Excellent sites to go to for Election 2004
coverage: Daily Kos,
Desk, the Swing
State Project, Political
For the eRiposte Election 2004 home page, click
here. For a database on vote fraud/suppression in Election
2004, click here.
2004 RESULTS - Part A
of Inconsistent Exit Polls and Comparison to Voting Results
- Voting Irregularities/Suppression/Fraud/"Glitches" and
Last Updated: 11/20/04
B of Election 2004 coverage, I provide a somewhat detailed
post-mortem of this election. To send me feedback please email
feedback-at-eriposte-dot-com (I can't promise a reply to
every email I receive.)]
Exit Poll Shows Inconsistent Results - and Gets Revised Again!
Voting irregularitiessuppression//fraud/"glitches" and suspicious
Florida: Select Optical Scan Machine Counties
Florida: Select E-Vote Counties
Polls v. Voting Results
IV: Was this election
won by Bush because of vote fraud? Click here for my position on
this burning question
REVISED EXIT POLL SHOWS INCONSISTENT RESULTS AND GETS REVISED AGAIN!
One of the reasons the Kerry
camp was disappointed with the Election 2004 results is that in two key states, Florida and Ohio, the
exit polls initially
Kerry leading. Now, one may attribute this discrepancy to the error in
the "initial" exit polls themselves - and indeed, interestingly, AP decided to "revise"
them the night of 11/2/04 (see this
post comparing Ohio before and after, for example) to get them better
in sync with the reports from the actual vote counts [very odd indeed].
When I first started to look
at this, there were many things in the revised
exit polls that raised questions. But one thing that caught my
eye in particular was an obvious one - how Gore/Bush/Other 2000 voters voted this time.
you look at the
exit poll results posted as of 11/3/04 ~ 7 am Pacific (I thought it
was final but alas, it was not to be!) in terms of the national popular vote, here is
what you got.
Males were 46% of the electorate and Bush got 54% of the male vote and
Kerry got 45%
Females were 54% of the electorate and Bush got 47% of the female vote
and Kerry got 52%
Based on that:
Bush's share of the popular vote = 50.2% = 0.46*0.54+0.54*0.47
Kerry's share of the popular vote = 48.8% = 0.46*0.45+0.54*0.52
of ~7 am on 11/3/04, CNN showed the actual (ostensibly)
national tallied vote percentages as follows:
results were qualitatively consistent
with the tallied vote results and quantitatively close to the tallied
vote percentages. But when I looked at the Bush/Gore/Other vote
from 2000, something looked strange - Kerry won the popular vote
according to their own "revised" exit polls!
numbers in the table below (Table 1) were based on the data CNN had
posted on their website as of ~ 8 am on 11/3/04 (click
here for a screenshot - colors do not reproduce as in the
checked back there on 11/7/04 at ~ 7:45 pm and discovered CNN had
changed the data again (Table 2) - click
here for a screenshot!
I have two versions of the revised exit poll now, with different
results (Kerry led per Table 1, Bush leads per Table 2)!
did CNN update the results and when did they do it - and why are exit
poll numbers being updated long after the fact? Details below...
2000 vs. 2004 comparison on
Bush/Gore/Nader vs. Bush/Kerry/Nader
1: Numbers on CNN's website as of ~ 8 am on 11/3/04 [originally posted
VOTE IN 2000
Not Vote (17%)
[Note that the numbers in
the first column (Presidential Vote in 2000) add up to 101%, which is
fine since there is some rounding error involved].
This is a very important
1. What is interesting is
that the popular vote totals according to this table are as follows:
Bush 49.80% [=0.17*0.44+0.38*0.1+0.42*0.9+0.04*0.18]
Kerry 49.88% [=0.17*0.54+0.38*0.9+0.42*0.09+0.04*0.68]
Nader 0.005% [=0.17*0.01+0.38*0+0.42*0+0.04*0.08]
In other words, according
to this table Kerry leads the popular vote percentage, contradicting the
popular vote percentage mentioned at the top of the exit poll page!
Even if you adjust for rounding errors it is
hard to explain how Bush could be 3% higher in the overall tally, when
this table shows Bush is slightly behind Kerry. Something does not add up.
2. Let's also explore the
implications of the data above - from the revised exit poll (Table 1):
In Election 2004, voters who did not vote in 2000 were a whopping 17%
of the electorate and they went for Kerry by a big margin (10%).
Gore 2000 voters went for Bush 2004 by a margin of 1% more than Bush
2000 voters went for Kerry 2004.
Those who voted neither for Bush nor Gore in 2000 went for Kerry by a
massive margin (50%), and only a small fraction of the "Other"
voters in 2000 went for Nader.
There were 4% more Bush 2000 voters this time around compared to Gore
2000 voters! [Note that this means a huge
percentage of Gore 2000 voters didn't bother to show up at the polls in
2004!] And in spite of this, according to Table 1,
Kerry won the popular vote (because of the large Kerry gain from the
need to keep in mind the following additional factors this year:
The Democratic base was
strongly mobilized this year, with an unprecedented GOTV operation
that - at least before the election - showed significantly higher
Democratic voter registrations than Republican in key battleground
We had an incumbent
President who almost never got a re-elect rating above 50% in
virtually every poll for months and months, and Republican moderates
who were deeply unhappy with their candidate
There are a lot more factors/questions
which I am skipping right now (click
here for one example). But something smells fishy here and I don't
know what. I am not trying to get into tinfoil hat territory here but
someone should sit down and comb through all the data very
carefully. Someone should look at the initial vs. revised exit polls
very carefully state by state and compare them to the final tallied results.
Someone should look at the tallied results to see if the demographics
seem reasonable - and compare them to all the polls taken in the few
days before the election to see where the big differences are. Another question: How many states showed a shift from Bush to Kerry or
vice-versa when you compare (original) exit polls to the tallied votes? Which
states are these? Is there anything in the models for those states or
the circumstances of polling in those states that can rationally and
reasonably explain it? Questions, questions.
