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Berkeley Researchers Analyze Florida Voting Patterns 1237

Posted by michael
from the everyone-has-an-angle dept.
empraptor writes "Researchers at UC Berkeley have crunched numbers and determined that 130,000-260,000 excess votes went to Bush in Florida. They have held a conference and posted their findings online. You can find articles on their research from CNet, Wired News, and many other sources. While the research used statistical analysis based on past elections and demographics, how else do you verify that a paperless voting system is working properly?"
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Berkeley Researchers Analyze Florida Voting Patterns

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  • Two things (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:43PM (#10867435)
    A. They neglect to factor in the "Hurricane effect." The President's visits and aid raised him popularity in the area.

    B. They performed the same study on Ohio and found no irregularities.
  • Ohio would be better (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:47PM (#10867495) Journal

    I really do think that Florida went to Bush.

    The question is Ohio. It has been a stuanch Democrat state. It lost 10's of thousands of jobs under Bush. And it voted for him in a close election? So why are these researchers looking at Florida?

  • A legal question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nijika (525558) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:49PM (#10867516) Homepage Journal
    Not sayin' it is so... but HAD the election been accidentally given to Bush, now that Kerry has conceded, what would the legal recourse be??
  • by wealthychef (584778) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:52PM (#10867565)
    You're nuts. Paper and pencil are NOT more reliable than computers. Haven't you ever heard the term "ballot stuffing?" Physical media such as paper are also fraught with security concerns. They boil down to the same thing as computers: do you trust the election officials running them? Who has physical access to the vote once it has been cast? Etc. I'm not saying they are the same, but c'mon, all of a sudden the old paper method is the gold standard? No way.
    The trouble with voting security is that it requires authentication, anonymity and ability to verify later. The verification necessarily must be done by the voter himself, or else somebody else will know how you voted.
    Here's my idea: after you vote, you get a random ID and password associated with your vote. Later, you can log onto a website and verify that your vote is as you cast it, without divulging your identity. Make the process for getting votes from the machine to the central data repository open-sourced, open, open open, totally so that we know exactly what is happening.
    Hey, it's a start. But I'm in favor of these voting machines. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  • by greechneb (574646) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:53PM (#10867568) Homepage Journal
    And who is going to watch to make sure the same exact code is going to go on the machine?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:57PM (#10867641)
    I sent this letter to the editor of the washington post a few days ago on the evoting topic (wasn't published)...

    re: In ATMs, Not Votes, We Trust
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articl es/A556 91-2004Nov16.html

    I'm a programmer a major corporate bank in Manhattan.
    Anne Applebaum's analogy of e-voting to ATM and credit card banking was misleading and uninformed.

    Users receive regular bank statements, with each ATM transaction itemized.
    Cross-checks of all transactions can be validated by the user through this method or
    at any time with a phone call or with web access.
    This is a paper trail.

    For a credit card, it's the same deal, of course.
    Again, there is a paper trail.

    Increasingly e-voting machines have no paper trail requirement.

    This is highly troubling.
    Anne seemed to label this as "conspiracy", but it is no such thing.
    To say so is irresponsible.

    There is no way for the individual to verify that their vote was counted as they registered it, as you
    can at an ATM, with or without a receipt. Do you find this troubling? I do.
    This is just one short-coming in the system, among many.

    As a computer programmer and security expert, I know how easily computers can be manipulated.
    It is a fact that the coding on these machines could literally do anything.
    We're irresponsibly putting our votes into a black box, and don't even have an audit trail.

    This issue has nothing to do with whether fraud occurred in this particular election or not.
    Glitches frequently occur due to human and machine errors.

    An audit trail is a minimum necessary requirement -
    And this is just the beginning of the problems with e-voting as currently implemented.

    I'm surprised that the Washington Post allowed such a flimsy analysis to be published.
  • by sweatyboatman (457800) <sweatyboatman AT hotmail DOT com> on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:00PM (#10867680) Homepage Journal
    a quick scan of the paper reveals that they're saying that there were 130,000 abberant (for lack of a better word) votes.

    If you want to think those votes are ghost votes (perhaps they would have gone for Nader) then subtract 130,000 from Bush. If you want to think those votes should have gone to Kerry than subtract 130,000 from Bush and add 130,000 to Kerry.

    If you don't buy into their statistical modeling, then don't do anything. But isn't it curious that the largest disparity between expected and actual e-voting results occurred in heavily democratic counties?
  • Re:Two things (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:02PM (#10867734)

    They neglect to factor in the "Hurricane effect." The President's visits and aid raised him popularity in the area.

