WHAT HAPPENED IN WISCONSIN? WE DON’T KNOW, AND THAT’S NOT GOOD
On Tuesday August 9th a group of volunteers from around Wisconsin conducted Citizen Exit Polls in two of the six senate districts where recall elections took place. A coalition of independent, non-partisan organizations including Election Defense Alliance (EDA), Protect California Ballots, and the Wisconsin Wave helped organize volunteers and advised the group on polling techniques. The exit polls were undertaken in an attempt to monitor the integrity of an election that relied entirely on concealed vote tabulation by computers to count votes and determine outcomes.
The results of our exit polling are presented in the Table below. In every case there are sizeable disparities between the computer-tabulated votecount percentages and the percentages indicated by our exit polls respondents. And in every case the disparity is a “red shift,” the votecount percentages more favorable to the Republican candidate than are the exit poll percentages.
It is important to understand, however, that these polls could not be designed to control for response bias—a possible differential willingness to respond of Republican vs. Democratic voters. Therefore, the disparities presented in our polls could be the result of 1) Computerized mistabulation (i.e., rigging); 2) Response bias; or 3) Both. We simply have no way of knowing for sure.
When a voter refuses to respond to our poll, we cannot know and adjust for the partisanship of that voter, so we cannot claim that our poll is a representative sample of the voters. To construct such a poll—the kind many are familiar with that is commissioned by the major media and appears on network websites along with the returns in November—requires vastly more data, resources, and funding than we have at our disposal. Our polls were designed for a comparison of raw numbers, not percentages, and in certain circumstances, not achieved here, would be strongly probative stand-alone red flags.
Nonetheless, the disparities indicated below may be considered "orange flags," suggestive of at least the possibility of widespread computerized mistabulation, and indicative that follow-up voter canvassing is warranted. In addition, analysis of prior voting patterns, turnout anomalies, and other data is being undertaken.
Our polls were undertaken for several related purposes:
- to provide at least an indicator, in the absence of virtually all other indicators, as to what might be happening (that is to introduce at least a dim ray of transparency into our utterly opaque and concealed vote counting process);
- to determine whether a more strongly probative follow-up canvassing would be warranted;
- to draw public awareness to the very disquieting realities of concealed, computerized vote counting (for example, many still erroneously assume that because they vote on paper, their votes and all votes are “safe,” even though in 99%+ of cases those ballots will never be examined and the optical scanner could easily be programmed to record a result radically different from what is indicated by the voters of their ballots);
- and to build the citizen participation that one day can translate to actual human counting of the actual ballots.
It appears that the exit poll project for August 9, 2011 has succeeded in furthering each of these goals. We hope to continue to build the awareness and involvement on the part of citizens of Wisconsin and America that will be needed to preserve our democracy through the restoration of observable vote counting and honest elections.
|WISCONSIN RECALL ELECTION EXIT POLL - VOTECOUNT COMPARISON, 8/9/2011|
|Senate||Polling Locations||Vote Count||Exit Poll||EP-VC Diff.|
|District||Ward #s||VC-R||VC-D||VC-Tot*||VC%R||VC%D||EP-R||EP-D||EP-Tot||EP%R||EP%D||EP%D - VC%D|
|14||Baraboo 7, 8,9,10||453||695||1148||39.5%||60.5%||113||364||477||23.7%||76.3%||15.8%|
|8||Menomonee Falls 14,15,21||1351||605||1956||69.1%||30.9%||421||303||724||58.1%||41.9%||10.9%|
|*includes absentee ballots: Baraboo=97, Pardeeville=40, Shorewood=354, Menomonee=283, Butler not known|