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United States Government Politics

2004 Election Weirdness Continues 2013

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-think-about dept.
I've read dozens of submissions about election anomalies in the last week and they show no sign of slowing so I've decided to post a few of the main ones here to let you all discuss them. The first is the Common Dreams report that shows that optically scanned votes have a strange anomoly in florida: the Touchscreen counties roughly matched up to party registration numbers, but optically scanned paper ballot counties showed strangeness like one county where 69.3% registered democrat, but only 28% of them voted for Kerry. Palm Beach County, Florida logged 88,000 more votes than there were voters; that machines in LaPorte, Indiana discounted 50,000 voters; in Columbus, Ohio voting machines gave Bush an extra 4,000 votes; in Broward County, Florida voting machines were counting backwards; Lastly, precincts in New Mexico gave provisional ballots that will never be counted to as many as 10% of all their voters.
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2004 Election Weirdness Continues

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  • Liars (Score:5, Funny)

    by Izago909 (637084) * <tauisgod@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:00PM (#10757896)
    It's all a democratic ploy to discredit or dethrone our duly elected Pope. The first rule of the Democratic process is: Do not talk about the Democratic process. The second rule of the Democratic process is: Do not question the Democratic process...
  • Just guessing.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bje2 (533276) * on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:02PM (#10757927)
    ...but i'm thinking that statistically there were probably annomalies in favor of both candidates...we're just only hearing about the one's that helped bush and hurt kerry because they make for the most sensationalistic story...
    • Re:Just guessing.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:10PM (#10758052) Homepage Journal
      Which certainly could be true. But if they are indeed this widespread, I would have to say the election couldnt have reflected accurately what the people voted. With an election as close as this, wouldnt you feel better if they did it again and found Bush still won, rather then not approaching it, and wondering for the next 4 years...?
    • Re:Just guessing.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by imipak (254310) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:54PM (#10758844) Journal
      Another data point: Democratic Underground [demoncrati...ground.com] has evidence for a systematic 5% swing from exit polls to the final result, in Bush's favour... only in states using the Diebold tabulators [democratic...ground.com] . Pretty horrifying stuff. As Brit I have to offer my sympathy & support for true supporters of democracy in the USA, whoever they voted for.
  • Random noise? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by October_30th (531777) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:02PM (#10757929) Homepage Journal
    Yes, but are any of these anomalies statistically significant? If not, it's just random noise regardless of the source.
    • Re:Random noise? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arose (644256) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:10PM (#10758066)
      It's the election not some radio receiving test, there should be no anomalies.
    • Re:Random noise? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by demachina (71715) on Monday November 08, 2004 @04:02PM (#10758979)
      4000 votes for Bush from a tiny county in Ohio that decided the election and where the margin is just over 100,000 is obviously significant.

      The optical scanner anomalies in Florida are potentially hugely significant.

      The anomalies in New Mexico could easily flip the state in to the Kerry column so they are statistically significant though they can't change the outcome of the election without Ohio or Florida.

      The key point is if there is election rigging or incompetence its ALWAYS significant. If you don't report it, investigate it and punish it your opening the floodgates to everyone to do it in every election and your elections turn in to dodo.
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday November 08, 2004 @05:09PM (#10759895)
      If you want to see a detailed analysis and interesting primer on these voting patterns look here:

      vvnm.org/resources/florida2004/florida_vote_patter ns.htm

      Yes the patterns show a strong significance. it screams at you.

      The conclusion is not what you are expecting though.

      1) First Bush Won Florida On optical scan machines, kerry won on e-voting

      2) e-voting agreed with the exit polls, optical scan did not

      3) The key finding of the above article is that people vote DIFFERENTLY on optical scan and e-Voting.

      THIS LAST FACTOR IS HUGELY IMPORTANT!!!! Assuming No hanky panky is involoved this may be due to the human-machine interface--a factor that has gone unexplored.

  • by Zeromous (668365) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:03PM (#10757947) Homepage
    to put me down for pointing out the glaringly obvious. Democracy is easily stolen, but I was ridiculed for mentioning that last wednesday. Dont you realize this isnt about Bush? I dont care who won! Its about E-voting removing your right to affect change in your country by making a democratic choice.
    • by mccalli (323026) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:20PM (#10758251) Homepage
      Dont you realize this isnt about Bush? I dont care who won! Its about E-voting removing your right to affect change in your country by making a democratic choice.

      Hear, hear.

      I'm not an American, I read the article summary and saw nothing partisan in it whatsoever. Then I came to read the comments - full of "Bush won!", "Not statistically enough to turn the election!" and similar pearls of wisdom.

      What is being criticised is not this specific election, nor the victory of a particular candidate. It is the process itself under scrutiny here, and that is an entirely valid line of study.

