Hand Counts

Who Knows What Really Happened in MA Senate Election?

Source: E-mail communication from Bev Harris at Blackboxvoting.org Jan. 20, 2010

EDA is reproducing this content as a public service,  with full credit to Bev Harris and Blackboxvoting.

Hand-counts Favored Coakley

Hand-counted Results Generally Arrived Faster Than Machine Counts

Machine  Counts Favoring Coakley Arrived Late -- After Concession

Sole-source E-voting Contractor, LHS Associates

. . . and No Exit Polls to Check Any of It

__________________________________________________

By Bev Harris

This article is about our right to know, not about Martha Coakley or Scott Brown. And lest you think something here favors a Democrat, just you wait, I'm still working on anomalies in the NY-23 election that are just plain hard to 'splain. As Richard Hayes Phillips says when people tell him to forget it, "I'm a historian, I've got all the time in the world." NY-23 still has history to be written. My public records are starting to arrive. But that's another story.

Back to Massachusetts, I think you have a right to know that Coakley won the hand counts there.
You can discuss this here:  http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/80830.html 

That's right.
According to preliminary media results by municipality, Democrat Martha Coakley won Massachusetts overall in its hand counted locations,* with 51.12% of the vote (32,247 hand counted votes) to Brown's 30,136, which garnered him 47.77% of hand counted votes. Margin: 3.35% lead for Coakley.

Massachusetts has 71 hand count locations, 91 ES&S locations, and 187 Diebold locations, with two I call the mystery municipalities (Northbridge and Milton) apparently using optical scanners, not sure what kind.

ES&S Results

The greatest margin between the candidates was with ES&S machines -- 53.64% for Brown, 45.31% for Coakley, a margin for Brown of 8.33%. It looks like ES&S counted a total of 620,388 votes, with 332,812 going to Brown and 281,118 going to Coakley. Taken overall, the difference -- 8.33% Brown (ES&S) added to 3.35% Coakley (hand count) shows an 11.68% difference between the ES&S and the hand counts.

Of course, as Mark Twain used to say, there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics. These statistics don't prove anything, and probably shouldn't be discussed without a grain of salt handy before examining more detailed demographics.

Managing Electoral Dynamics Via Covert Vote-Count Manipulation

Published by EDA, May 21, 2008. Click to download a PDF copy of this article.

 

The Democratic Primaries 2008:

Managing Electoral Dynamics Via Covert Vote-Count Manipulation

By Jonathan Simon and Bruce O’Dell, Election Defense Alliance

Summary Statement

We present evidence supporting the hypothesis that systematic attempts are being made to manipulate the results of the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination contest, through overt means such as crossover voting by non-Democrats, and through covert means targeted at the electronic vote tabulation process itself. The net effect has been to prolong the nomination battle and sharpen its negativity, thereby boosting the prospects of the Republican nominee and making more plausible his “victory” in November—either by an honest count, or through continued exploitation of the proven security vulnerabilities in American voting systems.

Introduction

Perhaps John McCain is, as Humphrey Bogart says of the young Bulgarian who wins the money for his family’s exit visa at the roulette table in Casablanca, “just a lucky guy.”

Lucky that the Democrats find themselves locked into a protracted primary season inexorable in its dynamics and increasingly destructive in its impact. Lucky that Hillary Clinton has been magically revived each time she has found herself on electoral life support, to assume a position just far enough behind Barack Obama to be induced to resort to desperate measures and increasingly-negative ads, yet not so far behind as to be forced to bow out.

Lucky that dynamics ostensibly out of McCain's control have combined to give him such material assistance. Perhaps.

But there is compelling evidence that something other than luck is at work. With 82% of Americans polled convinced the nation is on the wrong track, self-destruction by the Democratic party is the only remaining credible means by which, come 2008, the GOP could sustain the perpetual rule envisioned by Karl Rove. (Rove, of course, has hardly retired and is now working from home, beyond the reach of the mandatory email backup system installed at the White House just before he left to “spend time with his family.”)

The goal of Democratic party self-destruction in 2008 could most reliably be brought to pass by one progression of events, one choreography: if a candidate, Hilary Clinton, known for her sense of entitlement, lifelong ambition, tenacity—and willingness to go negative—could be placed and kept in a desperate but not quite hopeless position, the result would follow, quite predictably.

What the mainstream media have now set up and trumpeted as an epic “blood feud” in the Democratic Party, whether or not it actually undermines the party’s prospects in November, will certainly pre-establish a plausible “explanation” for the defeat of whoever the Democratic nominee turns out to be.

The same is true for US Senate and House races, where Democrats are heavily favored to expand their majorities, given the large number of open seats this November that were formerly held by Republican incumbents and a string of recent special election victories. But Democratic congressional candidates in both houses are arguably now facing the prospect of negative coattails.

By setting the stage for post-election “spin” for the Presidential and congressional races in November, any outcome-determinative electoral manipulations would become much less “shocking,” and that much less likely to trigger investigation and ultimate detection. This jaundiced overview of the Democratic primary season1 is unfortunately supported by a body of evidence that goes well beyond the odd anomaly or two.

When we examine—as the media has steadfastly refused to do—the numbers and disparities discovered in a parade of key states that determined the path the Democratic contest has taken to date, we find a telling pattern. This pattern is consistent with a tactical manipulation of the primary election vote counts in the service of the strategic choreography alluded to above: Keeping Clinton in the race and desperate. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1 There were significant oddities on the Republican side as well, beyond the scope of our analysis here. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There are sound reasons why the Clinton campaign itself is not among the suspects: If Clinton’s campaign or supporters had the capacity and the will to alter election outcomes, it is reasonable to conclude that she would have won, or at least be ahead in, the race; and the ownership and operation of electronic voting equipment remains almost exclusively in the secretive hands of vendors (Diebold/Premier, ES&S, Hart, and Sequoia) with avowedly right-wing Republican political sympathies.

Our examination includes the Democratic primaries in the following key states: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, each of which had surprising and unexpected results. In each of these critical elections there was a significant pro-Clinton disparity when comparing pre-election surveys and Election Day exit polls against the official vote counts.

1/8/08: New Hampshire

This was the first of the “must-wins” for Clinton. She went into New Hampshire on the heels of an embarrassing third-place finish in Iowa and a 20%+ defeat in Wyoming, had lost momentum, and was trailing by substantial margins in every pre-election poll in the Granite state (the range was from 5% to 13%, with both Obama’s and Clinton’s internal polling also showing a double-digit Obama margin).

