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.

 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%
14 Pardeeville 1,2,3 286 426 712 40.2% 59.8% 139 299 438 31.7% 68.3% 8.4%
8 Shorewood 9,10,11,12 484 1349 1833 26.4% 73.6% 155 845 1000 15.5% 84.5% 10.9%
8 Menomonee Falls  14,15,21 1351 605 1956 69.1% 30.9% 421 303 724 58.1% 41.9% 10.9%
8 Butler  1,2,3 397 200 597 66.5% 33.5% 63 63 126 50.0% 50.0% 16.5%
  *includes absentee ballots: Baraboo=97, Pardeeville=40, Shorewood=354, Menomonee=283, Butler not known                      

"Creating Reality": The Method Soros Et Al Seem Determined To Overlook

The New York Review of Books

June 10, 2011

To the Editors:

George Soros ("My Philanthropy," New York Review of Books, 5/23/11) paints a discouraging picture of an America in thrall to the Orwellian "Newspeak" now peddled to seeming perfection by the GOP. Citing Karl Rove's reported claim that he "didn't have to study reality; he could create it," Soros attributes the GOP's "competitive advantage in electoral politics" to the "adoption of Orwellian techniques [by] the Republican propaganda machine." He goes on to caution that "[a]lthough democracy has much deeper roots in America than in [Weimar] Germany, it is not immune to deliberate deception," and that the idea that America will cease to be a democracy and an open society is "a very likely prospect." This seems about as far as any alarmed observer is willing to go in adumbrating the causes for the strange, perplexing, and seemingly inexorable veer to the right America has taken over the past decade, Obama's election notwithstanding.

But why should "creating reality" draw the line at Newspeak and propaganda? Why not, with privatized and partisan control of the voting apparatus itself, far more reliably and tidily “create the reality” of electoral victory in the darkness of cyberspace?

The advent and proliferation of computerized voting has created, over the past decade, opportunities for outcome-determinative electoral manipulation on a mass scale. The vulnerabilities have been documented by top-line researchers from Princeton to Johns Hopkins to the Congressional GAO. The far right-wing pedigree of the major voting equipment vendors and servicers is no secret. And the "red shift" (vote counts to the right of exit polls, tracking polls, and hand-counts) has been consistent and pervasive in competitive elections since 2002--including the Democratic victories of 2006 and 2008, where 11th-hour political developments turned close elections into manipulation-masking blowouts.

Americans, and particularly the American media, seem content to ignore all this and blithely place full and unquestioning faith in secret vote counting and the fait accompli of computerized tabulation. The towering never-happen-here wall of denial ("America is the beacon of democracy!") sustains this weird credulity in the face of cheating scandals in virtually every sport and throughout the financial world. But American elections are the highest stakes "game" of all and, if Soros is to be taken seriously, America is already a long way from the beacon of democracy we have all taken for granted. We have observed highly unethical tactics (e.g., sending out thousands of flyers to African-American homes stating that the election is Wednesday) employed in plain view and with increasing frequency to create the “reality” of electoral victory.

Is there really a bright ethical line between sending out "Vote Wednesday" flyers and just flipping votes inside an optical scanner?

Perhaps the American public is less susceptible to right-wing Newspeak than Soros laments. Perhaps millions more than we are led to believe see through the lies and propaganda and cast their votes accordingly. And perhaps those votes, counted in secret (how is what we do any different from handing our votes to a little man who retreats behind a curtain and emerges to tell us who won?), are not counted as cast.  Unless we return to observable, public vote counting--which necessarily means by humans--how will we ever know? 

Do we truly deserve a democracy if we are not willing as a citizenry to reassume the very modest burden of counting our own votes? And are we, George Soros included, comfortable with even the possibility that our democracy, in thrall to Election Night convenience and the reality creation of ends-justify-the-means true-believers, will fall to such a cheap trick?

Jonathan Simon

Executive Director

An Open Letter To The Media

April 8, 2011

To every Journalist and Media Reformer assembled here in Boston:

How does the Big Lie flourish and prosper? By being criminal beyond belief. By operating in safety behind a towering “never happen here” wall of denial. By a foolish assumption of immunity. By being too big a story to be a story within the bounds of journalistic decorum.

The gruesome truth is that American elections can be rigged and are being rigged because the American media treats election rigging as something that—all evidence notwithstanding—could never happen here. Period, end of story, move on.

And we are moving on. To an unrecognizable America. An America in which, when even obscene amounts of cash can’t buy enough votes, those votes can be manufactured (added, switched, deleted wholesale) in the darkness of cyberspace. It’s too easy. And it’s happening. A Big Lie is consuming America.

We ask each of you in turn—reporter, editor, commentator, reformer—are you willing to sit back and let this happen on your watch? Can you take 15 minutes to stand before this picture, taking it in, and then ask yourself, if we have been persuasive, what you are going to do?

Let’s begin with the voting and counting process itself. It is now virtually everywhere in America a computerized process and those computers are under the proprietary control of a handful of corporations. Would you cheerfully hand your vote to a little man behind a curtain and wait for him to come back out and tell you who won? What if he were wearing a “Peace” button, or a “Palin-For-President” button, or some other partisan identifier?

How is what we are doing as we vote in America any different?

