Thursday, January 21, 2010

STEAL BIG? Coakley Won the Hand Counts, Lost in Diebold Machine Areas - May I Freshen Your Drink?

Back to those interesting Massachusetts results. You should know that Coakley won the hand counts there. It turns out that a combination of vote stealing, disgust with the go-slow (and no-go) approach (on just about everything) from the Obamaniacs and calculated rightwingnuttery brought us (US) the situation in MA (the election of a truly embarrassing, untried, unprepared unknown). I really respect Brad Friedman of the BradBlog who has kindly provided us with some facts regarding this most compelling political conundrum.

But first, here's the coup d'etat of what all this Bush-wa means (h/t to Camperrunamok at Out of the Cornfield).

POLL: Protest Voters in MA Voted Against Dem's WEAK Healthcare, Wall Street Initiatives Even those who supported Scott Brown overwhelmingly support 'public option.' Evidence counters GOP/media 'conventional wisdom' that Dems must pull even more punches . . . .

By way of offering a rather convincing counterpoint to Frank Schaeffer's editorial posted here earlier today, in which he asserted his opinion that Republican Scott Brown's reported win in MA last night for the U.S. Senate seat was the fault of "the ideological purist Left" who undermined Obama and the Democrats, a Research 2000 poll conducted last night after the election, surveying 500 Obama backers who voted in the Senate election and 500 backers who sat it out, would seem to suggest the exact opposite. (Much as almost all of you did in comments)...

The Rethug (usual) backup plan by Brad Friedman on 1/19/2010 (some editing inserted for legibility):

Rocket Science and Diebold Mysteries Rather Than Simple, Observable Democracy in MA Senate Race Election experts file public records requests. Pre-marked ballots reported in two 'at least' THREE towns... [UPDATED SEVERAL TIMES with more info on the curious/disturbing issue of ballots reported as being handed out as pre-marked for Scott Brown. Allegations now of five different reports from "at least" three different jurisdictions. See bottom of article for continuing updates...]

Haven't heard too much from on the ground in Massachusetts this morning yet (happily), but that's not much of a surprise. The real questions come later, as we will all wonder whether or not the "results," whatever they are, as reported by Diebold and never counted by actual humans, have anything to do with the way voters actually voted.

In the meantime today, a group of election integrity experts, after having posted an "Orange Alert" yesterday about the serious e-voting concerns in today's election, have sent an open letter to Sec. of State Bill Galvin, along with a public records request [PDF], calling for the retention of all election materials, such as voted, spoiled, and unvoted ballots, as well as all of the easily-tampered-with memory cards and electronic databases, etc., to ensure they are all secured and available for inspection by the public after the close of polls.

Election integrity advocates Susan Pynchon, Shelia Parks, and John Brakey also put the entire sorry matter in stark terms, demonstrating how simple this all could have been in a very short piece at OpEd News asking why MA didn't simply just determine to count the ballots, by hand, in front of everyone at the polling place, especially given that it was a single race on the ballot with just three people on it...

Regardless of who wins, the opposing party will be flinging accusations of machine failures, uncounted votes, and fraud. There is only one race on this ballot. It would be easy to divide the ballots in each precinct into three separate piles and simply count the number of votes received by each candidate.

This is not going to happen, however. A simple measure - hand-counting the votes as a check on the machines on election night, before there are questions about chain-of-custody of the ballots - will not be done. The second question one has to ask is, "Why not?"

As to the ballots themselves, Greg Sargent at The Plum Line reports an odd situation: Two different voters, from two different towns, have both informed him that they were handed ballots that had Scott Brown's bubble already inked in when they went to vote. Here's the report from the second voter Sargent heard from...

A second voter — Julia Volynskaya, a 34-year-old social worker from Brighton — is now reporting the same experience.

“I was handed a ballot and when I went to fill it out I saw that the bubble next to Brown’s name was already filled in,” Volynskaya, who voted today in Brighton. Election workers, she added, promised her they “were going to look into how this happened.”