    From glancing at the numbers, I think you are wrong. Why would a hurricane, cause there to be more discrepancy between who people said they voted for, coming out of the polls, and who actually was given the votes? You are looking for explanations, and there is nothing wrong with that, but I don't think the one you give makes any sense. The only sort of things I can think of, that might account for such a discrepancy, are people not wanting to admit, to people doing polling, who it was they voted for. Perhaps if the persons polled felt intimidated, or ashamed of their votes. Even that, however, is really iffy. I think technical errors, or voter fraud, are the most likely culprits for this statistical anomaly.

  • Testing... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pjl5602 (150416) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:05PM (#10867773) Homepage
    how else do you verify that a paperless voting system is working properly?

    Uh, run a test? Before the election, vote for Kerry 50 times. Vote for Bush 50 times. Tally the results. If it's not 50 and 50, something is jacked up. It doesn't seem to be rocket science to me.

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:06PM (#10867799) Journal
    YOU DONT LEAVE WITH THE RECEIPT.

    In a "paper trail" situation, the receipt is the ballot! The only purpose of the machine is to give the people who can't punch a hole properly a chance to have their vote count, and maybe you can plug all the machines in at the end and get a quick count, but in the end if something smells fishy, you pull those paper ballots out.

    If the machine recorded a vote for A and printed out a vote for B, then this would be caught either when A wins by an unexpected landslide, or by chance by random sampling.
  • Re:Some thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Saltine Cracker (116414) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:09PM (#10867839) Journal
    Well said. I wish I had mod points.

    In many respects I think the bottom line here is accountability. The problem therein is that you can't please all the people all of the time. You also not create a fraud free system, as we know with the hacker culture, rules/systems/processes/et al. are meant to be bent and sometimes broken, and anyone who has the desire to attack the system can do so with enough effort.

    I do find it very ironic that we have two distinct crowds, largely both in the Democrat leaning arena which desire to challenge the election results. There are those who want to challenge the electronic voting and those who want to challenge the paper voting. Each group implies the other system is the better system. You can't have it both ways.

    No one likes to loose, and I'm not trying to rub a nose is someone's defeat. There are a many people out there who supported Kerry and who have just as deep convictions for his agenda as I do for Bush's. An old coach of mine used to say loosing builds muscle (because after a loss he'd basically kill us with PT) and character (because it should teach you to have dignity in your loss and to make sure you work hard enough not to loose the next time). I sincerely hope for the Democratic party that this election loss does both.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:12PM (#10867889)
    And how about mechanical voting machines? Are those audited? Especially those in New York City where there have been many reports over many elections that conservative votes seem to either not register, or jam up the machine invalidating a voter's entire ballot. And they don't allow revotes without a judge's order that day. Who does this benefit?

    What I don't like about paper audit trails in electronic voting machines is that everyone thinks they should be printed out in real time, like a cash register receipt at the grocery store as each item (voter) goes past. That makes it rather simple to match up voters to their votes if someone wished, and remove all the protections of the secret ballot process. Are you concerned?

    And I do find it curious that voting machines are only being questioned in states that Republicans have won. Don't you?

  • Re:Two things (Score:5, Interesting)

    by killjoe (766577) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:17PM (#10867976)
    When the UN monitors elections it relies mostly on exit polls to determine if the counts are being manipulated.

    In this case the exit polls showed that people were voting for Kerry but the counts showed otherwise.

    Now what? How do we know which is true?

    You know what the sad thing is? The sad thing is that we even have to ask that question. I for one don't trust the machines or the voting process, I am not the only one either. That's sad.
  • by shadowpuppy (629329) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:17PM (#10867985)
    The way I would think you could come close is.

    1. Put the software on bootable CDs.
    2. Ship an excessive number of CDs to each polling location.
    3. Boot the machines using CDs choosen by random voters.
    4. Allow voters to take home and verify the excess CDs
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:18PM (#10867988)
    Appearently an election watcher went to collect official poll tapes from one florida county and found the staff throwing them into the trash. They compared some of them on live tv with the ones certified by the state and found they were different. This should get very interesting....
  • Re:Two things (Score:2, Interesting)

    by extremecenter (620934) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:20PM (#10868013)
    The authors state flat out: "Electronic voting raised President Bush's advantage from the tiny edge held in 2000 to a clearer margin of victory in 2004."

    No self respecting scientist would state such an absurdly strong conclusion based on a simple correlation. At most, it could be claimed that there was a correlation between the use of electronic voting machines and Bush's margin.

    The authors go on to show that Bush's percentage increased most over 2000 in the heavily Democratic counties. In other words, Republican counties stayed loyal to Bush, and he picked up some votes in Democratic counties. What's surprising about that? That's the nature of elections. People make choices that are often different from the way they voted last time or their party affiliation. That's why we have elections instead of just counting the number of voters registered to each party.

