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Excessive Undervotes in Ohio Diebold Counties 2006 Senate Race

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 05:00 PM
Original message
Since the 2004 Presidential election, when Ohios electoral votes made the difference in handing George Bush a second term in the White House, subsequent investigations found numerous irregularities in Ohios election, and Ohios Presidential electoral votes were subsequently challenged in Congress, Ohios election system has been the focus of much national concern and attention.

On December 7th of this year, Richard Hayes Phillips posted an analysis of the undervote for the Ohio Senate race entitled Unofficial Results in Seventeen Ohio Counties Cannot Be Right, using unofficial figures from Kenneth Blackwells website. An undervote for the purpose of that analysis was defined as a ballot that was cast, but for which there was no vote registered for Senator (or else more than one vote for Senator, which would have disqualified the ballot). Since that time, Kenneth Blackwell has posted the official election results on his website. In connection with my role as a volunteer for the data analysis group of the Election Defense Alliance, I recently used those results to conduct an analysis of the Ohio Senate undervote, using methods similar to Richard Hayes Phillips, in which I assessed the undervote by machine type.


Findings excessive undervote rates in six Diebold counties

The state-wide undervote rate for Ohio Senator was 3.94%. But there was a great difference in undervote rate by county by machine type, with the Diebold counties averaging a significantly higher undervote rate (p=0.015) than counties using the other machines, as follows:

Diebold DREs (47 counties) 4.79%
Votronic DREs (10 counties) 3.22%
Op-scan (31 counties) 3.29%

Furthermore, there were six counties that were definite and extreme outliers (all Diebold) compared to the other counties. Those six counties (Mercer, Darke, Highland, Montgomery, Adams, Perry) had undervote rates ranging from 11.2% to 16.3%, with an average of 13.8%, while the other 82 Ohio counties had undervote rates ranging from 0.62% to 6.76%, with an average of 3.37%. The undervotes in the six outlier counties amounted to almost a quarter (24.9%) of the undervotes in the whole state, whereas the total votes in those six counties amounted to only 7.1% of the total votes in the state. Without those six counties, the average undervote rate for the other 41 Diebold counties was quite similar (3.47%) to the average undervote rate for the other types of machines.

The vote distribution in the six high outlier counties leaned slightly towards the Democratic candidate, Sherrod Brown (50.7%), which was less than Browns share of the vote state-wide (56.2%).


Discussion of the meaning of this analysis

What this analysis shows is that for the 2006 Ohio Senate race, the undervote rate for counties that used Diebold machines was substantially greater than the undervote rate for counties that used other voting machines, and that almost all of the excess undervote rate in the Diebold counties was accounted for by six counties, which were characterized by an undervote rate of about four times that of the remainder of Ohio.

Why did this occur? It seems highly likely that there was something wrong with the Diebold machines, at least a good portion of them in six Ohio counties, which caused the relatively high undervote rates. That could have been due to difficulties voters had in finding the Senate candidates on those Diebold machines, or it could have been due to failure of the machines to record the votes that the voters intended. Alternatively, it could have been due to the fact that 11 to 16% of voters in six Ohio counties decided not to vote for Senator but that seems quite unlikely.

Whether or not the problem with the Diebold machines was purposeful, whether or not the undercount rates applied to some Ohio House or other races as well, and whether or not high undercount rates may have affected some close House or other races, is not known at this time. Nor do we know whether or not individual precincts or machines in counties other than the six outlier counties may have had similar problems. I have not had access to precinct level data which could possibly provide answers to some of these questions.

Another finding of note is that Richard Hayes Phillips analysis of the unofficial Ohio data resulted in findings that were substantially different than my analysis of the official Ohio Senate data, which can be seen by following the link that I supplied above (though our general conclusion of high undervote rates in several Diebold counties was similar). This means that in some respects there were major changes in the data from the time of the first unofficial postings to the time that the official results were posted. Identification of the reasons for those changes could provide clues to some of the problems.


Comparison with the 2006 House Race in Florida Congressional District 13

The findings here have many similarities to the House race in Florida Congressional District 13, the only remaining 2006 House race that is currently still being contested. In that race it was found that there was one county, Sarasota, that exhibited a very high undervote rate for the House race, 15%, compared to neighboring counties, which exhibited undervote rates of only 2.2% to 5.3%. Almost 18,000 ballots did not register a vote for Congressperson in Sarasota County, which was tentatively won by the Republican candidate by only 369 votes.

