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Vote flipping, compilers, undervotes: How do we catch them?

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Sancho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-28-07 08:18 AM
Original message
Vote flipping, compilers, undervotes: How do we catch them?
I'll repeat the question: What is the best way to catch them? (My suggestion at the end)

My original interest in these threads really started in 2004 when I witnessed my wife at the adjacent DRE loudly complaining: "ALL I want to do is vote for Castor!" as the machine continued to change her vote to the repub. candidate. Even though the machine was "reset" by the poll worker "technician", it was clear that the election in Pinellas County Florida was hacked that day. The same voters who approved an increase in a school tax referendum and elected about 2/3rds Democratic local officials supposedly elected several national repubs by a close margin. Here's a paste from one of the earlier discussions:

TruthIsAll FAQ:

"M.1. What about the reports of flipped votes on touch screens in 2004?
Many people reported difficulty voting on electronic voting machines (DREs), in particular, that attempts to vote for one candidate initially registered as votes for another. The Election Incident Reporting System (EIRS), connected to the "OUR-VOTE" telephone hotline, recorded close to 100 such incidents. TruthIsAll has asserted that 86 out of 88 reports of electronic vote-flipping favored Bush. He cites the odds of this imbalance as 1 in 79,010,724,999,066,700,000,000. Another observer reports that actually, 87 out of 94 EIRS reports favored Bush. The odds of this imbalance are, of course, still prohibitive -- on the order of 500 trillion to 1 against.
Is this compelling evidence of a stolen election? No, it really isn't at all -- because the actual election returns from DREs on crucial states don't support election theft concentrated upon DREs. In Florida, some analysts who looked for evidence of vote-switching on DREs concluded that the optical-scan results were actually more suspicious. (Of course, it is possible that both could be hacked.)"

I still contend that the hacking of DRE's, compilers, and faulty source code is virtually impossible to detect.
I think that comprehensive exit polls at the PRECINCT level are still the best route to provide the overwhelming evidence to expose the hackers. In Florida, so many people are fed up with this after the last decade that a "fraud poll" that allowed people to revote and compare the results would likely result in a large exit poll participation percentage.

The exit poll that I envision would have to be convenient for voters, target early EIRS complaints, and clearly announce the intent to verify election integrity.

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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-28-07 09:36 AM
Response to Original message
1. why gamble an election on an exit poll?
I really think you're looking at this through the wrong end of the telescope. Hey, if you want to promote exit polls, go ahead, but we need to count the votes, not just look for more ways to argue about what they were.

Florida is almost eliminating DREs for the 2008 presidential election, so you're part-way there -- but now you need an audit law that actually does something. If you are concerned about the 2008 presidential election in Florida, you should be working for a law that requires a sufficiently large manual count to confirm the winner from the machine count with high confidence, or something else that has the same effect of verifying the machine count.

In states even less blessed than Florida, the first step is to get paper ballots or at least voter-verified paper records that are authoritative in the case of a discrepancy (in which case voters need to be trained to check those). Then, again, audit those to confirm the winner from the machine count.

You postulate that the participation rate in an exit poll to detect fraud would "likely" be high, and that the results would provide "overwhelming evidence to expose the hackers." Election verification exit polls and parallel elections have been fielded in the past, so you can actually bring evidence to bear, if you wish.
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Sancho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-28-07 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I'm looking for something that...
doesn't depend on the election supervisors or "system" since we seem to play a game of manipulating whatever system is devised. We have had paper trails that were not even "counted". (Remember Gore vs. Bush, hanging chads, etc.?)

An external check that catches the system at the source and results in an investigation, people going to jail, and outraged voters would be nice.

I suspect that a clearly undeniable discrepancy between an exit poll and a few local precincts where the intent is NOT news prediction, but actual verification of voters would be interesting.

I really don't trust that any vote counting system can't be manipulated in Florida at this time. Feeney is writing programs to hack machines (Clint Curtis), punch ballots are manipulated, DRE's are manipulated, undervotes (likely abscentees also) are miscounted, etc. Paper trails seem to disappear (voter tapes in Miami and ballots in Ohio). With local election supervisors and the state AG / Secretary of State (remember K. Harris) in the loops, the only way that I can imagine is independent and external verification that causes a scandal that can't be denied.

That's why I asked the question. What (other than exit polls) can catch the bad guys if the bad guys are part of the election system?

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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-28-07 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. I don't think there is a general answer
I agree that any vote counting system can be manipulated. Any exit poll can be manipulated, too. We already have Lynn Landes arguing that it's madness to use exit polls to check election outcomes because the exit polls themselves are (or sometimes are) rigged.

If you think an exit poll can result in "people going to jail," well, good luck with that. I can't prove the negative.

I'll note that analytically, there's a difference between saying that the bad guys are "part of" the election system and concluding that they control every part of it. In 2000, the decisive reason the paper wasn't counted is that SCOTUS intervened; the Florida election system wasn't marching in lockstep to guarantee Bush's victory, much as K. Harris wanted it to.

I think it's fine to seek an independent measure and to make it as good as you can -- but if you write off the system itself, I think you've already lost.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-28-07 01:28 PM
Response to Original message
4. Before the election, Audit the ballot definition programming.
After the election, Audit the paper records and the Central Tabulation.