  • by micromoog (206608) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:31PM (#10868194)
    That's pretty good, but it still doesn't guarantee that the machine's firmware isn't tampering with the code after it's in the machine.
  • by Zeal17 (602971) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:35PM (#10868267)
    No no no....The main advantage to an e-vote is that it gets counted automatically. When you have an e-vote with a paper receipt, you can vote electronically, the number gets beamed to a central DB, AND you get a paper ballot you can visually check and put in a box. Sure there won't be any faster recounts, but once the technology has been around for a while, people will trust the data. The whole state of Nevada was like this during the last election, everything got counted fast, and if there is any questions about the outcome, it's easy to double check by counting the receipts.

    The REAL question is why are there electronic voting machines that DON'T have a paper trail?
  • by multipartmixed (163409) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:37PM (#10868291) Homepage
    > That's pretty good, but it still doesn't guarantee that the machine's firmware isn't
    > tampering with the code after it's in the machine.

    You could allow each of the N parties to supply Required/(N+1) PCs to run the voting software, and the electoral commision would supply Required/N+1 PCs of its own. The software records which machine was used and a firmware hash of some kind on the voter's receipt.

    Then statistical analysis could be used to determine if one or both parties are cheating; it will be easy to detect and VERY hard to do.

    You could also hash the running total on the voter's receipts, along with timestamps. That might also prove to be very interesting.
  • by arivanov (12034) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:37PM (#10868292) Homepage
    Who cares about the code. It is data that should be signed and countersigned at every step and travel by at least 2 or more parallel pathways which are crossverified as well as the signatures. I am sorry, but 5th world country like Bulgaria has been doing this for nearly 10 years now. India has done it in the last election. It is time for the US to actually get a clue and learn how to run an election or import the Bulgarian or Indians who designed the election data flow (note the architecture, not the code) for a short H1B stint.
  • Re:Not good enough (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:37PM (#10868309) Homepage Journal
    * Unless those trails are voter verified, nobody has any way to determine if the trail matches the actual votes cast by the voters.

    This is the core problem with electronic voting.

    We either need to put the actual vote on paper, or make sure the machine printed votes match voter intent, or the election cannot be trusted.*

    you use a machine to vote. the machine spits out a paper with your vote number into a transparent casing. you verify (if you're not lazy) that the number is the same that you chose on the machine and extract the paper with the correct number(s) and then take it into a normal ballot box. the result is computer readable and later verifyable by hand if necessary ballot(computer readable because it was computer printed).

    either way, the voter should be able to verify that his vote has the right markings before going into the ballot box.

    bad motives for a totally paperless ballot are way too bad to accept(too many what if's even by ACCIDENT not to mention the situations possible by intent).
  • by Telastyn (206146) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:40PM (#10868347)
    I disagree. At least as far as 'important' only applies to my lifetime. While the prospect of voter fraud and election buying is certainly a dreadful prospect, the possibility of multiple Bush appointed Supreme Justices ruling on my civil rights for a decade or two seems to be something which will have a far greater impact over the next 60 expected years of my life.
  • Re:Some thoughts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ryanmfw (774163) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:40PM (#10868352)
    I do find it very ironic that we have two distinct crowds, largely both in the Democrat leaning arena which desire to challenge the election results. There are those who want to challenge the electronic voting and those who want to challenge the paper voting. Each group implies the other system is the better system. You can't have it both ways.

    No, no, no. Sure, some people think that the different system is better, but most people who have problems with the system do not. Even people who have a problem with electronic voting machines do not want to get rid of them, they just want to make sure that they *work*, instead of giving their vote to someone else. Paper ballots aren't too good either. When you have a candidate *surprised* about how many votes he got in a country, and many people say they accidentally voted for that candidate, you can't say they're just trying to change their vote, there really *was* a problem.

  • by A.Ichthys (611710) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:44PM (#10868405)
    A statistical discrepency can have multiple causes.

    1) There was something fishy about the election results -- this seems to be the assumption behind the investigation, the researchers wanted to find something and they found it.

    2) The statistical model is invalid -- There may be other factors that weren't considered, this is where peer review would help.

    3) The data is poor -- The data in this case being previous election results and results from non-electonic voting precincts. So it is possible (though probably not likely) that it could be the other counties where something isn't quite right.

  • by slashturt (466232) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:50PM (#10868480)

    I think the main legit advantage of electronic voting is accessibility. See Electronic Voting - Overview and Issues [berkeley.edu].

