Okay, I've completed a look at the Nevada election as best I could with the limited numbers I had at my disposal. Two things really limit a more revealing view -- 1) the entire state uses the same Sequoia e-voting system and makes a comparative analysis of vendors and types impossible 2) I don't have a breakdown of the early/absentee vote by candidate.
The voter registration rate seems to be the strangest thing. In January, the Democrats began behind the number of registered Republican voters by 13,227. By July, the Democrats had nearly caught them, adding 36,598 Democratic registrations to the Republicans only 24,871 in the same period -- the Democrats were exactly 1500 registered voters behind the Republican totals. By the end of the registrations for the primaries, Democrats had PASSED the number of Republican registered voters 383,651 to 382,630.
Suddenly, though, there was a dramatic shift. The Democratic numbers continued to increase, rising another 46,157 voters until the end of registration for the General Election, but the Republicans went haywire adding 51,609 to end up 4,431 ahead of Democratic registrations. To put that in perspective, of the Democrats' 90,305 registrations since January, 51% came after the end of the Primary registration deadline, but of the Republicans' 81,509 registrations since January, 63% came after the deadline. Too add to that, seventy percent of the Republicans' post primary deadline registrations, 36,181, came from Las Vegas' Clark County, not exactly the values capitol of the world, where they beat the final Democratic registrations. It must have been realized that if the Democrats continued to push their lead in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County that it would swamp the rest of the lightly populated state. It must be noted that Bush won Nevada 50% to Kerry's 48% via a difference 21,500 votes, and the only county that Kerry won was Clark, 52% to 47%. One percent of Clark's votes is roughly 6,000 votes (or 12,000 in differential).
I've always wandered about the Republican efforts to undermine the Democrats' GOTV campaign -- how they registered Mickey Mouse as a Democrat and fed the story to the media to try to paint the high Democratic registrations as fraudulent -- and the mass mailings of campaign literature to newly registered Democratic voters in an effort to get people with returned mail removed from the rolls. Could this have been just a smokescreen to avoid having their own new registrants examined? Has anyone taken the steps to look at new Republican registrations not only in Nevada but everywhere else? Has anyone tried their little mailing trick to see how many get returned? Or conversely, if they were using an alias at a valid address, how many of the new registrants voted absentee? Absentees counted for 11% of the total Nevada vote. Subtracting 21,500 votes would only change the absentee rate 2% to 9% -- nearly invisible.
The strange registration trail brought me to White Pine County where in January the registrations ran 55% Democratic but declined by the end of the general election period while the Republican registrations increased by 8%. White Pine is fairly small with just over 4700 total registered voters. They also seemed to have voted for Bush 68% to 28%, similar in percentage to the most heavily Republican counties. But in the Senate Democrat race, White Pine reversed itself and voted for the Democrat 57% to 36%, nearly along party lines. Comparing how other counties voted in the Senate race, it is closest in margin to Washoe (58% to 38%) which incidentally gave Bush only a slim victory 51% to 47%. So why is White Pine, with a much higher percentage of registered Democrats going for Bush by 68% to 28% and more Republican counties reflecting a tighter Presidential race? The answer may be that in smaller counties, funny numbers may have a more dramatic implication. Indeed, White Pine had the highest absentee rate in the state (as a percentage of their total turnout) at 21%. The state absentee average was 11%.
All of which led me to likely the most telling funny turnout numbers. Washoe County, home of Reno and the second most populated county in the state, had outside of tiny Esmeralda (with just 736 registered voters) the lowest turnout of any county in state. Washoe had a turnout of 68% compared to the state average of 78% and Clark's 80% turnout. The low number between election day, the early vote, and the absentee vote is their glaringly small early vote. Just 21% of their total voters cast ballots in the early vote compared to the state average of 42% and Clark's 50%. And yet Washoe had a relatively high 16% absentee rate. What might this be saying? Isn't Washoe more of a Republican county, 43% of the registrations to 36% for the Democrats? Perhaps it's telling us that Republicans were less interested in voting. No, that can't be. How could Bush have won the state otherwise. Or perhaps it's telling us that there was something about the early vote in Washoe that needed to be suppressed? The Democratic early GOTV campaign? It certainly is odd to see that 21% early vote in Washoe against the state average of 42%. It's even more odd considering that Bush won Washoe by 51% to 47%. Perhaps with a normal early vote turnout that would have been smartly reversed. Additionally, the Democratic senator took 58% of the vote in Washoe compared to just 38% for the Republican. By the Senate race, Washoe seemed to be trending heavily Democratic. Hmmmm. Let's think about this. The difference between 21% early vote and 42% in real votes is roughly 33,000 votes. 33,000 votes would have brought Washoe's turnout up to 82%, from almost dead last to right in the middle of the pack in county turnout. Bush won the state by 21,500 votes.
Good luck trying to recount the Sequoia e-voting ballots...