Michigan, Colorado, or Faithless Electors Could Scuttle Clinton Coronation

sunday-school-clinton-nyma-trump

“Beds are damp. There is a crack in the blue wall, and it has to do with trade. This is the ghost of Bernie Sanders.” –Van Jones on CNN re: Michigan

Either former Methodist Sunday schooler Hillary Clinton or former New York Military Academy cadet Donald Tump will claim the mantle of the next U.S. Presidency within the next forty hours.

Or perhaps both will. We’ve had two Popes, even three. Why not two Presidents?

Clinton has a 45.4% to 42.4% average national poll lead by my calculations. Those calculations almost exclusively involve strictly averaging the latest results from all pollsters in the field within the last ten days. Furthermore, for months, the mathematical geek aggregators’ consensus has been that Trump’s chances of upsetting Clinton are slender even on his best days. If Clinton wins her “firewall” of states totaling 272 electoral votes, states where she’s led and usually led handily for most of the way, or if she loses one of them like New Hampshire, but ekes out a victory in hard fought Nevada, as now widely expected, or a win in Florida, North Carolina, or even Ohio, the candidate Democratic operatives, major media, and Barack Obama have fought so hard to help coronate will finally have won her imperial crown.

If, on the other hand, Trump can breach the firewall without leaving behind states he is expected to win like Ohio, Iowa, and Arizona, the Donald will assume the position of Groper-in-Chief, a position that has moldered vacant these sixteen years since Clinton’s consort William Jefferson and his merry band of playboys left the West Wing bereft of any keyboards with the letter W, with a “Jail to the Thief” sticker stuck to a presidential filing cabinet and with obscene anti-Bush slogans vandalizing the loos.

To breach the firewall, Trump must claim victory in Florida and North Carolina and win one of a handful of states like Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, Pennsylvania or, in a real stretch, Virginia, New Mexico, Wisconsin, or Minnesota. These last four states are ones where polling averages, mine and the average of averages for FiveThirtyEight, RealClearPolitics, Huffington Post and Drew Linzer’s Votamatic, see Clinton maintaining a lead of 5.0% to 6.5%.

By my count, just eight state contests over the last three presidential cycles have seen RealClearPolitics (RCP) average miss by 4.5% or greater. Bush outperformed in Florida and Hawai’i in 2004. Obama underperformed the RCP average in Iowa, still winning handily, and overperformed in New Mexico and Nevada in 2008. Finally, Obama handily beat polling averages in Oregon and Michigan in 2012. This last polling miss, by 5.5% in Michigan last time around, is particularly relevant for what lies immediately ahead.

Michigan was, of course, also the site of the “one of the greatest upsets in modern political history,” when Bernie Sanders out performed polling averages by more than 20% to win the Democratic primary in March of this year.

I correctly predicted the Sanders’ upset and am predicting, once again, that Clinton will defy polling expectations, including my ten-day average modelling, and lose Michigan.  This does not necessarily mean I am predicting that Clinton will lose the election as a whole. I will not bore you here with a long explanation of my reasoning, but it is clear that the Clinton camp is also seeing the very real potential of a loss in Michigan. This tracks very well with what I am hearing from family and friends and extended networks in the state where I vote.

For virtually all other states, I am sticking with the data I and others have collected, though I should note that I have a strong suspicion that Trump may win in Colorado and that Clinton could pull off a big surprise in Arizona on the strength of Latina and Latino voters. This latter possibility could take weeks to settle given how badly Arizona runs its elections and election counting. Early voting in Colorado has not gone nearly the way Democrats would have liked it to go and the best pollster in the state projects a 39% to 39% tie with lots of third party and undecided voters. Of note, I am projecting that Donald Trump will split out Maine’s second congressional district, winning it by a few percentage points and picking up an extra electoral vote. I should also note that my polling averages, as of now, project a 0.4% Clinton win in North Carolina, but I am going with the average of other aggregators to pick a small Trump win in the Tarheel State.

Here is what that data, which I’ve been tweeting about (#10at10) for a few months, looks like, updated just after midnight eastern November 7 to November 8.

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As an additional wildcard, at least one, if not two Electoral College voters in Washington state are insisting they may well not vote for Clinton on December 19. These potential unfaithful electors mean Clinton needs at least 272 Electoral Votes, if not a few more to guard against the possibility of further defections.

Florida is too close to call. My prediction is a 0.5% gap in one direction or the other, triggering an automatic recount, a 2000 redux if you will. If absolutely forced to pick who will win Florida and thus the presidency, I would waver for a long while and finally suggest Clinton by a nose, sticking with my data that projects a 0.4% Clinton win.

Here’s what that electoral map looks like, Florida a toss-up, courtesy 270towin.com.

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At Least 40 Women Have Accused Bill Clinton or Donald Trump of Sexual Assault

More Than Double Trouble; pictures from the William J. Clinton Presidential Library

More Than Double Trouble; pictures from the William J. Clinton Presidential Library

No, Bill Clinton is not just accused of consensual affairs. Yes, he and Hillary Clinton are a team. She has been a regular part of attacking Bill’s victims, has worn the mantle of his supposed successes, and has promised that he will have a key place in running the economy in her administration.

No, Donald Trump did not just use naughty, “locker room” words, nor was he just suddenly accused of sexual assault as an October surprise.

At least 40 women have accused Bill Clinton or Donald Trump of rape or other sexual assaults going back to the 1960’s and forward through every decade since.

What holds this system in place? Well, partisans from Team Red or Team Blue relentlessly attack the guy on the other side while dragging, shaming, and mocking accusers or otherwise dismissing accusations against their guy. Or, as recently with Megyn Kelly, someone from the same Team rightly aggrieved against someone on their side, goes after their own guy relentlessly while letting the other guy slide off easily.

Some news outlets or websites have collected lists of accusations against whoever the guy is on the other side. Most of these lists have one problem or another even with getting the list completed without questionable additions or subtractions.

To be up front, I am very reluctantly voting Team Blue in a likely swing state this time, even while having voted for Jill Stein in 2012 and having taken pictures with Bob Dole and Jimmy Carter in the past.

What Team you are on shouldn’t matter.

Taking sexual assault seriously and believing women shouldn’t be a partisan matter. Yes, there are very rare cases of women making false claims or having their stories manipulated and fluffed for political gain, but when well more than a dozen women have accused each man, refusing to believe or even entertain the worst about your side is a massive part of why rape culture continues its steady and sickly march forward.

