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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-29-12 06:15 PM
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Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen Too?
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I'm currently working with a publisher, Biting Duck Press, to publish a book (title as yet undetermined) on the corruption in our election system. We hope that it will help to make Americans more vigilant and concerned about the way our elections are run. Ive drafted most of the book. I am currently intending to post large portions of it on DU, in the hope of stimulating discussion and obtaining useful feedback. I have previously posted a draft Chapter 1 of the book, concerning the stealing of the 2000 Presidential election. This post begins Chapter 2.


WAS THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION STOLEN TOO?

It was well known in the days prior to the 2004 Presidential election that a Bush victory was highly unlikely without Bush carrying both Ohio and Florida. As Election Day unfolded, spirits in the Kerry camp were running high, as it became evident that Ohios 20 electoral votes would determine the victor, and Kerry had a comfortable lead in the Ohio exit poll. Even CNNs right wing hack, Robert Novak, acknowledged that it would be an uphill climb for Bush.

But as the results came in from Ohio, optimism in the Kerry camp began to fade, and by late evening their remaining hope was narrowed down to strongly Democratic Cuyahoga County, and especially Cleveland, where reports of large pre-election increases in new voter registration and exceptionally high voter turnout had circulated. But this remaining hope soon faded, as it became clear that the (official) voter turnout from Cleveland was in fact miserably low, and by noon the next day John Kerry conceded the election, which he officially lost by about 119 thousand votes.

In this chapter I will not discuss all of the evidence for a stolen 2004 election, as I will reserve most of that for later chapters that deal with election fraud by type of fraud. In this chapter I will discuss: 1) the record breaking discrepancy between the many exit polls that were performed as voters left the polls and the official vote count; 2) the widespread silence regarding that discrepancy by our national news media, and; 3) the corrupted vote recounts that were performed when citizens concerned about the integrity of the election challenged the results.


The Discrepancy Between the Exit Polls and the Official Vote Count (The Red Shift)

The exit polling on Election Day 2004 was performed by Mitofsky International and Edison Media Research, under contract to six major news media organizations. Warren Mitofsky, who led the project, had been performing exit polls for 35 years and was recognized as the leading expert on exit polling.

For ease of discussion I will refer to the discrepancy between the exit poll results and the official vote count as a red shift, the term that is commonly used to describe it. Red refers to the fact that the TV networks colored states red that had voted for George Bush. The term red shift refers to the fact that the exit polls predicted a Kerry win nationally and in most states, but when the official results were tallied, the vote count was found to be shifted nationally and in the vast majority of states towards Bush.

An analysis by Jonathan Simon and Ron Baiman examined the red shift. The final exit polls, posted at 12:23 a.m. on Wednesday morning, November 3, predicted Kerry with 50.8% of the national vote and Bush with 48.2% of the national vote a difference of 2.6%. In marked contrast, the machines that were responsible for the official vote count registered a national vote of 50.9% for Bush and 48.1% for Kerry, a 2.8% Bush victory. The difference between the exit poll results and the official vote count the red shift was thus 5.4%. The statistical odds against such a large discrepancy occurring by chance were astronomical, approximating one in a million.

Steven Freeman, in his book, Was the 2004 Election Stolen?, reports an analysis of the red shift in the 11 states recognized as battleground states (or swing states) just prior to Election Day. His results showed red shifts in ten of those states, no blue shifts (shifts towards Kerry from the exit poll to the official vote count), and one state (Wisconsin) where there was no shift at all. These are the results:

State Exit poll result .. Official vote count .. Red shift
NH Kerry by 10.8% ........ Kerry by 1.3% ....... 9.5%
OH Kerry by 4.2% ......... Bush by 2.5% ........ 6.7%
PA Kerry by 8.7% .......... Kerry by 2.2% .. 6.5%
MN Kerry by 9.0% ......... Kerry by 3.5% .. 5.5%
FL. Bush by 0.1% .......... Bush by 5.0% .. 4.9%
NV.. Kerry by 1.3% .......... Bush by 2.6% .. 3.9%
NM.. Kerry by 2.6% ......... Bush by 1.1% 3.7%
CO.. Bush by 1.8% .......... Bush by 5.2% 3.4%
IA Kerry by 1.3% Bush by 0.9% . 2.2%
MI .. Kerry by 5.0% Kerry by 3.4% .. 1.6%
WI .. Kerry by 0.4% .. Kerry by 0.4% .. 0.0%

Thus, if the official vote count had approximated the exit poll findings, Kerry would have won not only the national popular vote, but four additional states, including Ohio, Nevada, Iowa, and New Mexico (and maybe Florida). Ohio was the only one of those states (other than Florida) whose electoral votes would have swung the election to Kerry. Thus the vast majority of focus by those concerned about a stolen election was on Ohio.