Study after study—from Princeton, to Johns Hopkins, to NYU’s Brennan Center, to the California Secretary of State’s office, to the GAO itself (see http://tinyurl.com/3hz7xj2)—conclude that this counting process is obscenely vulnerable to insider manipulation and outsider hacking. So have many studies examining computerized voting abroad—which is why countries such as Germany, Ireland, and Holland have begun turning back to human counted ballots. There is consensus verging on unanimity among the experts.

How comfortable are you with that? Can you go about your business with democracy hanging from such a thin thread, with America that exposed to a silent coup?

Perhaps we should leave it there. Because it makes sense, does it not, that we can’t continue to accept the risk of systemic sabotage inherent in such a counting process. Not when a return to public hand counting of the federal and statewide contests would restore transparency and remove the risk of wholesale manipulation, at a civic burden far smaller than jury duty. Surely we can take a few hours every two years to count some votes for our democracy.

It is a slam dunk. Or should be. Except . . . , as with global warming and other incipient disasters, mere vulnerability to something that might happen proves to be a poor motivator of decisive and courageous action. We reform in the wake of calamity, not in anticipation of it.

And here we come to the crux of our dilemma and to our Catch-22. Because as long as we speak or write about vulnerabilities and hypotheticals, there seems to be at least the hope of dialogue. Heck, some among the media—Lou Dobbs comes to mind—have raised the very issue in the run-up to elections: “Will Your Vote Be Counted? Tune in tomorrow.” But that permissible question proves transient, and it evaporates as the votes are counted on Election Night and following. Any attempt to offer evidence of actual manipulation, actual theft? Not welcome. Forget it. Omerta.

How come? Is it because it remains beyond the pale of belief that such easy vulnerability is actually being exploited? This even in the age of Barry Bonds, A-Rod, Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, Bernie Madoff, Goldman Sachs, and the whole parade of high-stakes cheating scandals, not to mention the mounting wave of cybercrime, to which even sophisticated financial institutions and the Pentagon have proven vulnerable?

Elections are the highest stakes game of all, the Grand Prize for the ethically challenged power seeker, king maker, or true believer.

But America is the Beacon of Democracy dammit—it could never happen here.

So Americans are instructed—by you, the media—to accept
on pure faith that those in control of, or having access to, our privatized and concealed voting systems will devoutly serve the public trust rather than any conflicting private or partisan agenda. Any evidence that this faith is misplaced is ignored. Too dangerous. Too destablizing. Too disturbing. Too un-American. And yet, without this evidence, everything is just hypothetical, vulnerable, possible, and there is no imperative for change.

So we now bring forth a synopsis of the “evidence,” knowing well that it has been as indigestible as shards of glass. We know of no easy way to make it go down. We know only that we continue to ignore it at our great peril. The grave of a democracy is a mass grave—there’s room for all of us.

Let’s begin with who is doing the counting. Look into the pedigrees of ES&S and Diebold/Premier/Dominion, corporations that supply and program the equipment. Look further into the “boots on the ground” outfits—such as Triad, LHS, SmartTech—that have or have had critical roles in the “processing” of votes. Check up on the background and affiliations of the Urosevich brothers, Bob and Todd, and some of the other figures (remember Wally O’Dell, Chair of Diebold?) involved in the private and secretive world of computerized vote counting. You will find this world populated and controlled by a cadre of radical right-wingers, many with strong connections to the Christian Far-Right. An odd group, don’t you agree, to entrust with the secret counting of our nation’s votes.

We might ask, for starters, what drew such a radically partisan crowd to this particular niche--there’s not much business profit in it: before some Justice Dept. reshuffling, ES&S recently acquired
all of Diebold/Premier’s voting operations for $5 million, about the value of a single large-county equipment contract.

We could stop there: extreme systemic vulnerability under the opaque control of partisans who might be tempted—given what we know of human nature and what we have seen of ethics in our own era—to insert a few lines of code, put a thumb on the scale. Perhaps that would be enough to move you to determined and sustained action. Perhaps if you knew that tens of millions of votes are now “processed” on off-site, out-of-state servers run by outfits such as the late Mike Connell’s SmartTech, which took much of the 2004 Ohio vote to Chattanooga, Tennessee before returning it to county tabulators. Are you comfortable with that? Don’t you wonder why votes now have to be networked around and processed? Don’t you want to ask who is doing the processing?

There’s a chilling reality taking shape here and we might as well fill out the picture. There is something known as the “red shift.” It occurs when votecounts are more Republican (or more in favor of whatever candidate or ballot issue the Right supports) than the baselines—including exit polls, tracking polls, noncompetitive elections, and handcounts. Since 2002 the red shift has been pervasive. That’s right: for all intents and purposes, there is no blue shift. The votecounts are virtually always shifted in the same direction, election after election after election. Same with the huge catalogue of purported “glitches” and anomalies (in 2004, for example, the ratio of reported Kerry-to-Bush flips vs. Bush-to-Kerry flips—press one, get the other—on DREs was 20 to 1). Not random, not 50-50, as actual glitches would break. But to the right. Always to the right. Same direction as the pedigree of the vendors and programmers. We’re not making this up—it’s too easy to check.

Let’s hit the high notes:

  • 2002: Computerized voting was gaining a foothold in the wake of the Help America Vote Act, Mitch McConnell’s brainchild. The VNS (network) exit polls were withheld from the public (on the pretext of a system glitch), masking glaring disparities in at least several key contests, including the Georgia Senate (Cleland—13% swing from tracking polls) and Governor (Barnes), where unverifiable paperless DREs (touchscreens) had just been deployed, and where software “patches” were inserted by Diebold shortly before the election in 22,000 DREs. (see “Diebold and Max Cleland’s ‘Loss’ in Georgia,” by Robert F. Kennedy, in Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008, Mark C. Miller, Ed.; ig Publishing, Brooklyn NY 2008).

