Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Hampshire Recount Paper Ballots

Updated material

Prison Planet's piece Media Struggles To Whitewash Clinton Vote Fraud Suspicions is interesting. It is a well-known charge that the Clintons are members of the Bilderbergers, and influence of Council on Foreign Relations on international affairs isn't refuted.

Check who among the presidential candatidates are members or affiliated with members of one or the other.

Recall both John Kerry and current President Bush attended Yale and were members of the Skull and Bones.

Media Struggles To Whitewash Clinton Vote Fraud Suspicions
Professor offers new excuse - claims Hillary overturned a 13 point deficit because her name was higher on the ballot
Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Thursday, January 10, 2008

Statistical analysis Mebane

Using a subset of New Hampshire wards that have similar demographic features and voting histories but differ in their vote tabulating technologies, we find no significant relationship between a ward’s use of vote tabulating technology and the votes or vote shares received by most of the leading candidates who competed in the 2008 New Hampshire Presidential Primaries... With respect to Hillary Clinton’s surprise victory in the Democratic Primary and the differences
across vote tabulating technologies in Clinton’s and others’ votes, our results are
consistent with these differences being due entirely to the fact that New Hampshire wards that use Accuvote optical scan machines have voters with different political preferences than wards that use hand counted paper ballots.

Arguing over the "quick" statistical study

Critic of voting machines Bev Harris weighed in early on

Vote Fraud Expert Warns Of New Hampshire Chicanery
Key vulnerabilities of Diebold machine identified within ten minutes by programmer

Prison Planet | January 8, 2008
Paul Joseph Watson

How the recount went

See why the disparities

AccuVote counties

Re-count Of Primary Ballots Catches Human Error In Nashua, Amounts To 110 Votes Counted Twice

A re-count of ballots cast in Nashua's Ward 5 show that Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Joe Biden received a total of 110 votes less than originally reported because of human error. When someone writes in a name for vice president, a machine counts the presidential vote correctly but then sets those ballots aside so the write-ins can be tallied by hand. Election officials didn't realize that the presidential votes already were counted so they counted them twice.

After 35,000 ballots have been counted and each Clinton, Obama and Edwards vote totals off by the exact same total (-12) I don't think anyone should complain...

Human Error, Not Machine, Found During Recount
Ward 5 Clerk Adds Vice Presidential Votes To Presidential Total

POSTED: 4:22 pm EST January 18, 2008

The one major exception has been Ward 5 in Manchester, where votes for all the major candidates dropped significantly after the recount. Clinton's total went from 683 to 619, Obama's went from 404 to 365, and other candidates saw similar drops.

But state officials said the problem wasn't with the machine that did the counting. The disparity appeared when the ward clerk filling out the official tally sheet accidentally added vice presidential votes to the presidential votes.

The New Hampshire ballot allows voters to also vote for a vice president, and some wrote in a presidential candidate's name in that spot. When the clerk was carrying the totals over from the columns, the votes were accidentally added to the presidential votes.

It was a human error, and the machine count was right, but that hasn't stopped hundreds of people from e-mailing the secretary of state calling him a "liar," calling the process a "sham," and threatening to have Gardner arrested by federal officials for rigging the outcome.

"It's unusual, to say the least," Gardner said.

No town clerk has raised any allegations of problems with the vote count...

Human error in Nashua Ward 5 resulted in extra numbers
Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN Telegraph Staff

CONCORD – Errors hand counting ballots in Nashua's Ward 5 on primary day inflated the totals of three Democratic presidential candidates by 110 votes, a recount revealed Friday.

City Clerk Paul Bergeron confirmed the mistakes that awarded primary winner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of N.Y. (75), former Sen. John Edwards of N.C. (34), and Sen. Joe Biden of Del. (1) more votes than they were entitled to. Biden dropped out of the race Jan. 3...

Food for thought:

So, if all candidates' numbers go up, Paul could end up in the same place compared to the others. It still begs the question, if the original vote was undercounted by a certain percent, WHY? I would always expect some error up or down, but not a statewide undercount of, say, 5%...that would be totally unacceptable.

Interesting comments love the one about finding x and y coordinates

a statistician at one of the country's top Ivy League schools - he has additional relevant experience that I won't divulge b/c he prefers to remain anonymous - and he needs the following:

- the X and Y coordinates of the center of each NH precinct

Please consider doing this if you want to contribute but can't be on the ground in NH.

Kucinich claim spurs N.H. recount
By Associated Press
Saturday, January 12, 2008

Conspiracy rumors were fueled because Clinton did better in precincts where ballots were counted by machine while Obama did better where ballots were counted by hand. Election experts, however, said there is no evidence of tampering or error.