  1. Eileen Wellstone accused Bill Clinton of raping her at Oxford in 1969. Capitol Hill Blue, a kind of pre-cursor to Politico which reported positively and negatively on both parties from inside the Washington D.C. beltway, confirmed the accusation with Ms. Wellstone in 1999 and found a key State Department official who had originally investigated the accusation to support the claim.
  2. In 1972 a woman at Yale University accused then law student Bill Clinton of sexual assault. Capitol Hill Blue‘s outstanding reporting on all of this included finding the accuser, who confirmed the accusation but would not allow her name to be used, and multiple policemen from New Haven at the time who confirmed the incident.
  3. In 1974, also reported in Capitol Hill Blue, a female law student of Bill Clinton’s in Arkansas accused him of blocking her departure from a room then forcing his hand down her blouse. Daniel J. Harris and Teresa Hampton, the Capital Hill Blue reporters for this piece, again tracked down the accuser and obtained her confirmation of the incident, but not her consent to use her name.
  4. Juanita Broaddrick accuses Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978. The most nuanced, in-depth, and dignified piece on Broaddrick is Katie Baker’s stunning profile in Buzz Feed earlier this year. Broaddrick explains why she initially gave an affidavit saying Clinton had not raped her, an explanation Megyn Kelly, Hillary Clinton, and tons of Democrats are completely and conveniently ignoring.
  5. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  6. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  7. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  8. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  9. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  10. Unnamed (1978-1980)
  11. Unnamed (1978-1980) – Harris and Hampton, in the Capitol Hill Blue investigative article, were able to discover that state troopers in Arkansas knew of at least 7 complaints from women who said Bill Clinton sexually assaulted them during his first term as Governor of Arkansas. The Washington Post quickly discusses what may be one of these claims in one of the laziest “fact checks” it has ever unloaded, but dismisses it out of hand because “[w]hen sexual harassment claims were made against GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, [Rand] Paul dismissed them because the women refused to publicly identify themselves.” Allowing Rand Paul’s hypocrisy to invalidate a woman’s claim is, of course, standard corporate media schlock. The anonymous woman, a “former Arkansas state employee,” said that “during a presentation, then-Governor Clinton walked behind her and rubbed his pelvis up against her repeatedly.”
  12. Carolyn Moffet accused Bill Clinton to Harris and Hampton of forcing her head into his lap when she refused his request for oral sex in 1979. Ms. Moffet also spoke with Harris and Hampton.
  13. Leslie Milwee has recently come forward to accuse Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her on three separate occasions in a newsroom in 1980. Milwee says Bill rubbed himself against her to the point of orgasm without her consent.
  14. Jessica Leeds accuses Donald Trump of grabbing her breast and trying to shove his hand up her skirt on a flight in the early to mid-1980’s, as recounted in a recent New York Times article:

    “He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.” She fled to the back of the plane. “It was an assault.”

  15. Becky Brown accuses Bill Clinton of sexual assault in the the Arkansas Governor’s mansion in the mid-1980’s, according to a book written by her husband, an Arkansas State Trooper. Without consulting the book, the Washington Post “fact check” column claiming just three sexual assault allegations against Bill Clinton spuriously dismissed what appears to be the same claim as an anonymous “woman identified as a third cousin of Clinton’s [who] supposedly told her drug counselor during treatment in Arkansas that she was abused by Clinton when she was baby-sitting at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock.”
  16. Elizabeth Ward Gracen, according to multiple accounts including a former friend’s deposition during the House of Representatives’ Paula Jones investigation in the 1990s, accused Bill Clinton to family and friends of raping her in 1982. Gracen eventually very publicly stated that it was consensual sex. Not long afterward, however, Gracen indicated in an interview with the Toronto Sun that she and her family were under duress when she walked back the rape claim:

    “I think Clinton is a very dangerous, manipulative man and I’ve had to be very careful,” she says. “There was a lot of pressure on my family and friends, people were being staked out. I was a little bit afraid for my own safety at one point. It’s just not an area where you’re safe.” She pauses, then says, “I would never have said what I just told you a month ago.”

    Sally Miller, another woman who had a consensual affair with Clinton, reports that a  Democratic Party official threatened her around the same time. “They knew that I went jogging by myself and he couldn’t guarantee what would happen to my pretty little legs.”

  17. Helen Dowdy accused Bill Clinton of groping her “up there” on a dance floor at a Rodham family wedding in 1986. She tried to pull away, per Dowdy’s recounting the story to Jerry Oppenheimer in State of a Union (page 215), but “he’s a big man.” She says she was eventually rescued when Hillary Clinton turned it into a three person dance. “He was holding me very close, pulling me into him. … It was so inappropriate.”
  18. There is now a cascade of people supporting accusations that Donald Trump repeatedly raped underage models in New York beginning in the 1980’s. Katie Johnson has filed a suit accusing Trump of raping her at one such party with convicted pedo rapist Jeffrey Epstein when she was 13 in 1992. The details of the unusual accusation and lawsuit are most fairly reported in Jezebel. Michael Gross, writing for Daily Beast, dug out two male witnesses/participants at several of the parties to go on the record, one of the men allowed his name to be used, one of them is unnamed.
  19. Paula Corbyn Jones accuses Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her in 1991. After she tried to walk away from his initial advances, according to her story, he grabbed her hand, pulled her toward him, lowered his trousers, and asked her to kiss his erect penis. Clinton paid Jones an $850,000 settlement after the US Supreme Court reinstated her lawsuit against him during his Presidency. Jones continues to speak out against both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, whom she accuses of shaming and lying about her.
  20. Sandra Allen James accused Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her in 1991. She told Harris and Hampton that Clinton pinned her up against a wall in a hotel room and forced his hand up her dress and that he only stopped when she screamed loudly enough for the Arkansas State Troopers outside the room to hear.
  21. Ivana Trump, Donald Trump’s first wife, accused him, during 1992 divorce proceedings, of raping her. She later said it wasn’t rape in the criminal sense, apparently as part of the divorce settlement. The initial charges in court papers, along with the partial retraction, can be read at Gawker.
  22. Christy Zercher, a flight attendant on Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign plane, accuses Bill of groping her without consent on the plane while Hillary Clinton slept a few feet away.
  23. Kristin Anderson recently accused Donald Trump in the Washington Post of sexual assault by reaching up her skirt and touching her vagina through her underwear at a Manhattan night club in the early 1990’s. Anderson says she was deep in conversation with friends, shoved his hand away, and only noticed it was Trump after she fled several steps away and turned to see who the stranger who had groped her was.
  24. Kathleen Wiley has repeatedly accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault in the Oval Office in 1993. Like many of the women accusers, Wiley says Hillary Clinton has been complicit in shutting her down: she’s “been calling me a bimbo for 19 years.”
  25. Jill Harth accused Donald Trump of groping her multiple times without permission and of trying to rape her in one of his children’s bedrooms in 1993. The claims were first aired in a 1997 lawsuit and were reported in the Guardian in July, well before the Billy Bush-Trump Tapes were released.
  26. Temple Taggart accuses Donald Trump of sexual assault on two separate occasions in which, according to her account, he kissed the 21-year-old 1997 Miss USA contestant on the lips without permission.
  27. Mariah Billado accuses Donald Trump of intentionally walking in on her and several other Miss Teen USA contestants in 1997 while they were in a state of undress. Her claim was supported, according to the Buzz Feed story in which she first reported the assault, by four other contestants and by Trump’s own words on a Howard Stern show where he bragged of purposefully walking in on naked beauty pageant contestants for sexual gratification. Such voyeurism counts as sexual assault according to a wide variety of statutes and definitions, including the one used by the Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  28. Cathy Heller accuses Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her at Mar-a-lago around the year 1997.  According to her account in The Guardian:

    “He took my hand, and grabbed me, and went for the lips,” she claimed. Alarmed, she said she leaned backwards to avoid him and almost lost her balance. “And he said, ‘Oh, come on.’ He was strong. And he grabbed me and went for my mouth and went for my lips.'” She turned her head, she claims, and Trump planted a kiss on the side of her mouth. “He kept me there for a little too long,” Heller said. “And then he just walked away.”