  • 2004: Computerized voting was predominant, with DREs and Optical Scan (Opscan) equipment counting more than 80% of the votes nationally. Ohio votes were “processed,” as noted above, in Tennessee. Exit polls showed Kerry the victor in Ohio. Votecounts were red-shifted, relative to exit polls, in 11 of the 12 “battleground” states. The networks and pollsters thereupon hastened to discredit their own polls, though they had been accurate enough for decades to permit early calls of even the tightest contests. It was put forward that Bush voters were more reluctant to respond to the exit polls, though careful analysis revealed that the highest level of exit poll response was in Bush strongholds and the hypothesis didn’t fit the data. Strangely there was no evidence of “reluctant Bush responder” dynamics in noncompetitive states. And the pollsters, in making the reluctant Bush responder excuse, conveniently forgot that they had weighted their polls to party ID in such a way as to neutralize any such response bias. Keith Olbermann bravely and briefly covered the uproar, then went on a long vacation and dropped it cold. (See Freeman, S. and Bleifuss, J. Was the 2004 presidential election stolen? Exit polls, election fraud, and the official count, Seven Stories Press, New York 2006)

  • 2005: Ohio again. Election reform ballot proposition, leading by 28% in Cleveland Plain Dealer tracking poll on the eve of the election, was defeated by 25% when the votes were counted, an overnight net swing of 53%; in the three other ballot propositions, the Plain Dealer poll was spot-on.

  • 2006: Now the real “fun” begins, because the capacity to manipulate had proliferated at the same time that our forensic tools had become more refined. The result is a measure of covert manipulation that was, or should have been, truly staggering (see http://electiondefensealliance.org/files/LandslideDenied_v.9_071507.pdf ; also reprinted in Loser Take All). There was a national red shift in the elections for the House of a total of 3 million votes, relative to exit polls (there was a comparable red shift relative to tracking polls and a comparable red shift in competitive Senate races). Of critical importance, this analysis could not be debunked on the basis of alleged exit poll sampling bias, because the sample was shown to be to the right, not the left, of the actual electorate. This analysis has never been challenged. No attempt has been made to refute it. It has simply been ignored. Additional analysis revealed a “targeting” pattern, in which the more competitive a contest the more likely it was to be red shifted, a pattern pathognomonic of rigging, as noncompetitive "blowout" races present margins too large to overcome without undue risk, and so are left alone to be counted accurately while competitive races are targeted and exhibit the telltale red shifts (see http://electiondefensealliance.org/files/FingerprintsOfElectionTheft.pdf ).

  • 2008: An Obama victory, Democratic sweep. Sound the All Clear, for why would the suspected manipulators rig to lose? They didn’t. They rigged to win. Once again, there was a massive red shift, even greater than in 2004 and 2006 (see Charnin R., Proving Election Fraud: Phantom Voters, Uncounted Votes, and the National Exit Poll, AuthorHouse, Bloomington IN, 2010). But, in both the 2006 and 2008 elections, unexpected 11th-hour events (in 2006 the Foley and related scandals, in 2008 the collapse of Lehmann Brothers and the subsequent market crash) dramatically altered the electoral dynamics (in 2006, for instance, the Democratic margin in the Cook Generic Congressional Ballot jumped from 9% in the first week of October to 26% the week of the election, a Republican freefall of epic proportions; a similar fate overcame McCain in the wake of the economy’s collapse). These political sea changes swamped a red shift that turned out to be under-calibrated, and they came too late to permit recalibration and redeployment of tainted memory cards and malicious code. The devil is in the details but all these red flags were again ignored, trampled in the Obama victory parade.

  • 2010: The Coakley-Brown special election here in Massachusetts was a shocking result that put the Tea Party on the map, took away the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority, and set expectations for a major move to the right in November. There were no exit polls, no spot checks, no audits, not a single check on the OpScan counts, not a single memory card examined for malicious code. A 100% pure, unadulterated, faith-based election. An election that could have been stolen with virtually zero risk and enormous reward. And guess what? In the 70 jurisdictions where ballots were hand-counted, Coakley won (see http://electiondefensealliance.org/files/BelieveIt_OrNot_100904.pdf ). In fact, statewide, there was an 8% disparity between hand count to computer count jurisdictions, a red shift in line with that measured in 2004, 2006, and 2008, and enough to reverse the outcome and avoid a recount. Well perhaps those hand count jurisdictions were more Democratic (they weren’t, they were more Republican); perhaps they were in Coakley’s part of the state (they weren’t; in fact, in her only other statewide race, a noncompetitive race, she did better in the OpScan than the handcount jurisdictions). In fact we examined and ruled out every benign explanation for the huge and outcome-determinative disparity.