    A Quote:

    Touch-screen systems easily accommodate multiple languages and even have audio capabilities, making them attractive for meeting accessibility goals
  • by Lac (135355) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:58PM (#10868569)
    This is exactly how we do things in Canada, by the way, and it works wonders. Of course, TV-wise, it is much less interesting: we have a projected winner one hour after polls close and have the final and definitive results for all counties two hours after that. A party can ask for a recount without being accused of "hurting the country" and said recount happens in days. On the up-side, we do save money on exit polling. When the electoral system works, who needs exit polling?
  • by mtaco (520758) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:04PM (#10868658)
    Patrick Ruffini downloaded the authors spreadsheet: http://www.patrickruffini.com/archives/2004/11/fis king_berkele.php [patrickruffini.com]

    Here's what he found:

    The conclusion that President Bush was more likely to improve his vote in counties with e-voting is laughable on its face. Using the Excel spreadsheet provided by the authors, I totaled the votes for counties with and without e-voting, and came up with this:

    Percentage Change for Bush in Counties WITH E-Voting: 2.25%

    Percentage Change for Bush in Counties WITHOUT E-Voting: 2.54%

    It looks like e-voting suppressed the President's vote by about 0.29%_ -- or 7,800 votes!

    Taking each of these counties as data points, was the President "significantly more likely" to have increased his support in counties with e-voting? Again, no.

    E-Voting Counties with Increased Bush Vote: 13/15 (86.7%)

    Non-E-Voting Counties with Increased Bush Vote: 46/52 (88.5%)
  • by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:12PM (#10868754) Homepage

    And how about mechanical voting machines? Are those audited? Especially those in New York City where there have been many reports over many elections that conservative votes seem to either not register, or jam up the machine invalidating a voter's entire ballot.


    Those should have paper trails too.


    What I don't like about paper audit trails in electronic voting machines is that everyone thinks they should be printed out in real time, like a cash register receipt at the grocery store as each item (voter) goes past. That makes it rather simple to match up voters to their votes if someone wished, and remove all the protections of the secret ballot process.


    The most common method I've seen suggested is this;
    Each machine prints out an audit slip which the voter is allowed to examine, and then the voter drops it the audit box.

    How exactly were you planning on matching the audit slips to the voters?


    And I do find it curious that voting machines are only being questioned in states that Republicans have won.


    It's human nature to only question things when they turn out they way you don't want.
    That means the democrats only question the republican's victories, and the republicans only question the democrat's victories.

    But most of slashdot has been questioning the Diebold voting machines in general, not any election in particular.

    -- should you believe authority without question?
  • Re:Bravo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:18PM (#10868859)
    The election was not stolen.
    Objection: assumes facts not in evidence.

    Bush won.
    Not yet.

    (I didn't vote for Bush.) Get over it.
    Read the latest news regarding Florida machinations [blackboxvoting.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:24PM (#10868969)
    Especially those in New York City where there have been many reports over many elections that conservative votes seem to either not register

    What would the motavation be to to defraud 'conservative votes' in NYC? New York was not in play, the Republicans have NO chance of winning NY in a presidential election (unless of coarse Gulianni runs in 08, which would be interesting).

    Why would the Democrats, or someone working on their behalf, even bother to disenfranchise Republicans in NYC? That would be like Democrats cheating the Republicans out of a few votes in Alabama. Not going to make a difference.

    Not that I would put the Democratic Party above fraud, but if they were going to do it, wouldn't they do it in Ohio or Florida, where it might actually help them?
  • by graffix_jones (444726) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:31PM (#10869077)
    Uh... well, do the math (if these figures are right).

    Bush wins by 400,000
    subtract (possibly) 260,000
    Now he's only 140,000 ahead...
    Add those 260,000 votes to Kerry's tally...
    and you have Kerry winning the state by 120,000 votes.

    So... if this analysis holds up under scrutiny (which I doubt it will), it definitely could have affected the election.
  • Re:Possible causes (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:31PM (#10869081)
    Another possible cause is that the Democrats were cheating in 1996 and 2000 and the use of electronic voting machines eliminated the cheating. The existence of a correlation doesn't elucidate the cause of a correlation.

    Anon..
  • by ilikecaffeine (567091) <adam@ada[ ]nsen.com ['mja' in gap]> on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:36PM (#10869167) Homepage
    And they did it by rigging the system, and *NOBODY* can prove it. There's no paper trail.
    Since there's no way to prove it, that means that your theory is just a bunch of conspiracy crap. Incidentally, my theory that the democrats rigged the election in favor of the republicans so they could complain for four more years and run hillary/barak in '08 is also just a bunch of conspiracy crap. Georgia uses the Diebold machines. Badnarik, the libertarian candidate got 17,000 votes there, more than any other third party candidate in any other state. If the republicans "rigged" the election, as you propose, why in the hell would they give a third party candidate so many votes? Using your logic, I'm suspicious of the Boston Red Sox miracle. I mean, everything went so perfectly. How could there *not* be mischief afoot? Perhaps bush won because the majority of Americans prefer an idiot to a douchebag, and not because of The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.
  • Re:UC Berkeley (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LS (57954) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:40PM (#10869227) Homepage
    Yes, I know you are joking, but how does it feel to be a robot? I've read several articles that predicted jokers like you would come out and make light of the fact that the study came out of Berkeley. If you are not aware, so did BSD. Is BSD some flakey project built by partisan nutcases? NO, and your perpetuation of a stereotype does nothing but muddle the truth.