Observers consistently reported Obama rallies that were far larger and more enthusiastic. There was no sign of a Clinton groundswell. Yet on Election Night the voters apparently changed their minds, and gave her a 3% victory. The media pundits scratched their collective heads and scrambled to explain this stunning reversal, which would have been remarkable enough if it had been a double-digit shift from a single reputable tracking poll, but was truly staggering when viewed against the backdrop of the entire phalanx of tracking polls.

There was palpable grasping at straws—but never even a hint that perhaps the polls had it right and something was wrong with the vote counts. Nor was there a mention that the first posted National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll had Obama ahead 39.4% to 38.1%, while earlier unposted NEP exit polls put Obama further ahead.

The first posted exit poll was already weighted to a carefully calibrated demographic profile of the electorate, and therefore as reliable an indicator of voter intent as is available. Indeed, that first-posted exit poll may already have been partially adjusted toward conformity with the incoming vote counts, thereby understating the apparent exit poll-vote count disparity.

That exit poll was largely spot-on for the other candidates; only Clinton and Obama's exit poll numbers shifted significantly as votes were tabulated. The mainstream media also did not mention the extraordinary disparity between votes that were counted by hand (Obama + 6.5% head-to-head with Clinton) and those tabulated by computerized optical scan devices (Clinton + 5.5% head-to-head with Obama).

Although the counting method (machine vs. hand) was not strictly homogeneously distributed throughout the state, neither was it clustered in such a way that would readily explain the huge statistical disparity in results. When considering benign reasons for such surprising and unexpected outcomes, conventional explanations all begin and end with the unquestioned belief that the computerized vote counts are valid. Quite an assumption in light of the parade of anomalies, disparities, and machine failures witnessed nationwide since the advent and proliferation of computerized vote counting.

Official election results are assumed valid, even though the votes are tabulated by secret software2 concealed on memory cards immune to inspection and under the strict proprietary control of an outsourced corporate vendor; in New Hampshire, the vendor is LHS, about which unanswered questions abound. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2 Remarkably enough, we know with certainty that the precise model of optical scan voting equipment in use in New Hampshire, Diebold Accuvote OS Model 1.94W, is vulnerable to outcome-altering manipulation by insiders. A live demonstration on that very Diebold model was captured in the HBO documentary "Hacking Democracy". _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
In an on-going epilogue, the New Hampshire primary remains under scrutiny. Investigators are amassing detailed evidence of pervasive mistabulation, focused in certain counties. On the Democratic side, there were an alarming number of polling sites reporting more votes than voters. Recounting was rendered effectively useless by a nonexistent chain of custody, which permitted more than ample opportunity for ballot substitution and revision.

Memory cards were reported as having been erased and were never made available to investigators. Even something as basic as a reconciliation of the number of ballots delivered to number of ballots voted, spoiled, and uncast was lacking. Nor was there reconciliation of number of voters checked in at the polls to number of ballots cast.

At this first critical turning point in the Democratic contest an Obama victory would have, in the view of most analysts, effectively ended Clinton’s campaign. That victory—augured in pre-election polling, exit polls, and hand-counted ballots—vanished into the black box scanners provided by Diebold and programmed by LHS. Instead, Clinton was credited with a stunning comeback, given new life, and the nomination battle continued.

2/5/2008: Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday was essentially a standoff, each candidate doing what was necessary to remain viable. There were, however, several exit poll-vote count disparities far beyond the expected margin of error, each involving a shift toward Clinton.

In Massachusetts, another LHS state like New Hampshire, the shift was a whopping 15.5%, turning a projected narrow Obama victory into a 15% Clinton rout.

In Arizona, site of some of the most dubious counting antics over the past several election cycles, the pro-Clinton shift was 11%, again reversing the outcome.

And in New Jersey, where machines are currently under high scrutiny supported by a court order, the shift was 8.6%.

Each of these shifts was well beyond the margin of error of the respective polls. Each resulted in shifts in delegate count to Obama’s detriment, as well as the loss of two victories that would have put a very different complexion on the outcome of Super Tuesday as a whole. The overall effect was, again, to maintain Clinton’s viability.

3/4/2008: Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas

In the weeks following Super Tuesday, Obama racked up a succession of impressive wins—including every caucus state, where vote counting is often face-to-face, and subject to greater scrutiny. As a result he pulled well ahead in the delegate count, and began to take on the mantle of inevitability.

Once more, pundits were calling the race all but over, and Texas and Ohio were often described as Clinton’s last stand. She needed wins in both states, it was flatly stated, to continue in the race. Even Clinton’s own campaign conceded as much. In the weeks before the election, Obama had closed an initial gap in both states and was running even or ahead in pre-election polling.

Ohio

In Ohio once again we are confronted with a discrepancy between exit polls and official tallies. The initial published exit poll, posted shortly after poll closing, showed a 3% Clinton margin (51.1% to 47.9%), while the final official vote count showed a 10% Clinton margin (54.3% to 44.0%). This disparity was well outside the exit poll’s margin of error. The official vote count was also a significant departure from a compendium of pre-election polls, which showed Obama gaining ground and approaching equality.3

Viewed in isolation, Ohio could be explained as a “late Clinton surge” that caught the pre-election pollsters by surprise. Primaries are indeed fluid and volatile, as elections go, and there were reports of organized attempts to encourage Republican crossover voting for Clinton, though the Republican crossover vote may have been less robust than initially reported.

It can also plausibly be viewed as another in a succession of “cover stories” (for example, the massive but phantom after-dinner Evangelical turnout offered up by Rove as a factor in reversing the outcome in 2004) that could well provide a relatively benign explanation for more nefarious operations. But instead there was a parade of contests in important states in the 2008 nomination battle in which a substantial exit poll-vote count disparity worked in Clinton’s favor—including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, Arkansas, Arizona, California, and now Ohio and, as we will see, Texas and Rhode Island.

In contrast, we have observed to date no battleground state primary with a significant4 exit poll-vote count disparity in Obama's favor. Some have invoked the so-called “Bradley effect” to account for this string of disparities. According to this theory, some white voters who would not vote for a black candidate in the privacy of the voting booth are “shamed” into indicating to pollsters (i.e., in public) that they chose that candidate.

