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New Hampshire Primaries Follow-Up Analysis 315

Posted by Zonk
from the still-quite-dodgy dept.
Dr. Eggman writes "Ars Technica has posted a lengthy follow up analysis of the 2008 New Hampshire Primaries outcome. The article deals with the O'Dell machine/hand-count table that has been circulating through emails. It also points out the combination of factors that resulted in such an odd symmetry of numbers, although the article notes that these numbers have been corrected. The corrections still indicate a discrepancy among the tallies. The article also goes on to talk about the nature of the communities that arrived at these numbers and what/how the handcounts proceeds. This process has been inconclusive; something that does not bode well for the rest of the primaries and indeed the election itself, as only 16 states currently mandate both a voter-verified paper trail (VVPT) and a random manual audit of election results."
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New Hampshire Primaries Follow-Up Analysis

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  • doesn't matter (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 192939495969798999 (58312) <(moc.eroomnived) (ta) (ofni)> on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @01:56PM (#22068990) Homepage Journal
    It doesn't matter which way the popular vote goes, the electoral college elects the president... if you really wanted to screw with the election in this country, it would be WAY cheaper just to buy some electoral votes than to try to manipulate tons of ballots which won't have any effect on the actual election outcome.
    • Re:doesn't matter (Score:4, Insightful)

      by enjahova (812395) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:07PM (#22069126) Homepage
      Your candidate of choice would still need to get on the ballot.
    • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSpam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:13PM (#22069206) Journal
      That's not insightful. You need to convince the citizens that the outcome is legitimate or there will be rioting in the streets. Tampering with ballots preserves the illusion of legitimacy. Buying electoral college votes puts the fraud right out in the open, it's basically a big "fuck you!" to the American people. That's the last thing anyone in power wants, the entire electorate questioning their legitimacy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by s20451 (410424)
        Buying electoral college votes puts the fraud right out in the open, it's basically a big "fuck you!" to the American people.

        Well, given that most people wouldn't mind having their vote bought [foxnews.com], it's not so insulting to most people as you might imagine.

        The article at the link suggests that a majority of NYU students would give up their right to vote for $1 million. Supposing you could scale that up to the size of the population, for 1/2 * (population of USA) * $1,000,000 = $151 trillion, you could obtain a
        • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

          by timster (32400) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:39PM (#22069550)
          The GDP is GROSS domestic product. Someone who "owned" the US wouldn't be able to pull a profit anywhere close to $13 trillion per year. The slaves have to eat something.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by spun (1352)
          66% of NYU students, many of whom probably don't vote anyway, is not "most people." And GDP is gross domestic product. Not net.
          • by Firethorn (177587)
            I'm not a NYU student, and I'd have to admit that I'd give my right to vote up for a year for $1Million.

            I'd tend to think that the actual rate is quite a bit less, considering that most people don't vote anyways.

            Of course, as a fiscally responsible person, I'd be 90% of the way towards early retirement if you handed me $1M. Might be sad, but I wouldn't consider $1M sufficient without having time to figure out my taxes, figure out a budget and investments, get legal advice, etc...

            Meanwhile I'm keeping my jo
        • by pokerdad (1124121)

          The article at the link suggests that a majority of NYU students would give up their right to vote for $1 million.

          I don't know about NYU students, but my price would not be the same if it was just me losing the right vs millions of people losing their right; if it was some weird experiment involving just me, a million dollars sounds about right, but if it was an open offer to anyone and everyone who wanted it, I would turn it down (both because the vote I'd be keeping would be much more valuable, and because the hyper-inflation that would result from making most of the population millionaires would make being a milli

      • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:38PM (#22069524)

        That's not insightful. You need to convince the citizens that the outcome is legitimate or there will be rioting in the streets. Tampering with ballots preserves the illusion of legitimacy. Buying electoral college votes puts the fraud right out in the open, it's basically a big "fuck you!" to the American people.

        You forgot that when you're caught committing fraud (or caught for being completely incompetent), you haul the court system into it. Then, no matter how pissed people are, you can blow them off by saying, "sorry, the courts say *I* won."

    • Re:doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by schnikies79 (788746) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:13PM (#22069210)
      Most states give all electoral votes to whoever won the popular vote in that state. You can't just "buy" a few votes.
    • by stomv (80392) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:13PM (#22069212) Homepage
      Faithless electors [wikipedia.org] can be punished in 24 states. Furthermore, most electoral college voters are established party faithful -- it'd cost an awful lot of money to start swinging their votes since their political career would be destroyed.