  29. Karena Virginia accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in 1998 by touching her breast without her permission as she waited for a car to pick her up after the U.S. Open tennis tournament. While she is not planning to file a lawsuit, Virginia told the story with her lawyer Gloria Allred by her side. Trump has threatened to sue all women who have made allegations after the election is over.
  30. 2001 (1) Unnamed
  31. 2001 (2) Tasha Dixon and another unnamed 2001 Miss USA contestant accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault, also by way of voyeurism, when he purposefully walked in on contestants naked on two separate occasions, as detailed by an article in the Guardian.
  32. Virginia Roberts first accused Bill Clinton in 2011 of having regularly been with now convicted pedo rapist Jeffrey Epstein and said that she had seen him with particular underage girls, though she did not see sexual activity or participate in it. According to a deposition with Alan Dershowitz, Roberts “described in great detail a dinner with Bill Clinton and two underaged Russian women who were offered to Bill Clinton for sex” in 2002. Flight records have proven that Bill Clinton often flew on Epstein’s “Lolita Express,” and that, during the at least 26 flights, Clinton sometimes ditched his secret service detail.
  33. Mindy McGillivary accuses Donald Trump of sexual assault in 2003 at Mar-a-lago where, she says, he groped her butt without permission. McGillivary’s account is supported by her companion that day, Ken Davidoff.
  34. Jessica Drake recently held a news conference to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault by holding her tight and kissing her without her permission at a celebrity golf tournament in 2005. According to Drake, Trump then offered her $10,000 and the use of his private jet for sexual favors.
  35. Also in 2005, Rachel Crooks accuses Donald Trump of having sexually assaulted her by kissing her multiple times, including on the lips, without her permission when she tried to shake his hand at Trump Tower in Manhattan where she worked as a receptionist.  Crooks told her story first to the New York Times as a part of the story also including Jessica Leeds’ account of her unpleasant encounter with Trump.
  36. Natasha Stoynoff, a third woman to accuse Trump of assaulting her in the year 2005, is a journalist and wrote her own story up in People Magazine earlier in October of this year. She was working on a story on Donald and Melania at the Trump mansion. Donald, according to her account, sent Melania to change clothes then began showing her around: “We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.”
  37. Ninni Laaksonen just recently accused Donald Trump of sexual assault just before an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman during her time as Miss Finland in 2006. “Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt. He really grabbed my butt,” she said. “I don’t think anybody saw it but I flinched and thought: ‘What is happening?’”
  38. Unnamed – Very soon after the tape of Donald Trump bragging to Billy Bush about taking tic-tacs before kissing women and just grabbing them “by the pussy,” CNN anchor Erin Burnett told the story on air of her friend who was “once ‘really freaked out’ by Trump: He ‘took tic-tacs…and kissed me almost on the lips’.”
  39. Summer Zervos, a 2007 contestant on The Apprentice, read a five page statement at a press conference accusing Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her. As excerpted by the Hollywood Reporter:

    “He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast,” recalled Zervos. “I pulled back and walked to another part of the room. He then walked up, he grabbed my hand and walked me into the bedroom.”She said he asked her to lay down and watch television and, when she tried to push him away, “he began thrusting his genitals.”

  40. Finally, Cassandra Searles, Miss Washington 2013, accuses Donald Trump of sexual assault by groping her without permission. After the Trump/Billy Bush tape broke, she took to Facebook to say, “He probably doesn’t want me telling the story about that time he continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room.”

So, with due deference to the Washington Post’s “fact checkers” and Megyn Kelly, it isn’t just three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. And, no, it isn’t “just words” from Donald Trump while Bill Clinton engaged in actions. More than a dozen and a half women have accused each man. Both are deeply entangled with Jeffrey Epstein. Many of the stories bear the same hallmarks. And high-ranking women and men from both parties have said and done horrible things to go after the accusers on the other side while letting their guy off the hook.

Come what may, this January a man serially accused of rape and unwanted groping will be in the White House either as President or as our first First Gentleman.

Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump

Likely the best data driven write-up of the state of the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump heading into the first debate tonight is Nate Cohn’s over at the Upshot. Cohn gives two theories of the race. On one, Clinton is really still quite a bit ahead and polling saying other wise is mostly just a snapshot of noise that will go away as election day nears. The other, and the one that makes more sense of the date I’ve collected, is that the race has in fact substantially tightened, likely into a virtual tie. Clinton’s missteps and Trump’s relatively good behaviour, especially since mid-August when Kellyanne Conway took over as his campaign manager, have erased what was a 6.5% lead on August 9th.

The data that I’ve been keeping assiduously since late August says it’s the latter theory. United Press International was the first to note that how well Trump controlled his tongue has a massive impact on the horse race. My numbers suggest that is the best way to look at things. When Trump re-brought up birtherism, suggested Clinton’s Secret Service detail stop carrying guns and see what happens, and Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out a ridiculous Skittles meme within the space of a few days, Trump’s numbers took a noticeable dive beginning early last week. By the end of the week, and into early this week, Trump made no major blunders and his numbers have rebounded back into a tie or a half point lead for Clinton in polls in the field in the last few days.

One reasonably reliable set of polling numbers suggests that as many as a 1/3 of voters will substantially determine how they vote based on the debates, beginning tonight. Meanwhile, somewhere between 15-25% of likely voters at present are undecided, planning to vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, or have a soft commitment to their current candidate of choice. All of this makes it less than surprising that Clinton’s national lead is hovering between 1-2%, and there are as many as 15 states currently up for grabs. My #10at10 accounting posted daily on Twitter – all national polls in the last 10 days at 10 a.m. – currently sits at 1.6% ahead of tomorrow morning, but Trump briefly took the lead last weekend before his tongue troubles began impacting the polls. Meanwhile, by the same measurement (all polls completing their field work within the last ten days, no adjustments), Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin all see Clinton and Trump within 5.0% points of each other in terms of spread. FiveThirtyEight sees New Hampshire as currently a 2.2% race, while #10at10 figures would peg it much higher for Clinton at a 7.4% gap. Another 4-5 states are somewhere between a 5% and 10% race currently.

Here’s what the numbers look like in graph form:

Nationally

10at10-sept-27-night-before

States

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States Numerical Chart

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The tipping point state, the state that would determine who wins if the electoral race is otherwise nearly tied, looks to be Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, or Florida. As of now, Clinton is ahead by 1.0% to 2.2% in all four (neither candidate can likely win without winning at least two of those states). While most poll aggregators still have Trump up in Florida, the very most recent data suggests Clinton has taken a slight lead there while dropping steadily in Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

With no toss-ups, Clinton is looking decent with the recent movement of Florida to her column.

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But with toss-up states for anything closer than three percentage points, it very much looks like anyone’s race.

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The major difference between this way of doing things and all other poll aggregators is that it insists on using virtually all polls (Google 50-state numbers with under 100 for a sample size are totally excluded) while not adjusting them. FiveThirtyEight includes virtually all polls, but adjusts them before its national and state projections. Huffington Post (and following them NYT/Upshot and Sam Wang at the Princeton Election Consortium) and Real Clear Politics exclude many polls. Huffington Post’s criteria much more clear and mostly consistent.

By using just 10 days of data, this model is much more sensitive to quick changes than even FiveThirtyEight’s “Now-Cast.” How soon will we start knowing who “won” the debate in terms of its effect on reputable polling? While the L.A. Times polling is almost certainly consistently biased in favor of Trump by 4-6 points, its methodology has proven very good at consistently capturing the direction of the race before any others. Their numbers out about 4 a.m. on Wednesday, followed by quickly by other daily tracking polls, will give us a sense whether the first debate is going to move the needle much, if any.

Clinton is a known quantity and has a fairly strict ceiling, most likely, of about 44-46% nationally. Trump’s tongue wagging is key to the race. A few errant comments in the debate or the weeks ahead and Clinton could wind up with 350-400 electoral votes. But Clinton does not seem to control her own destiny. An October surprise from Wikileaks or Trump managing his verbal outbursts for another six or seven weeks could very well see him inaugurated next January 20th. Of course, all this assumes that both sides leave the voting machines to do their thing without interference (not at all a totally justified assumption).

Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling

When I wrote the piece about exit polling in my series on Election Fraud Allegations, I specifically addressed the arguments Nate Cohn expanded yesterday in the New York Times into a post decrying conspiracy theorists who think the Democratic primary was stolen from Bernie Sanders. As is the custom for writers of his class, Cohn simply ignored my counter arguments. I’ll rehearse, in brief, Cohn’s expanded argument and how it fails to address the key points I made previously. More importantly, there is now much more powerful, visually-stunning statistical evidence to buttress the claim that old, provably hackable machines in particular counties helped Hillary Clinton outperform expectations. In short, the bigger the precinct size in terms of total votes for Clinton and Sanders, the better Clinton did, even when controlling for such factors as racialization and age.

Cohn’s basic argument, like so many others, is that exit polls in the United States are not designed to catch fraud. Tax evasion laws were not intended to catch gangsters, but Al Capone landed in jail anyway. Cohn is more specific than previous commenters, however, going into some detail on why early voting and age demographics could have skewed exit polls toward Sanders. The problem, as I noted previously, is that these theoretical arguments do not work when applied to specific places where exit polling failed. I used the case of Alabama for precisely these reasons. The exit poll released by the networks when the voting booths closed in Alabama was off by fourteen percentage points, far more than for any of the previous elections Cohn mentions. Cohn had made his arguments about early voting and race in brief on Twitter previously, and I addressed them specifically accordingly. Alabama did not have early voting (beyond the very basics required by federal law for military and infirm voters). Likewise, the exit poll for Alabama included so few young voters by percentage that there is no mathematical way to make that explanation work.

But what about my explanation? Three of the top four Alabama counties by population have very old voting machines that were badly hacked by a “red team” of university security experts more than eight years ago. Clinton did far better in those counties than in demographically similar counties in Alabama and elsewhere in the South where exit polls did not fail (notably in North Carolina). I am now working on a much larger project analyzing voting share down to the precinct level in large counties in every state that held primaries. Nicholas Bauer pointed this phenomenon out to me based on his precinct level analysis in New York City.  The following is a teaser; the rest will be released in a larger report in about two weeks:

The one county of the four largest by population in Alabama that does not use provably hackable voting machines shows a vote share per candidate by precinct size that matches what statisticians would expect in areas that are similar in terms of race, economics, wealth, and the like. Madison County’s data trend line is basically flat or horizontal.

Madison County Flat Line Chart

You may notice that the chart eliminates the last three precincts in Madison County. Why? Well, one of the arguments against doing this kind of analysis at the state level is that perhaps larger precincts or counties by vote total are in urban areas with a stronger concentration of people of color. The three largest precincts in Madison County skew the data a bit in precisely this manner, as do the largest precincts in big counties in states like Oklahoma and Connecticut where exit polls did not miss. The largest three precincts in Madison voted much more heavily for Clinton, and the polling locations were two large African American churches and an African American seniors center.  Here’s a more detailed graphic analysis with those three precincts included:

Madison Alabama CHART 2

Note that the data trend lines are still close to horizontal and parallel, but now favor Clinton a bit more as precinct size increases – a bit more meaning that overall the spread between Clinton and Sanders grows by about ten to eleven percent from smallest to largest precinct size grouping. This is a substantial increase, but it is entirely predictable given particular age and ethnic demographics. As I argued previously, Madison’s voting machines are not provably hackable, and the vote by precinct size model looks clean.

Now, let’s look at Jefferson County, Alabama’s largest by population: Jefferson County AL CHARTThe data trend lines (the black dotted lines) are nowhere near parallel. Clinton does massively better on average as precinct size increases. Why, it’s almost as if someone planned such a thing.

Jefferson County’s non-white population has been increasing each year over the past decade or more and stood at 49.4% last July 1 according to U.S. Census figures. Republicans sometimes win political races in Jefferson County, however. As you might imagine, political districting in Alabama is heavily gerrymandered, nearly all non-white voters are registered or lean Democratic, and nearly all white voters are registered or lean Republican. In other words, racial differences from small to large precinct size do not explain the more than 50% increase in Clinton’s win margin between the smallest precincts and the largest precincts because perhaps as many as 90% of all Democratic voters in Jefferson County on March 1 were people of color.

Cohn responded to a similar chart I posted on Twitter yesterday for East Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a combination of mocking (imagine that, Clinton doing well with black voters! … which ignores the necessary differences among black voters given this data) and more serious arguments (“racial polarization”). It’s the more serious argument that matters for the larger study. Eventually, the back and forth with Cohn led to him sneering at me to “do the math” assuming white voters were 80% Republican and 20% Democrat. That would mean less than 10% of voters in the Democratic primary on March 1 were white since white people make up just 45% of East Baton Rouge (EBR). We can be more generous: 13.7% of EBR Democrats in 2013 were white, and, assuming a non-existent surge of white independents enthusiastically registering Democrat a month ahead of Louisiana’s closed primary, let’s spot Cohn 20% white Democratic voters.

The math doesn’t work.

There simply aren’t nearly enough white voters to make that scatter plot graph make sense based on “racial polarization.”

Furthermore, Mecklenburg County (Charlotte), North Carolina is highly racially polarized with the majority of its schools 80% one race. Clinton won healthily in North Carolina by 14% and by a landslide in Mecklenburg (a 22% spread). But the exit polling was accurate in North Carolina and Mecklenburg County’s data trend lines are basically horizontal and parallel. So are Wayne County (Detroit) data lines. As well, there are key counties that are more than 80% or even 90% white where the same steady increase by precinct size shows up for Clinton. But all of that is getting ahead of the game. More in a fortnight.

Sometimes “Jesus” isn’t the answer in Sunday School; sometimes “race!” or “math!” can’t solve for irregularities in the Democratic primaries.

These statistical arguments are completely independent of, but reinforce the exit polling argument. It is quite the hat trick, actually – hackable voting machines, wildly wrong exit polls, and a Clinton vote share that smoothly increases in keeping with total votes by precinct size. It’s a hat trick now demonstrable in a dozen states or more.  At some point, the onus will shift from so-called “conspiracy theorists” to those who think the Couple Clinton to be so morally pure and upright that they’d never pay a team of hackers to laugh their way through the United States’ horribly insecure voting landscape.

Los Angeles Election Chief Dismissive of Ballot Shortage Concerns for Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders California Election Contest

Poll workers in Los Angeles County are reporting that they are short, in some cases well-short, of the number of Democratic and No Party Preference cross-over Democratic ballots required tomorrow for their precincts under California Elections Code Section 14102 (a)1, (a)2, and (b). Dean C. Logan, L.A. County’s Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, is dismissive of these claims, however, suggesting that precinct inspectors should be speaking to his office instead of the media and offering a definition of “registered voters” that flies in the face of Federal law and California’s Secretary of State guidance in accordance with Federal law.

Elections Code 14102’s requirement for stocking precincts with ballots ahead of time states that “in no case shall the number be less than 75 percent of registered voters in the precinct.” CounterPunch has reviewed the numbers of ballots for six precincts as provided to Election Justice USA by Los Angeles precinct workers and has spoken by phone to confirm with three of the six.

Thao Tu is working Precinct 2040004A in Los Angeles. She has 513 regular Democratic and vote by mail Democratic voters on her roster, but only 250 ballots. At 48%, this is far short of the requisite 75%. Tu told me that she tried to contact county election officials throughout the day on Monday in order to request more ballots, but the phone line was constantly busy. Tu is frustrated as “we’ve been anticipating something since Arizona.” This wrinkle took her by a bit of surprise. In Arizona long lines and voters flipped off the rolls against their will saw a severe depression in Democratic voter turnout on election day.

