I scan the Philadelphia Daily News online almost every day. Well… the sports pages, at least. But HA reader Spyder pointed me towards a column in Tuesday’s edition, by Temple University statistics professor Josh Mitteldorf: “My Election 2004 bad dream.”
Working with the National Election Archive Project, Prof. Mitteldorf co-authored a controversial statistical analysis of the November 2004 exit poll discrepancy; the exit polls predicted a Kerry victory by 3.0%, whereas the official tally had Bush winning by 2.5%… a discrepancy that cannot be attributed to chance. The report concludes that there is a strong case that “significant irregularities” occurred.
“The absence of any statistically plausible explanation for the discrepancy between Edison/Mitofsky’s exit poll data and the official presidential vote tally is an unanswered question of vital national importance that demands a thorough and unflinching investigation.”
Writing in the Daily News, Prof. Mitteldorf addresses straight on the common perception that people like him are conspiracy theorists:
On a recent flight to Nashville, I sat next to a man who asked what I was writing. Preparing a talk, I told him, for a conference of people sharing evidence that the 2004 presidential election was stolen. Without missing a beat, he asked. “Isn’t that next door to the convention on UFO sightings?”
Prof. Mitteldorf then proceeds to describe the “sober professionals, none who seem overtly loony” he met at the conference, who have reported to have uncovered massive voting irregularities throughout the nation.
I met David Griscom, a retired physics prof who spent months with colleague John Brakey poring over election tapes, signature rosters and “consecutive number registers” from Brakey’s Tucson home precinct.
They audited and verified, one by one, the 895 votes in the precinct and found: 12 innocent and unsuspecting voters who had their names duplicated on the roster and their votes for Bush counted twice. Twenty-two “undervotes” where the machine had failed to register a preference for president, and these had been dutifully and meticulously converted to 22 votes for Bush.
The “Republican” and “Democratic” co-directors of the polling place were a local fundamentalist preacher and his wife. Thirty-nine of their parishioners from another precinct had cast provisional ballots, which were (illegally) converted to regular ballots and passed through, all 39 for Bush.
I met Richard Hayes Phillips, a geologist from New Hampshire who was invited to Ohio to study the integrity of the vote, and realized that a complete inventory of lost and miscounted votes was needed. To date, Phillips has analyzed 15 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and by his most conservative estimate has found 101,000 uncounted Kerry votes – 136,000 is the margin by which Bush officially defeated Kerry.
I heard Clint Curtis talk about working in 2001 as a programmer for Yang Enterprises in Florida. He was assigned to a meeting with State Senate Speaker Tom Feeney, who asked to have a program written into the software that controls voting machines so that the totals could be manipulated without leaving a trace. Curtis, the whistleblower, is now unemployed. Feeney, the politician, is now the U.S. representative from Florida’s 24th Congressional district.
I was inspired to hear the travails of Ohio lawyer Cliff Arnebeck. After the Green Party raised $200,000 and obtained authorization for a recount in Ohio, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell staged a charade in which every state rule about the conduct of the recount was thrown out, and two hand-picked precinct captains emerged from behind locked doors to report that yes, indeed the numbers were exactly right and all was hunky dory.
As my regular readers know, I have been reluctant to report on allegations of a stolen presidential election, but it is clear that there were significant voting irregularities in Ohio and elsewhere. Likewise, I have said little about a controversial statistical analysis of the results from Snohomish County, which by the way, is now rumored to be quietly considering scrapping their touch-screen voting machines (over the objections of County Auditor Bob Terwilliger) after numerous incidents of “calibration errors” and a number of election day complaints from voters, that screens registered a vote for Rossi when they intended a vote for Gregoire.
I have shied away from these allegations because there is no proving them, and I did not want to engage in the same sort of rumor and innuendo that passes for news on the right-wing blogs.
But as we prepare to head into the seventh month of unprecedented scrutiny of King County Elections, I’m just getting sick and tired of a double-standard that permits somebody like Slade Gorton — a former U.S. Senator and WA State Attorney General — to get away with the ridiculous “conclusion” that “King County has the worst election administration” in the nation.
Many of the problems discovered in King County were systemic statewide, including mishandling of provisional ballots, and an inability to sufficiently screen the voter rolls for felons. And while there were dozens, possibly hundreds of potentially valid ballots left misplaced and uncounted in King (as well as other counties,) they represent a tiny fraction of the total ballots cast.
But for all the problems, it was nothing like the shit that went on elsewhere. It was in North Carolina where a computer inexplicably and irretrievably erased thousands of votes. It was in Ohio where tens of thousands of voters in urban precincts were forced to wait for hours in the rain, and where one precinct gave George Bush 4,258 votes out of 638 ballots cast. It was in Florida where tens of thousands of legal voters — mostly minorities — were wrongfully purged from the rolls, and where some voting machines were found to have actually counted backwards!
Yet question for a moment whether Bush actually won either of his elections, and the righties will laugh you off as “aluminum hat boy.” Meanwhile, the paranoid, partisan shills on the right-wing blogs and talk radio freely use words like “fraud” and “corruption” to describe our so-called “stolen election”… going so far as to suggest that Dean Logan deserves jail time.
What’s lacking from the Republican’s steady attack on the integrity of Logan and King County Elections, is perspective. There is no evidence of fraud, no evidence of conspiracy, and no evidence of official misconduct. The election was conducted in an extraordinarily transparent fashion, and has been excruciatingly scrutinized… and while a number of disturbing mistakes have been uncovered — mistakes that can clearly be fixed — they would have been insignificant if not for the bizarrely close gubernatorial election. Thus to attack our election as a “total mess” while dismissing the massive problems reported in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere, is an act of shameless hypocrisy.
If Rossi’s attorneys can prove that irregularities cost him the election, then he will prevail in court. But if they want to continue to characterize King County as having the “worst elections” in the nation, then it’s the Rossi folk who should be wearing the aluminum hats.