      At $1 million each, buying enough would cost $270 million. For that kind of money, why not just run for president and sink it in your campaign like Mitt Romney. How many politically connected folks would throw away their career, their connections, and their source of future income for less than a mil?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by qortra (591818)
      We're way offtopic from the article, but you should probably read the Wikipedia article on faithless electors [wikipedia.org]. Faithless electors can face consequences for their actions. So far, there haven't been severe consequences, but then so far a faithless elector has never turned the tide of an election. If that started to happen, it would be likely that political parties, states, and the federal government would make consequences more severe.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      That's retarded sir. You'd have to be within a vote or two to actually pull it off, since states can make their representatives sign a contract stating that they'll vote the way the state wants them to vote. If a significant number of electoral college members were to break lines and vote against their state, there'd be massive investigations. You'd also (as mentioned by a sibling) have to get on the ballot in the first place and come close enough that you wouldn't be bribing too many people.

      So, if you'
      • by agrounds (227704)
        They would risk jailtime to put the one person into power that can pardon them of all wrongdoing with a stroke of a pen?

        Makes sense to me. How long before this starts to happen? The electoral college is a joke, and still doesn't represent voters evenly across statelines.

        Check this out if you would like more information on the discrepancy: http://www.vastlyimportant.com/vastly/files/vote_power.htm [vastlyimportant.com]
        • They would risk jailtime to put the one person into power that can pardon them of all wrongdoing with a stroke of a pen?

          Right, because if they went to jail for being bribed, the person who bribed them wouldn't suffer the same consequences. If only there were 4 months between the election and the swearing in of the president, where things like this could be investigated.

          The electoral college is a joke, and still doesn't represent voters evenly across statelines

          The electoral college is doing exactly what it was intended to do when it doesn't represent voters evenly across state lines. The needs of people in large cities are vastly different from the needs of people in rural areas. In order to have them both represe

    • by njfuzzy (734116)
      That just isn't true. Most electors are bound by state laws that determine how they must vote.
    • Before you can even bring the EC into play, you have to actually win the party nomination. And to do that, you have to win the primaries (still not the popular vote, though). And the best way to win the primaries (or to not lose them) is to win one of the first couple of states. I don't think NH was "rigged" by any means, but the motive is certainly there. Obama was riding the wave of popularity, and it may have gotten a little out of hand had he beaten Clinton in NH. She always has the advantage with
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I voted for Kodos.
  • by buswolley (591500) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:07PM (#22069144) Journal
    I had just submitted this other story about the Primaries in NH to Firehose: Diebold Effect Persists even after statistical removal of demographics covariates. http://scienceblogs.com/developingintelligence/2008/01/the_diebold_effect_hillarys_vo.php [scienceblogs.com]
    • No! No! Shut up! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StarKruzr (74642)
      Just talking about election fraud is tired old conspiracy-theory mongering! Election fraud never happens! Bush really did win! When you claim election fraud, the terrorists win! Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor! That does not make sense!

      I really hate how having the idea that a group of people ever sat down to do something bad or dishonest together is immediate cause to be branded a lunatic.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Omestes (471991)
        Yes. Even paranoiacs are right some percentage of the time. But, probably not this time. Or at least I haven't seen any reason to dust off my tin-foil hat yet. Its just the usual election SNAFU action, there is no need to confuse gross incompetence for conspiracy, the former covers most things pretty well.

        What gets me is that the media is choosing yet another president. No conspiracy there, just morons voting. Democracy depends on an informed public, which is antithetical to the modern American way of
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by antoinjapan (450229)
      As programmers I'm sure we all know what caused the error, and plenty of programming errors. I speak of the scourge of natural number orientated programmers everywhere, 0 based indexing. As is obvious from the NH results the machines simply swapped the votes for Hillary and Obama. Something like Obama=getVotes(1), Hillary =Votes-Obama... instead of Obama = getVotes(0) and Hillary=getVotes(1)...thats all it was...stupid lazy programmers goddammnit
  • Romney. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JavaLord (680960) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:10PM (#22069172) Journal
    The article doesn't even mention Romney's unusually high numbers when optical scanners counted the vote. Oh, and I support Ron Paul, so arstechnica has called me loopy because of my political beliefs. Looks like there is one more location I won't be going for any kind of news in the future!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by halivar (535827)
      Yeah, you can't be too careful; you might hear a contrary opinion. You must nurture your beliefs, and protect them from criticism. It's kinda like Scientology that way.