2: Numbers on CNN's website as of ~ 7:45 pm on 11/7/04 - with changes
IN RED [posted on
VOTE IN 2000
Not Vote (17%)
"latest" "revised" exit poll numbers (when will they
stop revising them?), now:
Bush 51.10% [=0.17*0.45+0.37*0.1+0.43*0.91+0.03*0.21]
Kerry 48.48% [=0.17*0.54+0.37*0.9+0.43*0.09+0.03*0.71]
Nader 0.003% [=0.17*0.01+0.37*0+0.43*0+0.03*0.03]
How convenient! The national
popular vote has also been "updated" in the "latest"
exit poll as follows:
Males were 46% of the electorate and Bush got 55% of the male vote and
Kerry got 44%
Females were 54% of the electorate and Bush got 48% of the female vote
and Kerry got 51%
Based on that:
Bush's share of the popular vote = 51.2% = 0.46*0.55+0.54*0.48
Kerry's share of the popular vote = 47.8% = 0.46*0.44+0.54*0.51
with this change I find two things rather singular here:
Even though Gore won the
popular vote in 2000 and there were more Gore voters than Bush voters in
2000, according to this "latest" version of the
"revised" exit poll in 2004, there were 5% more Bush 2000
voters in the 2004 electorate than Gore 2000 voters! According to this,
a huge number of Gore 2000 voters (several %) never bothered to show up
at the polls in 2004!! This makes little or no sense to me - and I find
it utterly implausible considering how strongly the Democratic base was
motivated this year.
The CW now is that Bush/Rove got many more Republican base voters out to
the polls this year than they were able to in 2000 and that this
contributed to Bush's win in 2004. Yet, the exit poll results show that
those WHO DID NOT VOTE in 2000 favored Kerry by a 9% margin!
repeated revisions of the exit polls as well as the Bush/Gore data makes
me even more suspicious of what is going on with the manipulation of the
exit poll results. I hope there is a proper investigation of how the
data is being manipulated and presented.
in this link in an email that discusses the same issue and she
So, of the 105 million
who voted in 2000, only 98 million came to the polls this time. And,
coincidentally, *all* of the missing 7 million were Gore voters (Gore
got 51 million votes in 2000).
Conclusion: Either the original exit polls were right, because the
tweaking leads us to absurd conclusions *or* 3.5 million people who
switched from Gore to Bush wanted to lie about it to pollsters
(extrapolating from the sample, obviously).
have no problem accepting a legitimate Bush election, but there are way
too many things with the data and the results so far that raise serious questions.
See Section III for more on the exit polls and their
VOTING IRREGULARITIES/SUPPRESSION/FRAUD/"GLITCHES" AND SUSPICIOUS RESULTS
The eRiposte sub-domain Vote
Watch 2004 catalogs vote/election fraud, vote suppression,
voting irregularities, and voter intimidation in Election 2004.
Blog has also been cataloguing emerging news on discoveries in
different states that show the unreliability of voting
machines (not necessarily just touch screen but also optical scan).
Some example cases
(more on the websites above):
Florida: Select Optical Scan Machine Counties
Through BradBlog I came
has been crunching
hard election result numbers and a strange -- yet very clear
pattern -- is emerging.
Using the very rough gauge of comparing Republican and Democrat
registrations county by county to the actual final voting results, she
finds that the percentage change of "Expected Votes" versus
"Actual Results" are fairly consistent in counties that used
But in counties that used Optical Scan Voting the
"Expected Votes" versus "Actual Results" are wildly
discordant to say the least.
Dopp's page (at the bottom) has a number of interesting charts.
Reader RP sent in some useful tables [corrected at ~7:40 pm Pacific on 11/7/04 to
account for some calculation error] that takes Dopp's results and summarizes them in
easy-to-understand form. This data is stated to be that with 98.6% of
all votes counted (I've truncated the top of the image). Do review
it (again, I have not independently verified the data myself and I'll be
happy to post a correction if it is shown to be a data error - but I
would like to put it out on the web so people can review and analyze the
These tables, on the face
of it may suggest some irregularities. However, I also provide a link to a counter-argument
Bryan Pfaffenberger below these tables and rebuttals to that!), since he says "it
is extremely misleading (and contrary to accepted practice) to define
"expected results" in terms of the percentage of registered
Republicans and Democrats in an election district. "Expected
results" should be defined in terms of the way the district voted
in the last general election."
[Note added on 11/20/04:
Reader Susan Goya sent in an article that maps the counties that went to
Bush and Kerry and how they should have gone if voting registration
determined the final vote. I
have posted it to allow readers/independent analysts to review it
Note added 7 pm Pacific,
11/8/04: I am only showing the most recent table that reader RP sent
out and I removed the two original tables per RP's request - since the
third table, which is the one shown below, essentially captures what he
wanted to point out.
Bryan Pfaffenberger sent in an email
saying that he is very skeptical of the claims that the above data prove
fraud in any way. He addresses the data in his website, here
- and here are some snippets (I have my comments in response below these
Those who dismiss the
allegations of voter fraud note that the suspicious pattern is found in
small, predominantly rural counties, many of which are in the Panhandle,
in which Bush is known to have made significant gains. (The two counties
mentioned above, Baker and Dixie Counties, are in the Panhandle.)
According to Cornell University political scientist Walter Mebane, many
(if not most) of the putative Democrats in these rural counties are
Democrats in name only -- they just haven't gotten around to changing
their registration. The seemingly disproportionate vote for Bush, in
short, is part of a larger trend, seen throughout the rural and suburban
South and personified by Zell Miller, of Democrats deserting their
Moreover, there's nothing
new about this pattern. In 2000, Gore received only 2,392 votes from
Baker County voters, 83.3 percent of whom registered as Democrats; Bush
received 5,610. In Dixie County, the 2000 numbers are even more
striking: even though 85.9% of voters registered as Democrats, Gore
received only 1,826 votes while Bush received 2,697. In short, a
tectonic shift is going on in Deep South voting patterns, and it started
four years ago.