But research into the Bradley effect has established that it is, at best, an inconsistent and relatively rare phenomenon, very unlikely to account for such a pervasive pattern as identified above. It is only if one is unwilling to consider any possibility of computerized vote mistabulation that such superficially plausible theories as the Bradley effect take their place in the front of the line of explanations. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3 See http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/poll-tracker.htm 4 In this case, significant means "larger than the exit poll margin of error." _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Rhode Island

The exit poll-vote count disparity in Rhode Island was 14.1%; the exit poll posted after poll closing had Clinton up 4.1% (51.6% to 47.5%) over Obama, yet the official vote count had Clinton up 18.2% (58.8% to 40.6%). This is far outside the exit poll’s margin of error, and on a par with the similarly perplexing and bizarre 15.5% disparity favoring Clinton in Massachusetts on Super Tuesday. It is reasonable to ask, if exit polls are this far off, why bother exit polling? (Or perhaps just as reasonable to ask, if vote counts are this far off, why bother voting?)

Texas

In Texas there was a relatively modest 4% discrepancy between the first posted exit polls and official tallies—in the usual direction and larger than the margin of error, and also in this case, withheld from the public until more than an hour after poll closing.

While most primary exit polls are posted a few minutes after the polls close, an hour's delay enables ample opportunity for adjustment of exit polls toward conformity with the incoming vote count, and so the posted exit polls may understate the magnitude of the discrepancy.

But the disparity in Texas between early voting results vs. Election Day in-precinct voting was of staggering proportions that seemed to defy explanation. The earliest returns posted on network websites showed a total of approximately 740,000 votes cast in the Democratic primary with 0% of precincts reporting. This was the early/absentee vote tally, which in some states is tabulated and available for release immediately upon poll closing. Obama’s vote at that point was 436,034 to 303,276 for Clinton, or 59% to 41%, an 18% margin.

But by the time the counting was done the next morning, Clinton had a 51% to 48% victory . . . a whopping 21% margin reversal. What was even more stunning, however, was that Clinton had caught up to Obama before even a quarter of the election day vote had been tallied: with 23% of election day precincts reporting and almost exactly as many at-precinct votes as early votes counted, the overall count stood at Obama 711,759, Clinton 711,183 (49%-49%), a dead heat.

To catch up so quickly and produce those numbers, Clinton had to win the at-precinct vote in that quarter of Texas precincts by 59% to 41%...an exact reversal of the early voting Obama landslide. What we saw in Texas were essentially equal and opposite landslides, as if we were observing two not only separate but radically divergent electorates, one that chose to vote early and one that chose to go to the polls.

The early voting period in Texas extends from 17 days to four days prior to the election. Ordinarily explanations for a divergence of such magnitude, particularly in intra-party contests, would be due to time-critical phenomena such as late-breaking gaffes, scandals, debate blowouts and the like. But there was no such occurrence.

During the early voting period the average of 13 pre-election polls showed Clinton 45.6%, Obama 46.7%. In the three days before the election, after the early voting period had ended, the average of eight polls was Clinton 46.8%, Obama 46.1%, a very modest change and certainly not the 21% mega-reversal displayed by the early voting and at-precinct vote counts.

While there is no obvious explanation for the pattern observed, one hypothesis worthy of investigation is that one set of counting equipment (either early-voting or at-precinct voting) was accessed by malicious insiders and manipulated. If the pattern of pro-Clinton shifts were to hold, the place to investigate first would of course be the at-precinct voting equipment and county central tabulators.

Having won Ohio and Texas, Clinton remained viable but still in dire straits, leading directly to the most polarizing and divisive phase of the nomination battle.

4/23/08: Pennsylvania

In the ‘quiet’ interval during the six weeks prior to the Pennsylvania primary, the effects of Clinton’s revived (but precarious) position had ample opportunity to play out. The Clinton campaign went on the offensive, with the type of personal, negative attacks that both campaigns had previously eschewed. Obama was relentlessly portrayed as elitist and out-of-touch by the Clinton campaign (and by Clinton herself), a depiction the mainstream media began to echo almost as relentlessly.

And, sure enough, incidents emerged that played into this depiction—most notably Reverend Wright’s sermons and Obama’s own quote that seemed to both pigeonhole and patronize the working-class voters of Pennsylvania. These were replayed by the mainstream media in an endless barrage of coverage, all keyed to the theme that Obama might be too out-of-touch, and too close to the radical black fringe, to be president. Obama appeared to successfully counter that round of negative attacks, and it appeared to have little or no impact in his polling support nationwide – nor, indeed, in Pennsylvania.

Obama went into the April 23 primary trailing Clinton by 5% or less in pre-election polls, with no late movement to Clinton detected. It was viewed as essential by mainstream media pundits that Clinton win “by double digits” to maintain her viability and pick up the momentum required to win decisive superdelegate support.

First-posted exit polls5 for Pennsylvania reflected pre-election expectations, with Clinton leading 51.6% to 47.8%, a 3.8% margin. By late in the evening, however, with the count mostly in, it was Clinton by 9.4%--close enough somehow for the morning papers, networks, and websites to lead with Clinton’s “double-digit” win.

As with New Hampshire, Ohio, and Texas, there was a wide range of irregularities, glitches, and vote suppression incidents reported. Again, an exit poll disparity beyond the margin of error. Again, a departure, in the familiar direction, from the range of pre-election polling. And once again the final result was that Clinton received just enough to sustain her campaign, her “double-digit” victory, courtesy of a generous round-off. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 5 Weighted, 1421 respondents, approximate margin of error +/- 3%. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Upshot

Just as with a spaceship's carefully-calibrated mid-course corrections that make an ultimate difference of millions of miles, it does not take much to radically change the course of a multi-election political contest. A few quick bursts from the retrorockets at the right moment(s) will do the trick. Of course the dynamics of a campaign can change legitimately, as a result of the thrust and parry process, exposure of weaknesses, refutation of apparent inevitability, etc.

But the shift in dynamics of the 2008 Democratic nomination contest strongly correlated with a string of election results that raised serious red flags independent of their impact on the race. Glaring discrepancies far beyond the margin of error of exit polls and pre-election polls, and the confounding of the expected electoral dynamics, produced results that had the precise impact of prolonging and intensifying the nomination battle. Had the primary election results jibed with those independent measures and expectations, it would long since have been wrapped up.