      And all Ron's people said, "Paul-men."
      • Oh, and I support Ron Paul, so arstechnica has called me loopy because of my political beliefs. Looks like there is one more location I won't be going for any kind of news in the future!

        Yeah, you can't be too careful; you might hear a contrary opinion.


        The name calling on the part of the Ars Technica article's author casts doubts about how informed, objective, rational, or intelligent he is when considering the subject under question - with the implication that he might have similar problems with other issu
        • by halivar (535827)

          Their time for collecting information is limited. Why should they waste it on an outlet that is self-evidently warping the information on the subjects of interest to them (intentionally or otherwise), when it might be better spent reading other sources.

          I don't have time to pitch a hissy-fit every time my particular political persuasion gets smeared or name-called. You do what you do with all news: skim it to glean soft, chewy nougats of wisdom, and discard the cheap almonds and chocolate coating. That last

  • by thermostat42 (112272) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:20PM (#22069302) Homepage
    So, I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy. But has anyone who has gotten excited about this even bothered looking for unobserved variables. I don't know say, the affluence of a community and the likelihood that they have expensive voting machines. And that affluent communities might have different voting preferences that poorer communities?

    Are we going to start banning ice cream to lower the murder rate next??
    • by buswolley (591500) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:27PM (#22069382) Journal
      http://scienceblogs.com/developingintelligence/2008/01/the_diebold_effect_hillarys_vo.php [scienceblogs.com] [scienceblogs.com] --I mentioned it above.
    • by neuronomy (1221224) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:44PM (#22069626)
      RTFA. We controlled for % holding bachelor's degrees, median household income, and population density - that's why this is newsworthy. The diebold effect is still significant.
      • RTFA. We controlled for % holding bachelor's degrees, median household income, and population density - that's why this is newsworthy. The diebold effect is still significant.
        What about age, sex, ethnicity, job types, distance from polling station, etc? There are a huge number of variables that not only affect which candidate a particular district supports, but also the motivation of those people to vote.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:21PM (#22069308)

    Forget the "skew", there was clear evidence of fraud in certain towns where they reported zero votes for Ron Paul, and a couple of supporters who lived in that town came forward and said "uh, I don't think so, I KNOW I voted for him, as did several friends"?

    The town did a re-count and magically those votes re-appeared. This wasn't a case of "oops, we were off by a few"- every single vote for a particular candidate was GONE. What's fascinating is that all of the news stories I've read about the NH primary concerns have neglected to mention this, and far as I can tell, nobody has done jack shit to figure out why it happened.

    Furthermore, if they lost ALL of the Ron Paul votes- how many other votes did they lose?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I thought it was just one county, and they simply forgot Paul because he was at the bottom of the list when they sent in their report (even write-in candidates beat him). Nothing nefarious, or even electronic, just simple human error.
      • by Shotgun (30919) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:27PM (#22070230)
        That's strange. He seems to be beating Thompson and Guilliani in nearly every primary. Yet, I continue to see both those candidate receiving significant news coverage. Lots of face time, and constant reports that Guilliani is going to win in Florida (as if that one state can get him nominated). What's more, neither of those two seem to have anything significant to say. Voting for Paul is a least a call for doing things that are significantly different than the status quo.

        I can only say that the major media have gone out of their way to actively ignore Ron Paul. When they have provided any modicum of coverage to his campaign, it has been in the form of slander or ridicule. Why did Paul get a derisive question about "electability", instead of the policy issue everyone else was sidestepping, when he had won more of the vote than the proclaimed 'winner' of the debate?

        If they'd forgotten Thompson and Guilliani, I might agree, but given the evidence, there seems to be a concerted effort to keep Paul from running at all.