If there's an association
between the "Bush up/Kerry down" pattern and optical scanners,
therefore, it's because the smaller, rural counties -- including most of
those in the Panhandle -- tend to use these machines; only the large,
urban counties use e-voting machines.
But wait just a minute. A
widely-linked Web page located at an activist Web site (ustogether.org)
argues that, even after taking the rural/urban split into account, the
numbers are still suspicious. One of the site authors (Elizabeth Liddle)
tried to control for the rural-urban contrast by focusing on 26
mid-sized Florida counties (those with between 80,000 and 500,000
registered voters), in which both types of voting technologies were
used. The point of this
analysis was to reduce or eliminate the rural/urban factor as an
Here's what this chart
says, in plain English:
- In the counties that
used electronic voting machines, both parties surpassed their 2000
turnout, but Democrats beat the Republicans.
In the counties that used optical mark-sense voting machines, the
Democrats surpassed their 2000 turnout by a small percentage. But
the Republican increase is massive.
Having ruled out the
rural/urban split, Liddle contends, voting machine type strongly
correlates with the voting patterns.
Does this analysis prove
that election fraud actually occurred? No, and for two reasons:
- Liddle does not
disclose which counties she selected, so it is impossible to
evaluate how successfully she controlled for geographic factors.
- The pattern could be
explained by a third, unknown variable.
I think the pattern is
indeed attributable to a third variable -- namely, the explosive growth
of Republican voter turnout, not just in the Panhandle or rural areas,
but throughout all
of Florida except the major cities. Suburban as well as rural
Democrats abandoned their party in record numbers -- thanks,
in part, to a Democratic tactical mistake: while Democrats focused on
cities and legal challenges, Republicans focused their efforts on
fast-growing suburban counties.
A telling example is
Pasco County, situated north of Tampa. Formerly dominated by
Democratic-leaning retirees, the county is now home to growing numbers
of suburban, middle-class families, for which Bush's campaign message
resonated far more than Kerry's. Like many other fast-growing Florida
counties, Pasco is very well characterized by precisely the <demographics
that gave Bush huge gains across the American heartland:
Bush fared well among gun
owners ( 30 over Kerry), weekly churchgoers ( 26), Protestants ( 24),
military veterans ( 20), married people ( 20), non-Hispanic whites (
14), Southerners ( 14), and men ( 12).
In contrast, Kerry
appealed mainly to
blacks (+86 [over Bush]),
those residing in union households (+34), unmarried women (+28, and
+10 among unmarried men), 18- to 29-year-olds (+20), those who seldom
or never attend church (+20), Easterners (+16), and urban residents
I think these figures
explain quite plainly what happened in Florida on November 2nd. To be
sure, I know some Democrats are still convinced that the exit poll
numbers were indeed valid, which means that Bush could have won Florida
only if hundreds of thousands of Kerry votes disappeared. CEO Walter
Mitowsky of the exit polling organization (National Election Pool) explains
that that Kerry voters were more eager to talk to interviewers than Bush
voters. Pollster Mark
Blumenthal says that, if Mitowsky's explanation is true, it is truly
It is the first time in
his exit polls and one of the first times I can remember for any
political survey, that those who refused to participate in the survey
were different enough (more supportive of George Bush) than those who
were interviewed to make a material difference in the overall results.
But there is at least one
precedent (Crewe 1992). In the 1992 British general election, those who
voted for the Conservatives were markedly less forthcoming to
interviewers than Labour voters, resulting in the single greatest exit
poll failure on the record.
One conclusion seems
country's election system is in need of reform. We need:
- Uniform, clearly
stated standards for registration lists, voting technologies and the
distribution of voting machines; and
- Non-partisan election
Let me close with a
personal note. Writing this essay has been a painful process for me --
frankly, I wanted desperately to believe that Floridians really did go
out and vote for John Kerry in massive numbers.
Since Bryan's response, there has been
more back-and-forth, with other critiques of Kathy Dopp's conclusions
(including in the New York Times).
To make it simple, let me refer readers
to the rebuttals from Kathy Dopp's group (which I became aware of via
reader Brian Julin who has a useful
catalog on links on his website).
to Mebane et al.: Discrepant Results appear in Mid-State, Mid-Size
Counties (Kathy Dopp's response)
voting in Florida seems to depend on the local voting technology (also
from Dopp's website)
to the [Caltech/MIT] VTP criticism of the study by Dopp/Liddle
to MIT/Caltech (by David Dodge)
Additionally, Sam Parry at Consortium
News joins the fray with
this rebuttal report (bold text in the paragraphs is my emphasis)
which I am including because it goes to the heart of the matter:
Washington Post and the big media have spoken: Questions about Nov. 2
voting irregularities and George W. Bush’s unusual vote tallies are
just the ravings of Internet conspiracy theorists.
Nov. 11 story on A2, the Post gave the back of its hand to our story
about Bush’s statistically improbable vote totals in Florida and
elsewhere. While agreeing with our analysis that Bush pulled off the
difficult task of winning more votes in Florida than the number of
registered Republicans, the Post accuses us of overlooking the obvious
explanation that many independents, “Dixiecrats” and other
Democrats voted for Bush.
us as “spreadsheet-wielding conspiracy theorists,” Post reporters
Manuel Roig-Franzia and Dan Keating signaled their determination to
put questions about Bush’s victory outside the bounds of responsible
debate. Yet, if they hadn’t been so set in this agenda, they might
have avoided sloppy mistakes and untrue assertions.
example of their slipshod reporting, Roig-Franzia and Keating state
that we focused our data analysis on rural counties in Florida. They
suggest that Bush’s gains in these rural counties might be explained
by the greater appeal of son-of-the-South Al Gore in 2000 than
Bostonian John Kerry in 2004.
we didn’t focus on rural counties in Florida. Rather we looked at
the vote tallies statewide and zeroed in on Bush’s performance in
the larger, more metropolitan counties of southern and central
Florida, where Bush got the vast majority of his new votes over his
state totals in 2000.