      Cheers,
      Ian

  • by megarich (773968) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:03PM (#10757950)
    You go to vote and your not even id. "Name, adress....ok go ahead."
  • Simple question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kippy (416183) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:03PM (#10757953)
    Can the potential difference in votes amount to a larger number than the margins by which either candidate won in a given state?

    If not, the only concern should be to correct the problems and not to overturn the election right?
    • Re:Simple question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by calibanDNS (32250) <brad_staton@hotmai l . com> on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:12PM (#10758097)
      One thing to bear in mind is that more than just the presidential election was on the ballot. Lots of state and local elections may have been affected by these anamolies and may have had their outcomes changed.
    • Re:Simple question (Score:5, Informative)

      by bob_jenkins (144606) on Monday November 08, 2004 @04:04PM (#10759008) Homepage Journal
      Can the potential difference in votes amount to a larger number than the margins by which either candidate won in a given state?

      Yes. CNN says Bush had 52% of Florida vs Kerry's 47% (3,911,825 vs 3,534,609, a difference of 377,216 votes). The "strange anomoly" the article points to shows e-touch precints voting favoring Kerry more than expected (expected is total vote * %party) by 4,422 votes (out of 3,863,840 total). And the op-scan precints favored Bush more than expected by 599,721 votes (out of 3,419,852 total).

      If the op-scan votes had favored Bush over expectations as much as the e-touch had favored Kerry over expectations, Kerry would have won Florida, and he would have won the national election.

      I didn't run the numbers on any of the other anomalies.
  • Something new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jstave (734089) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:04PM (#10757964)
    Does anyone else get the impression that this kind of crap has been going on since day one? At least now we're paying more attention and noticing it -- that's a good thing.
  • Saw this earlier (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fnkmaster (89084) * on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:04PM (#10757968)
    The Florida Election "inconsistencies" page was emailed to me earlier. Here's what I sent to my friend in reply:

    Well, it's interesting, but that's not a useful study, just a dump of a bunch of numbers. There has been at least one serious documented instance of major electronic voting machine failure/fraud in Ohio (the precinct that counted 4,000 too many Bush votes), but this isn't even an analysis let alone proof of anything in Florida.

    They list number of registered Republicans and Democrats, but don't show how those same countries voted in the last Presidential election, and more importantly, they don't show any exit poll results.

    Exit polls, bitching aside, are probably the most important way we have of validating actual voter result numbers county-by-county and precinct-by-precinct. The best way to flag fraud is to note when the exit polls are substantially out of line with actual returns, and particularly if they are out of line in a systematic (and unpredicted) way.

    Beyond that, I have several questions about these numbers shown.

    While I have every reason to distrust Diebold given their atrocious history of faulty machines and rabid partisanship, it's hard to believe that a conspiracy of three vendors, all of whom sold optical scan machines to different precincts, worked together to create this fraud.

    Furthermore, the most rural counties seem to be the ones that had the most radically Republican results, despite Democratic voter registrations. This just seems to be in pattern with the rest of the South - the thing about Florida as any long time resident will tell you is that southern Florida, and its urban parts in general are culturally much closer to the Northeast, while the rest of Florida is culturally much closer to the South (the accents follow the same pattern too - they speak with a Southern drawl in a lot of the rest of the state).

    And registered Democrats voting Republican in a Presidential election en masse is not news to the South.

    So to demonstrate anything meaningful - show me the exit poll numbers side by side, and then let's see if there is any consistent and suspicious looking discrepancy not explained by the major cultural divides within Florida, or the extensive attention paid by Republicans to the I4 corridor area in their campaigning.
    • Re:Saw this earlier (Score:5, Informative)

      by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@@@monkelectric...com> on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:24PM (#10758332)
      So to demonstrate anything meaningful - show me the exit poll numbers side by side, and then let's see if there is any consistent and suspicious looking discrepancy not explained by the major cultural divides within Florida,

      Ask and ye shall recieve. [bluelemur.com]

    • Re:Saw this earlier (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:28PM (#10758404)
      The best way to flag fraud is to note when the exit polls are substantially out of line with actual returns, and particularly if they are out of line in a systematic (and unpredicted) way.

      You mean like these?

      Wisconsin
      Bush had 4% over the exit polls
      Probability: 1 out of 223 elections

      Pennnsylvannia
      Bush had 5% over the exit polls
      Probability: 1 out of 1838 elections

      Ohio
      Bush had 4% over the exit polls
      Probability: 1 out of 223 elections

      Florida
      Bush had 7% over the exit polls
      Probability: 1 out of 500,000 elections

      Minnesota
      Bush had 7% over the exit polls
      Probability: 1 out of 500,000 elections

      New Hampshire
      Bush had 15% over the exit polls
      Probability: 1 out of 10^22 elections

      North Carolina
      Bush had 9% over the exit polls
      Probability: 1 out of 500,000,000 elections

      Reference [scoop.co.nz], probabilities calculated with SD=1.53 for 95% certainty level at +-3%.