The two reports are too anecdotal at this point to make too much of them just yet, but it seems worth noting for the moment. May come in handy later.

[UPDATED as more reports of pre-marked ballots have come in! Please see additional follow-ups now below.]


UPDATE 4:03pm PT: Coakley Campaign Manager Kevin Conroy issued the following "ALERT!" on the campaign website, and via email about an hour ago concerning the reports of ballots being handed to voters pre-marked for Brown, as mentioned above...

We've received several independent and disturbing reports of voters across the state being handed ballots that are already marked in favor of Scott Brown. This is obviously a serious violation, and our legal team is taking immediate steps to protect the integrity of this election.

We do not yet know why this is happening, but you and everyone you know needs to be aware of the situation so that you can carefully inspect your ballot. If a vote has already been marked, you must return the ballot to the elections official, demand a clean ballot, and call our Voter Protection Hotline at 617-351-6866.

The campaign followed it up with a presser led by election attorney Marc Elias. If that name sounds familiar, he's the attorney who led Sen. Al Franken's successful 8-month election contest with former Sen. Norm Coleman in MN last year. Read into that what you will, but Elias did an excellent job (by Democratic election attorney standards anyway) on Franken's behalf last year, so these guys look prepared to play hardball if necessary.

Let's just hope that keeps them AND/OR Scott Brown from prematurely conceding before the votes of the people of Massachusetts are actually counted!

UPDATE 4:21pm PT: The Coakley campaign is alleging that they've now received five reports of pre-marked ballots from "at least" three different jurisdictions.

UPDATE 5:37pm PT: Thanks to BRAD BLOG commenter Lottakatz for flagging this point from the Boston ABC News affiliate's report on the allegedly pre-marked ballots [emphasis added]...

In addition to the incidents in Brighton and Cambridge, voters at the Centerville Elementary School in Beverly said they also received ballots that were already marked for Brown. The city clerk's office said a poll worker inadvertently handed out ballots that were already cast.

That's a curious explanation for the problem. Why would poll workers have any access to "already cast" ballots? Those should be "locked up" inside the precinct's optical-scan system.

Had the poll workers, or clerk's office said they had no idea how a ballot ended up as being pre-marked, the notion that it was a dirty trick by Democrats, as Brown's campaign has been suggesting, might have made more sense. But if the ABC report above holds - that "a poll worker ... handed out ballots that were already cast" - then further questions will need to be answered on these points, I'd suspect.

