Election Forensics

E2014: A Basic (Chilling) Forensic Analysis

by Jonathan Simon

December 16, 2014

Any comparative forensic analysis is only as “good” as its baselines.  In Landslide Denied[1]—our archetypal post-election comparative forensics study, in which the “red shift” (the rightward disparity between exit poll and votecount results) was identified and measured—a critical component of the analysis was to establish that the exit poll respondents accurately represented the electorate.  We employed a meta-analysis of multiple measures of the demographics and political leanings of the electorate to demonstrate that the exit polls in question had not “oversampled” or over-represented Democratic or left-leaning voters (in fact any inaccuracy turned out to be in the opposite direction), and therefore that those polls constituted a valid baseline against which to measure the red-shifted votecounts.  In Fingerprints Of Election Theft,[2] we went further and removed all issues of sample bias from the equation by conducting a separate poll in which we asked the same set of respondents how they had voted in at least one competitive and one noncompetitive contest on their ballot.  The noncompetitive contests, being presumptively unsuitable targets for rigging, thus served as the baselines for the competitive contests, and the relative disparities could be compared without concern about any net partisan tendencies of the respondent group.
More recently we have commented on the feedback loop that develops between election results and polling/sampling methodologies, such that consistently and unidirectionally shifted votecounts trigger, in both pre-election and exit polls, methodological adaptations that mirror those shifts.[3]  Approaching E2014, we observed that the near-universal use of the Likely Voter Cutoff Model (LVCM) in pre-election polling, and stratification to demographic and partisanship quanta derived from (rightward) adjusted prior-election exit polls in all polling, were methodological distortions that pushed both exit polls and pre-election polls significantly to the right, corroding our baselines and making forensic analysis much less likely to detect rightward shifts in the votecounts.
Indeed, given the rightward distortions of the adaptive polling methodologies, we noted that accurate polls in E2014 would serve as a red-flag signal of rightward manipulation of the votecounts.  In effect, the LVCM and the adjusted-exit-poll-derived weightings constituted a rightward “pre-adjustment” of the polls, such that any rightward votecount manipulations of comparable magnitude would be “covered.”
It is against this backdrop that we present the E2014 polling and votecount data, recognizing that the adaptive polling methodologies which right-skewed our baselines would combine to reduce the magnitude of any red shift we measured and significantly mitigate the footprint of votecount manipulation in this election.

The tables that follow compare polling and votecount results, where polling data was available, for US Senate, gubernatorial, and US House elections. The exit polling numbers represent the first publicly posted values, prior to completion of the “adjustment” process, in the course of which the poll results are forced to congruity with the votecounts.[4]  The “red shift” represents the disparity between the votecount and exit poll margins.  For this purpose, a margin is positive when the Democratic candidate’s total exceeds that of the Republican candidate.  To calculate the red shift we subtract the votecount margin from the exit poll margin, so a positive red shift number represents a “red,” or rightward, shift between the exit poll and votecount results.

[4] Because these “unadjusted” exit polls, which have not yet been tainted by the forcing process, are permanently removed from public websites often within minutes of poll closings, they must be captured as screenshots or in free-standing html format prior to their disappearance.  At Election Defense Alliance we archive these captures as part of our forensic operations.


 Table 1




 Table 2


Table 3


To summarize the data presented in Tables 1 – 3:
·         The US Senate red shift averaged 4.1% with a half dozen races presenting red shifts of over 7%.  Of the 21 Senate elections that were exit polled, 19 were red-shifted. 
·         The gubernatorial red shift averaged 5.0% and 20 out of the 21 races were red-shifted. 
·         In US House elections, which are exit polled with an aggregate national sample,[1] the red shift was 3.7%.  This is the equivalent of approximately 2.9 million votes which, if taken away from the GOP winners of the closest elections, would have been sufficient to reverse the outcomes of 89 House races such that the Democrats would now hold a 120-seat (277 – 157) House majority.[2] 
·         Although the thousands of state legislative contests are not exit-polled, it is fair to assume that the consistent red shift numbers that we found in the Senate, House, and gubernatorial contests would map onto these critical (as we have seen) down-ballot elections as well.
These red shift numbers, well outside applicable margins of sampling error, are egregious even by the dubious historical standards of the elections of the computerized voting era in America.  Although it is an indirect measure of mistabulation, the red shift has been, with very few exceptions, pervasive throughout that era, and it is not reflective of the impact of any of the overt tactics of gerrymandering, voter suppression, or big money.  It represents a very telling incongruity between how voters indicate that they voted and the official tabulation of those votes.  While it is not “smoking gun” proof of targeted mistabulation, it is, in the magnitude and persistence we have witnessed over the past half-dozen biennial election cycles, just about impossible to explain without reference to such fraud.  It is simply too much smoke for there not to be a fire.
We relied as well on pre-election polling averages as a corroborative baseline,[3] and found that the red shifts from these predictions were comparable, though somewhat smaller than the exit poll-votecount red shifts (3.3% vs. 4.1% for the US Senate races;  3.5% vs. 5.0% for the gubernatorial races; and 3.3% for the Generic Congressional Ballot[4] vs. 3.7% for the US House Aggregate Exit Poll).  We suspect that these differences can be accounted for by the impact of the Likely Voter Cutoff Model in pre-election polling, which pushes samples even further right than does the use of prior elections’ adjusted exit poll demographics to weight the current exit poll sample, thereby further reducing the poll-votecount disparity.