Next up was a Democratic primary in South Carolina which pitted a known and respected candidate (Judge Vic Rawl) against a cipher (Alvin Greene) who made zero campaign appearances, didn’t have so much as a website, was facing indictment on pornography-related charges, and didn’t appear to have the personal funds needed for the election filing fee. The contest was for the nomination for US Senate, and a November match-up with incumbent Republican Jim DeMint, against whom Rawl had already closed to 7% in tracking polls. The votes were tallied on paperless DREs—the darkest of cyberspace. Greene “won” with 59% of the vote. Rawl brought a challenge before the Democratic State Committee. Several election integrity experts testified, citing, among other gross anomalies, huge disparities between early/absentee votes counted by OpScan and the DRE tallies. Greene did not appear. The Committee reacted favorably to Rawl’s challenge through the hearing, went into closed session, voted by an overwhelming margin to reject the challenge and close the matter (see http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7902 ).

Which brings us to the general election this past November, a great sweep for the Tea Party and the Right, with seismic implications for our nation. You’d think that by now the professionals at Edison/Mitofsky and the National Election Pool (NEP) would figure out how to get those exit polls right but, once again, we found our old friend the red shift—everywhere we looked. In the Senate elections (16 out of 18 competitive races red shifted), the Governorship elections (11 out of 13 races red shifted), and in the House (a total red shift of 1.9 million votes). We are still at work on the analysis but these are glaring red flags. Even more glaring is a comparison with 2006, where an election-eve Democratic margin of 26% in the Generic Congressional Ballot (“who do you intend to vote for in the election for US House in your district?”) translated into a net gain of 58 House seats by the Democrats. In 2010, however, a Republican Generic Congressional Ballot margin of 9% translated into a net gain of 125 seats and the epic sweep the media reported at face value.

A tad unsettling? Then add this to the pot. The infrastructure needed for election theft has become progressively more sophisticated and efficient. The off-site “processing” that, to our knowledge, pioneered in Ohio in 2004, has now been deployed in many more states. This mechanism allows real-time targeting and calibration of manipulations, which was not possible with pre-set, memory card-based rigs. So under-calibration (as occurred in 2006 and 2008), as well as over-calibration, are a thing of the past. Using the off-site processing scheme, aka “man in the middle attack,” votecounts can be altered surgically and elections stolen with a tidy and tiny numerical footprint. Election theft will become harder and harder to detect—unless someone is motivated to seriously investigate the off-site, out-of-state IP networks now “processing” our votes.

Perhaps you are about to protest, “Well these are all just numbers. What we need to see is real evidence. Then maybe we’ll do something.” Sorry, there is no “real” evidence. We, the public, have no access to memory cards, machines, hardware, software, code. It’s all proprietary, off-limits even to the government, secret. That’s the whole point: we are entrusting our nation and the bedrock protocol of its democracy to a concealed, secret process that keeps waving bright numerical red flags (as well as an endless parade of unidirectional “glitches” and anomalies), which you can choose to ignore because “they’re only numbers.” But numbers, if you can keep your eyes from glazing over, paint a picture. And the numbers can’t be what they’ve been for a decade now if elections are not being rigged. It’s as simple as that.

But we’re not quite done yet. Because even the numbers are beginning to lie. Our baselines—all except the surviving smattering of handcounts—are part of a feedback loop and are themselves being distorted—you guessed it!—to the right. Here’s why.

The pollsters—under the imperative to get elections right or go out of business—have all now turned to a tunable fudge factor known as the Likely Voter Cutoff Model (LVCM), which skews their samples about 5-8% to the right by disproportionately eliminating from the sample constituencies of the left, such as young, transient, poor, and non-white respondents (see http://electiondefensealliance.org/files/TheLVCM.pdf ). As if that were not enough, both exit polls and pre-election polls are now weighted using demographic baselines drawn from the "adjusted" exit polls from prior elections. Since these adjustments are always to the right, to bring the exit polls to conformity with the votecounts (i.e., on the gospel assumption that the exit polls are always wrong, in the same direction, and the votecounts always right), and carry the demographics along to the right in the process, both current exit polls and pre-election polls are further skewed to the right. The unadjusted exit polls—themselves red shifted by this weighting process but lacking the LVCM to complete the distortion—remain somewhat to the left of the votecounts, but the pre-election polls, with the combined distortions of false-stratification and the LVCM pushing them anywhere up to 10% to the right, manage to accurately predict the electoral outcomes in competitive races. These methodologically contorted polls can get election results consistently right only if those election results are consistently wrong—that is, votecounts manipulated so that they no longer reflect the collective intent of the voting populace. In short, rigged elections. Here. In America. On your watch.

  • 2011: There is a story in Wisconsin. It’s a miracle! 7582 votes magically found for the Republican candidate (found by a former employee of that candidate) in another “proxy” election with seismic implications. Just exactly enough votes to dodge the mandatory recount that would have revealed . . . who knows? And not revealed until two days post-election, when the magic number of votes required for that purpose finally became known.  Yet another coincidence? There’s a story in Wisconsin. It has the potential to blow the lid off the Big Lie. Anyone want to cover it?

I think that brings us up to date, though so very much has been left out in deference to time, space, and the modern attention span. We whose work is elections forensics have gathered data, performed analyses, presented evidence, proposed solutions, and begged for action for nearly a decade. The American media has covered its ears or, if it has listened at all, has, with a very few brave exceptions, scoffed. We are here at this “Reform” conference against our better judgment, trying perhaps one last time to open eyes to a reality none of us wishes to contemplate, but no less a reality for that. A threat of such enormity demands unblinking investigation, sustained rather than desultory attention, and individual and collective courage. Anything less and the Big Lie continues to flourish, corroding and destroying all that we are so proud of in our history.