    LS
  • by cmallinson (538852) * <c@mallinsEEEon.ca minus threevowels> on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:15PM (#10869772) Homepage
    In Canada, we can get federal election results approximately 3 hours after polls close, and they're all pencil and paper.

    I have been a scrutineer at the past two Canadian federal elections, and the parent is correct. There were 2-4 people counting votes from each of six ballot boxes. We had everything counted, recounted, and called in 20 minutes after the polls closed. Technology is great, but it does not need to replace everything.

  • by JimmytheGeek (180805) <jamesaffeld.yahoo@com> on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:24PM (#10869875) Journal
    In 2002 the governer had a huge lead in the polls and was defeated. Also, a popular Vietnam vet incumbant (who left most of his limbs in Vietnam) was defeated for Senate, by a draft-dodging empty suit. Again, polls showed a commanding lead for the incumbant.
  • by galdur (829400) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:38PM (#10870037) Homepage
    Another thing which should be considered: If there is a certain flaw in the voting system (e.g. puncher working statistically worse on one side of the ballot), the ones in charge of the voting process can utilise this fact to favour their candidate. The machines don't even have to be rigged, just be imperfect!
  • by mm0mm (687212) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:42PM (#10870095)
    You know that the diebold machines use ACCESS as their "central DB"? If thats not scary, nothing is.
    Probably this site [votergate.tv] has been referred to for ages during discussions of Diebold machines, but in case you are still wondering how perfect Diebold's voting machines are for either fair or unfair voting, you might want to see their movie [musiccoop.org]. The cheating method shown during the demonstration with Howard Dean is so childish that you will laugh or be chilled. Hacking and changing Mozilla's stored passwords can be much more challenging for me as passwords are stored encrypted rather than in a ubiquitous database format that outsiders may be able to review AND change without breaking encryption.

    I don't know if Diebold has changed their system since, but I can't believe that Diebold has been claiming that the software used for voting machines is proprietary and secure. Without MS access, it makes absolutely no use.

    Got democracy?

  • by Izaak (31329) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:54PM (#10870224) Homepage
    What's to stop them from changing the code on enough of the machines to win? We'd never know what happens after we inspect the code. In the right area they COULD possibly win with only a handful of doctored machines.

    It is already certain that vote fraud occured in an alarming number of isolated cases. The only question now is if it occured and went undetected in enough places to actually swing the election. Here are a few of the things we already know for certain:

    In several districts, electronic voting machines were preloaded with thousands of votes for Bush before the election started. Where it was discovered, the machines were reset and did not effect the outcome. The question is, in how many districts did this go undetected because voter protection advocates were not there to check the machines.

    In at least one case, a location in which only about 600 people voted recorded over 4000 votes for Bush. No explanation has been given for this, though it is likely another example of 'pre-loaded' machines.

    In at least one local election, a manual recount of the ballots swung the vote total by a large amount compared to what the electronic vote machines had reported, enough to move the winner from the republican candidate to the democrat.

    But the biggest smoking gun [commondreams.org] is in Florida's Volusia county where election offitials were caught red handed throwing out the official signed poll tapes from Nov 2nd. When these tapes were compared to the reported vote numbers, they showed that votes had been added to Bush's total IN EVERY SINGLE PRECINCT EXAMINED. If this was done in many more Florida precincts, it could explain the eight point swing between the exit polls showing Kerry winning and the official tally showing a Bush win. We must at least acknowledge the possibility, and insist on a full audit of the Florida results... not just a recount done by the same Florida partisans, but full, impartial audit.

  • by Shadow Labs (807971) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:24PM (#10870530) Journal
    They won the presidency, they emasculated the democrats (won key senate seats, tom daschle, etc).

    I happen to live and vote in South Dakota, and while I don't like the Diebold machines any more than most people on Slashdot, you cannot blame Daschle's loss to them. (well you could, but you'd be wrong) Guess what we used for voting? Good old number 2 pencils and paper. They showed the counting machines on the news the night of the elections and they're essentially the same type of machines that ACT uses to score results on their tests. The precincts send their paper ballots in to the central counting location (in my case the county courthouse), the workers put the ballots in the counter, and voila! As for Daschle losing, I can't explain that one to you. You'd have to ask the other voters...
  • by Windrip (303053) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:30PM (#10870576) Journal
    Patrick Ruffini doesn't understand statistics. His argument can be likened to the statistical assertion that when Bill Gates walks into a bar, the net wealth of the patrons increases by several orders of magnitude.

    The survey proves a statistically significant correlation between Democratic support in certain counties (votes for Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004), Republican support in certain counties (Bush votes in 2000 and 2004), and touch-screen machines.

    Ruffini tries to disprove the finding by averaging the votes by county and technological prowess; which averaging doesn't disprove the correlation.