Unlike the situation in Ohio, a good deal of illuminating additional information is available for the Florida CD 13 race. First, as explained by Paul Krugman, an analysis of individual ballots found that voters who failed to cast a vote in the House race strongly favored the Democratic candidate in other races. And secondly, an interview of voters in Sarasota County by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune identified a likely reason for the high undervote rate: One third of voters couldnt find the House race on their ballot, and 60% said that they did vote for a House candidate, but that their vote didnt show up on their summary page.

As with the above noted findings in Ohio, Sarasota County used DRE machines for voting in 2006. But unlike the Ohio findings, the DRE machines used in Sarasota County were manufactured by ES & S rather than by Diebold.


Some final thoughts

The use of voting machines that produce electronic results that cannot be verified have no place in a democracy. Currently, 23 states have no requirement for a voter verified paper trail that could potentially verify the results produced by electronic voting machines. Ohio does have paper trails potentially available for that purpose. But even when paper trails are available to do that, they cannot ensure accurate election results if those in charge of elections refuse to perform a recount or if a recount is performed in a sloppy and illegal manner.

Election protection organizations such as the Election Defense Alliance continue to analyze election results in order to shed as much light as possible on the myriad of problems with electronic voting. The fact that this issue has broken through into the national news media is one measure of their success. Another measure of their success is the 27 states that now require the use of voter verified paper trails to be used in conjunction with electronic voting machines (though how successful these paper trails will prove to be in actual practice has yet to be answered). With their continued work and a Democratic Congress ready to be sworn in next month I am cautiously hopeful that some real substantial progress will be made in the next couple of years towards redeeming our countrys election system.
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helderheid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 05:00 PM
Response to Original message
1. rec 1!
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Dr.Phool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 05:07 PM
Response to Original message
2. Rec 3
Those machines have to go. And the only way to trust optical scan, is to mandate a large number of random recounts.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:06 PM
Response to Reply #2
27. Yes, the recounts are very important
No paper backup trail counted by an electronic machine, whether DRE or optical scan, is worth much if it isn't actually recounted when disputes arise.

That is what happened in 2004 in Ohio. Recounts in Ohio could have illuminated a great deal of what happened in that election. But instead of random recounts, the Ohio BOEs chose what precincts to recount, and the result was that nobody could be certain of their validity.
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DoYouEverWonder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #2
30. Even easier
Run all ballots through two different scanners. If the numbers match great. If they don't hand count the pile.

What is the big deal?

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 04:37 PM
Response to Reply #30
32. Of course, because of the possibility that fraud was involved
I imagine we'd have to make sure that the two different scanners were not programmed by the same entity.
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Diane R Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
3. Rec 4!
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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
4. rec 5
:)
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tkmorris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 05:10 PM
Response to Original message
5. And that's 5
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Botany Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 05:26 PM
Response to Original message
6. And in central Ohio Deb Pryce pulls in a 50.2% of the vote after
..... never polling above 44% for months before the election.

She "won" by 1,000 votes w/ 3,500 provisional votes ( dem leaning )
being tossed out.

I wonder what the under vote was in her race?

Jennifer Brunner as Sec. of State and Marc Dann as A.G. are going to clean this up.

A 26 % undervote in Cuyahoga County ..... holly shit that is Brown's home turf and the
most democratic county in the state.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:09 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. I don't see a big problem with undervotes for that race
None of the involved counties used Diebold. Madison used op-scan voting, and Franklin and Union used Votronic. None of them had especially high undervote rates -- certainly nowhere near the levels for the 6 counties I discuss in this post. In Franklin County the results are available by precinct, and the individual precincts didn't have especially high undervote rates either. Also, they it appears that they did a full recount, and that didn't change the vote much.

I believe that your figure for Cuyahoga County may have been an unofficial undervote rate. The final official undervote rate in Cuyahoga County was only 3.25%.

Do you have any late poll results for the CD 15 race? The latest one I am aware of was taken almost a month before the election -- Kilroy had a 12% lead then.

If there was a serious problem with that race, the provisional ballots may be the key. Do you know on what grounds they were tossed out?

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Botany Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 08:25 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Thanx for letting me know.
The poll I am aware of was by the Cook political report.

Even a small undervote with only a 1,000 vote margin could make
a big difference.