A second precinct inspector, who was not sure her name could be used without legal ramifications, spent two to three futile hours in the Los Angeles County elections office. She realized she had just 32% of the potential ballots needed for a registered list of over 900 regular Democratic and vote by mail Democratic voters who are allowed to trade their mail in ballots for regular ballots if they have not voted by election day. At just 30% of the possible total, the number of ballots available to No Party Preference (NPP) voters wishing to vote Democratic under California law and Democratic Party agreement, is of even greater concern to this second precinct worker. As independents, cross-over NPP voters are expected to go for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in large numbers. Elections officials in Los Angeles told this second inspector that the ballot materials provided were based on lists from weeks or months ago and that inactive voters don’t count as registered voters, a spurious interpretation of the National Voter Registration Act that County Clerk Dean Logan confirmed to me by email.

A massive surge of new or re-registering voters in California has overwhelmed expectations in the last few weeks according to a combination of data publicly available or provided by email to CounterPunch by Political Data Incorporated, a California firm specializing in providing continuously updated voter information to the media, public, and political campaigns.

Jean Camille Bianic, a third precinct worker I reached by phone, attempted to figure things out both with the county and with the Sanders campaign. His precinct is apparently divided in two, but he has been given a list of over 1500 names of people who could vote in his precinct and less than 850 ballots. “It’s crazy,” Bianic told me. “We live in a time when you cannot trust elected people.”

After her hours long wait, elections officials refused to provide the second precinct inspector with additional ballots, but they did tell her she could call on election day and request a rush of new ballots if needed.

Logan confirmed this in writing by email, stating that “[s]tandard protocols and contingency plans are in place to deploy additional materials and/or emergency ballots from Regional Distribution Centers located throughout the County to ensure all voters who appear to vote are able to do so should that be necessary.”

CounterPunch will keep in contact with various precinct workers throughout the day and provide updates on the situation if ballot shortages keep people from voting.

California Prediction: Sanders +6.5

My prediction for California: Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton +6.5%, +31 Delegates

Range: Sanders +4 – Sanders +12

Outer Range: Clinton +5 – Sanders +16

Caveat: I stopped doing these things really seriously after New York when I became convinced election fraud was a very real possibility. Lots of reports suggest funny business in California already. No Party Preference (NPP) people not receiving ballots, multiple reports of instructions to poll workers to force provisional ballots on NPP voters, and many jurisdictions with provably hackable machines. The above projections assume very little election fraud; a 5-15 point Clinton “win” is not out of the question.

Turnout: ~1.6M Democrats will have voted (not including NPP) in early balloting with around a 55-45 Clinton advantage (it’s 56-44 going into the final two days of early ballot turn ins; historically, per Nate Cohn, even later early voters in California skew younger). I project an additional 3.5 to 4.25M Democratic and NPP ballots (including early NPP ballots) will eventually be counted.  If 3.8M (for Total ~5.4M voters), Sanders would need to win election day ballots about 58% – 42% to reach a 6.5% win.

By Congressional District:

CALIFORNIA

HC BS Del
CD1 2 4 6
CD2 3 5 8
CD3 3 3 6
CD4 3 3 6
CD5 3 4 7
CD6 3 3 6
CD7 2 4 6
CD8 2 3 5
CD9 3 3 6
CD10 2 3 5
CD11 4 3 7
CD12 5 4 9
CD13 4 4 8
CD14 3 4 7
CD15 4 3 7
CD16 2 3 5
CD17 3 3 6
CD18 5 3 8
CD19 3 3 6
CD20 2 4 6
CD21 2 2 4
CD22 2 3 5
CD23 2 3 5
CD24 2 4 6
CD25 2 3 5
CD26 2 4 6
CD27 3 3 6
CD28 3 4 7
CD29 2 3 5
CD30 4 3 7
CD31 2 3 5
CD32 2 4 6
CD33 3 4 7
CD34 2 3 5
CD35 2 3 5
CD36 3 2 5
CD37 4 3 7
CD38 3 3 6
CD39 3 3 6
CD40 1 4 5
CD41 2 3 5
CD42 3 2 5
CD43 4 2 6
CD44 2 4 6
CD45 3 3 6
CD46 2 3 5
CD47 3 3 6
CD48 3 3 6
CD49 3 3 6
CD50 2 3 5
CD51 3 2 5
CD52 4 2 6
CD53 4 3 7
PLEO 25 28 53
At-Large 49 56 105
Total
Delegates
222 253 475

 

Election Fraud Statistician: Clinton’s New York Win Receives Mostly Clean Bill of Health

In a working paper provided to GoodGawdAnotherBlog, Professor Walter Mebane concludes that his well-regarded election fraud diagnostics produce “scant evidence that any frauds occurred” in New York City during the April 19, 2016 primary between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders.  According to the “finite mixture” statistical model used, furthermore, there is “no evidence whatsoever that large or widespread frauds occurred.” The finite mixture model necessarily produces some ambiguity, however, and cannot catch all kinds of potential fraud, according to Professor Mebane.

As part of an ongoing effort to take allegations of election fraud seriously, without simply accepting or dismissing them up front, I approached two elections statistics professors previously consulted by FiveThirtyEight in their effort to suss out potential electronic hacking of a Democratic primary in South Carolina in 2010. Professor Mebane and Assistant Professor Michael G. Miller concluded in 2010 that the South Carolina results showed evidence of substantial fraud to a 90% degree of certainty.

While Professor Mebane plugged data into his finite mixture model, Miller applied the same Benford’s Law test used and reported on by FiveThirtyEight in 2010. My discussion with Miller, however, ended with a bizarre series of accusations leveled by Miller against me in email then on Twitter: “The author of this piece should not be a journalist,” Miller stated, and “there is no evidence of fraud in this election in the data I have analyzed…also Doug is B-squad.” For anyone interested in such mundanity, rather than going in tit for tat with Professor Miller’s tweets as mostly still present on his recent timeline, I have posted the full email exchange that led to him taking his ball of stats and leaving the playground.

At its heart, the finite mixture model uses sophisticated statistical formulations to measure voting outcomes versus an expected distribution based on detailed data of voter registrations and candidate results at the smallest level, in this case New York City’s 5,217 elections districts. Where results meet the model’s expectation of a fairly even and predictable distribution of votes across precincts or districts, they are termed “unimodal.” New York City’s results are, alternatively, “multi-modal.”

Multimodal results indicate that there is some unevenness to candidates’ expected vote distribution, but the model builds room for a level of ambiguity allowing for multi-modal results in situations where, for instance, strategic voting or concentrated get out the vote efforts may produce otherwise unexpected outcomes. “The few indications of ‘frauds’ that the model gives,” according to Mebane’s conclusion, “are readily interpreted as due to strategic behavior, most likely strategic behavior involving specially coordinated mobilizations to turnout and vote.” The key measurement is found in the far right hand column of the chart, from Mebane’s working paper, as reproduced here:

Waler Table 2

Rather than wading into all of the statistical details of the chart, the key columns for us are the far left column (by congressional district, or CD, as represented in New York City) and the far right hand column. Where figures in the right column reach .015 or greater, Mebane concludes that substantial fraud is highly likely to have occurred, but “[n]one of the pi + pe values in Table 2 are remotely as large as that.” (My publishing platform will not allow me to properly subscript the “i” and “e” in pi + pe.)

Notably, however, the largest value by far in the far right hand column is for Congressional District 9, which is wholly located in Brooklyn. Where most other results are orders of magnitude below .015 and only one (CD 8 in Queens) is even 20% of the way to a .015 result, CD 9 makes it over 60% of the way there.

I followed up with Professor Mebane to ask whether that result could be capturing the infamous purge of more than 100,000 Democratic voters in Brooklyn that has been the partial target of an Election Justice USA lawsuit and has seen two Brooklyn Board of Election’s officials relieved of duty without pay. “More facts can’t be bad,” Professor Mebane replied. “The finite mixture model is just a model. Another limitation of it that I’ve written about is that it’s insensitive to many patterns of voter suppression. If the voter purge did that, the effects might not show up in the model estimates.”

