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Reply #22: There have been challenges in Florida, but what causes a court to intervene? [View All]

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Sancho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-02-09 06:43 AM
Response to Reply #20
22. There have been challenges in Florida, but what causes a court to intervene?
Edited on Thu Apr-02-09 06:47 AM by Sancho
Most of the time, reviews by an election board or investigation are restricted to a machine or set of machines or a precinct; or there is evidence of possible error across precincts or districts (like undervotes), but no way to conclude manipulation. You know this already.

Given how courts tend to restrict the review to only the machine, precinct, or ballot in question, it is hard to see a pattern of subtle manipulation. I would hate to try and explain some regression results in a court even if the exit polls demonstrated a "statistically significant" alteration from predicted results. This has been a problem that DNA probability computations often face (remember OJ?).

Occasional and selected "hacking" of DRE or tabulators is too sparse to make a legal case. If manipulation is occurring on this basis, it would be difficult to detect.

This is what I'm suggesting. If a parallel elections targeted some specific precinct or extensive exit polls included all races and participants in a few precincts; ONE CLEAR CASE of manipulation would possibly cause an investigation of the whole.

It was clear in Sarasota that so many people had personally witnessed DRE and counting problems, that the district voted the machines out. Going to a paper ballot was the voter intent, but there was never enough "proof" of purposeful manipulation to win in court. GOP resistance from the election supervisor, judges, etc. restricted evidence collection and allowed machines to be moved or rebooted before "testing". Tabulators were not checked and machine code was "proprietary".

In the 2004 elections in Pinellas (Martinez supposedly beat a popular Castor who had been Fl Sec. of Ed. and a University President) while some of the same precincts voted for all other Democratic candidates and approved a school tax hike, and defeated GOP constitutional amendments (like gambling). In seemed an impossible pattern. There were reports of vote switching, and I saw one machine actually switch from Castor on the first screen to Martinez on the review page repeatedly. I demanded the machine be removed, and instead the machine was rebooted by a tech and I was removed.

If someone (I don't know who) was prepared to take the complaints and early returns and spend the afternoon with a parallel election or extensive exit poll in those suspicious precincts, there's a good chance that a very large discrepancy would cause the election to be challenged. Of course, a revote would be the only remedy, and that would be a mess.

There have been local groups constantly observing, calling hotlines, and writing complaints. In response to increased scrutiny of elections in Pinellas, the election supervisor has switched to an almost 100% effort for mailed ballots. Now we have a different issue. There have been two local cases of large numbers of missing mailed ballots, and wide spread reports of rejected ballots. Most people don't know their ballot was rejected. "Volunteers" who are largely GOP hacks compare signatures or look for stray marks and so the target is moving to a different battle.

In the last elections, I was one of groups of volunteers who reported local results early to watch for patterns. It did in fact seem that some precincts or districts were out of line or that official tallies at the end of the day didn't always match up; but there were simply too many newly registered Democrats and any errors that occurred (manipulations) didn't change the Presidential election. It should not have been as close in Fl as the official results, but no one can say the "real" intent with DRE and tabulators that don't have a record. No one has enough evidence to challenge local errors.

Poll analysis (or parallel elections) would either have to "catch them in the act" or use a different analysis to cause a court to intervene or an election to be challenged. If there was an impossible "person fit" for example; if there was convincing poll evidence that a particular precinct's voters were almost impossibly likely to have voted the way it was being reported - well, there may not be electronic "proof" of manipulation once the machine code is wiped, but it might change the voting process or even cause a revote. There may even be reason to grab machines in mid-voting and keep them from being "repaired". A secure mirrored tabulator a second locations would be interesting also, but I'm not a computer expert. I get the idea.

A handful of national poll responses from a widely scattered sample might indicate potential "problems" such as TIA often describes, but is not useful to diagnosis the cause or even point to the specific point of error. I can imagine watchdog groups being prepared to go into random or suspected (but unannounced) precincts and attempt to poll everyone or make a parallel election convenient. Possibly, that would be sensitive enough to catch ONE clear case of manipulation - regardless of the voting method - and result in real reform of the system.
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