The standard arguments have of course been put forward that all these exit polls (and pre-election polls) were “off,” that essentially every pollster in the business (and there are many), including the exit pollsters, overestimated the turnout of Democratic voters, which was “known” to be historically low because the official votecounts and a slew of unexpected Democratic defeats tell us it was.  In response to this entirely tautological argument, there are two non-jibing realities to be considered.  The first is that the sampling methodologies of the polls were already distorted to impound the anticipated low turnout rate of Democratic voters in off-year elections, a model which has been grounded on the official votecounts of this century’s three previous suspect computerized midterm elections, E2002, E2006, and E2010.  The second is what would have to be termed the apparent schizoid behavior of the E2014 electorate, in which—from county-level referenda in Wisconsin backing expanded access to healthcare and an end to corporate personhood, to state-level ballot proposals to raise the minimum wage across America (see Table 4)—voters approved, by wide margins, the very same progressive proposals that the Republican candidates they apparently elected had violently opposed.

[1] The sample size of the House poll exceeded 17,000 respondents, yielding a Margin Of Error (MOE) of less than 1%.
[2] Of course I am not suggesting that vote theft can be targeted with such infallible precision.  But it would make no sense at all not to target vote theft to the closest races and shift enough votes to ensure narrow victories.  When one couples the evidence of a nearly 3 million vote disparity with even a modestly successful targeting protocol, the result is easily sufficient to flip the balance of power in the US House.
[3] The pre-election polling numbers represent an average of all polls available from the two-months prior to Election Day (Source: RealClearPolitics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/latest_polls/elections/.  See also www.ballotpedia.com, a very flexible and useful resource).
[4] The Generic Congressional Ballot is a tracking poll that asks a national sample of respondents whether they intend to vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate for US House in their district.


Table 4

The wide margins are significant because they tell us that, unlike the key contests for public office, these ballot propositions were well outside of smell-test rigging distance.  Thus, even had defeating them been an ancillary component of a strategy that appears riveted on seizing full governmental power rather than scoring points on isolated issue battlefields, these ballot propositions would have failed any reasonable risk-reward test that might have been applied, and thus were left alone.[1]

[1] As was the state of California, the one place in America where Democrats actually made US House gains in E2014. This perpetuates a pattern we have noted in several previous elections that may speak to the deterrence value of a well-designed audit protocol and a higher level of scrutiny from the (Democratic) Secretary of State’s office than is found in the vast majority of other states.


Table 5

With so much not making sense about E2014 it seems hardly necessary to add that it makes no sense at all for an historically unpopular Congress to be shown such electoral love by the voters that exactly TWO (out of 222) incumbent members of the Republican House majority lost their seats on November 4, 2014, while the GOP strengthened its grip on the House by adding 12 seats to its overall majority, and of course took control of the US Senate, 31 governorships, and 68 out of 100 state legislative bodies. 

It would seem to require magicianship of the highest (or lowest) order to pull these results from a hat known to contain a Congressional Approval rating in the single digits (See Table 5).  In handing over vote counting to computers, neither the processes nor the programming of which we are permitted to observe, we have chosen to trust the magician, and we should not be at all surprised if for his next trick he makes our sovereignty disappear.