If you don't have 'em get 'em! If you're not allowed to audit 'em, get a law, regulation or fiat! It's as simple as that.

How could anyone possibly think that a blunt instrument like an exit poll could do any better? The sooner we get off that bandwagon, the better. If you have an unaduitable or unaudited voting system, a poll may be the best you can do, but it's no solution.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-28-07 09:05 PM
Response to Original message
5. you want to do a parallel election
google Lynne Landes + parallel election and you will find the instructions and examples.

They were doing these in Florida, and found a huge undervote. I believe it was over a referendum,
and the funders of the referendum either threatened or did sue to get the election done over.

Funny how the evidence means something if its a special interest election, rather than a candidate getting defrauded.

Check into it.

You might want to add to your parallel election form a place to describe any malfunctions in the machines, perhaps by category.
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Sancho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-28-07 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. You could call it a parallel election...
how else could we verify a manipulated process is the question?

I realize that there are issues with "exit polls", but I can't see any other way except such a method (whatever it's called) IF the original election is rigged.

Thanks for the info.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-28-07 10:32 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. its more than that, voters actually sign affadavits
and it worked in Florida.

My computer is being de-bugged, so I can't get the links for you but google Lynne Landes + parallel elections.

They picked precincts where they could get some decent cooperation from the voters, and people voluntarily signed affadavits and reproduced their vote on paper.
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DefenderD Donating Member (1 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-08-07 12:27 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. Our Parallel Election had 60% participation
Edited on Thu Nov-08-07 12:43 AM by DefenderD
See our summary at
It was difficult getting as many volunteers as we did (about 9), but with more planning and more volunteers we might have had even greater participation.

The linked summary is somewhat dry, as we were trying to avoid charges of bias. The precinct we ran it at was geographically as near to ideal as possible, as most of the voters had to walk past our parallel polling booth to get to the polling place door.

Demographically, this precinct was somewhat odd compared to DeKalb County, Georgia as a whole, with the precinct being mostly white, as well as it being home to a number of editorial writers for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who had strong opinions against certain candidates, which seemed to be reflected by many voters in that precinct.

The big anomaly during the election was the visit from a representative of the Secretary of State's office. We do not know if she manipulated the machines when she was inside the polling place. Our election monitor was not on duty at the time. The SoS representative wanted us to quit approaching voters to participate in our parallel election before they went into the polling place as well, but she backed down when she realized we were videotaping her.

You have to carefully educate yourself on local election law as to not violate it while running a parallel election.

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-28-07 10:43 PM
Response to Original message
8. Reminds me of Parallel Election.
50% won't offer statistical power in many races. What I like is that it raises Hand Counted Paper Ballot Awarness (HCPBA)

A PE is an attempt for citizens to regain control over elections by conducting their own independent, unofficial election outside official polling places, and invite voters to participate on their way out of the polls. It is not unusual to have 50% participation, which is much higher than exit polling, which polls about 5% of voters.

PEs participants sign an affidavit that they voted the same way in the PE as they did in the official election, then fill out a secret paper ballot, fold it and put it into a secured ballot box. The ballot box is sealed and witnessed by the last voter and brought to a public counting place and counted in public. These extra steps give PEs high reliability and usefulness. The data is analyzed after the election and we look for anomalies in the data, particularly in the differences between the PE results and the official results.

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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-29-07 05:02 AM
Response to Reply #8
11. just FYI, "statistical power" isn't exactly the issue here
Pretty much a semantic nitpick -- this isn't a well-defined "statistical" issue, since a parallel election manifestly isn't intended to be a random sample. The trick is to get participation high enough to prove anything, or at least to make a really strong case. This is possible in extreme cases. That aside, I agree with you that it raises awareness about paper ballots (hand counted or otherwise).
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-28-07 10:49 PM
Response to Original message
9. The exit poll would need to be done at the precincts
Edited on Sun Oct-28-07 10:54 PM by sfexpat2000
that we know they target: minority, college students, military families.

One thing we know about these bastards is that when something works for them, they repeat. They are predictable.

Edit: I should lay stay off of this thread because this isn't how my thinking works. But, we know the states they try to swing and we know the precincts that are vulnerable.
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autorank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-29-07 02:38 AM
Response to Original message
10. A hearty K*R
I agree with this. The politics of exit polls, defending them, attacking them, are should be set apart from their utility as instruments to detect and stop fraud.

In order to do this, we need some objective, competent, and disinterested parties to administer and oversee the conduct of the polls. Clearly, having a MSM network consortium employ and then control the data is not acceptable.

We also need to stay current up on the overseas exit poll history. I say "we" meaning me too! I should have looked at the use of U.S. based overseas polling before. This history is instructive for your suggestion. Mark Penn, the guy so close to Hillary, worked overseas and produced some interesting and bogus results in Venezuela and Italy. But of more interest, one of my "sacred cows," the Ukranian movement is a mixed bag and not a totem of exit polling utility (e.g., Republican operative Frank Luntz was involved). This might provide an excluded provider list ;)

Great suggestion. Thanks!!!
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