I am committed to completing investigations by two other avenues into potential fraud, like intentional voter suppression, that could avoid detection by the finite mixture model. I expect to publish a critical article relating to Democratic voter registration high jinks in the next week and a half. The topic under contention with Miller, however, will take a fair bit longer for me to publish on. I am awaiting key data requested under New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

Note: Professor Mebane intends to use the material in his working paper as a part of another academic piece he is preparing but has said he would host it on his personal website if there turns out to be sufficient interest. Statisticians interested in the data plugged into the finite mixture model and used for the aborted Benford’s Law Test results should email me at djjohnso@yahoo.com. Those wishing to reach me more securely could send me an encrypted message at an alternate address.

How Jon Ralston’s Pack of Lies Ran Riot in The Fact Averse Media

Jon Ralston, the dean of political reporting in Nevada, has spread nothing less than a pack of lies about what went down at the state’s Democratic convention on Saturday. And the fact averse oligarchic national media has run completely riot with the provable falsehoods. No chairs were thrown at the convention Saturday. No death threats were made against the chair of the convention Roberta Lange. And Bernie Sanders delegates were not simply mad because their louder shouting was ignored.

Ralston has been the culprit behind each of these falsehoods; and the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and a dizzying array of other outlets have swallowed them whole then regurgitated them for their much more massive audiences.

While as late as 2012 Ralston could be counted on as someone with a known Liberal establishment bias who would nevertheless stand firm where it came to truth and journalistic integrity, his ethics began to slip in the years since. (And let’s be clear, refusing to write for an outlet anymore that pulled a column unfavorable to Harry Reid is honorable; waiting over two years to reveal that fact is a bit dastardly.)

Here are the details of the lies originating or spread by Ralston, followed by how they spread among the chattering elite who attempt to pass themselves off as unbiased media:

Ralston reported live from the convention for most of the day, but decided to leave before tensions boiled over. Nevertheless, it was taken as a simple fact that he had observed Sanders supporters throwing chairs when “Roberta’s Rules” were enforced with finality at the end of the proceedings. Ralston tweeted:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

As it turned out, Ralston finally admitted last night that he hadn’t seen this himself but was relying especially on local reporter Andrew Davey. Davey first said he had still frames showing the chair throwing which he would publish. He has not produced the stills in question, but did retweet a still image of a chair held high that was initially posted on Reddit. I spoke with the person who posted it to Reddit and confirmed that it was grabbed from the video now widely seen which shows that other Sanders supporters quickly took away the chair in question. I asked Davey by Twitter if he still had photos to publish, then criticized him for retweeting the Reddit image instead. He blocked me.

In spite of the fact that the whole thing was filmed live from multiple angles, “the revolution will be periscoped” as Ralston snarked on Twitter, no one has any images or video of even a single chair, let alone chairs plural, being thrown.

Ralston was also the source of the claim that Roberta Lange received death threats, again plural. Ralston first reported that he had received audio and text of messages received by Lange after her phone number was posted online in the aftermath of Saturday’s mess. Ralston misreported the single instance that could be interpreted as a threat, however. The lede for his post on the matter simply stated: “One caller suggested she would be hung or burned.”  The problem? When Ralston got around to posting the actual message later in the day, the caller turned out not to have said she would be hung, but rather that she should be.

MALE CALLER: Hi Roberta Lange. This is a citizen of the United States of America and I just wanted to let you know that I think people like you should be hung in a public execution to show this world that we won’t stand for this sort of corruption. I don’t know what kind of money they are paying to you, but I don’t know how you sleep at night. You are a sick, twisted piece of shit and I hope you burn for this! You can return my call at 619-838-9222. I’d love to go into further detail with you about this, though I am sure you don’t have courage to do so. You cowardless bitch, running off the stage! I hope people find you.

Impolite. Wrong. Harassment, even if not criminal. And part of a 250 year tradition of overblown political rhetoric in the United States. Not a threat. No words at all implying that she will or “would be” killed as Ralston falsely reported.

Finally, Ralston was very aware of what the Sanders’ campaign’s complaints are. Bernie’s statement on this, in fact, comes closest of anything he’s said to acknowledging what his supporters are now convinced, with plenty of evidence, is a nation wide phenomenon: Sanders supporters are being flipped off the Democratic voting rolls against their will in order to disenfranchise their participation in closed primaries, caucuses, and conventions. Fifty-eight Sanders supporters were denied entry to the Nevada Convention and were told they weren’t Democrats. Other than the one guy who acknowledged he switched his registration on his own, this is ludicrous. Nevada had onsite registration for the original caucuses in February, and no one could participate in them unless they were registered as a Democrat.

Clinton had just thirty more delegates than Sanders in the final count. And while establishment Dems were challenging Sanders’ delegates’ credentials, Roberta Lange passed rules cutting out the county level convention results which were more favorable to Sanders.

Ralston wrote a post, even, acknowledging that this was the issue, but glossed over the fact that people would have had to be flipped off the rolls somehow in the last few weeks and that many have stated that they did not do so themselves. Then on Twitter, Ralston continued to insist that Sanders people were only mad that their louder shouting didn’t win the day:

And the Truth Averse Media has gone wild with Ralston’s first class lying. The New York Times ran with  “Thrown chairs” as it’s lede in an article headlined by the falsehood about death threats.

Rachel Maddow ran a deceptive clip on MSNBC saying chairs were thrown while reportedly showing footage of chairs thrown at a wrestling production. (I cannot find the original Maddow clip with this as of yet.) People on social media then insisted that networks had shown actual footage of chairs thrown at the convention. Maddow retreated only a bit by having Ralston on to say that even though he had not seen the chairs thrown, other eyewitnesses have told him the video is wrong. CNN had Debbie Wasserman-Schultz on to denounce Bernie Bros throwing chairs at the stage.

And so on and so on and so on.

Hours and hours after the woman who took and posted the original video showing the raised chair has offered to talk to any media that will listen, none have. Sanders supporters have now promised to donate $100 to Clinton’s campaign or vote for her in California if anyone can produce video evidence of the phantom chair throwing.

It won’t happen.

And the murder of crows that pretends to be honest, unbiased journalists will continue on to the next trust-killing monstrosity.

 

Clinton Does Best Where Voting Machines Flunk Hacking Tests: Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders Election Fraud Allegations (Part 6)

At the end of the climactic scene (8 minutes) in HBO’s Emmy nominated Hacking Democracy (2006), a Leon County, Florida Election official breaks down in tears. “There are people out there who are giving their lives just to try to make our elections secure,” she says. “And these vendors are lying and saying everything is alright.” Hundreds of jurisdictions throughout the United States are using voting machines or vote tabulators that have flunked security tests. Those jurisdictions by and large are where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is substantially outperforming the first full wave of exit polling in her contest against Senator Bernie Sanders.

CounterPunch has interviewed hackers, academics, exit pollsters, and elections officials and workers in multiple states for this series taking election fraud allegations seriously.  The tearful breakdown in Hacking Democracy is not surprising. There is a well-beyond remarkable gap between what security experts and academics say about the vulnerability of voting machines and the confidence elections experts and academics, media outlets, and elections officials place in those same machines.

In Leon County, Bev Harris’ Black Box Voting team had just demonstrated a simple hack of an AccuVote tabulator for bubble-marked paper ballots. Ion Sancho, Leon County’s Supervisor of Elections, also fights back tears in the Hacking Democracy clip: “I would have certified this election as a true and accurate result of a vote.” Sancho adds, “The vendors are driving the process of voting technology in the United States.”