All we can do is lay it out, piece by piece. You can, having read it, shrug, scoff, concoct contorted “benign explanations,” go on about your business as usual, let someone else deal with it.

Consider the following statement by Law Professor Stephen Carter, appearing in a recent Newsweek:

I often assign my law students Kazuo Ishiguro’s 1989 novel The Remains of the Day, the tale of the perfect English butler struggling to come to terms with the sins of the great nobleman he once served. Today, we professionals constantly justify ourselves and our own conduct on the grounds that we are merely serving the interests of someone else—our clients, our readers, our viewers, our constituents. Ishiguro’s gracefully written novel forces us to confront the question whether, in serving others, we are yielding our human responsibility to make serious moral judgments.

Perhaps you will find within it inspiration. Perhaps you will, within your capacity as a journalist and guardian of the truth, choose to act.


Jonathan D. Simon
Executive Director, Election Defense Alliance


The Likely Voter Cutoff Model: What Is So Wrong About Getting It Right?

Jonathan D. Simon1

March 17, 2011


Logic tells us, and experience confirms, that political pollsters stay in business and prosper by predicting election outcomes accurately. Pollsters are now publicly ranked by various scorekeepers (see, e.g., the Fordham University 2008 ranking: http://www.fordham.edu/campus_resources/enewsroom/archives/archive_1453.asp) according to how brilliantly close or embarrassingly far off they turn out to be when the returns come in. A “Certificate of Methodological Purity” may make a nice wall ornament, but matters not at all when it comes to success within the highly competitive polling profession.

If election returns in competitive races were being systematically manipulated in one direction over a period of several biennial elections, we would expect pollsters to make methodological adjustments necessary to match those returns. Indeed it would be nothing short of professional suicide not to make those adjustments, and turn whatever methodological handsprings were required to continue “getting elections right.”

In the computerized election era—where virtually every aspect of the vote counting process is privatized and concealed; where study after study, from Princeton to the GAO, has concluded that the vote counting computers are extremely vulnerable to manipulation; and where statistical analyses pointing to such manipulation have been reflexively dismissed, no matter how compelling—it may be that the methodological contortions required for pollsters to “get elections right” constitute the most powerful evidence that computer-based election fraud and theft are systemic and rampant.

Enter the Likely Voter Cutoff Model, or LVCM for short. Introduced by Gallup about 10 years ago (after Gallup came under the control of a right-wing Christianist heir), the LVCM has gathered adherents until it is now all-but-universally employed, albeit with certain fine-tuning variations. The LVCM uses a series of screening questions—about past voting history, residential stability, intention of voting, and the like—to qualify and disqualify respondents from the sample. The problem with surveying the population at large or even registered voters, without screening for likelihood of voting, is obvious: you wind up surveying a significant number of voters whose responses register on the survey but who then don’t vote. If this didn’t-vote constituency has a partisan slant it throws off the poll relative to the election results—generally to the left, since as you move to the right on the political spectrum the likelihood of voting rises.

But the problem with the LVCM as a corrective is that it far overshoots the mark: that is, it eliminates individuals from the sample who will in fact cast a vote, and the respondents/voters so eliminated, as a group, are acknowledged by all to be to the left of those who remain in the sample, skewing the sample to the right (a sound methodology, employed for a time by the NYTimes/CBS poll, would solve the participation problem by down-weighting, but not eliminating, the responses of interviewees less likely to vote). So the LVCM—which disproportionately eliminates members of the Democratic constituency, including many who will in fact go on to cast a vote, by falsely assigning them a zero percent chance of voting—should get honestly tabulated elections consistently wrong. It should over-predict the Republican/Right vote and under-predict the Democratic/Left vote, most often by an outcome-determinative 5-8% in competitive elections.

Instead it performs brilliantly and has therefore been universally adopted by pollsters, no questions asked, not just in the run-up to elections as in the past, but now all year round, setting expectations not just for electoral outcomes but for broad political trends, contributing to perceptions of political mojo and driving political dynamics—rightward, of course. In fact, the most “successful” LVCM models are now the ones that are strictest in limiting participation, including those that eliminate all respondents who cannot attest that they have voted in the three preceding biennial elections, cutting off a slew of young, poor, and transient voters. The impact of this exclusion in 2008 should have been particularly devastating, givens the millions of new voters turned out by the Democrats. Instead the LVCM got 2008 just about right (we note in passing that an extraordinary, 11th-hour Republican freefall, triggered by the collapse of Lehman Bros. and the subsequent economic crash, produced an Obama victory in the face of a “red shift”—votecounts more Republican and less Democratic than the exit polls—even greater than that measured in 2004). Pollster Scott Rasmussen, formerly a paid consultant to the 2004 Bush campaign, employs the LVCM most stringently to winnow the sample, eliminating more would-be Democratic voters than most if not all of his professional colleagues. A quick survey of his polls at www.rasmussenreports.com shows a nation unrecognizably canted to the right, and yet Rasmussen Reports was ranked “the most accurate national polling firm in the 2008 election” and close to the top in 2004 and 2006.

There is something very wrong with this picture and very basic logic tells us that the methodological contortion known as the LVCM can get election results so consistently right only if those election results are consistently wrong—that is, shifted to the right in the darkness of cyberspace.

