Harold Lecar, Election Data Analysis Coordinator

Harold LecarHarold Lecar is professor of biophysics and neurobiology at the University of California Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Columbia in 1963, working on masers with C. H. Townes.

From 1963 to 1985, he was a research physicist at the Biophysics Lab of the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke, doing theoretical and experimental research on the mechanisms of nerve excitation.

Among his major research findings in that era, (mainly done with two physicist friends, Gerry Ehrenstein and Ralph Nossal) were: the stochastic theory of neural threshold fluctuations, the observation of the single-molecule gating of ion channels, and the statistical mechanical picture of how gated ion channels produce nerve excitation.

He was one of the of the developers of the patch-clamp method for studying the behavior of ion channels in excitable cells grown in tissue culture, which opened the door to the current picture of the membrane proteins underlying all excitation in the nervous system. 

With Cathy Morris, he developed the Morris-Lecar equations -- two-dimensional simplification of nerve-excitation -- which is now universally used to describe oscillatory behavior in excitable cells.

In 1985, he received the US Public Health Service Special Recognition Award for "contributions to the understanding of the role of membrane ionic channels in producing electrical excitability and for pioneering work in advancing single-channel."

Since 1985, he has been professor of biophysics and neurobiology at UC Berkeley. Dr. Lecar has published three books, "Methods of Experimental Physics:Biophysics", (with Gerald Ehrenstein, 1982), "Voltage  and Patch Clamping with Microelectrodes", (with Tom Smith, 1985), and "Molecular and Cell Biophysics", (with Ralph Nossal, 1991).

Harold started working on election problems in 2000, when he watched the Florida election results going monotonically up for Bush (and then monotonically down) in the final two hours of the vote count -- hardly what is expected for a random process with approximately 50-50 a-priori probability.

As did many election integrity workers, he watched aghast as the 2004 election was being stolen in real time, with contested state after contested state mysteriously reversing late in the day.  Two weeks after the election, he was one of the initial members of Berkeley's Voting Rights Task Force and took on analysis as his prime responsibility.

Harold has delved into the numbers behind some of the strangest election results in recent American history, including the 2004 presidential elections in New Hampshire and Florida, the California gubernatorial recall, and a series of studies of third-party voting behavior in the 2004 California presidential election that defy political and numerical common sense.

The latter California anomalies were the basis for an effort pursued with Judy Alter and Dan Ashby, to find a government prosecutor with the subpoena power and will to follow staggeringly improbable vote counts to their source and find out if they were real. Various consulting election lawyers said none would, and ultimately, their pessimism proved correct. This effort was ultimately frustrated, but we learned a lot about the barriers to discovery built into election laws that prevent public examination of critical election evidence.

As a coordinator, Harold is eager to facilitate communication and exchange of technical ideas among members of the EDA Data Analysis Group, all of whose work he has studied and admired.