One more thought: Elias seemed to downplay the number of reports the campaign was getting on this in his presser, when he confirmed reports from five voters in "at least" three different jurisdictions. This article is about our right to know, not about Martha Coakley or Scott Brown. And lest you think something here favors a Democrat, just you wait, I'm still working on anomalies in the NY-23 election that are just plain hard to 'splain. As Richard Hayes Phillips says when people tell him to forget it, "I'm a historian, I've got all the time in the world." NY-23 still has history to be written. My public records are starting to arrive. But that's another story. Back to Massachusetts, I think you have a right to know that Coakley won the hand counts there. That's right. According to preliminary media results by municipality, Democrat Martha Coakley won Massachusetts overall in its hand counted locations,* with 51.12% of the vote (32,247 hand counted votes) to Brown's 30,136, which garnered him 47.77% of hand counted votes. Margin: 3.35% lead for Coakley. Massachusetts has 71 hand count locations, 91 ES&S locations, and 187 Diebold locations, with two I call the mystery municipalities (Northbridge and Milton) apparently using optical scanners, not sure what kind. ES&S RESULTS The greatest margin between the candidates was with ES&S machines - 53.64% for Brown, 45.31% for Coakley, a margin for Brown of 8.33%. It looks like ES&S counted a total of 620,388 votes, with 332,812 going to Brown and 281,118 going to Coakley. Taken overall, the difference -- 8.33% Brown (ES&S) added to 3.35% Coakley (Hand Count) shows an 11.68% difference between the ES&S and the Hand Counts. Of course, as Mark Twain used to say, there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics. These statistics don't prove anything, and probably shouldn't be discussed without a grain of salt handy before examining more detailed demographics. As a point of reference, however, in the Maine gay marriage issue recently there was no significant overall difference between machine count and hand count locations. DIEBOLD RESULTS Diebold's results are 51.42% for Brown, with 791,272 Republican votes counted by Diebold, vs. 47.61% for Coakley, with 732,633 Democratic votes counted by Diebold, for a spread of 3.81% favoring Brown. LATE-REPORTED RESULTS It's always interesting to watch hand counts beat machine count results to the newspaper. In the Massachusetts special senate election, results from six of 71 hand count locations were reported about 2 1/2 hours after the polls closed, with the remaining 65 hand count locations in right away. The slower hand count results represent 8.45% of all hand count locations. These latecoming hand-counted results favored Coakley very heavily (she got 55.68% of these, earning 4,610 votes to Brown's 42.9%, representing 3,552, a 12.78% margin) Whether the reports came to the media late or the media posted them late is unclear. ES&S SLOWPOKE VOTES ES&S had 12 of its 91 locations reported at least 2 1/2 hours after polls closed, a total of 13.2% of all its locations (as compared with just 8.45% of slower reporting hand count locations). So ES&S certainly wasn't faster than hand counts, overall! These slow-arriving votes represented 88,288 of ES&S's 620,388 votes. Overall Brown got 46,257, for 52.39% of the late-arriving ES&S votes, and Coakley got 41,238, for 46.71%, yielding a margin of 5.68% of the late-arriving votes going to Brown, for a net gain of 5,019 votes to Brown. North Attleboro and Paxton appear to be the last locations in the state to be reported, and they are both ES&S. North Attleboro brought in 10,881 very late votes, 71.48% of them going to Brown; Paxton brought in 2,036 votes, 65.37% going to Brown. THE SLOW BOAT FROM DIEBOLD Yes, I know they're supposed to be called Premier machines now, and ES&S bought the company so it's now all one big monopoly family, and then the whole kit and kaboodle in New England -- Premier and ES&S -- is programmed by the juicy little LHS Associates guys. But I like to just call them Diebold, that familiar name which we all know and love. Twenty-four of Diebold's 187 locations wandered in late, smoking cigarettes and wearing a bathrobe. That's 12.83% of all its locations. Apparently it was faster to hand count 8,497 ballots, as they did promptly in Newburyport, or 7,339 ballots, as they hand counted in public for all to see in Milton, than to push a button and wait five minutes for the machine to spit out a Diebold results report in Pelham where they had 725 votes. East Brookfield's 899 Diebold votes must have run out of gas somewhere; they weren't reported for hours. All in all, a total of 170,594 Diebold votes took a long time to stumble in the door, These votes -- surprise! -- favored Coakley. She got 86,214 of them, for 50.54%, and Brown got 82,911 tardy Diebold votes, for 48.60%, putting Coakley on the plus side of the late arrivers by a 1.94% margin, for a net gain of 3,303 slow-moving votes. They'd called the election by the time the 170,594 tardy Diebold votes showed up. Coakley had conceded. And of course, there are many ways to look at this if you don't trust voting machines, and why should you? It's hard to know who was fooling around, or if anybody was. You see, the Diebold latecomers represented the strongest showing for Coakley of all and in some heavily populated areas. 32 of 33 Cambridge polling place results couldn't find their way to the media for a long time. Cambridge finally came in with 27,268 votes for Coakley -- 84.11%. Brown was only able to locate 4,921 votes from Cambridge when all was said and done. And the media couldn't seem to rustle up any Amherst votes for any of its 10 polling places until races were called and candidates had conceded. Amherst generated 84% of its votes for Coakley with only 15% going to Brown. So this is all very interesting, and hopefully is accurate because I'm spreadsheeting after midnight. And we're talking statistics based on premature and unofficial results which came from the media and not the government, and the Massachusetts Secretary of State doesn't officially tell us which place is using which system, so we're relying on volunteers from the VerifiedVoting Web site who hunted it down.