    The finding is significant in that the predicted totals for Bush in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties are lower then actual values.

    Here is the question Ruffini dodges: if the model is correct for the 2000 cycle, why is that same model wrong for the 2004 cycle?

  • by JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:45PM (#10870696) Homepage
    That's kind of interesting.
    I copy-pasted the numbers from that page and ran a simple query against them. In most counties, the turnout was less than the number of registered voters, but there are 30 accounting for 97,489 mystery voters -- more votes were counted in those precincts than there are registered voters.
    This isn't just a matter of absentee ballots being put in the wrong category, nor is it minor double-counting of ballots. Here are a few excerpts (check 'em yourself! [cuyahogacounty.us])
    HIGHLAND HILLS VIL has 760 registered voters, yet counted 8822 votes, for an overage of 8062 votes, or a 1161% voter turnout rate.
    WOODMERE VIL has 558 registered voters, yet counted 8854 votes, for an overage of 8296 votes, or a 1587% voter turnout rate.

    Note that I'm only looking at the cases where num_votes > num_voters. If you plot the voter turnout percentages, MANY more precincts show an abnormally high turnout rate, just less than 100%.

    Now I'm off to see if Colorado posts the same raw numbers online.
    --
  • by jgoemat (565882) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:58PM (#10870799)
    Their conclusions make little sense. Sort the data by % that voted for bush this year. There are e-voting counties that lost percentages for bush and non-e-voting counties that gained more than any e-voting county. Their summary paper shows a ridiculous number for Broward county. They say:
    In Broward County alone, President Bush appears to have received approximately 72,000 excess votes.
    Look at the data yourself:
    1. 1996 - 142,834 Dole to 320,736 Clinton, Dole got 30.8% of their votes (I note they ignore Ross Perot and Nader who both had significant votes)
    2. 2000 - 177,902 Bush to 387,703 Gore, Bush got 31.4 percent of the votes
    3. 2004 - 238,397 Bush to 443,535 Kerry, Bush got 34.9 percent of the votes
    If you take the total turnout and apply the lowest percentage for a republican in the last three elections (30.8%), then Bush would have gotten 210,115 votes. That's only 18,000 excess votes this year. If you take the 72,000 figure, then bush should have only gotten 166,397 votes. That's only 27.3%. So the authors of the paper assume for some reason that the county that had the absolute lowest percentage for push in 2000 (31.45 %) should have had even 4% less in 2004 when the country as a whole voted MORE for Bush. Not only that, but bush would have lost 11,000 people who voted republican in 2000 and Kerry would have gained 128,000 votes. That's ridiculous.

    The change in Bush % of vote from non-evoting counties ranges from -11.5% to +10.7%. For e-voting counties it ranges from -6.4% to +7.4%. If you look down each list (evoting and non-evoting) from change in percent, there is little difference whether it was a democratic or republican voting county, they're scattered.

    If you want to look at something strange, look at Cuyahoga county, Ohio. This county had 218,000 FEWER voters than in the 2000 election. That's in a record turnout year with only one other county in the list losing votes (Franklin, OH lost 9,486 out of the 519,255 they had in 2000). That's 108,000 fewer votes for Bush than in 2000 and 111,000 fewer votes for the democrats. Not a big shift in the election, but very strange nonetheless.

  • by Vitriol+Angst (458300) on Friday November 19, 2004 @08:10PM (#10870904)
    Conspiracy crap? A good percentage of liberals I know are very uneasy about the choice of companies that created these voting machines.

    Here is a test. Next 4 years, we can choose our companies to build the machines and to count the numbers. Michael Moore, and George Sourros will head the companies. Does that make you feel comfortable? Don't complain if somehow Barbara Streisand wins California, You just have to Move On.

    Oh. and just because you can site an example where the Republicans didn't win, when they've had a great showing of blithering failures (oh, the economy, pollution, the rising cost of healthcare + anything else I'd bother to mention), does not mean that they didn't try to cheat.

    The Libertarian you mention may actually be pushing the same NeoCon agenda that has worked so well for Mexico. I don't want to get into that debate, but having been a Libertarian and a Republican for I while, I had to leave because their economic concepts were not sustainable, and the Dems looked the least evil by a smidgen.

    But I also live in Georgia, which is the Belt Buckle of the Bible Belt, so no amount of self interest or reality will outweigh a good rhetorical moralizer. And the ignorance of people listening to Neal Bortz and nodding to his ideas of a Value Added Tax are making me want to retch.

    By the way, some months ago, the president of DieBold publicly stated that he would do everything in his power to see that President Bush was re-elected.

    Can you not admit, that a system where elected officials approve the budgets for private corporations who control who gets elected IS a system that is bound to be corrupted? What are we paying for these boxes anyway? About $100k a piece? Doesn't that mean that most of the expense is for "services rendered".