was in these large counties where Bush’s new totals compared most
surprisingly with new voter registration because Democrats did a much
better job in many of these counties of registering new voters. In
other words, Bush outperformed Kerry among a relatively smaller ratio
of Republicans to Democrats in many of these counties.
undermining the Post’s claims, Kerry actually improved on Gore’s
total in the smallest 20 counties in Florida by 5,618 votes -- 50,883
votes for Kerry vs. 45,265 for Gore, a 12.5% increase. So, even the
Post’s notion that Gore’s Southern heritage made him more
attractive to rural Floridians doesn’t fit with the actual results.
began our analysis of the vote totals with one simple question: Where
did Bush earn his new votes? Since one of every nine new Bush voters
nationwide came from Florida, we thought this battleground state was a
good place to examine county-by-county tallies.
also didn’t go into the analysis expecting to find statistical
oddities. We were open to the possibility that Bush’s totals might
have fit within statistical norms.
we found, however, led us to report that Bush’s vote tallies were
statistically improbable – though not impossible. Contrary to
the Post’s claim, we did take into account the Dixiecrat element,
which is why we didn’t focus on the Bush totals from Florida’s
panhandle or the smaller, rural counties.
analysis found that of the 13 Florida counties where Bush’s vote
total exceeded the number of registered Republicans for the first
time, only two were counties with fewer than 100,000 registered
voters. In 2000, Bush’s vote total exceeded the number of
registered Republicans in 34 counties – not 32 as the Post
inaccurately reported – but in 2004, this total shot up to 47
than a rural surge of support, Bush actually earned more than seven
out of 10 new votes in the 20 largest counties in Florida. Many of
these counties are either Democratic strongholds – such as
Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach – or they are swing counties,
such as Orange, Hillsborough, and Duval.
of these large counties saw substantially more newly registered
Democrats than Republicans. For example, in Orange County, a swing
county home to Orlando, Democrats registered twice as many new voters
than Republicans in the years since 2000. In Palm Beach and Broward
combined, Democrats registered 111,000 new voters compared with fewer
than 20,000 new Republicans.
in these three counties combined, Bush turned out about 10,000 more
new voters than Kerry, a feat made all the more remarkable given
that Kerry improved Democratic turnout in these counties by 21
increases like those Bush registered throughout Florida and across
much of the country occur when there are huge swings in voting
patterns caused by national landslides.
1972, for instance, Richard Nixon won millions of votes from Democrats
who two elections earlier had supported Lyndon Johnson. But in
2004, the Democratic ticket didn’t suffer a hemorrhage of votes,
actually turning out about 5 million more voters nationwide than in
was that the case in Florida. In county after county in Florida, Bush
achieved statistically stunning gains even as Kerry more than held his
own. Bush earned nearly 35 percent more votes statewide than he
did in 2000, which was already a huge surge for Bush over Bob Dole’s
1996 Florida turnout.
to assertions in the flawed Post article, the most surprising
numbers actually don’t come from small rural counties in the state,
but rather from large counties, including Orange county (mentioned
above), Hillsborough (Tampa), Brevard (Cape Canaveral), Duval
(Jacksonville), Polk (next to Orange county), and heavily Democratic
Leon (Tallahassee) and Alachua (Gainesville). These are not tiny
Dixiecrat counties with longtime registered Democrats who haven’t
voted Democratic in years.
these seven counties have large, diverse populations that collectively
saw Bush turn out 1,025,493 votes, exceeding the 946,420 registered
Republicans. In these counties, Bush turned out nearly twice as many
new votes than the number of newly registered Republicans. In these
same counties, Kerry got more than 200,000 new votes, meaning that
Bush’s tally can’t be attributed to crossover Democrats.
Bush’s totals are not statistically impossible, they do raise
eyebrows. Our question was: where did these gains come from? We are
not claiming that the surprising numbers are evidence of fraud, but we
do believe the tallies deserve an honest and independent review.
also should be the job of journalists to probe questions as
significant as the integrity of the U.S. voting system, not to simply
belittle those who raise legitimate questions. The fact that Internet
journals and blogs are doing more to examine these concerns than
wealthy news organizations like the Washington Post is another
indictment of the nation’s mainstream press.
At this point, I have to say I don't know
what to think...
What I am happy about is that there is
good debate and detailed analysis going on - this is critical in a
democracy. I am going to wait and see how this transpires.
Three points that I believe need further exploration:
1. Is there any reason to believe that
Bush-supporters were less likely to speak to exit pollsters ONLY in
those states where the exit polls predicted a result that was divergent
from the final voting result? (I find it dubious that Democrats who
waited for hours and hours on end would have been that
motivated to spend more time talking to pollsters at the end). This is related to the question of exit
poll accuracy by state. Why is it that polls in some states were close
to the final result and those in others were not? (See Section
[P.S. I wonder if the seemingly odd outcome that 5% more Bush 2000
voters ostensibly voted in 2004 than Gore 2004 voters arose in the
massaged exit polls because of the exit pollsters trying to make up for
their claim that Bush voters were less enthusiastic about answering
questions this time. Yet, I still cannot fathom how 5% or more Gore 2000
voters simply dropped out of the electorate this year.]
2. As I showed in Section
I, the national level exit poll results, even after having been
massaged again and again to provide Bush the popular vote, provide
conclusions about who voted that directly contradict conventional
wisdom. So, I am not sure how to interpret the conclusions on the
demographics of who voted for Bush and who did not.
[P.S. I am also not convinced about an explanation that uses an
experience in the United Kingdom where a lot of things could be
different. I would be more convinced if we could explain these results
using American voting history].
3. With the
rebuttals from Kathy Dopp and co-workers and from Sam Parry, there is
clearly more to
analyze before calling it quits on this topic.