Kucinich, of Ohio, received less than 1.4 percent of the vote. Republican Albert Howard of Michigan received about 44 votes statewide. They paid a $2,000 fee to start the process, state officials said.

Decent post.

Even More Voting Follies: NH Ed.

But, do disagree with some of it.

First, it is a huge mistake to assume (like this DKos poster) that the optical scan machines used in NH are somehow more secure than the much-maligned touchscreen machines, which didn’t seem to be that widely used in the primary. Optical scanners can actually be less secure than touchscreens, because they’re just as easy to tamper with (sometimes more so) as the touchscreens, but there’s typically only one per precinct—an attacker therefore has a single point of failure to manipulate. The fact that optical scanners leave a paper record is totally irrelevant if a random audit of the results is not mandatory by law after every election. (Corrente)

I disagree for this reason. The optical scanners take a digital image of the paper ballot. Hursti showed an optical scan unsecured memory card could be tampered with.

Nobody has yet shown that this actually occurred in any election in the U.S. where the optical scans, whatever brand, are used.

There are layers of security with the optical scans in use in current day.

That isn't to say they can't be tampered with. But the paper ballot record and the optical scan digital image record (which would be printed out) can be compared in a statistical way.

That process would have to be monitored, and we hope that is what is happening in New Hampshire. If not, there could be temptation to manufacture both paper ballots, now that the outcome is known, during a hand-recount, and manufacture optical scan digital images after the election.

So the audit of the digital scanner system must be done immediately after the election, at the precinct, but before the total final tallies are tallied to distribute precinct-by-precinct to the central bureau for the official final tallies.

We quibble with motivation for the recount in New Hampshire to begin with.

Corrente's other post:

It wasn't Hillary hacked the election
Submitted by DavidBodhi (not verified) on Sat, 2008-01-12 16:55.
Think about it. To which Democrat would it be easiest to summon Republican resistance???

If anyone hacked the election, it’d be the Republican committee. Getting her the Democratic nomination would be the best thing THEY could hope for.

In NH, it was a Democrat calling for a recount of the Democrat ballots. Dennis Kucinich, who supports his own bill which calls for only paper ballots, counted by hand, in Presidential elections.

So we have to wonder whether there was any bias on Kucinich's part to get paper ballots hand counted as an idea on the map of national discourse.

On the other hand, the Republican who asked and got a recount going, according to NH Sec. of State site, Albert Howard is not a well-known candidate, obscure is the word used.

Albert Howard

Trailing Candidates Request N.H. Recount
Dennis Kucinich Registered 1.4 Percent Of The Vote; Albert Howard Received About 44 Votes CONCORD, N.H., Jan. 11, 2008

What's seriously even more interesting, that man's name is confusing so isn't it a possibility to come out of obscurity, and get his name out there, he is more than willing to raise a ruckus, for his own cause and gain?

Republicans have no reason to rig the Democrat Primary risking exposure if it is discovered fraud is involved. Should a Republican win the White House in November, they don't want any claim of computer fraud, specifically in regard to paper ballots and use of optical scanners.

the cry of the left is for paper ballots, and many groups and organizations support the use of paper ballots with the optical scanners.

Most call for random audits as well.

As for Ron Paul, a Republican who reportedly attempted to obtain a recount as well.

In New Hampshire, while I would have hoped for a better result than eight percent, I am convinced that vote fraud played no role in this result. Rumors of vote fraud were investigated, and in the end they proved to be the result of errors in early media reports that were not reflected in the official numbers. In one notable case, when a campaign staff member contacted an individual who had on the evening of January 8 claimed that his vote had not been counted, the person said that he had made a mistake and that the next morning the error in reporting on a newspaper website had been corrected both in the media and -- most importantly -- in the official tally.

Many have expressed concerns that those ballots counted by machine yielded a 2% lower total than those counted by hand. However, machine counted vote totals were more than 2% lower for both John McCain and Mike Huckabee. Hand counted votes were more likely to be cast in rural areas. Results almost always vary between urban and rural areas.

My campaign staff and I have analyzed the numbers in New Hampshire and I have reached the conclusion that it was the high turnout -- not vote fraud or counting errors -- that left us with eight percent of the vote. Our total vote count of over 18,000 votes was well within what we projected given the efforts of our extensive statewide get-out-the-vote program, giving me no reason to believe that vote fraud played any role in the results of the Granite State's primary...

None of this is to say the Corrente's points in Even More Voting Follies: NH Ed. aren't well taken. In regard to conducting an audit of the optical scans after the election, a random audit. There is much agreement elsewhere on this point.