The provisionals were thrown out because the voters were declared
not to have registered to vote. (in most cases)

I did voter protection and rode a circuit for Kilroy on election day ....
lots of people were forced to vote provisionally by poll workers ....
the story was that many republican poll workers had a training
session @ the Athletic club in down town Columbus right before
the election ..... the Ohio Repug party sponsored the "training."

To me Pryce getting re-elected is a real anomaly because nationwide
there was a real "throw those bastards out feeling" even among many
republicans. Pryce's campaign said it was due to their GOTV. :shrug:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:08 AM
Response to Reply #9
20. It sounds like they got away with illegal voter purging again
I strongly believe that that is how Bush won the "won" the 2004 election:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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emlev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 10:32 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. What's the latest on evidence of *specific* problems in the Kilroy/Pryce race?
I'd love an update.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:00 AM
Response to Reply #12
18. I don't have any more information on it than what I gave in post # 8
There was a recount, and the recount hardly changed the vote totals at all, as you can see from this:

http://www.franklincountyohio.gov/boe/06RecountResults/...
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partylessinOhio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 06:02 PM
Response to Original message
7. What does this tell us?
George Bush was not elected in either 2000 or 2004. Election fraud in Florida (2000) and Ohio (2004) put him in office as an unelected president.

All of us look like fools to the entire world.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 07:14 AM
Response to Reply #7
21. Jimmy Carter, in his role as an international elections monitor
Asked about elections in Florida, said that it lacks the basic requirements for a fair election. I'm sure that he would have said the same thing about Ohio and other states if asked, because the same principles apply. It is true that, as the worlds oldest democracy, we don't set much of an example for the rest of the world.
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althecat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 09:16 PM
Response to Original message
10. Great post time for change....
cheers...
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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. 25.9% undervote rate, nutin to see, move along.... KnR
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 09:28 AM
Response to Reply #10
22. Thank you allthecat
I'm hoping that with enough of these kind of findings our Congress will take progressively more aggressive action in the direction of fair and transparent elections.
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bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 10:34 PM
Response to Original message
13. Nice analysis,
as always, Tfc.

:thumbsup:

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 11:04 AM
Response to Reply #13
23. Thank you bleever -- we'll get to the bottom of this yet
Notice that the Florida CD 13 race that I refer to in the OP is on the DU home page this morning. :thumbsup:
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emlev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 10:34 PM
Response to Original message
14. Are you in touch with Richard Hayes Phillips?
He's working on an analysis of the official results now, county level (not precinct level). Perhaps the two of you should talk?

Thanks much not only for posting this but for working on it!
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:10 AM
Response to Reply #14
19. No I'm not
I became aware of his recent work when I received an e-mail from EDA (because I'm a volunteer for their analysis group) describing it.

I was in contact with him several months ago in connection with an audit that we were both interested in for the 2004 Presidential election in Cuyahoga County:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

But we lost touch, and the audit was never completed, for reasons that aren't completely clear to me.
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emlev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 10:40 PM
Response to Original message
15. Paper trails are not the answer. Sign the call for paper *ballots!*
Andy Stephenson made sure I understood the difference between paper trails or records and paper ballots. What we need is a paper ballot for every vote counted.

Please read this letter to Congress and click to send it to your Senators and Representative!

Here's what the letter says about why paper trails/records are not the solution:

Paper trails and paper records are not sufficient to safeguard elections and restore confidence among the electorate. Unless there is a paper ballot for every vote cast, three fundamental principles of democratic elections are violated:

1. Observable tallies. It is impossible for citizens to observe the counting of electronic ballots and audit the results.

2. Equal access. Requiring voters to cast votes on computers discriminates against those who are not familiar with the technology.

3. Accurate results. It is impossible to ensure that the reported results are accurate. In fact, a voter-verifiable paper audit trail cannot be depended on to provide the certainty lacking in electronic tallies. Clear evidence from several recent elections reveals instances in which:

* The electronic screen record did not reflect the voter's intent.
* The electronic count did not match the paper trail produced by the e-voting machine.
* The summary review screen did not match the paper trail produced by the e-voting machine.
* Voters did not know to verify the paper trail or were prevented from doing so by improper design, incorrect setup, or malfunction of the printer.
* Computer systems introduced unnecessary complexity into the entire election process and therefore increased the likelihood of errors by voters, poll workers, and election officials.
* Computerized voting relinquished control of the final outcome to the technical skills of those who programed the software.