Anyone actually in a position to take advantage of the vast array of security vulnerabilities in the computers that run our elections would have an obvious interest in remaining undetected. The safest path would be to take only what you need to achieve your bottom-line goal, and not one vote more. Anything beyond adds risk without reward.

Thus, in keeping with our hypothesis that the fundamental goal of primary contest electoral manipulation was to create “plausible defeatability” for the Democratic ticket in November, we would expect little additional manipulation in the last stages of the Democratic contest. It is apparent that an Obama defeat in November (and more extensive Democratic losses in down-ballot races) can be spun as a plausible consequence of the intra-party strife that has already been depicted as weakening the party and its nominee, and of apparent Obama weaknesses exposed in the course of the grueling nomination battle.

With such a cover story safely in place, even an against-the-odds Republican “victory” in November could be successfully spun and sold to the candidates, their parties, the media, and the voters.

The “Mystery Adjustment” Factor in Polling

One final observation concerning the pre-election polling that sets expectations for candidates, the mainstream media, and the voters themselves. We are deeply concerned that these polls too paint a false backdrop against which the signs of computerized electoral manipulation by insiders will appear diminished in magnitude over time, or even disappear.

The reason for this concern is obviously not that the fraternity of pollsters are knowingly acting to support or conceal systematic computerized electoral manipulation, but rather that pollsters simply cannot expect to stay in business if they consistently fail to predict the “actual” electoral results. The worst problem for a pollster is to be consistently “off” in the same direction.

Put another way, pollsters are not paid for achieving some abstract statistical purity but rather for accurate predictions—however achieved. If one places oneself in the position of a pollster who, time and again, is faced with results that are, say 6 – 8% more Republican than their predictions, or shifted in the direction the right wing would desire, it becomes clear that one would begin making a “mystery adjustment” to whatever data emerges from a clean survey methodology.

Such an adjustment can be easily generated by changes in demographic weighting that can at least in part be justified by reliance on data emerging from previous elections, themselves manipulated. Call it a fudge factor if you will, but it keeps the pollster in business, while failing to make such a correction would be professional suicide.

By way of corroboration of this phenomenon, in public dialogue with a major-party polling consultant, the following shocking admission was made: If the Democratic candidate is not leading by 10% going into the election in their internal polling, they expect the race to be a toss-up. This internal candidate polling is—unlike polls published for public consumption—intended to paint a ruthlessly accurate picture of contest dynamics to help the party prioritize expensive get-out-the-vote drives and last-minute media blitzes.

The fact that even major-party pollsters must adjust their own results to account for the “mystery swing” to the right is a strong indication that much the same distorting protocol is already being employed in public pre-election polling. When manipulated elections serve as the calibration tool for pre-election polling, we lose yet another independent check mechanism on the official computerized vote tabulation process. This only deepens the crisis.

Conclusion

Election theft is certainly hard to prove, with virtually all hard evidence withheld as proprietary; and even well-supported allegations by credible journalists, computer scientists, security professionals and election integrity activists are given a wide berth by both the mainstream media and the established political powers of both major parties.

Yet, even with the limited tools at our disposal, we keep discovering evidence—in pre-election polls, exit polls, and published election results–that is consistent with a pattern of widespread covert manipulation of vote counts.

We will continue to investigate and report these anomalies until a thorough and unblinking investigation of suspicious results is undertaken by those in position to collect the additional evidence needed to establish incontrovertible proof.

But since many of those in the best position to investigate election anomalies are themselves elected officials, our best hope may be to follow the recent example of Ireland and the Netherlands—dispense with voting computers, and simply count our own paper ballots by hand.



NY-23: False Vote Counts in Four Counties

Source: Gouverneurtimes.com

3rd in a series
For related articles, click topic link NY23

Hoffman Votes Switched to Other Candidates

False Vote Counts in Four Counties in NY-23

Northern NY News
by Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D.
Dec. 3, 2009
  
CANTON, NY – It is now widely known that zero votes were initially reported for Doug Hoffman in numerous election districts in New York’s 23rd Congressional District.  What has not been previously reported is that these votes were shifted to other candidates.  While most of these counts were corrected during recanvassing, they never should have been reported in the first place.

scanner03This vote switching is best illustrated in Madison County, where the Board of Elections (to its credit) released, for each election district (or precinct), its preliminary results, before the recanvass, and its final results, as certified to the State.  A comparison of the two reveals what really happened on Election Night.

In the initial vote count, Hoffman got zero votes in three election districts in Madison County.  In Fenner, the count was 157 for Owens, 248 for Scozzafava, and zero for Hoffman.  In Hamilton’s 3rd district, the count was 75 for Owens, 79 for Scozzafava, and zero for Hoffman.  In Sullivan’s 2nd district, the count was 173 for Owens, 251 for Scozzafava, and zero for Hoffman.

Somebody should have noticed this.  On Election Night, Scozzafava was awarded 578 of 983, or 58.8%, of the votes in these three districts, while winning only 583 of 16,770, or 3.5%, of the votes in the rest of the county.  This illustrates perfectly why election results need to be released at the precinct or district level.

These numbers were corrected during recanvassing of the results, and absentee ballots have since been added to the totals.  In Fenner, the certified count is 159 for Owens, 242 for Hoffman, and 21 for Scozzafava.  In Hamilton’s 3rd district, the certified count is 76 for Owens, 77 for Hoffman, and 4 for Scozzafava.  In Sullivan’s 2nd district, the certified count is 174 for Owens, 250 for Hoffman, and 11 for Scozzafava.  This amounts to a gain of 4 votes for Owens, a gain of 569 votes for Hoffman, and a net loss of 542 votes for Scozzafava.

Vote Counts Were Switched

The Board of Elections has attributed the false initial numbers to human error.  Poll workers mistakenly read the wrong line on the computer tape, or so the story goes.  But votes were not only denied to Hoffman; they were delivered to Scozzafava.  What obviously happened is that vote counts were switched.  Hoffman’s tallies on the Conservative Party line were given to Scozzafava, and Scozzafava’s tallies on the Independence Party line were given to Hoffman.  If all of Scozzafava’s 36 rightful votes in these three districts were on the Republican Party line, the result would be false tallies of zero votes for Hoffman.