Reasons for discrepancies between exit polls and official vote counts

When exit polls differ substantially from official election results, there can be only three reasons (or combination thereof):

1. Random error, or chance
2. Biased exit polls
3. Impaired election integrity

Lets consider these possibilities one at a time:

1. The role of random error (or chance)
The first step in the assessment of any statistical discrepancy is to assess the role of chance in producing the discrepancy. This can be accomplished easily with statistical tests. As noted above, the likelihood of the discrepancy between the national exit polls and the official national results occurring by chance was calculated statistically by Jonathan Simon and Ron Baiman as being close to one in a million. US Count Votes (USCV) estimated that the likelihood of the discrepancy between the combined state exit polls and the official state results occurring by chance was about one in ten million.

2. The potential role of exit poll bias
It is unfortunate that the knee jerk response of the national news media was to assume that the only legitimate explanation for the red shift was that there was something wrong with the exit polls, rather than consider that there may have been a problem with the election itself. Mitofsky himself conducted a quick analysis and produced a report that supported the news media assumptions. Paramount among the conclusions of the report were two statements: Exit polls do not support the allegations of fraud due to rigging of voting equipment AND Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters. The first of these statements implies that a problem with the election was not the reason for the red shift. The second statement implies that exit poll bias was the reason for the red shift. Unfortunately, both of these statements were stated as conclusions rather than as hypotheses, even though there was almost nothing in the report to back them up. I will discuss both of these hypotheses separately in a moment, but first lets consider two basic types of exit poll bias.

Exit poll bias can be broken down into two components: Biased sampling of precincts AND bias within precincts referred to as within precinct error (WPE). The former can be easily tested, and the latter cannot be easily tested (and many question whether or not it can be accurately tested at all). Mitofsky tested bias due to sampling of precincts and concluded that this bias actually favored Bush. Therefore, the hypothesis that the exit poll bias (in favor of Kerry) might explain the discrepancy between the exit polls and the official election results becomes less likely, since all of this bias must be concentrated within precincts (WPE), and this bias must account for not only the discrepancy between the poll results and the official election results, but also it must cancel out the bias in the opposite direction due to sampling of precincts, which works in Bushs favor.

So with that in mind, lets consider the Mitofsky statement that Exit polls do not support the allegations of fraud due to rigging of voting equipment. What was this statement based on? The report states:

Our analysis of the difference between the vote count and the exit poll at each polling location in our sample has found no systematic differences for precincts using touch screen and optical scan voting equipment.

This is the sum of the reports evidence for the absence of election fraud.

But both touch screen and optical scan machines count the votes by computer. And so do all other methods of vote tabulation except for the hand counting of paper ballots. Deep in the report, but not in the executive summary, is the average WPE data by type of voting equipment:

Type of voting ....WPE i.e. within precinct error
Paper ballot: . -2.2
Mechanical: . -10.6
Touch screen: -7.1
Punch cards: . -6.6
Optical scan: ..-6.1

Note that the magnitude of the negative WPE (i.e. within precinct error, with the negative sign meaning that the official vote favored Bush compared to the exit poll results) is considerably less in precincts where paper ballots were used, compared to any other method. How does the finding of a much smaller WPE (i.e. less negative) for precincts with paper ballots than for precincts using machines to count the vote support the conclusion that Exit polls do not support the allegations of fraud due to rigging of voting equipment?

Next lets consider the statement in Mitofskys report that Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters. This is commonly known as the reluctant Bush voter hypothesis. If the reluctant Bush voter hypothesis was valid, where would you expect the lowest voter response rates to be? One would think that the lowest voter response rates would be most likely to occur in precincts that leaned heavily to Bush since the hypothesis postulates that the reason for the biased polls (producing the red shift) is reluctance of Bush voters to participate in these polls. However, when USCV analyzed the data presented in the Mitofsky report, they found exactly the opposite: Precincts with the highest percentage of Bush voters had the highest, not the lowest response rate. This must certainly strongly count against the reluctant Bush voter hypothesis. Yet that hypothesis was put forward in the Mitofsky report and thus in the national news media as the primary explanation for the difference between the exit poll results and the official vote count (i.e. the red shift).

But dont yet give up hope on the reluctant Bush voter hypothesis. It can be (and was) revised to say that, although Bush voters in general were more reluctant to participate in the polls than Kerry voters, this did not apply to precincts where there were a very high percentage of Bush voters, because in those precincts the Bush voters would perhaps feel more comfortable participating in a poll.

This revised hypothesis can also be tested. If the hypothesis applied only to precincts without a heavy preponderance of Bush voters, then one would expect that those precincts would be where the highest WPE would be found. But in fact, by Mitofskys own data, precisely the opposite is the case: The average WPE is highest, not lowest, in precincts where there were a very high percent of Bush voters (80% or more). This too must count as further strong evidence against the reluctant Bush voter hypothesis.

