgraduate education, they're most likely to be younger and they're most likely to be higher income and higher educated," Lenski said.

"Also in terms of issues, the divide this time was pretty much experience versus change, and that's not too dissimilar from the divide between Kerry and Dean four years ago and the divide between Gore and Bradley eight years ago."

Also, as the AP story noted, there was a recount in the 2004 general election at the behest of Ralph Nader based on similar inconsistencies between machine-counted and hand-counted precincts.  It found no serious discrepancies.

Finally, this NYTimes Magazine piece on voting machines in general is very interesting.  It's not about NH specifically, just the issue of machines.

I have personally got serious reservations about the use of voting machines that don't leave a reliable, verifiable paper trail, and I think their use needs to be discontinued.  I have said this since 2000.

A friend of mine volunteered to staff a voting precinct in the 2004 election, in a suburban county in central Virginia.  He and the other election officers concluded that, despite the fact that they took their jobs seriously and made every effort to ensure that the voting was conducted fairly, they could not in fact guarantee that the results from their precinct reflected the voters' intentions because they couldn't vouch for the machines and there was no way to verify that the results the machines spit out were not tampered with.  He wrote a bunch of letters to the editor, but it got zero attention.  FWIW.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 08:05:13 AM EST
Thanks for this, Stormy.

I personally think Kucinich is right to have called for a recount on principle, but maybe $100k or more is too much money for his campaign and I would have for him to make a fool of himself if the recount finds no irregularities (as in the Nader recount in 2004).

the stormy present:

I have personally got serious reservations about the use of voting machines that don't leave a reliable, verifiable paper trail, and I think their use needs to be discontinued.  I have said this since 2000.
I think in this case we're talking about optical scan of physical ballots with colour-in ballots like the ones people use for multiple-choice tests. So there is a possibility of a recount, which is not there with touch-screen voting. So NH has a good system as far as that goes. Let's not sssume ballot-tampering just yet.

I definitely intend to run a regression on education, income, age, race, gender and town size if I can get my hands on census data. The idea is that after all these effects are taken out there should be no correlation between vote counting method and Clinton/Obama spread.

Examples:  The guy from Election Defense Alliance says he got his data from the NH Secretary of State web site.  He doesn't link to it, but the data is here.

He says Clinton had 91,717 optical-scan votes and 20,889 hand-counted votes, for a total of 112,606 votes.  But the NH Secretary of State says Clinton got a total of 112,610 votes.  He says Obama got 81,495 optical-scan votes and  hand-counted votes for a total of 105,004 votes, but the NH SOS says he got a total of 105,007 votes.

He also doesn't say how he determined which votes were machine-counted and which were hand-counted.  Here's the official list of machine-counted municipalities, fyi.

The guy from EDA has the data aggregated at county level and it shows significant discrepancies only in the two largest counties. I'll post that later. But the issue of sources is important and I intended to get the original SoS data and independently verify all the claims.

Again, thanks for this. Scepticism is what we need. I think Georg Polya said the steps in proving something are to convince yourself, then convince a friend, then convince an enemy. Right now we're in the "convince a friend" stage.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 08:22:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect Kucinich is responding to the generally high level of skepticism (especially among his core followers on the left) about voting machines in general.  He doesn't stand to personally benefit from a recount, which is one reason why I respect his decision to call for one -- the system does need to be examined, and needs to be open to verification.  Anyone who's concerned about the integrity of the system needs to take seriously any serious questions about its reliability.  It has to be able to stand up to scrutiny.  So far, it looks to me like smoke with no fire, but that doesn't mean you ignore the smoke.

I think in this case we're talking about optical scan of physical ballots with colour-in ballots like the ones people use for multiple-choice tests. So there is a possibility of a recount, which is not there with touch-screen voting. So NH has a good system as far as that goes. Let's not sssume ballot-tampering just yet.

Yes, they are optical-scan machines, and NH officials have made it clear that every vote in the state is made on a paper ballot that can be re-counted and manually verified if necessary.  This system is far more reliable and tamper-resistant than some of the other Diebold machines.  If someone were going to intentionally mess with the results, it wouldn't really make sense to do it in a place where the votes can be re-counted.