    And note, that in 2000, the Florida Government payed the people who conducted the voting about 10 times as much as 4 years before. The number of rejected voters went from about 8,000 to over 90,000. It has now been verified, that many of the people who were rejected was unwarranted (and of course, mostly from Democratic voters). I could point to a number of articles discussing this, but you would not be convinced.

    Why are people so dead set against an idea of a "conspiracy." It is damn well profitable to have a president give taxpayer money to corporations. It is worth Billions. And we have many examples of overpaid contracts to look at. There are all sorts of conspiracies. But it seems that anyone pointing it out is automatically a nut. So what does anyone do about a conspiracy? Hand the crooks the keys and hope they run over a school bus full of kids on prime time news so that we can be sure they are the bad guys?

    I'll say it. I think the Bush administration is a bunch of crooks. They behave like crooks. They act like crooks. They want everything secret and they punish anyone who criticizes them. They were conveniently incompetent on 9/11 and it has done nothing but give them a green light to push through their agenda. They have pandered to just about every corporate supporter, in historically cynical ways. They have lied and said Iraq was an immanent threat. Oops. Now we must forgive them because it is a tough job. Meanwhile, Billions of dollars of taxpayer money are going to companies owned by the Carlyle group, which has financial dealings with almost all of the Bush administration (Halliburton ain't half of it). And we are supposed to shrug that off because it's only coincidence that it's their pockets the money lands in "hey, it could happen to anyone".

    Wow, the energy bill even indemnifies oil companies from lawsuits they might incur over gasoline additives. OK. The future looks bright. King George will start the "No two-headed baby left behind" program. Retraining as a circus freak can help a large portion of the genetically damaged. Good thing they can't sue.

    And all 5 of the electronic voting companies have been major donators to the Reelect Bush fund.

    This statement; f
  • Diebold states (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bun (34387) on Friday November 19, 2004 @08:30PM (#10871085)
    Has anyone done a comparison of the battleground states won by Bush and whether they used electronic voting machines or not?
  • by PabloJones (456560) on Friday November 19, 2004 @08:45PM (#10871193) Homepage
    I, for one, believe in this electronic voting machine conspiracy crap. Sure, a few voting machines probably rigged the votes for Bush, but on the other hand, most likely other voting machines rigged it for Kerry.

    Look, I voted for Kerry, and was not too pleased that Bush won, but I believed that he did. He won the popular vote by 3 million, and the electoral college by more than 30. I don't think that 3 million votes in favor of Kerry could have been stolen by crooked voting machines, as in my view and the view of the parent, fraud going for Kerry was just as prevalent. Better luck in 4 years.

    Anyway, Bush won Florida by a pretty decent majority. ABC News dispelled a concern that many people had with a Floridian county (I forget which one) in which there were more registered Democrats that Republicans, but the county went for Bush. However, that county has voted Republican for the past 6 presidential elections or so.

    Berkeley's facts may have been "right," but it doesn't mean they were accurate.

    Let's give it up, Kerry lost and Bush won. Yes there were most likely cases of fraud, but overall, they probably cancelled each other out for the most part.
  • by Izaak (31329) on Friday November 19, 2004 @09:17PM (#10871391) Homepage
    I, for one, believe in this electronic voting machine conspiracy crap. Sure, a few voting machines probably rigged the votes for Bush, but on the other hand, most likely other voting machines rigged it for Kerry.
    I think you are missing the point that the manufactures of the voting machines are all strong republican backers, and the two main swing states, Florida and Ohio, both have partisan republicans running the vote counting process. The Democrats would not even have the opportunity to rig the vote in any significant way in those states.

    If you have not checked out the article I referenced earlier [commondreams.org] I really recommend it. It points to potential 'systemic' fraud that could add up to many hundreds of thousands of votes in florida alone. Repeat the tactic in a bunch of non-swing states just to pad the popular vote... and you have a recipe for a stolen election.

    It helps when over third of the population is voting on touchscreen voting machines with no paper trail, particularly when they are manufactured by a company with strong republican ties, and a history of fraud and criminal activity.

    I am not saying that it definetely happed, just that it is not impossible, and that the early signs of fraud are enough to justify further investigation. We are talking about the fundimental underpinnings of our democracy here. I say that is worth a little extra digging just be sure. The cost of being wrong is just too high.
  • by Catbeller (118204) on Friday November 19, 2004 @09:23PM (#10871419) Homepage
    Actually, up until the 2000 election, exit polls were remarkably accurate.

    They are still remarkably accurate -- if done for elections held anywhere but in the U.S. Magic.

    And if exit polls no longer work, statistically the variant outcomes should scatter for Bush and Kerry roughly equally. They do not. They all skewed way, in some cases REALLY WAY, over to Bush.