** ** A public service announcement from Disclaimers-R-Us, a subsidiary of the US Elections Industry. GET OVER IT, SCOTT BROWN WON Actually, I think any intellectually honest person will see that Brown garnered financing and executed brilliantly, and that's just politics. He probably DID win. In 71 Massachusetts locations we could watch the counting (whoops, he lost those, overall). But in 277 locations, the counting was on computerized voting machines and concealed from the public. So we can never really know who won, and that is unfair to both Scott Brown and Martha Coakley. But it's most unfair to the citizens of Massachusetts, who have an inalienable right to choose their own governance. You can't hold sovereignty over the choosing process if you can't see it. * Source for Massachusetts voting systems by municipality from __________________________ Posted on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - 2:41 am: There is a post at dkos from someone whose mother is supposedly a Dem insider, describing MA politics as a rift between Western MA Dems (incl. Coakley) and Eastern MA Dems (guy who lost in the primary), and resulting loss of support from TPTB in the Dem party. (I'm passing this on, not saying anyone should believe it. It's a partisan website and there could be various agendas. It's one more factor to consider when looking at patterns of results.) Does this theory make any sense with the geographic spread of the results you see? Are the hand-counting areas that favored Coakley in W. MA? This doesn't explain some of the heaviest pro-Coakley urban results. It's hard to analyze results considering local politics, national politics and different voting systems. Was there any exit polling? _______________________ Posted on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - 3:06 am: There was no exit polling. I have a tip sheet from a political organization explaining which geographic areas "belong" to whom. Need to overlay the whole thing on a map and oh yeah, publish the spreadsheet. But I'll post the spreadsheet tomorrow after I have a change to clean up some of my scribblings. _________________________ Posted on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - 5:13 am: I agree that Brown looked like a winner and he had obvious, provable enthusiasm in the form of big rallies, poll trends etc and Coakley was an obvious epic fail, (unlike say Hillary's lamely attended rallies before NH primaries, polls that were trending AWAY from her, and Obama's campaign obvious professionalism-no obvious failings). But in a 3:1 Dem state with really good turnout for a special election, (in rural, suburbs, and cities alike), even all that enthusiasm and good vs bad campaigning Brown would have a had a hard time overcoming, especially given the decent turnout at the end. Its not like the Obama/Hill near toss up between them, Brown HAD to have huge enthusiasm edge and better run campaign to even be in the game in MA but even with that he had to climb up a big hill once decent turnout there. Also, as I saw with the Jesse Ventura unlikely win for Gov in MN, it was necessary for him to look viable before people really started to rally around him. So some early polls that showed him getting closer really helped, then enthusiasm really took off. I saw his believable support go viral when my precinct was mobbed with lots of people I had never seen before, like muddy construction worker etc, lining up to make a historic upset. (MN allows same day regist, so he got a lot of previous non-voters). In Brown's case, what really got him going was some stunning poll results a few weeks ago. Some of those polls were total crap, as Nate at 538 pointed out. Even the more establishment polls had weird, not typical biases in their locations of their samples (greatly favor Brown's support areas) and Rasmussen apparently did not release last poll as is typical (what trend in likely voters might it have shown once Dems got worried and mobilized more). Most of the initial polls made Brown look good based on using the assumption of very low turnout and likley voters being much more swayed to enthusiastic Brown supporters as opposed to hold-your-nose Coakley supporters, but from the turnout data I have seen both Brown and Coakley support areas came out real well...sure there was not ground swell support Obama got in pres election, but its not like heavily Dem areas had way worse turnout than Repub areas. So you have early wacky polls creating Brown surging even more than he was, then when Dem fear starts to make it more likely they turnout, polling stops reporting and Brown wins by big enough margin to no(t) warrant examination. It occurs to me Brown's win is the perfect recipe for TPTB to keep status quo and resist reform from left or right. Its not like Tea Partiers could put a conservative populist up from election in Mass, Brown, a moderate Repub (read: establishment) was Repubs only hope. So his election does nothing for economic populism, despite his friendly visits to Tea Partiers, he just helps on mainstrem Repub partisan stuff like anti HCR and pro big business policies. In fact Brown nicely hijacks right wing populism into nowhere, ineffective land. It also ensures Congress will be even more dysfunctial, if possible, so no real reform on behalf of the little guy, from the left or the right will happen. To me a real tell is Lieberman saying this means Dems have to move to center...when I think the real take away from Brown even having a pray, let alone winning, is watch out, populism is getting stronger...not centrism, status quo. I wonder about the effects of the Hoffman loss. Hoffman's win would have enouraged a bite at Repub establis(h)ment from the right, and having an additional Dem in the House from a repub district does little to change congress Hoffman loss = status quo. Not that any of my conjectures are what is really important, its just the motives and patterns of results that fit them, dovetail nicely in with questioable election results, just as Hillary's luckiest woman in the world poll busting primary wins seemed to. The important thing is just what Bev noted. We will never know, and we can't be sure its the voters deciding. Given all the means and motives to steal elections, it wouldn't be a stretch to even imagine competing vote count thefts and frauds by conflicting, elite interests, like two hedge funds with special high frequency trading software duking it out on manipulating markets and trying to mess with the other fund's positions while the honest, non-insider investors and businesses get slaughtered. Once we know that we don't get to decide...any possibility is open to whomever might be deciding, and why they might decide. _______________________________ Posted on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - 5:58 am: The Boston Globe has a really interesting and useful interactive map by town/city -- ____________________________ Chaos favors those who control the canvass and that is corporations who make the equipment and count the votes. Americans seem to have a mental deficit. They can't see that many methods to vote and count votes means chaos and they can't tell who voted for who, or how the election is tallied. The existing election system removes the voter from being able to verify how their vote was counted, participate in the process, and violates the people's Constitutional right to control government power through elections. Count paper ballots in the polls on election day or admit democracy is a myth in the US. _________________________________ Wow - you guys were busy last night while I was sleeping! Mike, thanks so much for the map. And you're right about prevailing wisdom, population centers usually go blue and rural go red, and hand count is more rural. That's why it is surprising that in Massachusetts the population centers went red (most of them) and the rural hand count went blue. It's the opposite of what I expected. ________________________________ I'm curious about the east/west thing given Boston, Cambridge, Lex/Arlignton etc are huge eastern population centers in that went way Coakley. Can eastern suburbs swamp both eastern liberal cities and western MA (while rural they seemed to go Coakley's way). How's that work? How does Coakley's total vote differential compare if percentage on hand ballots was applied to whole state total voter number?