Florida: Select E-Vote Counties
Verification Project has pointed out this: "On November 2 more
voters cast paperless ballots than ever before in a U.S. election: roughly
30 percent compared to 12 percent four years ago. The Election
Verification Project is not questioning the legitimacy of the presidential
election results. Instead, we are questioning a voting process in which 30
percent of the ballots cannot be verified and, of the remaining 70
percent, most will not be verified."
that, we need to note something that Markusd
at Dailykos has posted an alert on - a UC-Berkeley
Study that questions the accuracy of electronic voting machine
results in some highly Democratic counties in Florida. [Before someone gets confused about the Optical
Scan study and this E-voting Study, read this
note at the end of this section!].
study's summary is here:
The Effect of
Electronic Voting Machines on Change in Support for Bush in the 2004
associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000
excess votes or more to President George W. Bush in Florida.
- Compared to
counties with paper ballots, counties with electronic voting machines
were significantly more likely to show increases in support for
President Bush between 2000 and 2004. This effect cannot
be explained by differences between counties
in income, number of voters, change in voter turnout, or size of
- In Broward County
alone, President Bush appears to have received approximately 72,000
- We can be 99.9% sure
that these effects are not attributable to chance.
Because many factors
impact voting results, statistical tools are necessary to see the
effect of touch-screen voting. Multiple- regression analysis is a
statistical technique widely used in the social and physical sciences
to distinguish the individual effects of many variables.
multiple-regression analysis takes account of the following variables
by county: - number of voters - median income - Hispanic population -
change in voter turnout between 2000 and 2004 - support for President
Bush in 2000 election - support for Dole in 1996 election
When one controls for
these factors, the association between electronic voting and increased
support for President Bush is impossible to overlook. The data show
with 99.0% certainty that a county’s use of electronic voting is
associated with a disproportionate increase in votes for President
The data used in this
study come from CNN.com, the 2000 US Census, the Florida Department of
State, and the Verified Voting Foundation – all publicly available
sources. This study was carried out by a group of doctoral students in
the UC Berkeley sociology department in collaboration with Professor
Michael Hout, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the UC
Berkeley Survey Research Center.
Wired News reported this as
machines in Florida may have awarded George W. Bush up to 260,000 more
votes than he should have received, according to statistical analysis
conducted by University of California, Berkeley graduate students and
a professor, who released a study on Thursday.
The researchers likened
their report to a beeping smoke alarm and called on Florida officials
to examine the data and the voting systems in counties that used
touch-screen voting machines to provide an explanation for the
anomalies. The researchers examined the same numbers and variables in
Ohio, but found no discrepancies there.
Their aim in releasing
the report, the researchers said, was not to attack the results of the
2004 election in Florida, where Bush won by 350,000 votes, but to
prompt election officials and the public to examine the e-voting
systems and address the fact that there is no way to conduct a
meaningful recount on the paperless machines.
The analysis -- which
hasn't been formally peer-reviewed, but was examined by seven
professors -- showed a discrepancy in the number of votes Bush
received in counties that used the touch-screen machines and counties
that used other types of voting equipment. The researchers examined
numerous variables that might have affected the vote outcome. These
included the number of voters, their median income, racial and age
makeup and the change in voter turnout between the 2000 and 2004
elections. Using this information, they examined election results for
the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in the state in
1996, 2000 and 2004 to see how support for those candidates and
parties measured over eight years in Florida's 67 counties.
They discovered that in
the 15 counties using touch-screen voting systems, the number of votes
granted to Bush far exceeded the number of votes Bush should have
received -- given all of the other variables -- while the number of
votes that Bush received in counties using other types of voting
equipment lined up perfectly with what the variables would have
predicted for those counties.
The total number of
excessive votes ranged between 130,000 and 260,000, depending on what
kind of problem caused the excess votes. The counties most affected by
the anomaly were heavily Democratic.
Sam Wang of Princeton University (via Katerina
at Dailykos) believes that the Berkeley study holds water. For more
than one reason:
There's an interesting report
from a statistical
analysis group at Berkeley about Florida voting patterns. After
reading it over, I can't find any big problems with it. It is the best
study yet done on the question of possible irregularities. This does not
mean that irregularities occurred. However, it does mean that something
unusual happened in Florida. Also, note that their estimate of voting
discrepancy (130,000 to 260,000) is similar to my estimate based on
pre-election polls (270,000).
What they have done is
use voting patterns by country from 2000 and 1996, income by county,
total population, and Hispanic population to try to explain voting
patterns in 2004. These variables encompass many arguments made for why
this year's results are surprising. For instance, it has been argued
that rural voters liked Bush better this year. But since the Berkeley
group used county population as a variable, this should stand as a proxy
for population density. Note that because they are using regression
analysis, they are not claiming that Bush should have gotten
the same number of votes as previous years. This would not be true: we
all know that Clinton-Dole 1996 turned out very differently from
Bush-Gore 2000. Instead, they are using those variables to help account
for variations among counties, for instance if one county tends to be
more Republican than another.
Their analysis indicates
that even when all these variables are accounted for, a significant
difference remains between counties that used electronic voting and
counties that used optical scanning or paper ballots (see also a
by Jeff Chambers).
But - in which group did
something strange happen? They say electronic voting, but one could also
imagine that optical scan and paper ballots were both off. This is less
parsimonious, but can one rule it out? Maybe.
An additional piece of
evidence is available: pre-election polls. In my own analysis (see
below), I find that pre-election polls predicted a margin of Bush over
Kerry by 1.4%, or about 105,000 votes. Instead the reported result was
Bush over Kerry by 5.0%, or about 375,000 votes. The discrepancy is
270,000 votes, which is consistent with their model of misattribution,
i.e. Kerry votes being counted as Bush votes, which predicts a
discrepancy of 262,000 votes. The other model, "ghost votes,"
is also possible, though it only predicts a 131,000 vote discrepancy.
Therefore, assuming that electronic voting had problems relative to
other methods leads to an estimated discrepancy that is very similar to
one made using pre-election polls.