Yes, it all does need to be examined, and I am looking forward very much toward seeing what you come up with.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 08:40:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
I would havehate for him to make a fool of himself


We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 08:43:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Glad for this.
It's why I come here.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 08:59:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of my own numbers got eaten!  It should read:

He says Obama got 81,495 optical-scan votes and 23,509 hand-counted votes for a total of 105,004 votes

Sorry for the omission.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 08:26:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking about you yesterday. How's your health?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 08:29:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Never mind. I see you said you're pretty sick. Hope you recover soon.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 08:38:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, LEP.  I am feeling better than I was, but my energy level is still pretty low.  I'm hoping I've turned the corner, though.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 08:43:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spreadsheeting with the official numbers and polling methods I get:


Clinton, H Obama, H Clinton, M Obama, M
Votes15244179579736687050
% of C+O votes45.9013923254.0986076852.7969373647.20306264
% of all votes cast33.9651673640.0307740340.4563944736.17000943

So, no weird numbers. Fun while it lasted, though.
The numbers for Machine vs. Hand are completely different as well, compared to the strange ones.

Strange numbers, for comparison:
(Clinton Optical scan 91,717 52.95%
Obama Optical scan 81,495 47.05%

Clinton Hand-counted 20,889 47.05%
Obama Hand-counted 23,509 52.95%)

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 09:23:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Arg, too easy to slip up a row in a spread sheet. Double and triple checked values are:

Clinton, HObama, HClinton, MObama, MClinton, TObama, T
Votes15438181449717286863112610105007
% of O+C45.9710559254.0289440852.8008259347.1991740751.7468763948.25312361
% of Total33.9894319739.9471598440.4679307536.174678639.4374187936.77475389
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 10:26:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding the statements from the Edison representative, I would take that with a large grain of salt, seeing how their explanations in 2004 were statistically unsound.

National Election Archive Project - Home

Our statisticians analyzed Edison/Mitofsky's own explanation of their exit poll discrepancies, and found serious flaws in their argument. Exit polls have been used for years to detect corruption of official vote tallies - most recently in Ukraine.

If you do not want to read through the back and forth, Edison/Mitofsky's explanation is pretty much the shy republican voter (who does not want to admit their Bush preference). National Election Archive Project analysis shatters that assumption.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 09:41:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the National Election Archive Project wasn't that hard on Edison/Mitofsky. You can read it in this pdf.

The position taken by the Edison/Mitofsky group is consistent with professional norms and practices. Election survey analysts ordinarily assume that official election results are the objective standard against which their own findings must be weighed, and perhaps found wanting. We admire Edison/Mitofsky's willingness to find fault with their methods and interview results. However, nothing in their report demonstrates that such errors could account for the gap between the exit polls and the election results.

Furthermore, I read into NEAP's actual arguments against the Edison/Mitofsky hypothesis for the exit poll - election result discrepancy. The hypothesis is, basically, that 56% of Kerry voters but only 50% of Bush voters were willing to respond to exit pollsters. There is no data to test this hypothesis directly. What NEAP did was to check the overall (e.g. Bush+Kerry+Other) rate of exit poll response as a function of the actual vote for Bush. The result was this graph:

However, note: (1) NEAP commits the sin of not conducting a trend significance analysis themselves, (2) something that should have been conducted by taking the different number of precints in the different bins into account, (3) there are a lot of possibilities for unaccounted-for systematic errors (a systematic error is a non-random bias, say correlation with race or settlement type), that is, factors that make people in general and Republicans especially more paranoid of pollsters in less red or blue areas.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 12:28:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the sidelines, I also note that those who viewed the Orange Revolution as another colour-coded fake revolution, argued that the exit poll was commissioned by Western-paid NGOs and constituted the sole evidence, what's more, earlier something like that happened in Venezuela, too: the Venezuelan opposition posting ill-sampled exit polls as proof of a Chávezista election fraud with the US-imported (but not Diebold) electronic voting machines.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 12:32:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My own personal take is that the exit polls were a crock as they were initially given to us (prior to the Zogby data released for study noted downthread).  It smells like ass-covering by the polling firm to me, and, unfortunately, all the news media use the same poll from the same firm.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 12:48:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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