      This is more than cause for alarm, it's a wake-up call that the voice of the people was overwritten by fraud in this election. Contact your local media, contact your congressmen, tell your friends and family, and force people to pay attention to this.
    • Re:Saw this earlier (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wass (72082) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:52PM (#10758809)
      So to demonstrate anything meaningful - show me the exit poll numbers side by side, and then let's see if there is any consistent and suspicious looking discrepancy not explained by the major cultural divides within Florida, or the extensive attention paid by Republicans to the I4 corridor area in their campaigning.

      Okay, this site [democratic...ground.com] has a graph of exit polls among various states (scroll almost all the way to the bottom) compared to the overall results. They are grouped into the paper ballot states and the non paper ballot states. You can see the obvious differences between these two groups.

      Now that said, I don't know where these numbers came from or how trustable this site is. But you asked for the numbers, so here they are.

    • Re:Saw this earlier (Score:5, Interesting)

      by replicant108 (690832) on Monday November 08, 2004 @04:46PM (#10759596) Journal
      it's hard to believe that a conspiracy of three vendors, all of whom sold optical scan machines to different precincts, worked together to create this fraud.

      + 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.

      + The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.

      http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Lande s/ 042804landes.html
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:04PM (#10757970)
    Officials found the software used in Broward can handle only 32,000 votes per precinct. After that, the system starts counting backward.

    Rule #1: Do not use signed shorts to count the total number of votes.
  • by funny-jack (741994) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:04PM (#10757972) Homepage
    What about the real story, that George Bush is attempting to eliminate his enemies? [blogspot.com] This should be front-page news.
  • Democrats (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:05PM (#10757991) Journal
    It is funny how the county clerks in all the problem counties are democratic hacks. If there is a problem it is with the CLERKS in those counties and with the idiot voters in those counties.

    The problem with issues such as these, especially with the Diebold machines is such that the person who CHOSE them should be sacked (IE the Democratic County Clerks).

    I am sorry, but I don't feel sorry for anyone. NO, I didn't vote for BUSH either. Both are losers.

    Next time, vote LIBERTARIAN (or some other third party) and have your votes count less.
  • Black Box Voting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cardmagic (224509) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:06PM (#10758009) Homepage

    Please watch this free 30-minute film [votergate.tv] about black box voting machines.


    We have all been scared about Diebold and other black box voting [wikipedia.org] machines, and for good reason [cnn.com]. Apparently one of the central machines from Election Systems & Software Inc. tallied 115 votes for Bush in a certain county, while another machine tallied 365 votes for that same county. Which one was right? There is no way to tell, because "it is too hard" to add a printer to a counting machine. It is not like they have been doing that for 30 [wikipedia.org] years [wikipedia.org]. But who needs to do a recount when the machines are infallible, right?


    Most infuriating of all is that Republican Senator Hagel, the former Senate Ethics Director, resigned after admitting that he owned Election Systems & Software [scoop.co.nz]! That's right, the same voting machine maker that 60% of ALL VOTES in the U.S. are counted on, the same one that provably miscounted votes in Ohio and other states, and the same one that refuses to print receipts to recount these votes. No wonder legislation [wikipedia.org] trying to require printers on voting machines is taking so long to get through congress when congressmen can vote themselves into office without a paper trail.

  • by b1t r0t (216468) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:09PM (#10758043)
    Is there anywhere I can invest in tinfoil futures?
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:10PM (#10758053) Homepage
    Your side wins.
  • by scupper (687418) * on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:12PM (#10758090) Homepage
    Notice there are NO reports in the media of ballot count mistakes, or diebold glitches which gave Kerry votes. Hmmm Of all the precincts in the US, not one can be found to have one count mistake in Kerry's favor to report on.
  • by microbox (704317) on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:17PM (#10758201)
    Secretary of State spokeswoman Jenny Nash said all counties using this system had been told that such problems would occur if a precinct is set up in a way that would allow votes to get above 32,000

    Somebody PLEASE tell me that that has nothing to do with 32,000 being close to the maximum value of a signed 16-bit number.