A more innocuous
explanation may exist, but their work (and my analysis) put bounds on
what that explanation might be. A change in sentiments among rural
voters seems unlikely, since the Berkeley team found no anomaly in Ohio
(and also used county population as a variable). Another possibility is
the fall hurricanes, since these did not happen in other states;
however, how this would work is unclear. In any event, this story is not
Tuesday, November 16,
11:45PM: Below is a graph of all state polls in Florida, Ohio and
Pennsylvania in the weeks preceding the election. (Comparisons for other
states are available here.)
The gray band indicates ±1 SEM surrounding the average for the last
seven days; this is about half the width of the 95% confidence band. The
arrowheads indicate the final announced outcomes. Ohio and Pennsylvania
polls were consistent with the final outcome, but Florida polls were not
indicated a Kerry win by 2.1 ± 0.7%; the final result was Kerry by
indicated a Bush win by 1.0 ± 0.7%; the final result was Bush by 2.5%.
This could be accounted for by the trend toward Bush in the last five
indicated a Bush win by 1.4 ± 0.9%; the final result was Bush by 5.0%.
This final result is off by 4 SEM. It is also in the same direction as
the claims of voting fraud made based on county-level data.
Although not definitive,
these data are at least consistent with the suggestion that something
unusual happened in Florida, either in the 33 polls conducted in the
final weeks of the campaign, or in actual voting.
Via reader radtimes, this report
in the Oakland Tribune indicates another group has independently
verified the results:
The UC Berkeley report
has not been peer reviewed, but a reputable MIT political scientist
succeeded in replicating the analysis Thursday at the request of the
Oakland Tribune and The Associated Press. He said an investigation is
"There is an
interesting pattern here that I hope someone looks into," said MIT
arts and social sciences Dean Charles Stewart III, a researcher in the
MIT-Caltech Voting Technology Project.
Stewart isn't convinced
the problem is electronic voting. It could be absentee voting or some
quirk of election administration. But whatever the problem, it didn't
show up in counties using optical scanning machines. Rather than offer
evidence of fraud or voting problems, the UC Berkeley study infers they
Frustrated at the
lowbrow, data-poor nature of allegations of election fraud flooding the
Internet, three Berkeley grad students decided to apply the tools of
first-year statistics class.
"We decided, well,
you might as well test it properly instead of sitting around
speculating," said first-year sociology grad student Laura Mangels.
She and two colleagues downloaded voting and demographic data, ran them
through statistics software and in the first night had results that
produced a collective "Wow" among the students, she said.
They shopped their
results to faculty and finally to Hout, a well-known skeptic who is
chairman of the university's graduate sociology and demography group.
later, nobody's been able to poke a hole in our model," Mangels
said. "Our results still hold up."
"Something went awry with the voting in Florida."
In terms of a partial rebuttal, Kevin
Drum has a post reporting on others who looked at the same data and
reached a less broad conclusion:
However, both Kieran
Healy and Andrew
Gelman are skeptical that Hout's results stand up. The chart on the
right, adapted from Gelman's site, shows why.
The chart shows the size
of the vote swing toward Bush in all Florida counties, and the basic
pattern is simple: the more Republican a county was in 2000, the more
heavily their vote swung even further toward Bush in 2004. At the bottom
left are counties that are strongly Democratic, and their swing to Bush
was actually negative compared to 2000. At the top right are counties
that are heavily Republican, and their swing toward Bush was eight
percentage points or more, far higher than the statewide average swing
of 2.5 points.
Counties in red used
electronic voting and counties in black didn't. Nearly all the counties
fall within the two black lines, and there doesn't seem to be much
difference between them. Both red and black circles show the same basic
pattern, which means there's no special reason to think that anything
funny was going on in counties with electronic voting.
In fact, it turns out
that Hout's entire result is due to only two outliers: Broward County
and Palm Beach County. This suggests several things:
There was almost
certainly not any systemic fraud. If there were, it would have
showed up in more than just two counties.
The results in
Broward and Palm Beach are unusual, but it's hard to draw any
conclusion from just two anomolies. As Kieran says, "it seems
more likely that these results show the Republican Party Machine was
really, really well-organized in Palm Beach and Broward, and they
were able to mobilize their vote better than the Democrats."
Anyone who wants to
continue investigating possible fraud in Florida anyway should focus
on Broward and Palm Beach.
BETWEEN THE KATHY DOPP STUDY AND THE UC-BERKELEY STUDY?
Julin alerted me to the possible confusion that might arise in the media
and supposed debunkers of this latest study. As he points
out (bold text is my emphasis):
OK, the Berkeley study
is about to hit. And this could go either way, media-coverage
speaking. That's because the Berkeley study would appear at first
glance to say the exact opposite of what Dopp's study says. The
Berkeley study indicates that e-voting added to Bush's total while
Dopp's study blames opscan.
Again, this is a matter
of which counties were included, but this time on the other end of the
scale. Dopp excluded counties over 500K. The Berkeley study
...and those three
counties plus two other large democratic ones (Pinellus and
HillsBorough), plus the republican-voting smaller counties of Nassau
and Sumpter, were specifically excluded from Dopp's analysis. The
"slightly negative effect" noted would, if anything, support
Dopp's work, but I don't want to get into a math lecture.
The impact of e-voting was not uniform, however. Its impact was
proportional to the Democratic support in the county, i.e., it was
especially large in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade. The evidence
for this is the statistical significance of terms in our model that
gauge the average impact of e-voting across Florida's 67 counties and
statistical interaction effects that gauge its larger-than-average
effect in counties where Vice President Gore did the best in 2000
and slightly negative effect in the counties where Mr. Bush did the
best in 2000.
As in the earlier case, let
the debate begin anew about Florida...let's get all the data out to
independent analysts and understand what is going on.
Ohio has been a royal mess in
this Election, with massive vote suppression and numerous irregularities.
Details are available in the Vote
Watch 2004 Ohio page.
has an excellent
single page graphic that shows some of the reasons why the problems in
Ohio need to be investigated and why Ohio deserves a recount. For
convenience I have captured their chart in JPEG form and reproduced it
Another recent example adding
to the Ohio irregularities - rotten
Denmark points a Dayton Daily News report (bold text is his emphasis):
Two precincts had high
undercounts, analysis shows
By Ken McCall and Jim Bebbington
DAYTON | Two Montgomery County precincts had extraordinarily high
numbers of ballots cast Nov. 2 with no presidential vote counted, and
the county's overall rates of such undercounts were highest where
Democratic hopeful John Kerry did best.