Again, please read the letter to Congress and click to send it to your Senators and Representative! Then forward it to your lists!
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 11:40 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. Yes, I agree that paper ballots are much better than VVPATs
In addition to the reasons given above, as noted in the OP, because the presence of a paper trail, even if accurate, doesn't mean that it will be actually used to verify the results of an election.

But I also believe that VVPATs are far better than DREs without VVPATs because their presence must make it far more difficult to steal an election.

I may have signed the letter before, but I signed it again just to make sure -- thanks.
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emlev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-21-06 11:44 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Agreed. And thanks.
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 11:36 AM
Response to Original message
24. K&R n/t
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:53 PM
Response to Original message
25. An article about the Florida CD 13 race appeared on DU home page this a.m.
Responding to calls for her to give up the contest, Christine Jennings replied
"Thousands of people had no voice in this election... It's a good thing, what we're doing. It's a good thing for the people of this country."

Does that remind anyone of Florida 2000? Jennings is right. Thousands of voters were disenfranchised because of malfunctioning (for whatever reason) electronic vote counting machines. The problem in this case is that there is no possibility of conducting a recount because there is no paper available to verify the results. That is not tolerable. The only remedy is a repeat election, and there is no excuse for not having one in a democracy.

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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
26. good catch -- look at the county-level gov figures
The same six counties have very high gov undervotes. Looking at Senate vs. gov, there isn't nearly as much deviation across counties.

It seems possible that it's the turnout figures that are messed up. I think I've been told that Diebold generates a 'cards counted' statistic that would sail well above the actual turnout figures. It's also possible that something 'weirder' happened. I haven't looked yet to see whether these counties seem out of trend.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 03:34 PM
Response to Reply #26
29. Yes, that's possible
This does seem similar though to the Florida CD 13 race, where subsequent interviews of voters resulted in findings that made it highly likely that the undervote was real, rather than a result of incorrect turnout figures.

This certainly does need more investigation. If you discover additional information on this, please let me know.
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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 04:59 PM
Response to Reply #29
35. different in one way
In Sarasota, the FL-13 race was out of trend (viz: undervotes) with all the other races. In Ohio, my initial impression is that the Senate race is not out of trend (viz: undervotes) with all the other races. But that's based on very high-level spot checking; it's not a fixed opinion.

I will let you know if I learn more -- or please do the same.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. Thank you OTOH - That's a good point
But I imagine that Blackwell had good reason to be very interested in both the Senate and the Governor race in Ohio.

But who knows what happened? I'll let you know if I find anything else out about this.
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Love Bug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
28. If their ATMs had this kind of error rate
Diebold would have gone out of business years ago. It's intolerable that we can't trust the veracity of our voting systems in this country.
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nolabels Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #28
33. Many people could make a living off such an error rate
Sure is funny how Diebold is able make ATM machines that don't even have an infinitesimal error rate but the voting machines.......................well, you know :banghead:
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 04:51 PM
Response to Reply #28
34. Isn't that the truth
Well, we just need to keep pounding the point home until our elected representatives decide to take more vigorous action to fix the system.
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 04:04 PM
Response to Original message
31. K&R! Thanks Time for Change! n/t
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 05:18 PM
Response to Original message
37. emlev sent my results to Richard Hayes Phillips
He was very concerned about the fact that my analysis of the official count showed two extreme outlier counties (Mercer and Darke) that did not show up as such in his analysis of the unofficial results. Here's what he had to say about that in his conclusion:

There you have it. The percentage of provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots containing no vote for Senator was 84.19% in Darke County, and 71.31% in Mercer County. Either that, or the official results are not true and correct -- which is, of course, the case.

When the unofficial results were posted on Blackwells website, it was reported that there were 300 unexamined absentee and provisional ballots in Darke County, and 534 in Mercer County. Somehow, another 461 votes were counted in Darke County, and another 566 in Mercer County. These numbers cannot be right. And there is surely no legitimate way to account for an additional 2,915 ballots cast in Darke County, and 1,973 in Mercer County. Again, the problem lies in the Diebold tabulators, which are programmed to produce two sets of numbers for ballots cast. Very likely, Darke and Mercer counties reported the number for times counted in their unofficial results, and the number for cards cast in their official results. There is no legitimate reason for any accounting system to keep two sets of books. It is an open invitation to error and fraud. Diebold tabulators need to be decertified in Ohio and in every other state of the union.

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