There remains controversy surrounding conducting only hand counts of paper ballots.

A mix of auditing by hand-counts, and subsequent hand re-counts of paper ballots when disputes arise, is a good idea, one we've proposed with a twist: The optical scan ballots are secured in two ways: there's a paper ballot record and there's a digital (scanned) image record of the paper ballot. That ballot can be printed out, and all can be counted separately.

The reason to do it this way is because paper ballots can be "manufactured" to be substituted for later re-counting. It would be much more difficult to manufacture both a paper ballot record and a matching digital image record which match.

that provides a check on both paper ballot systems.

We've also proposed elimination of civilian absentee ballots. Early voting in each state with paper ballots optical scans which allow for second-chance voting should be utilized.

(recount results so far.....)

Press Release

Secretary of State William M. Gardner announced today that Albert Howard, a candidate for nomination for the office of President of the United States in the Republican Party Primary and Dennis Kucinich, a candidate for nomination for the office of President of the United States in the Democratic Party, have requested a recount of all ballots cast statewide. Mr. Howard and Mr. Kucinich have satisfied the requirements for initiating a statewide recount of the Republican and Democratic Primary...

New Hampshire Municipalities which use the ACCUVOTE Voting Machine
(as of November 26, 2007)

On the Accuvote ballot, the voter fills in an oval which is placed next to a candidate's name.

After voting, the voter places the ballot in an optical scanning machine which will read all votes
cast on that ballot.

All other municipalities in New Hampshire use paper ballots, where the voter marks an X in a box printed next to a candidate's name. Votes are counted by hand.

New Hampshire

Current: 162 polling places (optical scan [Optech IIIP (39); Accuvote OS ES-2000 (123)]); 147 (hand count paper ballots)

01.11.08Election Fraud in NH Primary? Or Not?
The internet has been abuzz since Tuesday night with wild claims that Hillary Clinton “hacked” the NH Primary — or that someone else perpetrated the dirty deed to help Clinton and McCain triumph in the Granite State. Some point to differences between the margins in hand-counted precincts vs. optical scan precincts. Others claim that the pre-election polling could not be so far off from reported results.

Both of these cries of “fraud”, and “hacking” are based on flawed logic — and stunning ignorance or basic misunderstanding of statistics. They also fail to look at the demographic make-up of precincts that produced different margins for the candidates. On the other hand, there has been an almost universal failure to consider whether well-documented problems with the type of optical scan machine used in New Hampshire offers at least a partial explanation of how this happened.

Let us first take a look at fundamental concepts of statistics. First of all, polls use samples, not the entire universe of possible voters. How these samples are constructed can bias the results by over-sampling some groups of voters and under-sampling others. This skew in the sample will yield different results. The timing of the poll in a volatile election can also lead to different answers being given –e.g., pre-Hillary tears vs. post-Hillary tears. Lastly, all polls have a margin of error.

The concept of margin of error is one of the least-understood ideas about polling...

...A hand recount of the voter-marked optical scan ballots can easily correct for all three of these errors and provide an accurate tally of the votes.
Finally, could these machines have been hacked? Yes, this is the same model machine that was hacked by Harri Hursti in Leon County FL. Anyone with access to the machines and a modicum of technical skill could have swapped memory cards and changed the reported election tally. So how do we know whether the machines were tampered with? If these had been the paperless touchscreen machines we would have no way of knowing. Fortunately for all of us, New Hampshire has paper ballots that can be re-counted.

And thanks to candidates on both sides of the aisle (Democrat Dennis Kucinich and Republican Albert Howard) there will be a recount of New Hampshire’s paper ballots that will prove once and for all whether there was “fraud” or “hacking” of the vote.

My hunch is that some errors will come to light, probably not enough to substantially change anything — and the specters of “fraud” and “hacking” will be laid to rest for the New Hampshire primary.

Ah, but there are 48 more states to go … and many of them are not fortunate to have paper to either audit or recount. So controversy is likely to continue through November, and perhaps beyond, especially in states that rely on non-recountable, non-auditable paperless voting machines. At last count there were around 20 states that had some paperless voting machines. One of these is South Carolina, which comes up shortly on the primary calendar.

One point that needs to be made is that the New Hampshire primary is a perfect example of why paper ballots alone are not the ultimate answer to election integrity. Post-election audits are needed to demonstrate that the results are to be trusted. They should be routine, mandatory and scientifically sound. Several states have already passed laws requiring post-election audits but New Hampshire is not one of them...



Recount, albeit limited, goes ahead
Kucinich doesn't pay enough; GOP waiting By SARAH LIEBOWITZ Monitor staff
January 16. 2008 12:01AM

A hand recount of last week's Democratic primary votes will begin this morning, after presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich met a deadline to pay for a second tally, said Secretary of State Bill Gardner.