Thus, for the “human error” explanation to be true, poll workers in three different polling places must have made the same two mistakes.

Also in Madison County there were two other districts with egregious errors that somebody should have noticed:

    * In Nelson’s 1st district, Hoffman was awarded 100 extra votes on Election Night.  This is obvious because, after the counting of absentee ballots, Hoffman’s count has decreased by 93 votes; and because the revised total of 336 votes counted for Congress more closely resembles the other contests in this district, the next highest number of votes counted being 333 votes for County Sheriff.  Unfortunately, the numbers for “blank” ballots are not reported, so we have no way of knowing the number of actual voters without auditing the poll books and the absentee voter lists.

    * In Georgetown, all the votes were double-counted on Election Night.  This is obvious because the initial count was 178 for Owens, 28 for Scozzafava, and 284 for Hoffman; and the certified count is 91 for Owens, 16 for Scozzafava, and 149 for Hoffman.  If the initial count is divided in half and subtracted from the certified count, the remainder represents the absentee ballots: 2 for Owens, 2 for Scozzafava, and 7 for Hoffman.  By comparison, the certified count is 256 votes for Congress, and 260 for County Sheriff.

Countywide, the initial count for Madison County, reported on the morning after the election by the Watertown Daily Times, was 7743 for Owens, 8110 for Hoffman, and 1128 for Scozzafava.  With corrections and adjustments made, and absentee ballots counted, the final (certified) count is now 8290 for Owens, 9155 for Hoffman, and 724 for Scozzafava.  Thus, Hoffman’s lead of 367 votes on Election Night has grown to 865 votes – a net gain of 498.

For Oneida County, at 11:50 P.M. on Election Night, the Albany Times-Union posted these vote tallies: 3510 for Owens, 2432 for Hoffman, and 274 for Scozzafava.  Owens was reportedly winning Oneida County by 1078 votes, with 56% of the total.  The next morning, the Watertown Daily Times reported very different numbers: 2024 for Owens, 2779 for Hoffman, and 362 for Scozzafava.  Owens was now losing Oneida County by 755 votes, with only 39% of the total.  This represents an overnight reversal of 1833 votes.  But by that time, Hoffman had already conceded the election.

Preliminary precinct results obtained a few days after the election contained no votes from Lee’s 2nd and 5th districts.  The partial results from elsewhere in the county match what was reported in the Watertown Daily Times, so these were the only two districts not reporting.

But even the corrected partial results were incorrect.  In Camden’s 2nd district, the Board of Elections was still reporting 100 (74%) for Owens, 23 (17%) for Scozzafava, and 12 (9%) for Hoffman.  Somebody should have noticed this.  By comparison, Hoffman’s lowest percentage anywhere else in the county was 43% in Boonville’s 4th district.  In Camden’s other two districts, Hoffman received 66% and 67% of the vote. 

Vote-Switching Methodology

The Camden example demonstrates clearly the methodology for vote switching.  Hoffman was awarded 12 votes, not zero.  These votes had to come from somewhere.  The simplest explanation is that Hoffman’s tally on the Conservative Party line was given to Owens, and Owens’ tally on the Working Families Party line was given to Hoffman, who suffered a net loss of at least 75 votes.  If these votes were shifted not to Scozzafava but to Owens, the other leading candidate, the margin was affected by 150 votes.

Whether these numbers from Camden’s 2nd district have been corrected is not certain, because Oneida County has not released its final precinct results.  The final countywide results show 2243 for Owens, 3225 for Hoffman, and 459 for Scozzafava, which represent, since the corrected partial results reported the morning after the election, gains of 219 votes for Owens, 446 votes for Hoffman, and 97 votes for Scozzafava.  Either way, Hoffman’s countywide percentage has grown from 39% on Election Night to 54% today.

The Oneida County Board of Elections has confirmed that optical scanners were used only in the Town of Marcy.  Lever machines were used elsewhere.  Thus it seems likely that the numbers from Camden’s 2nd district would have been corrected during recanvassing, because the true ballot positions that correspond with the vote tallies are plainly visible on a lever machine.

In Jefferson County, Sean M. Hennessey, Democratic elections commissioner, said that poll inspectors in four districts reported that Hoffman had received zero votes after inadvertently reading the wrong line of the poll system’s printout.  Hennessey said that results in some other districts were either incorrectly relayed by the poll worker or incorrectly typed by the part-time staff answering phones at the Jefferson County Board of Elections office.
_________________________________________
'Altogether, vote switching in four counties
altered the reported margin between Owens and Hoffman by an estimated 2,650 votes.
And this is only what we know about. . . .

With concealed electronic vote counting, partial shifts of the vote count
could occur without a trace, and not be readily apparent in the election results. 
And yet the New York State Board of Elections is expected to certify these election results
and the untrustworthy machines that produced them.'
_________________________________________
 
Jefferson County election officials blamed the mistakes on “chaos” in their call-in center, and on inspectors who read numbers incorrectly when reporting results over the phone.  “The machines were not at fault,” said Jerry O. Eaton, Republican elections commissioner for Jefferson County.  “It’s all human error that happens every election.”  Jefferson County has not conducted a hand count of the paper ballots from the election districts where the zero vote counts were reported.

The initial vote count reported in the Watertown Daily Times was 9996 for Owens, 9439 for Hoffman, and 1155 for Scozzafava.  By the time the Jefferson County Board of Elections provided its preliminary precinct results to one of the involved campaigns, three days after the election, the zero vote counts had been corrected in all four districts.  The corrected preliminary results were 10,238 for Owens, 10,358 for Hoffman, and 1179 for Scozzafava.  This represented net gains of 242 votes for Owens, 919 for Hoffman, and 24 for Scozzafava, and a change of 677 votes in the countywide margin.  The combined increase of 1185 votes (5.8%) indicates that not all districts had reported their results when the Watertown Daily Times went to press, and suggests that vote shifting had altered the margin by about 640 votes.  But more importantly, the ratio of the newly counted votes (Hoffman got 78% of them, Owens 20%, and Scozzafava 2%) indicates that, in the four districts with the zero vote counts, most of Hoffman’s votes had gone to Owens.  The “tally sheets” from these four election districts should tell the tale.

But even the corrected preliminary results were not correct.