__________________________________ Still think this was a fair election and the voice of the people? Suzan ______________________


mark hoback said...

If this election was stolen, then relish the fact that it may be the last one to be stolen the old fashioned way. Today's Supreme Court pretty much guarantees that all future elections will probably be stolen by corporate interests.

Suzan said...

Thanks for commenting, Mark.

And I do love yours.

Yes, it's all a moot point now, and you gotta admit that the original Dim-go-alongs set the stage for all the fun that was to come - from the 9/11 and Iraq WMD frauds to the tax cuts and enabling of the banksters to rape us in full MSM (gleeful) reporting view.

Goodbye yellow brick road.

For US.


Greendayman said...

Hi Suzan, it didn't help that Coakley ran a terrible campaign and couldn't wait to give her "I concede" speech. But as you and Mark have noted... it is all moot now. Remember Rollerball, the original movie with James Caan? In the film, the world of 2018 is a global corporate state, containing entities such as the Energy Corporation, a global energy monopoly based in Houston which deals with nominally-peer corporations controlling access to all Transport, Luxury, Housing, Communication, and Food on a global basis. What clear prescience on the part of William Harrison who wrote the screenplay in 1973 and was reviewed in Esquire Magazine that year. I watched that movie in 1975 and somehow felt in my heart that I was seeing the future and here it is. Well... I thought I was going to get a flying car in 2000 too... so for what that is worth. Thanks for posting the best, in-depth work on the on-going war against the middle class. -g