So where did Mitofsky come up with the idea of the reluctant Bush voter? This is it:

It is difficult to pinpoint the reasons that, in general, Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters. We can identify some factors that appear to have contributed, even in a small way, to the discrepancy. These include:

 Distance restrictions imposed upon our interviewers by election officials
 Weather conditions which lowered completion rates at certain polling locations
 Multiple precincts voting in the same location as the precinct in our sample
 Interviewer characteristics such as age
 Polling locations with a large number of total voters where a smaller proportion of voters were asked to fill out questionnaires (i.e. participate in the poll)

So how do all these factors that contributed to a high discrepancy between the exit polls and the official results (i.e. red shift) support the contention that Bush voters were less likely to participate in the exit polls than Kerry voters? Mitofsky doesnt explain this in his report. As I noted above, the only analyses that looked directly at the reluctant Bush voter hypothesis provided strong evidence against it. Nor does the Mitofsky report contain any quantitative assessment of the extent to which he believes that the above factors caused exit poll bias.

3. The potential role of election fraud
What about the role of election fraud. Mitofsky barely discusses that possibility except to say that their data doesnt support that possibility, and to offer as evidence for that statement the fact that he found no systematic differences for precincts using touch screen and optical scan voting equipment. The fact that there was a great difference between precincts using paper ballots and those using machines to count their vote is not mentioned in their report at all, except that it appears in the table that I reproduced above.

Direct evidence of various kinds of election fraud will be discussed in subsequent chapters. In this chapter I will simply mention a couple lines of evidence that were immediately apparent from looking at available data.

If the 2004 Presidential election was fraudulent, one would expect more fraud to have occurred in those states where there was a reasonable chance of switching their electoral votes from Kerry to Bush (i.e., the swing or battleground states). Of the 11 main swing states (OH, FL, PA, WI, MN, NM, IA, NV, NH, MI, CO), according to Mitofsky, in five of them there was a discrepancy between the exit polls and the official election results that were outside of the margin of error (Im defining outside of the margin of error as less than a 5% probability of occurring by chance). These five swing states included Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. Of the remaining 39 states, only 8 were outside of the margin of error (In all 13 states that were outside of the margin of error, the exit polls favored Kerry, compared to the official election results). I believe that this finding supports the suggestion of election fraud.

Secondly, Mitofsky acknowledges in his executive summary that the exit poll error was higher in 2004 than in previous years for which he has data (going back to 1988). It seems to me that concurrence in time of the record-breaking discrepancy between the exit polls and the official vote (red shift) with a greater ability than ever to use secret software codes to fix elections is not a coincidence. Rather, that concurrence suggests election fraud as a primary explanation for the discrepancy.

4. Summary of immediately apparent reasons for the great red shift of 2004
In summary, based on information and data that was readily available following the 2004 election, the following can be said about the reasons for the red shift (exit polls that suggested that Kerry won the presidency, in the face of an official victory for Bush).

Random error (chance) is easily ruled out through routine statistical tests as an explanation for the red shift.

Exit poll bias cannot be completely ruled out. However, the following can be said against the likelihood that exit poll bias accounts for the discrepancies between the official election results and the exit polls:

An analysis of potential bias from the choosing of precincts to participate in the exit polls shows no red shift at all. In fact, it shows a slight blue shift.

Although the Mitofsky report proposes that Bush voters were less likely than Kerry voters to participate in the exit polling, it provides no direct evidence for that. Other groups, which have tested that hypothesis directly, have found that the data provides evidence against that hypothesis rather than in favor of it.

The following can be said in favor of election fraud as an explanation for the red shift.

According to Mitofskys own report, the red shift was outside of the margin of error in 5 of the 11 crucial swing states (OH, FL, PA, NH, MN) and in only 8 of the other 39 states. That is consistent with the likelihood that if election fraud were committed in the 2004 presidential election it would be most likely to be committed in states where it really mattered the swing states.

The concurrence of by far the largest exit poll discrepancy (2004) demonstrated in any year since Edison-Mitofsky began conducting exit polls with the greatest use of machine voting suggests that voting machines played a role in producing the red shift (i.e. that the official election results did not fully measure the intent of the voters.)

The fact that precincts that used paper ballots (rather than methods in which the votes were counted by machines) demonstrated by far the smallest red shifts lends further support to the idea that voting machines played a role in producing the red shift.

There is much more evidence than this, but much of that will be covered in later chapters.


The next post in this series will consider the widespread silence of our corporate owned news media on this issue, and asks why, since the United States government officially condones the use of exit polls to identify election fraud in other countries, was there such deafening silence in this country when the winner of the official vote was predicted by the exit polls to be the loser.
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