    And something is definitely wrong. Check Bev Harris's work these past few days. In Florida, she was issued unsigned audit tapes in response to her requests for evidence after the election, rather than the signed and verified ones.

    After being denied the originals, she actually found them in the TRASH. Police were called to stop her, but she got the tapes.

    Kids, they compared the unsigned results to the actual, disposed-of results from the dumpster.

    The copies she was given do not match the originals. The vote was way, way adjusted for Bush. In. Every. Case.

    She won't make the conclusion outright, but it's obvious. Where Jeb could cheat, he did. Mygod, how could he NOT cheat??
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Friday November 19, 2004 @11:41PM (#10872113) Journal

    Does that discount the possibility of fraud in this election, or suggest fraud in the last 6 as well?
    Ocam's razor would suggest the former, at least if you limit yourself to just the data under consideration.

    But when you start looking deeper the water gets muddier. There are accusations of election fraud in Florida dating back at least to 1959 (the Dade County "Metro" vote) and a whole host of election-and-budget related corruption scandals even before that). There have been numerous convictions, but mostly of "bag man" level people. Most of the Watergate burglers (the "cubans") were from Miami. And so on, and so on. There seems to be a fairly well documented pattern of misconduct involving Republicans + Cuba + CIA + mafia + Florida that runs back into antiquity.

    So, thinking about it, I'm not so sure what to assume about the last six presidential elections.

    -- MarkusQ

  • by rfc1394 (155777) <Paul@paul-robinson.us> on Saturday November 20, 2004 @04:00AM (#10873252) Homepage Journal
    While the research used statistical analysis based on past elections and demographics, how else do you verify that a paperless voting system is working properly?
    Short answer: You can't. Accuracy isn't the purpose. Hoodwinking the public is.

    Long Answer: The purpose of electronic voting machines is not to provide an inexpensive election - paper ballots counted by hand are the cheapest way to run a secret election - nor is it to provide a guaranteed accurate election - paper ballots with check marks are the gold standard for proof of who voted for whom - but to allow undetectable election fraud. Any election without a real-time unchangeable audit trail - which means a paper log of every vote generated at the same time as voting is done - should be presumed to be intentionally fraudulent.

    Back in 1966, Robert A. Heinlein gave the exact formula in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress [amazon.com] for stealing an election without the public realizing they'd been robbed: have all the votes collected by computer where there is no audit trail and no way to prove the validity of the actual vote versus what is recorded.

    And what do electronic voting machines give us? A voting system collected by computer where there is no audit trail and no way to prove the validity of the actual vote versus what is recorded. Why should it surprise anyone that the voting machines are inaccurate; they're intended to efficiently steal elections in a concealed fashion, not necessarily to efficiently count them.

    Let's not forget that the head of one of the companies that sell electronic voting machines said that they intended to make sure they got Ohio for a specific candidate in the 2004 election. (No candidate has ever won the presidency without Ohio.)

    Has anyone here considered that since it takes 270 electors to win, all that one needs to get elected President is 11 states?

    • California.... 55
    • Texas......... 34
    • New York...... 31
    • Florida....... 27
    • Illinois...... 21
    • Pennsylvania.. 21
    • Ohio.......... 20
    • Michigan...... 17
    • New Jersey.... 15
    • North Carolina 15
    • Georgia....... 15
    • -------------
    • Total........ 271
    Get (or steal) these 11 states and you can forget the other 39.
  • by Mazem (789015) on Saturday November 20, 2004 @05:04AM (#10873422)
    "Until recently, Ruffini was webmaster for the Bush-Cheney '04 presidential campaign"
    http://www.patrickruffini.com/bio.php [patrickruffini.com]

  • Not impressive (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Erwos (553607) on Monday November 22, 2004 @02:07AM (#10885561)
    I am blessed (cursed?) with a background in econometrics from school.

    The figures look nice, until your eyes stray to the R-square (goodness of fit) results for their regressions - it's about .5 for all of them, which means there's quite a bit to do before their models are actually believable and worth using as "evidence" of voter fraud.

    More formally, R-square is the percentage of sample variation in the dependent variable that is explained by the independent variables. So, in this study, they can generally explain about 50% of the variation - which is not exactly what I'd want to take to court.

    In fairness to the researchers, R-square is not the end-all, be-all of proof, and .5 really isn't terrible for social science stuff. However, this is the only statistic they posted regarding the correctness of the models, and I'd like to see some more numbers in this regard.

    I find the willingness of people to take this as "proof" of vote fraud is disturbing. This is evidence that places that had electronic voting had more votes for Bush. This evidence is of correlation rather than causation. Maybe Bush supporters were more likely to come out in places with electronic voting?

    In any case, I would also direct people to read page 4, where it points out that electronic voting in Ohio didn't cause any change in percent voting for Bush (using model 1, I believe).

    -Erwos

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell

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