Because Your Vote Should Count

Source: Gouverneurtimes.com

Click NY 23 tag for related articles

Commentary

by Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D.  
Tuesday, 01 December 2009

For nearly a century, as long as most of us can remember, lever machines have been used for voting in elections throughout New York State.  They have proved durable and reliable.  The votes have been counted at the polling place, in public, with the tallied numbers in plain view for all to see.  Any errors in reporting have been easily corrected by simply looking at “odometers” on the machines.

This fall, for the first time, as a “pilot” program, optical scanners were substituted for lever machines in much of the state, including most of the 23rd Congressional District, and problems with the vote count emerged on an unprecedented scale.

In at least four counties, the initial vote counts reported on Election Night were so far from the truth as to cause a candidate to concede prematurely.  Having never before witnessed such unreliable numbers, he doubted not the vote count, but his own ability to draw enough supporters to the polls.
________________________________
'All of the shifting of votes from one Congressional candidate to another

hurt Hoffman and helped an opponent. 

So far as I know, the vote shifting that occurred in these counties

was never once to Hoffman’s benefit.'
________________________________
 
But when the reported numbers were examined district by district, patterns began to emerge that were easily concealed at the county level.  In numerous election districts in Jefferson, Madison, Oneida and Oswego counties, the entire vote count for Doug Hoffman on the Conservative Party line was shifted to other candidates.  Sometimes Hoffman received the few votes of his opponents on the Independence or Working Families party lines, and sometimes he was left with no votes at all.

It is not entirely clear how this vote switching happened.  The Boards of Elections tend to blame the poll workers for misreading the computer printouts.  But votes were not only denied to Hoffman; his votes were delivered to his opponents.  For the “human error” explanation to be true, poll workers in more than a dozen polling places must have made the same two mistakes.

Perhaps the machines themselves reported the false numbers, or perhaps the votes were deliberately shifted in an attempt to run up a high enough margin on Election Night to get Hoffman to concede.  A forensic examination of the computer tapes and the “tally sheets” from the affected polling places should tell the tale.

This is not idle speculation.  The vote counts in these districts make clear that thousands of votes were affected.  And this is only what we know about.  With concealed electronic vote counting, partial shifts of the vote count could occur without a trace, and not be readily apparent in the election results.

Most, perhaps all, of the false counts reported on Election Night may have been corrected during recanvassing, especially in Oneida County where lever machines were still used.  But that is not the point.  The results reported on Election Night should never have been so terribly wrong in the first place.

Perhaps these alterations of the vote count were not of such magnitude as to reverse the outcome of the election.  But that is not the point.  Thousands of votes were not counted as cast.  We were denied our most fundamental right in what passes for a democracy.
________________________________
The short-term remedy is to call this federally funded, court-ordered, “pilot” election

an utter failure, and bring back the lever machines that served us so well for so long.'

________________________________
 
Auditing elections is a difficult task.  Rarely does an election investigator have access to all the information needed to determine how many votes there were, and if all the votes were counted.  So few people have experience in the field that peer review is difficult to obtain in a timely manner.  All of this has to be done during a very short period of time within which an election can be challenged.  Mistakes are just as inevitable in an election audit as in the actual counting of votes.

But I have seen enough to be convinced that not all of the false numbers can be attributed to “human error.”  All of the shifting of votes from one Congressional candidate to another hurt Hoffman and helped an opponent.  So far as I know, the vote shifting that occurred in these counties was never once to Hoffman’s benefit.

The short-term remedy is to call this federally funded, court-ordered, “pilot” election an utter failure, and bring back the lever machines that served us so well for so long.  If a states’ rights movement is required to bring this about, so be it.

The long-term remedy is to question the very system that presumed to tell us how to run our elections.  This country belongs to the people, not to the federal government.  All New Yorkers, regardless of party affiliation, should demand a transparent, reliable vote count.  Our only power is our right to vote.  And if our votes are not counted as cast, then we have nothing.  We are powerless and disenfranchised, and we don’t live the lives we think we do.
___________________________________

Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D., is one of the leading election fraud investigators in the United States.  His book on the 2004 Ohio election, Witness to a Crime: A Citizens’ Audit of an American Election, based on examination of some 30,000 photographs of actual ballots, poll books, and other election records, is available at http://www.witnesstoacrime.com

Updated 23rd District Election Counts, 11-16-09

Source: Gouverneurtimes.com

Updated 23rd District Election Counts

Northern NY News
Written by Nathan Barker  
Monday, 16 November 2009 15:36

GOUVERNEUR, NY - Today (Nov. 16th) was the final day for absentee ballots to be received in New York's 23rd District Special Congressional Election.  Already three counties have completed the final vote counts, and Hamilton County has already certified those counts to the State Board of Elections.

Updated NY23 Counts* - These counties are reporting final counts with absentee ballots included.

With three counties' absentee ballots included, Doug Hoffman now trails Bill Owens by 2,856 votes.

Our counts as of this afternoon show an additional 5798 absentee votes as yet uncounted.

Jefferson County began counting their 1304 returned absentee ballots this morning.

Clinton and Essex Counties have begun counts and expect to have final results before Friday.

Franklin County, St. Lawrence County, and Oswego County do not anticipate a completed absentee count until early next week.

Fulton County results are now included.

Lewis County Board of Election representatives were unavailable early this morning.

Check this page daily for the most current results available.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 November 2009 16:14

Possible Recount in Questionable NY-23 Contest

Source: Washingtontimes.com

Hoffman Considering Recount Claim

By Maria Stainer

EXCLUSIVE:

Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman said on Friday he is considering filing a recount claim in light of computer irregularities that have been reported. He has until Monday to make that decision.

Mr. Hoffman conceded the New York's 23rd Congressional District race to winner Democrat Bill Owens on Election Night, but has had second thoughts.

Three voting computers were shown to have had a virus and had to be reprogrammed, Mr. Hoffman told The Washington Times' "America's Morning News" radio show.

"If I had this information on Election Night, I would not have conceded," he said

Mr. Owens, a Plattburgh lawyer, won over Mr. Hoffman, a CPA, in a race that captured national headlines after Republican candidate and one-time frontrunner Dede Scozzafava bowed out of the race and threw her support behind Mr. Owens.

"What your listeners need to know is that on Election Night, we're shown to be down by 6,000 votes and through recanvassing, they discovered computers that were giving the wrong information and polling sites that reported the wrong information -- and that lead dropped down to less than 3,000 votes by this week," Mr. Hoffman said, referring to Election Board officials who are investigating.