Undercounts are ballots that do not register a vote for a particular
race, in this case for president. Two precincts — one in Kettering
and another in Washington Twp. — had undercounts of more than 25
percent, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of the county's
Overall in Montgomery County, 5,693 or 2 percent of the ballots cast
registered no valid vote for president.
As predicted by political scientists, who say the poor and less-educated
are more likely to have problems with punch card voting, the rate of
so-called undercounted presidential ballots was higher in Democratic
areas of the county than in Republican strongholds.
The undercount amounted to 2.8 percent of the ballots in the 231
precincts that supported Kerry, but only 1.6 percent of those cast in
the 354 precincts that supported President Bush.
Across the state on Nov. 2, counties that used punch-card voting, as
Montgomery County did, had a higher rate of undercounted ballots than
counties that used optical scanning technology or electronic voting
machines, which had the lowest undercount.
With punch cards, undercounts can occur when a voter:
•Inadvertently votes for two candidates in the same race.
•Decides not to vote in the race.
•Does not sufficiently puncture the punch card to eliminate a
"hanging chad." Hanging chads can make it impossible for
machines to read the punch cards.
The highest undercount rate in Montgomery County was in precinct
Washington X, around Paragon Road and Spring Valley Pike in Washington
In the precinct, 168 or 27.5 percent of the 611 ballots cast did not
have a good presidential vote. That was followed closely by Kettering
3-A, near Stroop Road and Far Hills Avenue, where 121 or 27.3 percent of
the 444 ballots cast were undercounted.
Both of those precincts supported Bush, as did seven of the 10
precincts with the highest rate of undercounted presidential ballots.
That's despite the county's overall trend, in which precincts where
Kerry did well tended to have above-average undercounts, while precincts
where Bush won had lower-than-average undercounts.
County elections officials said they have no reports of any problems at
either Washington X or Kettering 3-A. The punch-card voting stands,
checked Wednesday using demonstration ballots, appeared to work
The presiding judge of Washington X, Shirley Wightman, a 40-year veteran
of working polling places, said voters in her precinct encountered no
"We checked the machines periodically and I could see nothing wrong
with them," she said.
Wightman said turnout was high that day and there were 16 provisional
voters at the precinct, a higher-than-normal number. But those
provisionals do not account for the under-votes and won't be tabulated
until next Monday, after officials confirm the registration of those
One voter reported having trouble pushing her ballot into the slot in
the voting machine, but she had not pushed the card in far enough and a
poll worker helped her, Wightman said.
"Other than that things went pretty smooth," she said.
Two Washington X voters said they checked for hanging chads on their
ballots before turning them in and found none.
"I personally checked mine and it punched the number I
wanted," said Heather Baarlaer of Washington Twp.
Rates that high show something must have gone wrong, said Larry J.
Sabato, a political scientist from the University of Virginia.
Undercounts during presidential elections are typically between 1
percent and 2 percent, he said.
"It is very difficult to believe that a quarter of the people
would not vote for president, especially in a year like this,"
Sabato said. "If I were the election officers in those areas I
would be doing some very extensive checks of those machines."
Moraine had the highest presidential undercount of all the county's
jurisdictions: 5.6 percent of the 2,557 votes cast in the city's seven
precincts had no valid presidential vote. It was followed by Germantown
with 3.6 percent undercount, Trotwood with 3.1 percent and Dayton with
2.8 percent. Both Moraine and Germantown supported Bush, with margins of
2 percent and 34 percent respectively, while Trotwood and Dayton went
heavily for Kerry by margins of 60 percent and 45 percent.
III: EXIT POLLS v. VOTING RESULTS
Blog has a post comparing the exit poll results in states with
complete paper trails and those that do not. I have not verified these
results myself but I am providing a link here to those who are
interested and want to explore this further for accuracy. The results
seem to suggest that when paper trails existed, the exit poll results
closely matched the final results. In the other case, the final voting results deviated consistently towards Bush, sometimes by wide margins.
post on the Left Coaster also suggests that states with paper ballots
showed vote tallies comparable to exit poll results but those which had
some level of electronic voting showed sharp gains for Bush and
sometimes, reversals, compared to the exit polls. Yet another exit poll
(via reader JD). Again, I don't know
how accurate these results are and would like independent experts to
analyze them and comment.
However, on 11/12/04 I became aware
of a more substantive analysis:
Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy (Stephen F. Freeman, Ph.D., University
Rather than reproduce entire
section, I strongly encourage readers to take a look at his paper since
it is the first systematic analysis of the exit polls that I am aware
of, which also attempts to be statistically robust. Kevin Drum mentioned
this on his blog Political Animal, with the following comments,
which seem reasonable to me:
In fact, Bush won 10
out of 11 battleground states by more than the exit polls predicted.
The odds of this happening by chance are essentially zero.
Now, Freeman's paper
corrects a couple of the problems I've seen in earlier efforts along
these same lines. First, he uses final (raw) exit poll data, not early
afternoon data. Second, he provides a levelheaded discussion of the
various reasons on offer for why the exit polls might be off —
although in the end he finds them unconvincing.
doesn't allege voter fraud, and neither do I. There are several good
reasons for this:
demonstrates is that these results couldn't have happened simply
by chance. However, they still might have been produced by
systematic problems of some kind in the polling methodology.
Freeman knows this,
so he then takes a look at possible sources of systematic error.
He isn't persuaded that any of them stand up to scrutiny, but he
also admits that there's just not enough data to say for sure.
What's more, there might be some other source of error he's
not aware of.
I've seen several
indications that there really are some weird anomolies with the
exit poll data. I mentioned one last
night, and there's another one you can see right in the table
above: the total national sample was about 13,000 voters, but the
state level polls all claim to include about 2,000 voters.