Full .pdf version attached at link to right:



Even Blinder

October 5, 2012 
by Jonathan Simon
According to the "father of exit polling," the late Warren Mitofsky, exit polls are intended solely for academic analysis of voting patterns and opinions (e.g., what did 25 to 34 year-old white males regard as the most important issue?) and not as any sort of check on the validity of the votecounts. Unless, of course, you are anywhere else on Earth (other than America), where exit polls are routinely employed, often with the sanction of the government of the United States, as just such a check mechanism, and have frequently led to official calls for electoral investigations and indeed electoral re-dos.
In America, where votecounts in competitive and significant races consistently come out to the right of the exit polls (it is called the "red shift"), the media machine has waved off the exit polls, concluding, without so much as a quick peek under the hood of the vote-counting computers, that the exit polls must be "off" because they "oversample Democrats," conclusive evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. We're the Beacon Of Democracy, dammit--we don't need no stinkin’ exit polls! We're "one nation under God" so our elections must be honest!
Nonetheless, exit polls remain critical to whatever election forensics can be undertaken to assess the honesty and validity of our concealed and partisan-controlled computerized vote counting system from election to election. This is because all "hard" evidence—memory cards, computer code, server logs, actual ballots where such exist—is strictly off limits to public investigation, being the protected proprietary dominion of a handful of secretive corporations (one of which is aptly named "Dominion") with ties to the radical right.
So the announcement that this November the media consortium known as the National Election Pool (NEP) has canceled all exit polling in 19 states comes as a blow to "academic analysts" and election forensics experts alike. The non-exit poll states are AK, AR, DE, DC, GA, HI, ID, KY, LA, NE, ND, OK, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY. Of course all these states are noncompetitive, solid reds or blues (with the exception of a Senate race or two) so what's the problem??
The problem is that Karl Rove now has 19 states to mine votes to cover a Romney popular vote loss (undermining and casting suspicion upon his easily arranged Electoral College ‘win’), without the remotest trace of the theft, not even the telltale “red shift.”  This was done in 2004 for Bush, and it showed up in the red shift in states like Alaska and New York, as millions of votes were shifted in non-competitive states where there was little forensic vigilance. And if it turns out that they need even more votes for Romney, with the public now 100% blind to these 19 states, they'll have them by the millions.
The NEP and the networks will merely shrug and say, "Who needs exit polls (especially discredited exit polls) in noncompetitive states?" and "We needed to redeploy our limited resources." I feel their pain: exit polling is difficult/expensive and more so now with early/absentee voting and cellphones. Put it in context though: we spent $2 billion per week for years to bring "democracy" to Iraq; you know $2 billion would buy approximately 200 years of biennial exit polls at their current cost here in the good old USA!  I guess having democracy for seven generations in America is not worth one week in Iraq. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
And, while we're at it, what a stupid way to insure democracy, a few volunteer democracy fans following along after the election circus with a forensic broom and dustpan, then having their evidence ignored or ridiculed by the media, which, just to show how accepting it is, accepts on 100% pure unadulterated blind faith every number that comes out of the partisan operated and controlled blackness that is our oh-so-convenient vote counting system. Again for that same $2 billion week in Iraq, we could fund hand-counted paper ballots (if we were unwilling to assume it as a civic responsibility on a par with jury duty) at a decent payscale for an entire generation.
Are we that cheap, that stingy, that lazy, when it comes to this democracy, this homeland that we profess to "love" and seem to be so concerned about protecting?

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July 4th - Fighting Back Tears