"And now they are counting the absentee ballots that were scheduled to come in no later than Monday of this week."

Mr. Hoffman said he doesn't think the three voting machines were tampered. He does, however, ask: "Why didn't they look at all of the machines when they knew the three had a particular computer problem."

The WatertownDailyTimes.com reported Friday that with just 3,072 votes left uncounted, Mr. Owens' win is mathematically insurmountable.

"It's a long shot, but we're waiting for every vote to be counted," Mr. Hoffman told The Washington Times.

"We have people that are looking into this and we have until Monday to make that determination and file a recount claim," he said. "At this point, we're still anxiously waiting to find out what the final count comes down to be and, at that point, what the gap is."

First the Impossible, Now the Improbable, in NY-23

Source: Gouverneurtimes.com

2nd in a series
Click NY23 tag to see all related stories.

First the Impossible, Now the Improbable, in NY-23

Northern NY News
by Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D.  
Friday, 27 November 2009 12:14

Editor's Note: Based on additional information provided by the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections, Dr. Phillips revised this article to improve clarity and accuracy.

CANTON, NY – As reported last week, impossible numbers were found in the St. Lawrence County election results for the special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District.  Ninety-three (93) “phantom votes,” more votes counted than the number of ballots cast, were reported in six election districts, and negative numbers reported for the “blank ballots,” or “undervotes.”

These were not the certified results.  The author deeply regrets having said that they were.  The numbers, which the Board of Elections attributes to data entry errors, have since been corrected.  However, scrutiny of the certified election results reveals numerous districts (precincts) where the results, although not always mathematically impossible, are not credible.
______________________________________
'The court-ordered 'pilot' election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District was an utter failure . .

. . . the time-tested lever machines were much more reliable.'
______________________________________

On Friday, November 6, three days after the election, one of the involved campaigns obtained from the Board of Elections a spreadsheet of the preliminary (unofficial) election results, precinct by precinct.  Absentee ballots had not yet been counted.  This serves as an important “snapshot” with which to compare the final (certified) results.

Onondaga-scannerAs previously reported, voting machine failures at eight polling places in St. Lawrence County caused the Board of Elections to hand count those ballots.  Realistically, there was no other choice but to do so.  According to the Board, the locked voting machines were transported to a warehouse in Canton where the ballots were counted by hand.  The problem with this procedure is that it is illegal under § 9-100 of New York State Election Law, which requires that the votes be counted at the polling place:
§ 9-100  At the close of the polls the inspectors of election shall, in the order set forth herein, lock the machine against voting, account for the paper ballots, canvass the machine, cast and canvass all the ballots, canvass and ascertain the total vote and they shall not adjourn until the canvass be fully completed.

Onondaga County optical scanner

An audit of the poll books and absentee voter lists for three of these eight polling places reveals that the preliminary hand count could not have been correct. In Louisville, there were 885 actual voters at the polls, but only 691 votes were counted for Congress on Election Night.  In Waddington, there were 754 actual voters at the polls, but only 347 votes were counted for Congress on Election Night.  In Rossie, there were 138 actual voters at the polls, but only 94 votes were counted for Congress on Election Night.  53 votes were counted later.  Bill Owens got 50 of them.


Ballots Should Be Counted in Public

One possible reason for the short counts on Election Night is that the Sequoia/Dominion ImageCast machines have two slots and two bins for ballots.  There is a slot which sucks a ballot into the optical scanner, much like a dollar bill is sucked into a vending machine, and after the ballot is scanned it drops into a locked box.  There is another slot in the front of the machine which can be opened when the scanner breaks down and emergency paper ballots need to be segregated and counted by hand; these ballots drop into a separate locked box.  It is possible that the Board of Elections initially counted the ballots from one box but not the other.  But this is precisely why § 9-102.3(b) of New York State Election Law requires that the ballots be counted in public at the polling place, and why § 9-108.1 requires that the number of ballots be cross-checked with the poll books to be sure that all the ballots have been counted.

§ 9-102.3(b)  Paper ballots and emergency ballots cast during voting machine breakdowns which have been voted shall then be canvassed and tallied, the vote thereon for each candidate and ballot proposal, announced and added to the vote as recorded on the return of canvass.

§ 9-108.1  The board of inspectors, at the beginning of the canvass, shall count the ballots found in each ballot box without unfolding them, except so far as to ascertain that each ballot is single, and shall compare the number of ballots found in each box with the number shown by the registration poll records, and the ballot returns to have been deposited therein.

Another problem with these voting machines is that it is mechanically possible to open both ballot slots, and both locked boxes, even while the optical scanner is operating.  This opens the possibility that ballots could be deposited into the wrong ballot box, inadvertently or deliberately, and never be counted.  An eyewitness who voted at the only polling place in Russell told me that she was not allowed to place her own ballot in the machine; a poll worker examined her ballot and placed it into the machine for her.  This caused her to be concerned about both the privacy of her vote and the security of the vote count.

Blank Ballots Beyond Belief

As previously reported, the number of “blank” ballots, or “undervotes,” is calculated by subtracting the number of votes counted for a given office from the total number of ballots cast.  In the Congressional race, the highest percentage of “blank” ballots anywhere in St. Lawrence County was in Russell’s 2nd district.  According to the poll book there were 590 actual voters at the polls, and there were 11 absentee ballots, for a total of 601, in Russell’s 1st and 2nd districts combined.  According to the certified results there were 338 ballots cast, of which 23 (6.8%) were blank, in the 1st district, and 262 ballots cast, of which 27 (10.3%) were blank, in the 2nd district.  It is highly unlikely that 10.3% of the voters made no choice among three candidates in one of the most hotly contested races in the nation.

Virus in the Voting Machines: Tainted Results in NY-23

Source: Gouverneurtimes.com


Virus in the Voting Machines: Tainted Results in NY-23

Northern NY News
Written by Nathan Barker  
Thursday, 19 November 2009 12:44

GOUVERNEUR, NY - The computerized voting machines used by many voters in the 23rd district had a computer virus - tainting the results, not just from those machines known to have been infected, but casting doubt on the accuracy of counts retrieved from any of the machines.