Obviously something is screwy there.
Finally, you have
to posit a way in which the Bush campaign was able to rig the
results in every single battleground state. Let's face it: it's a lot
easier to think of ways in which the exit polls might be screwed
up than to think up credible ways in which the Bushies could have
pulled that off.
So why am I posting
about this at all if I don't believe it? Mainly because I'm getting
progressively more pissed off about the exit polls with every passing
day. The folks who ran them have actually encouraged rumor
mongering by refusing to publicly explain what happened to us
benighted masses. So far, all they've done is write a confidential
report that apparently didn't
even acknowledge the systemic errors in the final results and
instead laid the blame on those irresponsible bloggers who got
everyone riled up by posting early results. Meanwhile, their defenders
in the media were practically
apoplectic about the gall of non-experts using data they
can't possibly understand in order to advance their own bizarre
conspiracy theories. Which would be fair enough if they'd step up
to the plate and give us the benefit of their expertise.
But they haven't.
They've declined to talk to reporters, they've released no serious
findings of their own, and they haven't made their raw data available
even to qualified researchers. Freeman's numbers might well be wrong,
but there's no way for him to find out. Nature abhors a vacuum, and
the experts are the ones who have created the vacuum in which rumors
So that's why I'm
posting this: because I want to put some pressure on them to come out
from their caves and tell us what they think — and to debunk
guys like Freeman if they can. After all, there's probably a perfectly
plausible explanation for all this. In fact, I'm sure there is. But
until they tell us what it is, the conspiracy theories aren't going to
I would like this analysis
and debate to continue.
And continue it does.
supporter and respected pollster Ruy Teixeira of Donkey Rising has a
post challenging one of Freeman's contentions - that exit polls are
intrinsically trustworthy. Read
it. I am waiting for Freeman's response.
Part IV: WAS
THIS ELECTION WON BY BUSH BECAUSE OF VOTE FRAUD?
Now, now. This is a trick
me first quote John
Belisarius at Donkey Rising since I am in complete agreement with this
post of his (bold text, except the header, is my emphasis):
Big A Role Did Fraud, Ballot Theft and Suppression of the Vote Play in
In the last few day's
accusations of massive vote fraud, ballot theft and suppression of the
Democratic vote during the 2004 elections have mushroomed to such a
level that both the New York Times and the Washington Post have given
the charges front page coverage.
all the discussion of this issue has become focused on the specific
question of whether a sufficient number of votes might have been
stolen or suppressed to have changed the outcome of the election. In
many cases, the unstated assumption seems to be that if such
violations did not rise to the level where they changed the result
then they can safely be ignored.
That's the wrong way to
look at this issue. What the vast majority of Democrats find most
disturbing about 2004 is that Bush's victory was based on a pervasive
strategy of dishonesty--a dishonesty that included major distortions
of Kerry's record by the Bush campaign's own television commercials,
outright lies told by the Swift Boat Veterans, grotesque distortions
circulated among rural or minority voters (such as the claim that
Democrats would take away religious people's bibles or that Martin
Luther King was a Republican), flyers listing false reasons why voters
should believe themselves disqualified, leaflets and phone calls
falsely announcing changes in polling places and phony voter
registration groups that collected and then destroyed voter
Layered on top of
this were techniques
for suppressing the vote in Democratic areas that included last minute
changes in polling places, use of felon lists known to be inaccurate
and the provision of inadequate numbers of voting machines and
note: For a more comprehensive listing, go to my Vote
Watch 2004 site]
It is this entire
pattern of appallingly anti-democratic behavior that should be at the
center of the national discussion today, and not just the specific
question of whether these kinds of activities--along with any direct
theft or alteration of votes by electronic or punch card voting
machines--could have risen to a level sufficient to reverse Bush's
Regarding the precise
amount of voter fraud and suppression that actually occurred during
the election, data are still trickling in. A widely quoted article by
Harpers magazine writer Greg
Palast pulled together a variety of issues to draw the conclusion
that Kerry might actually have won the election. Follow-up articles in
Nation by Farhad Manjoo and David Corn, however, while entirely
sympathetic to Democrats basic suspicions and complaints, reviewed
Palast's evidence and reached the opposite conclusion.
The debate is not over.
Two web sites that continue to collect and evaluate reports from
around the country are the Election
Incident Reporting System and the CalTech/MIT
Voting Technology Project.
But the most
important thing for Democrats to remember about this debate is that
they should not allow it to be reduced simply to the question of
whether or not the election was "stolen". What vast numbers
of Democrats as well as many moderates and independent voters already
believe and believe very strongly is that Bush's victory was based on
a campaign that was deeply, deeply dishonest and profoundly unfair.
Folks, I am of the belief
that before a claim of a "stolen election" is made,
incontrovertible proof must be shown that it was indeed
"stolen". Based on the data I have seen so far, I can't say
there is incontrovertible evidence proving Bush was wrongly awarded millions of votes
voting machines - namely, by a margin sufficient to overturn the
said that, there is growing evidence of suspicious results - especially
in Florida (and possibly in Ohio). There is significant evidence that
vote suppression, especially in Ohio, was
There is incontrovertible evidence that the Bush campaign and the GOP
ran a sometimes fraudulent and a general vote-suppressing campaign. Just as there is no proof (yet) that
Bush illegally got millions more votes than he did, there is also no
proof that the irregularities, suspicious results and full range of dirty and fraudulent tactics employed by
the Bush campaign and the GOP did NOT add up to suppress Democratic votes by a large
margin. So, here is my conclusion (for now).
only way we can sustain this democracy is by allowing free speech and
allowing people to bring up all irregularities and fraud to the surface
and investigating it to the end, with the full resources that such
investigations require. Nothing short of the future of our democracy
depends on it. It is from the results of these investigations that we
can educate people about the country they live in, about who really is
on their side and who really won and lost. It is the only way to find
better means to run elections the next time. So, I say, keep the
investigations and analysis going, but let's not get too carried away by
the rhetoric just yet.