A moment to let that sink in, before adding that, if the LVCM shift is not enough to distort the picture and catch up with the “red-shifted” votecounts, polling (and exit polling) samples are also generally weighted by partisanship or Party ID. The problem with this is that these Party ID numbers are generally drawn from prior elections’ final exit polls—exit polls that were “adjusted” in virtually every case rightward to conform to votecounts that were to the right of the actual exit polls, the unshakable assumption being that the votecounts are gospel and the exit polls therefore wrong. In the process of “adjustment,” also known as “forcing,” the demographics (including Party ID, age, race, etc.) are dragged along for the ride and shift to the right. These then become the new benchmarks and baselines for current polling, shifting the samples to the right and enabling prior election manipulations to mask forensic/statistical evidence of current and future election manipulations.

To sum up, we have a right-shifting tunable fudge factor in the LVCM, now universally employed with great success to predict electoral outcomes, particularly when tuned to its highest degree of distortion. And we have the incorporation of past election manipulations into current polling samples, again pushing the results to the right. These methodological contortions and distortions could not be successful—in fact they would put the pollsters quickly out of business—absent a consistent concomitant distortion in the votecounts in competitive races.

Since polls and election outcomes are, after some shaky years following the advent of computerized vote counting, now in close agreement (though still not exit polls, which are weighted to false demographics but of course do not employ the LVCM, and therefore still come in consistently to the left of votecounts until they are “adjusted” rightward to conformity), everything looks just fine. But it is a consistency brought about by the polling profession’s imperative to find a way to mirror/predict votecounts (imagine, if you will, the professional fate of a pollster employing undistorted methodology, who insisted that his/her polls were right and both the official votecounts and all the other pollsters wrong!). It is a consistency, achieved without malice on the part of the pollsters, which almost certainly conceals the most horrific crime, with the most devastating consequences, of our lifetimes.

1 Jonathan D. Simon, JD, is Executive Director of Election Defense Alliance.

EDA Supports Request for Recount in Wisconsin High Court Election

On Wednesday, April 20, JoAnne Kloppenburg, the challenger to Justice David Prosser in the April 5 Wisconsin State Supreme Court race, officially requested a statewide recount.

Jonathan Simon, EDA's Executive Director, had analyzed the results of a recent state-wide contest in Wisconsin for Attorney General, and had compared the results with the current contest. His spreadsheet analysis was sent to Kloppenburg and her campaign to help demonstrate how the official results in this current high-stakes race were highly improbable.

We do not, of course, know what the recount will reveal. The ballot chain of custody is a major concern: who has had access to the ballots between the evening of April 5 and whenever it is that the recount will actually take place? Unfortunately there has been plenty of time for ballots to have been swapped out and replaced. Judy Alter of Los Angeles, an active EDA Coordinator, continues to work with union leaders in WI to play a role in helping protect the ballots. She had previously organized them to help protect the count in a few key areas of the state.

Election Defense Alliance is prepared to offer any support or assistance asked of us.


Preliminary Election Assessment

Election Defense Alliance Preliminary Election Assessment
November 11, 2010

 by Jonathan Simon 

The American people have voted and spoken. And, if you believe that the 75 million-plus votes that were sent into the privatized darkness of cyberspace emerged from that darkness as cast, then you have before you The American Self-Portrait, taken every two years and carried around in all our mental wallets till the next election.

Perhaps to you it is a grim portrait. Perhaps it doesn’t seem to make sense, given the underlying national realities. Or perhaps it does seem to make sense, in light of the stacked electoral money game and all those polls that predicted and prepared us for this outcome.

It is our sad duty to inform you that, once again, the Portrait appears to be a fake.

At EDA we are still crunching numbers, reviewing disparities and anomalies, and will have much more detailed findings and analyses to report in the coming weeks. But the preliminary indications are clear: a dramatic nationwide pattern of “red shifts” (votecounts more Republican than exit polls) in the Senate and Governors’ races; an aggregate red shift in the contests for the House; a huge catalogue of “glitches” and anomalies, and quite a few “impossible” results across the nation, beginning with the barely scrutinized primaries.

The truth is that America, while increasingly polarized, remains very closely divided. It doesn’t take many added, deleted, or shifted votes to reverse outcomes across the land and to dramatically alter the Self-Portrait that emerges. Examining, for example, the Battle for the House, a total of fewer than 50,000 Democratic votes instead of Republican in the closest contests would have left the House under Democratic control. The red shift we uncovered for the House races nationwide was 1.7% or 1.25 million votes, twenty-five times those 50,000 votes that constituted the national Republican “victory” margin.

There are signs that real-time calibrating of votes needed to “win” targeted races is becoming easier, and the vote processing infrastructure to enable such exploits proliferating. EDA is attempting to investigate these developments, which make it possible to steal more elections while stealing fewer votes, leaving barely a numerical footprint.

EDA is also probing the polling methodologies that have yielded red-shifted polls to match red-shifted elections, making everything seem right enough. We know, for instance, that the now universally adopted sampling protocol known as the Likely Voter Cutoff Model is a red-shifting, methodologically unjustifiable ploy that nonetheless accurately predicted last Tuesday’s results. EDA is asking “Why?” We expect to issue a detailed study of polling distortions and fudge factors in the coming weeks.

We at EDA are accustomed and fairly hardened to nights like last Tuesday by now. The most maddening part for us may well be listening to the Wednesday post-mortem analyses in which very astute pundits on, say, CNN or NPR read the tea leaves with straight faces and 100% faith in the gospel of the official results as their unquestioned premise. Official results that we, sleepless and still crunching numbers in an attempt to keep honest score at home, had already recognized as likely lies.