Cathleen Rogers, the Democratic Elections Commissioner in Hamilton County stated that they discovered a problem with their voting machines the week prior to the election and that the "virus" was fixed by a Technical Support representative from Dominion, the manufacturer.  The Dominion/Sequoia Voting Systems representative "reprogrammed" their machines in time for them to use in the Nov. 3rd Special Election. None of the machines (from the same manufacturer) used in the other counties within the 23rd district were looked at nor were they recertified after the "reprogramming" that occurred in Hamilton County.
ImageCast Scanner
ImageCast Scanner
Republican Commissioner Judith Peck refused to speculate on whether the code that governs the counts could have been tampered with.  She indicated that "as far as I know, the machine in question was not functioning properly and was repaired" by the technician.
 
Commissioners in other counties have stated that they were not made aware of the virus issue in Hamilton County.  In Jefferson County, inspectors from four districts claim that "human error" resulted in their "mistakenly" entering 0 votes for Hoffman in several districts, resulting in Owens leading Jefferson County on election night though the recanvas of the computer counts now show that Hoffman is leading.  Jefferson County has not conducted a manual paper ballot recount. 

_________________________________________

'Whether the erroneous results are computer error, or tampering,
significant doubt now exists with regard to the accuracy of the vote counts from November 3rd . . . A manual paper-ballot recount of the vote could resolve computer vote accuracy questions.'

_________________________________________

 
 

In St. Lawrence County, machines in Louisville, Waddington, Claire, and Rossie "broke" early in the voting process on election day.  Republican Commissioner Deborah Pahler said that the machines kept "freezing up... like Windows does all the time," and that they experienced several paper jams as well.  The voted ballots that could not be scanned were placed in an Emergency Lock Box and re-scanned later at the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections.  Election officials in St. Lawrence County were given no advance knowledge of a potential virus in the system.

At least one County official thus far has raised concern that it's possible that ALL of the machines used in the NY-23 election had the 'virus' but only a few malfunctioned as a result.  The counts from any district that used the ImageCast machines are suspect due to "the virus" discovered in Hamilton County, last-minute "reprogramming" by Dominion workers, and security flaws in the systems themselves.  A manual paper-ballot recount of the vote could resolve computer vote accuracy questions.

Frank Hoar, an attorney for the Democratic Party, initially ordered the impound of malfunctioning machines but released the order on Nov. 5th so that Bill Owens could be sworn in to Congress in time to vote on the House Health bill on November 7th.  Pahler said that once the impound order was released they opened the locked ballot box and had the ballots scanned.  Pahler also stated that after they were able to get data from the malfunctioning machines, they did a hand-count of the ballots as well to ensure that the counts matched.  Even though not required to, both commissioners in St. Lawrence County agreed that the manual count was necessary due to the malfunctions

The machines themselves are languishing at the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections until after the election results have been certified to the state on November 28th, 2009.  Pahler indicated that they have not yet been able to examine the machines to determine why they malfunctioned.  A qualified technician would be able to verify the presence of a virus in the computers, but, other than the infected machines, no security precautions were taken to ensure chain of custody on the remaining computerized voting machines utilized in the 23rd district.
 

Impossible Numbers in NY-23

Source: Gouverneurtimes.com

cartton, impossible numbersThis article was based upon unofficial results provided to the author by the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections in a .pdf file on the same day that the election results were certified.  These were not the certified results, and the author deeply regrets having said that they were.

Five days after the publication of this article, the Board of Elections provided an .xls spreadsheet of the certified results, district by district, in which only the numbers for ballots cast and blank ballots had been changed; and a .pdf file, dated Monday, November 30th, with numbers for blank ballots inserted, district by district.  The changes in the numbers for ballots cast are duly noted in this revised article.

The Board of Elections has stated that only the numbers for “blank ballots” were computer generated in the original .pdf file, and that the “whole number” of ballots cast for each election district was entered manually.  The data entry program then automatically subtracted the vote counts for each of the candidates and the remainder would appear in the final column as “blank ballots.”  In these six election districts (and perhaps others), data entry errors were made in the first column, for “whole number” of ballots cast, which resulted in the erroneous numbers in the final column, for “blank ballots."


Impossible Numbers in NY-23

Northern NY News
by Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D.  
Wednesday, 25 November 2009

CANTON, NY – The election results certified by the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections for New York’s 23rd Congressional District did not contain the mathematically impossible numbers reported here last week.  Those were not the certified results, and the author deeply regrets having said that they were.

For six election districts in St. Lawrence County (the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 7th districts in Canton, the 14th district in Massena, and the 2nd district in Oswegatchie) negative numbers had appeared in the unofficial results, in the column for “blank” ballots, known in other states as “undervotes.”

Blank vote counts are ballots in which the voter did not choose any candidate in a given election and are determined by subtracting the total number of votes cast for the candidates from the number of voters who completed ballots.  The remaining number would be those voters who didn’t cast a vote for that election.

In Canton’s 7th district, the unofficial results showed a total of 148 ballots cast. The results of those votes were counted as 88 votes for Owens, 11 votes for Scozzafava, and 80 votes for Hoffman.  The problem was that these numbers add up to 179 votes counted for the candidates, and the unofficial results reported only 148 ballots cast; so the number of ‘blank’ ballots appeared as -31.

Election analysts refer to this phenomenon as “phantom voters,” because they are apparitions.  They do not actually exist.  There can never be more votes counted for any office than the number of actual voters who cast ballots.  There could be one or two, if on occasion an actual voter forgot to sign the poll book, but never 31.
_____________________________________
“Phantom votes” can be introduced into the system.
The computer can be programmed to add votes to one candidate’s total,
and the unsuspecting Board of Elections
will dutifully subtract all the candidates’ vote counts from the total ballots cast,
report the remainder as “blank votes,” all the numbers will add up perfectly,
and no one will be the wiser –
except, of course, if negative numbers turn up in the column for “blank votes.”
_____________________________________
 
In addition to the 31 “phantom votes” in Canton's 7th district, there were 16 more in Canton’s 2nd district, two in Canton's 4th district, 20 in the 7th, 22 in Massena 14th district, and 2 in Oswegatchie 2nd district.

A “phantom vote,” which is a vote counted with no ballot cast, is the opposite of a “blank vote” or “undervote,” which is a ballot cast with no vote counted.  They cancel each other out.  Thus, if “phantom votes” are allowed into a vote counting system, they can be masked if there are fewer of them than the number of “blank votes” or “undervotes.”
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