July 4th, symbolic day of our nation’s birth. Also EDA’s birthday, the day we went live six years ago. It is a day of great celebration for many, remembering America’s greatness. It is a day when they play patriotic films one after the other on movie channels, so you can watch John Paul Jones say “I have not yet begun to fight,” and hear Jimmy Cagney sing “It’s a Grand Old Flag,” and listen as Lincoln repeats from the grave, “ . . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
I spent a good part of this special day fighting back tears, unsuccessfully when listening to Mr. Lincoln. For it is apparent that the form of government he invoked at Gettysburg is perishing, if not from the earth then from his own dear country, our country, on our watch. Rigged elections remove “by the people” and “for the people” from that majestic sentence, and sentence The People to the most pernicious form of tyranny:  that which does not even have the courage to declare itself, but instead cloaks itself in the trappings of democracy and illusions of self-rule.
When we founded EDA six years ago we knew what we were up against. We knew that damning evidence of computerized election rigging had already been dismissed with a shrug and would likely continue to be dismissed with a shrug. We knew that, as with any inside job, the perpetrators were sitting in the catbird seat with a big head start. We knew that, as with any Big Lie, the architects and engineers of election rigging could count on “never happen here” denial to protect them from serious investigation and exposure.
What we didn’t know was how many informed people with cellphones would find some excuse not to call 911, how many would turn out to be bystanders, going about their business-as-usual with a shrug. Whether it’s Kitty Genovese dying in front of dozens of lighted windows or a democracy dying in front of dozens of opinion leaders with “too much on their plate,” Bystander’s Syndrome is a tragic phenomenon. When each of us says “intervention would be inconvenient, or risky, or distasteful and, besides, someone else is sure to take care of it,” we fail the ultimate test of citizenship, of patriotism, of human kinship. The twist is that, unlike the bystander safe in his apartment turning off the light and going back to bed, none of us is safe—the bell we talk over and take pains not to hear is tolling for us.
In 2012 EDA will attempt once again to parlay very modest resources into the best forensic detection apparatus we can assemble. I have asked myself why we are bothering, why any new evidence will matter when all the old evidence has been digested and excreted without so much as a polite belch. I can think of two reasons:  we have a responsibility to history and to truth itself to establish at least some reviewable record of the lies being told; beyond this, and more encouragingly, we are finally seeing some cracks in the never-happen-here wall of denial. A bit of media coverage here (e.g., http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/editorspick_mobile/x1222856667/Holmes-Hacking-the-vote?zc_p=1 and http://capitolcorrespondent.com/cc/2012/06/19/electronic-voting-machines-and-voter-fraud/), a promising piece of legislation there (e.g., Masschusetts Election Laws Reform Act of 2012, H. 4139 http://malegislature.gov/Bills/187/House/H04120 ), but most of all a growing skepticism that the kind of national politics we are suffering in the computerized voting age makes any sense at all absent a pervasive thumb on the scale in the darkness of cyberspace.
I sense a metastasizing awareness that we have a problem, a dreadful problem. It is close to coming into sharp focus, like a boil breaking the skin.  There will be a powerful article in a major MSM publication this fall. There will be a powerful book following in its wake. It won’t take that much more and EDA will do everything possible to push awareness, shock, and outrage to critical mass. There’s plenty of energy in the politics of this time, much of it misdirected. That energy, as the never-happen-here veils are torn down, can yet save us and save our country. Please be part of it. Please support us. Please carry awareness to others. Please don’t be a bystander. Please don’t turn off your light.
With appreciation and best holiday wishes—
Jonathan Simon
Executive Director


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                      

E2012: Quo vadimus?

E2012:  The Good, The Bad, and The Ironic

December 28, 2012

by Jonathan Simon and Sally Castleman

November 6th:  Celebrations, Riddles, Questions, Context

E2012—another Democratic victory, a lot of cheering in the streets, living rooms, and even some Election Integrity “war rooms” across America—a lot like E2008.  Change you could believe in.   Safe to go back in the water.  Concerns about election theft greatly overblown.  But that was before E2010, when the Tea Party swept in, Democrats and moderates were sent packing, and what seems to be a very long-term blockade of both federal and state governments was installed by those same red-shifted votecounts that had somehow escaped general notice two years earlier when they weren’t red-shifted enough to keep Obama out of the White House.  Who, in December 2008, saw E2010 coming?  Who, in December 2012, is thinking E2014?  (We did.  We are.  We hope you are too.)

What actually happened on Election Night 2012 remains unclear.   In terms of outcome, while the Democrats took what were regarded as the major in-play prizes of the White House and Senate (adding to their narrow majority in the latter), the Republicans maintained a solid grip on the US House (despite Congressional approval ratings hovering in the single digits and despite an overall Democratic victory in the national popular vote for the House, only the fourth occurrence of this win-the-vote-lose-the-House phenomenon in over 100 years) as well as on a sizeable majority of statehouses.  In effect little changed in the actual political infrastructure as a result of E2012, though the election was momentarily seen as a repudiation of extreme right-wing politics and of the impact of vast corporate and Super-PAC expenditures on voter choice.  It is also worth noting that, much as in E2008, it required a dismal campaign run by a feckless, tone-deaf, and unpopular candidate trying desperately and all-too-transparently to Etch-A-Sketch away an indelible impression of extremism left over from the “severely conservative” primary season, not to mention a series of gaffes by GOP Senate candidates ranging from the borderline moronic to the instantly fatal, to bring about even this tepid electoral result that did little more than maintain the status quo.

But the real riddle of E2012 is what was Karl Rove doing on FOX News at the witching hour making a complete and very uncharacteristic fool of himself?  The question remains unanswered.  Shrouded still in mystery is whether a planned massive electronic rig was disarmed and, if so, how and why, at what stage, and totally or partially.

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