Excepting Dan Rather on HDNet TV on October 26, there have been virtually no journalists courageous enough to tell this story. Much of our work going forward will be to persuade those same pundits and opinion leaders to scale the towering wall of never-happen-here denial that is putting our nation at such grave risk.

How many more elections can our democracy survive with the use of concealed vote-counting, where there is no meaningful oversight by citizens, election officials, or the media? How many more elections where the will of the public is ignored? Time is running out on our democracy.

We must get the facts about our electoral system into public dialogue to create a foundation for a rational and unblinking examination of evidence and for serious investigation.

If anyone reading this has access to any public figures who might help us get the word out, please write to us at info@ElectionDefenseAlliance.org as soon as possible.

If you cannot help with contacts, please consider a tax-deductible gift. We need to hire a PR firm as another means to broadcast this news. http://ElectionDefenseAlliance.org/donate.

For a more detailed look at the big picture, see Joan Brunwasser’s OpEdNews interview with Jonathan Simon: http://www.opednews.com/articles/Jonathan-Simon-of-Election-by-Joan-Brunwasser-101027-150.html.

Protect the Count 2010 - This is what NH is doing; What are you doing in your state?

DID YOU KNOW the computer-based voting machine NH uses to count up to 85% of our votes is the SAME Diebold AccuVote model that recorded minus 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Florida in 2000?

NH state election officials knew. But most citizens and local election officials still don’t know these machines are vulnerable to hacking.

Citizens are spreading the word. Across the country, one person, one town and one state at a time, we are taking back our elections.

Fact: If your community uses a voting machine, it is the Diebold AccuVote. The software is trade secret and takes no oath of allegiance. Nobody sees the votes being counted and nobody knows if the count is real.

Fact: It takes less than 6 seconds for a single untrained person to hand count a single contest on a ballot in a publicly observable vote count. Experienced counters average half this time and good counting teams consist of 2-4 people, significantly reducing the amount of time to hand count votes. And in a public hand count, everyone knows the results are real!

Want to help secure the public vote count in NH? We are New Hampshire citizens just like you, and we all need to help out to make sure we get real election results this year!


Kos, "Raw Data," and the Mainstream Media

Michael Collins

When DailyKos publisher and owner Markos Moulitsas demanded that his pollster produce raw data from the polls Moulitsas purchased, he established a principle of election polling transparency that could open up the checkered history of presidential elections in the United States.

The controversy erupted when Moulitsas (kos) fired his polling company.  He was unhappy with their results and demanded that his pollster, Research 2000 (R2000), turn over raw data for review.  Moulitsas said:

"Early in this process, I asked for and they offered to provide us with their raw data for independent analysis -- which could potentially exculpate them. That was two weeks ago, and despite repeated promises to provide us that data, Research 2000 ultimately refused to do so."  kos

When R2000 either refused or delayed (there's disagreement on that), kos took their actions as a sign of "fraudulent polling practices" (from the kos lawsuit).  DailyKos published a searing criticism of R2000 and the National Council on Public Polls supported kos in his demand that R2000 release the raw polling data.  Blogger Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com and the New York Times supported kos, as well.

The request by kos is well justified.  He'd paid for the polling.  Like any customer in this type of arrangement, he had a right to the product of the work done in his behalf.

Reviewing the basis for the polling results, particularly the raw data and the analytic methods, could answer two key questions:  1) were the polls actually conducted and 2) did  the techniques used meet the professional standards of  other polling organizations.

The president of R2000, Del Ali, defended his polling and denied any and all accusations of improper conduct:  "Every charge against my company and myself are pure lies, plain and simple, and the motives as to why Kos is doing it will be revealed in the legal process and not before that."  Some of the criticisms of R2000 polling methods have been answered by independent analysis at RichardCharnin.com

We don't know how the law suits will turn out.  But without much doubt, the  raw data will be released at trial or during the discovery phase.

But there is  a much bigger case for releasing raw polling data, one that has a profound impact on our history as a nation.  That raw data, requested time and again, is the polling data from the 2004 National Exit Poll, sponsored by a consortium of mainstream media organizations (Associated Press, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox).

The Other Raw Data - Election 2004


The 2004 election was marred with controversy throughout the country.  Florida and Ohio received the most attention.  Had Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry won Ohio, he would have achieved an Electoral College victory.  This had an enduring impact on public confidence in the 2004 presidential election.  By September 2006, only 45% of registered voters surveyed were “very confident” Bush won election “fair and square.”

The situation in Ohio was so questionable, an ad hoc congressional hearing was held to examine the irregularities.  Current House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) led the congressional delegation.  He presented his findings in the report, Preserving Democracy:  What Went Wrong in Ohio.

Conyers made requests for the 2004 exit poll raw data but was turned down  (Congressman wants 'raw' exit poll data).  Without that critical raw data, the results in Ohio and nationwide could not be fully reviewed and analyzed.

Others including Richard Charnin (TruthIsAll) in (Proving Election Fraud), Michael Keefer, Mark Crispin Miller, Steve Freeman, and the Election Defense Alliance provide compelling arguments to question 2004 and subsequent election results (see Landslide Denied, 2006).  But like the Rep. Conyers and his 2004 inquiry, they were not allowed to review raw exit poll data from 2004.