      • I grew up in a small Southern town where a lot of "simple human errors" were made at the polling place that happened to be in the black part of town. Such innocent errors are still common even today, though more subtle than in years past. In the 2004 election, representatives from the Republican party showed up at polling places in the state's predominately black colleges to make sure that each voter also had a photo ID with them before they were allowed to vote. But, thanks to what was no doubt a simple hu
  • ...but these are primaries. I'm just not sure why all the fuss about primary elections in NH when I am sure that Iowa's caucuses were much less accurate [slashdot.org]. And, no, I'm not whining, the candidate I supported in Iowa won.
  • by kabloom (755503) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:31PM (#22069438) Homepage
    It's good to know they're doing a public hand recount of paper ballots (which is exactly what they need to do), but the primary result of the New Hampshire primary is the media coverage of the winner the day after, so even if the Diebold machine count was wrong by such a huge margin, the damage is already done because the media has already crowned Clinton as the winner of the New Hampshire primary.
  • Obama and Edwards are great candidates, but I was sure Hillary had an ace up her sleeve to skew the results. You can't skew caucuses where folks have to line up on one side of a room or other. But it's easy to hack the results of a Diebold vote.
    • by Brickwall (985910)
      Oh, please. I'm no fan of Hillary, but the "ace up her sleeve" is she inherited her husband's organization. Thousands of volunteers who phone her likely voters to make sure they actually voted, drivers who will take them to the polls, etc. That's why you saw the discrepancy between pre-vote polls and the actual result; Obama doesn't have as many feet on the ground as Clinton does, and he probably didn't get all his supporters to the polls. This ready made organization is Clinton's big advantage going forwar
      • There's another reason: it's a well-known phenomenon in America that many voters will tell pollsters they're going to vote for a minority candidate even if they're not just to avoid being called racist. The funny thing is that none of the pundits have mentioned it. Either they're not as well educated on the subject as they make out to be or they're ignoring it because it doesn't fit their preconceptions. Either way, it doesn't exactly add to their credibility in my eyes.
  • by galoise (977950) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:47PM (#22069666)
    I have always found it incredibly curious how, of all countries, the United States has such big problems for vote counting. I know that problems like these are everywhere to be found, and that the US hava a very atypical election machinery (with each state presenting votes as they see fit, and other decissions based on a per-county basis, etc etc), but all in all, it should be pretty obvious that you have some serious election problem.

    Down in my country (i'm form Chile), the electoral system is incredible clean and efficient. Every vote is hand counted, and the aggregated results of the election are official one or two hours after the last table closes, with a certainty of about 99.9%... and it's not a technological wonder: just ordered hand counting, and coordinated recollection of results. i know, we are a small country, but the voting population is about 4 mill people... more than NH in any case.

    And in the event that there's a problem (i don't remember any in the last 20 years), we can track each ballot to the specific table where it was counted and check it all the way down to the ballot.

    And Chile is a country with a reputation for chaos and disorder. Should i be amazed for our electoral system, or be amazed for how crappy the united states' system is?

    in other words... with all due respect (and i mean it, it's an honet question...), why do you have such a crappy system? wouldn't it be cheaper to implement a low-tech, efficient and accountable sytem rather than risking every election with a thrillion different systems for each district and all this eternal debate about who probably got more votes?
    • with all due respect (and i mean it, it's an honet question...), why do you have such a crappy system?

      Honest answer: because not everyone is aware of the problems. And some of those who are aware don't consider them to be major problems.

      So how would we fix it? Elections in the US are run by the states, so in order to implement a consistent, well-designed system nationwide we would have to take that power from the states via a Constitutional amendment - something rather difficult to do without broad su

    • by Shotgun (30919) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:36PM (#22070368)
      How is graft and corruption ever the have chance in this country if we make it so simple? What would the talking heads talk about if there was a Obviosly, your oblivious to the complication of the American electorate and our diverse needs. Jeesh, dude. Would you think of the CHILDREN?
    • I always wonder the same thing: for a country that never tires of telling us how great their democracy is, they don't seem too good at actually concentrating on the details of making it work.

      The UK hand counts all its votes too, it's not a small country (~60m people) but we still get the results in 4-5 hours after the polls close. The reason always given is that the US is too big, but that's a very poor argument. If you have more voters you also have more counters. There is never a lack of volunteers at e

    • Being young, I haven't paid close attention to elections before the y2k fiasco. My impression, though, is that problems here have been slowly growing worse, but nobody had any reason to care. People didn't know because it wasn't reported. When and where it was brought up, the people willing to talk about problems were seen as paranoid; there clearly weren't problems with the outcomes. Then presidential elections got way too close for comfort, and hysteria broke loose. Throw Diebold into the mix now, an
  • The third time will NOT be charm.
    It's a pattern!
    Wake up USA.