    Who writes this software?
  • by caluml (551744) <slashdot@spCOWam ... minus herbivore> on Monday November 08, 2004 @03:41PM (#10758624) Homepage
    Did any of you catch the open letter to Republicans? I noticed it on The Register [theregister.co.uk] today. Sure, the letter is flamebait, but it's funny flamebait. :)
  • by Sai Babu (827212) on Monday November 08, 2004 @04:02PM (#10758973) Homepage
    The e-touch optical scan comparison referenced as 'strange anomaly' [ustogether.org] may be explained if one considers that counties with small populations used optical machines and those with large populations used the e-touch machines. Bush's campaigners focused on the demographic more likely to be found in rural areas. The red vs blue by county results and the swing from expected to actual vote in rural Florida suggest it was a pretty successful campaign. I know some of the progressive democrats are painting this as an ignorant, rural, right-wing christian uprising. The variation in swing vote as a function of population size, supports at least the 'rural' aspect of their claimed uprising.

    The remainder has been pretty well covered by other /. posters

    In the very article referenced [washingtondispatch.com] by commandantTaco [cmdrtaco.net] one reads (if on is able) "...Palm Beach County appears to have accounted for the discrepancy..."

    I guess the article from Aa href="http://www.michigancityin.com/articles/2004/ 11/04/news/news02.txt">Laporte Michigan might lead one to believe: poll workers experienced a huge operator error; election systems and software only sold ONE system and it's fscked; one, the other, or both of the aforementioned parties conspired to screw up the count. The traditional trick is extra vote, not tossing a huge number in the $hitcan. My bet is operatorerror. I mean no one ever screws up when using a computer!

    Reading the Broward County article [palmbeachpost.com] we learn, "Bad numbers showed up only in running tallies through the day, not the final one."

    The bit [ansiblegroup.org] from NM doesn't reflect much weirdness. Obviously all those folks that were too ignorant to check their paper MUST have been Bush supporters.
  • by MythoBeast (54294) on Monday November 08, 2004 @04:15PM (#10759139) Homepage Journal
    A lot of people have been trying to dismiss this as a statistical anomoly. Let me throw a couple of numbers at you to show how unlikely this explanation is.

    In the touchscreen counties, there were roughly 29% more Republicans voting than expected and 26% more Democrats than expected

    In the optical scan counties, there were roughly 46% more Republicans than expected and .9% (that's less than one percent) more Democrats than expected.

    Read the common dreams report on that one - it's pretty thorough. This, along with the unprecedented inaccuracy of the exit polls should make everyone suspicious. Don't let them get away with it just because your side won.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2004 @05:23PM (#10760099)
    people don't line up in the rain for nine hours to tell the president what a good job he is doing.
  • by mutterc (828335) on Monday November 08, 2004 @05:24PM (#10760114)
    Whether Bush or Kerry should / should not have won is irrelevant to the topic under discussion.

    What matters is that some voting machines have been deployed with no paper trail, which makes detecting either glitches or outright fraud impossible other than by guessing based on exit polls.

    With paper ballots that are scanned by machine (like Wake County, NC's [wakegov.com]), at least it is possible to conduct a manual recount after the fact, to check up on the machine / software. Some places actually do an automatic manual recount on some small percentage of (randomly selected) precincts for this purpose.

    Also, people need to have confidence in the integrity of the elections process (which these efforts help provide), or else our government has no legitimacy.

  • by GeorgeMcBay (106610) on Monday November 08, 2004 @05:58PM (#10760526)
    When I first started hearing about all of these election problems, I assumed it was just tinfoil hat stuff. The thing that makes me worry that there might be more to it is that every one of the errors I've heard about has gone in Bush's favor. This could possibly be because (for obvious reasons) the Kerry supporters are more upset about the outcome and more likely to bolster errors favoring the other guy...


    So, to ease my state of mind over this, can someone point to significant errors in Kerry's favor? Surely if these are random and unrelated occurances, the distribution of who is being favored should be about equal, right?

  • Simply amazing.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 10Ghz (453478) on Tuesday November 09, 2004 @02:49AM (#10763879)
    that USA, leader in technology and "Leader of the Free World", can't get something like voting right! just how difficult can it be? In Finland it's pretty simple:

    1. You receive a letter telling where you can vote
    2. You go to the voting-site with that letter.
    3. The officials check the letter and your ID. They then remove you from their list of voters and hand you the ballot. The ballot looks like this [iijokiseutu.fi]
    4. You walk in to the booth, and write down the number of your candidate on the ballot.
    5. You close the ballot so your vote is not visible, and the officials stamp the ballot.
    6. You then drop the stamped ballot in to the ballot-box.
    7. The ballots are counted manually with observers making sure everything is A-OK. The final results are available few our after the polling-sites close.
    8. Results are decided by a direct popular vote. Then one getting the most votes wins. In presidental elections, if no candidate receives more than half of the vote, we will have a second round between the two candidates that got the most votes in the first round.

    Related to voting: It's strictly forbidden to campaign right outside the voting-site. I was pretty shocked to see how in USA the people waiting in line to vote were handed pre-filled ballots with campaigners showing them "how they should vote".

    really, this is not rocket-science!

That does not compute.

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