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Voter fraud (or the lack thereof)


The “facts” depend on what side you’re on

My own opinion is that the stability of American society stems from a widespread belief that if we don’t like something, there are peaceful ways to effect change. Obviously not everything is fair and the playing field is not level, but folks think they have a chance. Some disagree and are all for storming the White House, at least they are when writing on the Internet, exemplified by such graphics as the one shown above.

These days birthers are among those who believe that elections are not fair, that there is massive voter fraud. Many birthers believe that Barack Obama didn’t really win his elections. Orly Taitz alleged a stunning number of fraudulent votes in her California Senate race in 2012, although she never identified anyone who voted illegally.

It is in the nature of the conspiracy theorist to suspect a conspiracy behind every unusual event, and we see that in a recent article from Orly Taitz about the Cochran/McDaniel runoff Senate race in Mississippi. Thad Cochran is the long-term incumbent US Senator from Mississippi who received 0.5% fewer votes than state Senator Chris McDaniel in the Republican Primary. (I wrote about this race briefly in my article, “Cloward and Piven were from Manchuria?”) In the runoff election, things were reversed with Cochran the winner by 6,693 votes out of almost 400,000 votes cast. The runoff election was marked by an unusually high voter turnout (20% more votes in the runoff than in the primary election). There is a detailed analysis of the election results in this paper, “Mississippi Primary Runoff Election, 2014: Republican Primary Election Runoff, Cochran (i) v. McDaniel” from the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development. Continue Reading →

Life in the emergency lane

imageOrly Taitz did a much better job redacting the account number on the image of the check for $710 she sent to the California Supreme Court than she ever did redacting President Obama’s social-security number in her court filings. The check was for an “emergency” petition [Link to Taitz web site] to the Court to stay the election. The title of her article is:

Emergency petition for STAY of certification of election results filed with the Supreme Court of CA. I don’t believe they will do a thing, but from here it goes to Anthony Kennedy at SCOTUS. He is rather mad at what is going on in the last 4 years, particularly Obamacare, he might grant a stay, we’ll know soon enough. I need people to look through their statutes and seek emergency stay provisions in their Supreme Courts. We need to send similar Applications for stay up to Alito, Thomas and Scalia

The plaintiffs are Orly Taitz, Edward Noonan and Keith Judd.

Orly is clearly deluded on two points. The first is her allegation that:

Plaintiffs have uncovered one and a half million invalid voter registrations in the state of California

That’s based the State’s registration database not having valid dates of birth for many registrants. That said, some state voter registration databases are out of date, not having removed people that moved away. (One of the things we worked on in the vital statistics software business was providing interfaces between death registration systems and voter registration systems to remove deceased voters.) This is why sometimes there are more registered voters than there are adults in the population. It’s especially true in small towns with large universities. But voter registration is not the same thing as voting, and these ineligible voters (moved away or died) don’t vote and they don’t effect the outcome of the election. What Orly would need to show, and she obviously cannot, is that enough ineligible persons voted in the elected to change the outcome.

The second thing Orly is deluded about is the belief that all the government officials, state and local, know she’s right and they only say otherwise because of corruption or cowardice. The believes that there is a judge out there somewhere who will grant her wishes and rewrite history to make her the heroine and the scary black man in the White House the villain.

Other recent Taitz emergencies (links to Taitz web site):

Ineligible president elected by illegible voters

On a new twist in denying the results of the 2012 Presidential Election, Michael Savage says the Barack Obama was elected “illegal aliens,” so reports Orly Taitz on her blog.

Savage claims a background in epidemiology, but doesn’t actually do any analysis; he just says that the polls were wrong because they didn’t count illegals. There are two problems with that. First, most polls were right, and second it’s really hard for an undocumented person to register to vote lacking, uh, documentation.

It’s a theory designed to play well to right-wing prejudices,  attractive to those who fear undocumented persons and know that Latinos voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

BTW, I saw a cute cartoon yesterday. Two Indians were talking and one asks the other what a Pilgrim is. The other says “undocumented immigrant.”

The election fraud that almost happened?

This story is pretty far out there, and I’m not inclined to believe it, but it’s worth thinking about the possibility that election tabulation systems in states could be hacked. State governments do get hacked; the South Carolina Department of Revenue was a recent victim and the SC Elections Commission was dumping sensitive security information on the Internet this past election day.

Here the hacker group Anonymous allegedly claims to have stopped Karl Rove’s minions from changing the vote in Ohio to make Obama lose that state. It is also alleged that Rove successfully stole the 2004 election by hacking Ohio.

The reason I find these particular stories implausible is that the individual precinct totals are published and individual precinct workers somewhere might check the the published totals and note a discrepancy at which time the scam is blown. It’s the recording of individual votes where the magic happens (meaning that it’s less likely for fraud to be caught).

Here’s the report from the Thom Hartmann program:

Continue Reading →

Massive vote fraud in the minds of stupid bloggers

I don’t mean to pick on Heather Ginsberg at specifically, or suggest that she is any more stupid than all the others to repeat this story; her article “BREAKING: Massive Voter Fraud in St. Lucie County, Florida,” was just the first of many that came up when I searched the web for the story. Here’s the “story” that’s all over right-wing web sites across the country:

On Tuesday only one precinct had less than 113% turnout. “The Unofficial vote count is 175,554 registered voters 247,713 vote cards cast (141.10% ). The National SEAL Museum, a St. Lucie county polling place, had 158.85% voter turn out, the highest in the county.”

The Supervisor of Elections, Gertrude Walker, had this to say concerning the 141% voter turnout: “They may have had something like that in Palm Beach County, but we’ve never seen that here.

Of course, if there were any truth to that headline, the national press would be all over it, and they are not. The reason that there is “no story here” is that Florida had a very long ballot this year, and it took two voter cards to hold all of the ballot selections. So rather than a massive over vote, the actual voter turnout was about 70% which is very high and why the Supervisor of Elections said that the turnout was unprecedented.

Despite the utter implausibility of the conclusion, lots of people cite this as evidence that the 2012 Presidential Election was rife with fraud. To my knowledge, only one case of voter fraud has been uncovered in the 2012 election so fare and that was a Republican arrested trying to prove how easy it is to get away with voting twice—that was stupid too.

Ballot challenges move to election challenges

Inserting BallotI think we’re seeing the inevitable sorting out of the birther movement, with the politically motivated dropping away and the denialists staying the course. That’s natural, of course, for someone who has been 4 years in denial to remain in denial.

Some believed that Obama’s election in 2008 resulted from voters not knowing who they were electing. They denied that the electorate made an informed choice. This time around, Americans knew exactly what kind of job Barack Obama had done as President. In order to maintain the fiction that “the people really don’t want Obama” it is necessary now to deny the election itself, and that’s what we see today over at the Obama Ballot Challenge web site in an article, “Can You Help Us Prove Obama Stole the Election?” Anything to deny the legitimacy of Barack Obama as President of the United States.

OBC is not yet alleging election tampering, but they are starting a research project, and do you notice how they start with the conclusion and then do the research? Perhaps some of the volunteer self-proclaimed forensic document experts can discover that they are also statistical experts. Rather than anomalies in pixels, they can look for anomalies in precinct totals. Who knows?

My career in and around vital records data systems served me in good stead to deal with some of the birther nonsense about birth certificates. Perhaps my degree in math will come in handy if there is a new round of conspiracy theories looking for patterns in the noise of polling data. I’ve opened up a new high-level category: Election Conspiracies.