At the root of any demonstration of election fairness or fraud is an examination of the raw data and methodologies used by the mainstream media's hand picked  polling.   This is the only national data that we have.  The results of the exit polls are presented after statistical analysis but without full access to the analytic methods used or the actual raw data gathered

When kos asked for R2000's  raw data, he made an important and principled demand.

It follows that it's an even more important and more principled demand that, at long last, the mainstream media consortium that controls the 2004  exit poll raw data release that data for open examination (and other years, as well).  These aren't their election.  They belong to the people.  We have a right to verify their accuracy.

Kos will have his day in court.  He will see the raw data as a result of his law suit filed on July 1.   Now it's time for the people to see the raw data from their elections.  Let us determine if the  suspicions of election fraud are justified.

But it's been six years since Representative John Conyers and others requested the exit poll raw data  to determine if election fraud was responsible for four more years of  George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

It is now time to release all of the raw data from all the presidential election exit polls to determine if those who claim to spread democracy throughout the world are actually practicing it at home.

As the National Council on Public Polls said, "public disclosure of all the relevant information about the polls in dispute will provide a solid basis for resolving this controversy."   The council was referring to the kos - R2000 dispute but the same principle applies to exit poll data controlled by the mainstream media.

It's time to know how our history is made and who's making it.


N.B.  The official 2004 exit poll results released by the mainstream media pollsters had to be contorted to show a Bush victory.  Their official polling showed that Bush supposedly won 2004  in the nation's big cities, not the Red states, as broadcast to the public:   see Election 2004:  The Urban Legend.

This article may be reproduced in whole or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

The Right Kind of Election Reform

Real Election Reform Supports Real Elections

The only election reform voting rights advocates should lobby for is that which will protect real elections by ensuring what Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting calls "the essential public processes":

  • Who can vote (the public "voters list")
  • Who did vote (the public polling place roster)
  • Whether the votes cast were the same ones that were counted (public chain of custody)
  • Whether the counting was accurate (public counting)

To this end, election reform efforts must have a laser-sharp focus. The legislation itself must be clearly written and very simple, just like the U.S. Constitution!

The Right Kind of Election Reform

By Nancy Tobi

What Do We Need from Election Reform?

In May 2006 when I was invited to speak at the "Cleaning up our Statehouses" Conference sponsored by the Progressive State Network, I spoke about the role that community and local involvement play in building our political structures. I began by telling about Democracy for New Hampshire, a statewide grassroots organization that I helped to found in the early days of 2004.

The sentiments I held then still hold true for me now and I include some of the words I spoke at that conference in this piece.

Organizations like Election Defense Alliance and Democracy for New Hampshire are true grassroots organizations. We are 100% volunteer-powered sustained by small donor funding. As a people-powered organization, we are intensely and directly connected to community needs and values.

In New Hampshire, we know a lot about the importance of community and community-based political engagement. We have the largest citizen legislature in the nation, our elected representatives are eminently accessible, in many of our towns we debate community and political decisions in open town meetings, and in 45% of our polling places we count our ballots by hand with community members and volunteers pitching in to keep the count honest.

Looking at electoral reform, we face three challenges directly related to this question of community-based politics:

1. How do we prevent a lot of hard work at the state and local levels from being swept away by federal mandates?

2. How do we bring more on-the-ground stakeholders into the process to reach solutions that really work?

3. What is the intersection between clean and honest elections and citizen participation in the process?

America finds itself today in an electoral crisis. Faith and trust in our voting systems have eroded to the point where the question of campaign funding almost becomes irrelevant. Indisputable testing and evidence have proven that the privatized computer-based systems controlling more than 90-95% of the nation's electoral outcomes are easily hack-able. Given this situation, it may not even matter how much money one does or doesn't spend on a campaign, if the outcome can be systematically altered.

This state of affairs, combined with the role played by money in our political system, is possibly the greatest threat ever posed to our democratic processes and therefore to the existence of the AmericanRepublic itself.

How did we reach this point, and what does it have to do with this notion of community?

Over the past thirty five years a series of national election reform legislation has progressively shifted power from community, we-the-people-based politics, to more centralized and questionable influences.

Elena Kagan - Willing Accomplice in the Siegelman Affair

Michael Collins

Should Elena Kagan be approved as a justice to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States?

As it turns out there's a supremely simple method of testing her suitability.  Once applied, citizens of any political persuasion will see that her nomination should be rejected outright.

As Solicitor General of the United States, Kagan argued against an appeal to the Supreme Court by former Alabama Governor, Don Siegelman in November, 2009.   The Siegelman prosecution is viewed by many as one of the gravest injustices of the modern era, a purely political prosecution initiated by the Gonzales Justice Department.

Forty four former state attorneys general were so concerned that they issued a public petition on Siegelman's behalf in 2007.  The petition to the United States House of Representatives urged prompt investigation of the many shady dealings in the Siegelman case, before, during and after his trial.  They framed their petition in this simple sentence:  "The U.S. justice system should be above reproach."  It wasn't.

In 2009, ninety-one former state attorneys general filed a friend of the court brief supporting Siegelman's appeal to the Supreme Court.  They argued, "clear legal standards are required to protect individuals from politically-motivated prosecutions based on conduct that is ingrained in our campaign finance system and has always been considered legal."  That's a discrete way of saying Siegelman's prosecution and conviction was politically motivated.

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