In 2010, and this reminder will pain those of you who can remember when Nate Silver’s outfit did real data journalism rather than primarily yay-Clinton boo-Trump punditry, a FiveThirtyEight column argued that hacking was one of two possibilities for statistical anomalies in a Democratic Senate primary in South Carolina: “B. Somebody with access to software and machines engineered a very devious manipulation of the vote returns.”

Joshua Holland’s column in The Nation “debunking” claims of election fraud benefiting Clinton rests its case on a simple proposition: why would Clinton need to cheat when she was winning anyway? Apparently, Mr. Holland has never heard of an obscure American politician named Richard Nixon.

More importantly, entering the South Carolina primary, the pledged delegate count was 52-51. CNN’s poll two weeks out projected an 18 point Clinton win. Ann Selzer, the best pollster in the United States, projected a 22 point Clinton win. RealClearPolitics’ polling average projected a 27.5% win. FiveThirtyEight was much bolder in projecting a 38.3% Clinton win. The early full exit poll said Clinton had won by 36%, pretty close to FiveThirtyEight’s call. Tellingly, white people in that exit poll went for Sanders 58-42. But the final results said Clinton won by 47.5%, an 11.5% exit polling miss. And the exit polls had to adjust their initial figures to a 53-47 Clinton win with white Democrats in South Carolina.

Three days after South Carolina’s primary, Clinton seriously outperformed her exit polling projections again in a bunch of states on Super Tuesday, including Massachusetts where she went from a projected 6.6% loss to a 1.4% win. Super Tuesday set the narrative that Sanders had no chance of beating Clinton in pledged delegates.

Correlating Exit Polling Misses and Bad Machines
Let’s be clear: yes, correlation does not equal causality. What strong correlation does do, however, is set the agenda for reasonable investigation. Mocking fraud claims where there is a strong correlative case and actual evidence of potential vote tampering in places like Arizona, New York, and Chicago is precisely the kind of thing that has seen confidence in media outlets plummet to an all-time low. Just 6% of people in the U.S., about the same number as for Congress, have high confidence that media are unbiased and accurate.

Meanwhile, according to a September 2015 study (.pdf) by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law, South Carolina uses all machines more than ten years old. In fact, drawing on the source of the Brennan Center report over at Verified Voting, South Carolina uses provably hackable voting machines without a verified paper trail. Virtually all counties in South Carolina use two machines in particular – Electronic Systems and Software’s (ES&S) iVotronic, a touch screen voting machine without a paper trail, and ES&S’s Model 100, used to tabulate absentee and provisional ballots.

Kim Zetter, the best reporter on hacking and computer security at Wired Magazine, delved into the Brennan Center report with an article entitled “The Dismal State of America’s Decade-Old Voting Machines.” Zetter noted that in 2002, after the Bush v. Gore disaster, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) with billions of dollars available for counties throughout the U.S. to upgrade to new voting machines. Zetter then hits the critical point for discussion of election fraud allegations in the Democratic presidential primary:

But many of the machines installed then, which are still in use today, were never properly vetted—the initial voting standards and testing processes turned out to be highly flawed—and ultimately introduced new problems in the form of insecure software code and design.

Things are dismal, yes, but they are not evenly so. As this map from the Brennan Center report shows, there are just a few states that are as bad off as South Carolina (all machines ten years old or greater). But there are also just as few states that are relatively well off with all machines newer than ten years old.

State by State 10 year old voting machines

Of the nine places where the exit polling has missed by more than 7% (South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, New York), two-thirds are states where all or the majority of election jurisdictions are using machines ten years old or greater. For these six states the average initial exit polling miss is a whopping 9.98%. From my column on exit polling misses last week, the average exit polling miss in Clinton’s favor is 5.1%. For the three states (Oklahoma, New York, Maryland) for which there is polling and for which all election jurisdictions use machines less than ten years old (gray in the map), the average is just a 1.67% miss in Clinton’s favor. Now take note, this 1.67% average includes New York with its huge miss in Clinton’s favor. Alabama is also worth looking at, with a minority of jurisdictions having machines more than ten years old, because I have been using an “Alabama Test” to see whether theories for the exit polling misses make sense.

I put figures like this to exit pollster and Executive Vice President of Edison Research Joe Lenski for question 10, which I’d previously left out of the published version of the interview I completed with him. I wanted to know whether the gap in exit polling misses raised any red flags. Here was Lenski’s reply:

The reliability of vote equipment is a true concern but I don’t see any evidence how the concentration of older voting machines in certain states would have affected either candidate more than the other.  There are many examples of vote count errors.  Here is a link reporting a recent vote count error in the Michigan primary that inflated Ted Cruz’s vote by 3000 votes  http://uselectionatlas.org/WEBLOGS/dave/ .  These types of errors are discovered all the time but there is no evidence that these are anything more than mistakes by local election officials – not a systematic attempt to affect a single candidate’s vote totals.  This reminds me of theories after the 2008 New Hampshire Democratic Primary based upon the fact that Hillary Clinton did better in towns with voting machines while Barack Obama did better in towns that voted on paper.  That was simply an artifact of the demographics in New Hampshire of the towns that had voting machines versus those that voted on paper.  Again the states with older voting machines in 2016 may just be the same states with demographics that favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

But again, as I argued last Wednesday, the demographics by state and other proposed reasons for exit polling misses do not actually add up. Big misses have happened in the South, in Massachusetts, and also in Ohio where Sanders otherwise did quite well in the Midwest. Nor do age or early voting patterns predict exit polling misses. Still, what is most remarkable about Lenski’s statement is that he is one of the few non-tech experts we spoke with who recognized that the “reliability of voting equipment is a true concern.”

None of the three elections academics I spoke with for last Wednesday’s piece appeared to be familiar with the Brennan Center report on aging and vulnerable machines, and Antonio Gonzalez, an exit polling expert and Latino voter registration guru who called for parties not to seat Arizona’s delegations in last Thursday’s piece, seemed a bit floored when I presented him with question ten from my interview with Lenski. “Oh,” he said, “I thought Congress was supposed to have taken care of that with HAVA.” HAVA, as noted earlier, offered money from 2002 to 2006 for states to upgrade to the then latest and greatest voting technology.

At this point we should take a look at the proven flaws in four very old and hackable machines in particular. These machines or similar elderly and vulnerable machines are in use in almost all places where Clinton outperforms exit polling most substantially. Because I am taking evidence and counter-evidence seriously, we will also look at the machines used in New York City, which are not quite so old (about six or seven years). While those machines, ES&S’s DS200, have had several problems over the years of the type suggested by Lenski, they also have not verifiably flunked independent security tests, so far as I know.

AccuVote (TS, OS, TSX models)
AccuVote technology is among the worst of the worst. This is the Diebold technology hacked in the Hacking Democracy clip. It is more than ten years old, can be hacked in such a way that even those models (OS, TSX) with a paper trail can be tricked, and it is in use throughout Georgia (12.2% miss) and in more than 300 counties or other election jurisdictions in more than 20 states.

AVC Edge and Edge II  (from my column on Chicago Friday)
The AVC Edge and Edge II (with paper trail) were provably hacked by a “Red Team” from UC Santa Barbara hired by the State of California in 2008. Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, called and emailed to complain after my article last Friday. He dismissed the suggestion that Edge II could be hacked because of the paper trail. Not only is this laughable since his team engaged in a wildly inaccurate audit of the paper trail from the Chicago Democratic primary, but Allen apparently failed to click on the link regarding the UCSB Red Team test that I included in the article. The first paragraph of that article notes that Edge machines, “even those with a so-called Voter Verified Paper Trail” can be successfully hacked by a single person. AVC Edge machines are in use without a paper trail throughout Louisiana (where there were no exit polls but where Clinton seriously outperformed her pre-election day polling average) and in more than 130 counties in various other states.