But the recount will be a truncated one: Kucinich forked over $27,000, less than half of the $69,600 the secretary of state's office estimated a hand tally of all the Democratic votes would cost. As a result, ballot-counters will begin with Hillsborough and Rockingham counties, the two portions of the state Kucinich is most interested in, Gardner said.

The fate of a requested Republican primary recount, meanwhile, remained unclear last night.

Republican candidate Albert Howard failed to arrive at Gardner's office with the $57,600 required to conduct a full hand recount of the Republican primary votes. Although Kucinich and Howard were both supposed to pay the estimated costs by 3 p.m. yesterday or lose their shots at a recount, Gardner signaled that he's leaving the door open to a second Republican vote tally.

"If we get the money, I'll decide at that point what we're going to do about it," Gardner said by telephone yesterday evening, hours after the Secretary of State's office closed for the day.

The payment for the Republican recount is en route to Gardner's office, but failed to arrive by the 3 p.m. deadline, Howard said.

"It was a wire transfer," he said. "This is my assumption: With our Patriot Act, a lot of money being funneled at once triggers a lot of red flags."

Howard's commitment to a recount is unwavering, he said yesterday. "This is not about me; it's about the voters; it's about justice," said Howard, who said that he spoke with Gardner for 45 minutes yesterday about the situation. "I can't back down even if I want to."

2004 Ralph Nader request recount
Vote Recount to Settle Doubts?
Kim Zetter 11.17.04 | 2:00 AM

Nader-Camejo Hand Recount in New Hampshire Ends With No Significant Discrepancies
New Hampshire’s optical scan machines predate Diebold’s purchase of company that manufactured them
Washington, DC: The Nader-Camejo hand recount in New Hampshire ended Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. when the last of the 11 selected wards was counted. Nader-Camejo requested recounts on Nov. 5 in precincts where the Diebold AccuVote optical scan machine was used, and where the reported vote count favored President George W. Bush by 5% to 15% over what was expected based on exit polls and voting trends in New Hampshire. The Nader-Camejo campaign received more than 2,000 faxes from citizens urging a recount.

In the eleven wards recounted, only very minor discrepancies were found between the optical scan machine counts of the ballots and the recount. The discrepancies are similar to those found when hand-counted ballots are recounted.

No conclusions can be drawn about the reliability of electronic voting machines on the basis of the New Hampshire recount, because the machines used in the 11 selected wards predate those showing irregularities in Ohio and other states, where votes were counted backward on some machines and votes were assigned to the wrong candidate on others. Secretary of State William Gardner reported that the machines used in New Hampshire also predate the Diebold Corporation’s purchase of the company that manufactured them. However, the case reinforces the Nader-Camejo call for a voter verified paper ballot trail for random audits and independent recounts to confirm the accuracy of questionable results.

A downside to manual counting, by the way, is that accidental overvotes are undetected when the ballot is cast, and must be rejected by the counters. The machines kick these out and the voter gets a retry with a new ballot. This has no bearing on how well the recount will match, but it is one way the machines reduce a form of disenfranchisement. (Mike LaBonte)

open thread daily kos

Media Struggles To Whitewash Clinton Vote Fraud Suspicions
Professor offers new excuse - claims Hillary overturned a 13 point deficit because her name was higher on the ballot
Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Thursday, January 10, 2008

On Recount Results and Election Integrity
by: elwood

Sat Jan 19, 2008 at 18:20:14 PM EST
The other lesson from the recount is how dishonest, willfully ignorant, and damaging to the cause of election integrity the highest profile self-appointed advocates of election integrity are.
BradBlog and BlackBoxVoting starting talking about evidence of fraud as soon as the results were announced, claiming that the variance between candidate percentages in scanner precincts versus hand-count precincts was very suspicious. It took all of 30 minutes of simple research to show that claim was completely unfounded. As I pointed out, the scanner towns also had a 5% higher percentage of voters registering Democratic (meaning, 22% of voters in hand count precincts are Dems, 27% in scanner precincts). Anybody who knows anything about New Hampshire knows that Atkinson votes much differently than Antrim; the numbers make that clear.

The supposed "election experts," as they like to call themselves, either didn't bother to do that simple cross-check - or they did it and left it out of their narrative.

More recently BradBlog held up the Manchester Ward 5 recount results, where some 141 votes were stripped from Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, as evidence of problems with the scanners. But he had observers in the recount room - he must have known that the actual cause of the original overcount was: in that ward write-in votes on the Vice President spot got added to the Presidential counts.

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