    The Muslim religion got hijacked by extremists.
    You're getting your entire country hijacked right in front of you!

  • by indros13 (531405) * on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:16PM (#22070100) Homepage Journal
    First, I have a bachelor's in math and a public policy masters (we took stats classes). So I know enough to know that the kind of analysis I've been seeing is leaving gaps.

    Example: What if the precincts with higher proportions of Obama supporters happen to be those with hand counted ballots? This is well within the realm of possibility, and from a statistical standpoint, just as likely a hypothesis as wrongdoing.

    So, what's the answer? Regression. Regression not only gives you the correlation (which everyone knows is high), but also explains the significance of that correlation - how much it matters.

    The result? I ran regressions of Clinton/Obama total vote percentage against hand/machine counted from the first 150 or so precincts (alphabetically) from the list of results and there were two important figures:

    p-value of less than .05 (the relationship between method of vote counting and the final vote breakdown was significant).

    Adj R-Squared less than 0.10 (the method in vote counting explained less than 10% of the variation in vote totals).

    In plain English: 90% of the variation in results across precincts CANNOT be explained by the counting method.

    Furthermore, the even with significance, the model may merely pick up variables related to the ones being used. Perhaps precincts with machine counting are wealthier, and wealthier precints trended Clinton. In that way, machine-counted precincts would skew Clinton but with no sinister activity.

    My look wasn't by any means fully rigorous or conclusive, and I can't claim to be expert enough to be certain. And there are probably a few Slashdotters with greater stats skills to puncture my amateur analysis. But I think this is overblown. Let's focus on the real enemy, vote machines with no paper trail.

    • That's a very rigorous analysis you've subjected the results to, but one of my freaks above (you'll notice because he's been modded to five) already linked to an even more thorough statistical analysis [scienceblogs.com] of the results, that controlled for even more of the possible explanations you mentioned, and STILL found correlation at the p less than .001 level.

      That is, there is a 1/1000 chance that it's just a coincidence.
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:17PM (#22070108)

    Americans have been conditioned to accept the narrative that exit polls can be wildly askew from actual results and suspicious results (like Ron Paul's disappearing votes) can be ignored. Properly administered exit polls are highly accurate. Now, I'm not saying that New Hampshire was rigged, but I want to know EXACTLY what happened to change the outcome from a near certain expectation. Only two explanations that I see as viable.

    • Exit polls conducted by amateurs (I heard ONE comment that this might have happened from a witness).
    • High number of undecided or uncommitted voters swayed one way. Problem here is that Hillary would have had to have taken an enormous share of these voters.
  • doesnt deserve to be President. Its a time-honored skill we've come to expect in our politicians!
  • Things are getting more interesting by the day.

    I've heard that the whole 2012 thing is a bit of a bugaboo, that nothing is quite so clockwork; that time is somewhat squishy. --Or as the Doctor put it, "Timey-Whymie".

    Still. . , as looming and catastrophic endings/beginnings go, the milestones keep piling up, don't they? --And they have an interesting story to tell to anybody who is paying attention.

    The U.S. goose is cooked, and there doesn't seem to be anything anybody can do to stop it. People are too fa
  • Hey, did you know one of the base tenements of the Communist movement is to get people to question the validity of Democracy? Indeed... if we continuously question and re-examine and wonder about the legitimacy of our system, one day someone will say, "hey, ya know that communist idea with a benevolent dictator doesnt sound like such a bad idea after all... i mean, i don't control who runs my nation anyway, might as well just set someone in office and be done with it!"

    Yeah, you are all sheeple...
  • Wake up... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moxley (895517) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:39PM (#22071830)
    It's clear that there has been fraud.

    Just like it was clear (and proven conclusively) that there was fraud that altered the outcome of the 2004 presidential election, and 2000 as well.

    The mainstream media is completely compromised. Anybody who is waiting to hear this proclaimed on NBC wil be waiting forever (stupidly).

    Many people just don't understand that this isn't a right/left dem/rep issue - The powers that be have a vested interest in ensuring that if it's democrat it is Hillary - if it is a republican it is MCCain or Giuliani.

    They also want to limit mainstream exposure of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich...They certainly couldn't have straight shooters like these guys on a live TV major network debate speaking truth right next to a bunch of controlled corporatists who want to talk about the crap the mainstream media has been forcefeeding the public without making media darlings look like the cardboard kleptogarchs they are.

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