Model 100 (from ES&S)
Model 100 also badly flunked (.pdf) the California “Red Team” test in 2008. Like the other machines in this list, it is hackable in a way that spreads virally to other machines in the same network. Hundreds of jurisdictions still use Model 100 to tabulate votes, including especially Wayne County (Detroit), 27 counties in Ohio, 9 counties in Tennessee, 78 counties in Texas, and many more that match very well with where Clinton has outperformed exit polls.

iVotronic (ES&S)
iVotronic machines are touchscreen voting machines, many without a paper trail. iVotronic machines flunked a University of Pennsylvania test in 2007 and are the precise machines in question in the previous suspicious Democratic primary results in South Carolina in 2010. They continue to be used throughout South Carolina (no paper trail) and in hundreds of counties in states where Clinton has suspiciously overperformed exit polling.

DS200
DS200 machines have had a wide variety of malfunctioning problems, particularly in New York City, but those problems can and mostly have been addressed in places like New York City by retraining poll workers to check immediately whether each voters’ vote was counted and then offering a new chance to vote if necessary. As stated, the DS200 has not been provably hacked so far as I know. Newer machines of this sort were put into use just this year in Maryland where the overall exit polling missed in Sanders favor, for once, but by just 0.6 points. Still, the votes in Baltimore County have now been decertified because, among other things, there were more votes than voters who checked in at the polls. In Maryland, the DS200 machines are all networked to a statewide system for tabulating votes quickly. Networking, however, is not required, and my best information suggests that networking is not how the DS200 is used in New York City. Instead, precinct workers pull the results off the machine at the end of the voting day and relay them to county headquarters, according to my discussions with a poll worker from Brooklyn.

What About the Exceptions to This Correlation?
But we also would have to deal with where there are exceptions to this strong correlation between hackable machines and Clinton beating the exit polling badly. Here’s where my conversation with a particular veteran hacker comes into play. I chatted securely with a long-time member of Anonymous whom I’ll call the King of SciAm (not the handle they use publicly or privately). The King of SciAm has long worked with the Telecommix branch of Anonymous. Telecommix rose to fame when Hosni Mubarak cut off internet access in Egypt during the Arab Spring uprising. Telecommix found work-arounds via dial-up internet to keep information from activists on the ground flowing out of Egypt. As a general rule, Telecommix does not take part in Anonymous leaks or website shutdowns and defacements, but they made an exception to that rule early in this campaign cycle. Telecommix members defaced Donald Trump’s website with a tribute to Jon Stewart upon his retirement. The New Yorker’s Alex Koppleman called it the “classiest website hack ever,” a compliment the King of SciAm relishes.

The King of SciAm emphasized to me that, if hired to hack an election (which they would never do), the first thing they would do would be to figure out the best way to leave no trace: “we’d target the network packets or their headwater.” The key idea being for “a hack to survive the security audit trail after the vote is certified.” Furthermore, “we would likely try to target the thing most likely to get it’s logs wiped first – so – whatever it plugs into to move the data. Are the voting machines in use network connected?”

The King of SciAm told me that targeting old, provably hackable machines is “not an unfair theory,” but “you asked how (if we did these sort of things) we would do them.” The problem, they noted, “is that any change to the voting machine operating system or driver stack will likely be found in the security auditor’s rotation pretty quickly. This is because once the machines are down (end of election day) – they are no longer accessible to revert any source code changes or wipe any logs that said you were there, unless you’ve written STUXnet – in which case you wouldn’t be targeting the booth machines either.”

The King of SciAm was not at all surprised that sloppy hackers may be targeting older machines in places like South Carolina and Chicago, nor that elections officials were cluelessly trusting those machines and not even properly following procedures that could catch a less sophisticated hack.

So if, instead of targeting the DS200 in New York, hackers had targeted further upstream in the voting ecosystem, how would you catch it? The King of SciAm noted that you would have to use some procedure to “match 100% of the data, not 5%,” as in Chicago.

To do this, you would need to use a methodology much more like that used in the FiveThirtyEight article on irregularities in the South Carolina 2010 primary election. There, FiveThirtyEight referred to a Benford’s law test on precinct level results. That test showed an “unusual, non-random pattern in the precinct-level results suggest[ing] tampering, or at least machine malfunction, perhaps at the highest level.”

Intriguingly, after I began this series on election fraud allegations, a reader who would like to remain anonymous, emailed to point out similar irregularities in New York’s Democratic primary this year:

Results for Kings County and Bronx county [show] deviation from perfect 60-40 and 70-30 results was the same 0.035% The increase in votes in Kings (Brooklyn) from 2008 is incredible, almost a perfect 10%. Not only that but that’s where over a 100,000 voters lost their right to vote. Another 20,000 votes in Kings would mean almost a 20% increase which would be amazing compared to other counties that experienced decreases or mild increases.

Furthermore, the overall results in New York, as announced on election night, deviated from a perfect 58-42 split “by 0.005345%. That’s 97 votes out of over 1.8 million.” Will FiveThirtyEight apply a Benford’s law test to 2016 primary results? Not a chance. They have boosted Clinton throughout and are already quite embarrassed by how badly they missed on the GOP side with Donald Trump.

But what about our test? The “Alabama Test.” What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Alabama only has a minority of jurisdictions using old, provably hackable machines. Is that a weak correlation for the theory that in most places sloppy hackers targeted old, provably vulnerable machines while apparently more sophisticated hackers would have had to have been involved with targeting New York’s results as well as registration switching operations in a wide variety of states?

Taking a look at Alabama on a county level gives us a fairly strong answer. Most of Alabama’s counties also use hand cast ballots tabulated by the DS200, but a minority use Model 100, one of our flunked election machines. Three of the flunked Model 100 counties, however, are three of the four biggest counties in Alabama (Jefferson, Mobile, and Montgomery) and accounted for around 40% of the vote for Democrats in Alabama. Clinton won by a 64.2% spread in Jefferson, by 66.5% in Mobile, and by a stunning 73.4% in Montgomery. What happened in Madison, the one county of the top four by population that votes using the DS200 model? Clinton won by just a 38.5% spread! In fact, Clinton did not make it to 80% of the vote in any of the top twelve counties by population except for those three counties using Model 100 to tabulate votes.

And controlling for factors like African American voters or wealth does not account for this phenomenon. Take for instance Mobile where the population is 35.3% black versus a 24.6% black population in Madison County. A 10% difference in black population does not account for a 28% difference in the Clinton-Sanders spread. What’s more, if you compare Mobile to a very similar county in North Carolina (where the exit polls did not really miss), you see something similarly telling.

Cumberland County, NC is very comparative to Mobile, Alabama. They have similar populations, similar numbers of black residents (with Cumberland slightly higher at 37.6% African American), very similar per capita income figures, and both counties had about 35,000 Democratic voters. Clinton won Cumberland by 32.8%, very close to the Madison County (DS200 model) results and about half the percentage spread Clinton saw in Mobile (Model 100). 

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Of the theories we have so far for why exit polling missed in Alabama by a huge 14%, the only theory that provides a reasonable explanation is vote tabulating machine tampering. Now, perhaps someone else will come up with a non-fraudulent exit polling miss theory that passes the Alabama Test and explains other states as well. Such a theory cannot be about early voting (Alabama had none) and over-projecting young voters (there were very few according to exit polls of Alabama).

Until someone comes up with such a workable theory, election fraud benefiting Hillary Clinton to the tune of a 120 to 150 pledged delegate difference, is the best explanation we have. People wanting to prove this theory should be suing for a technologically sophisticated and independent review of results and the voting results’ entire computer ecosystems in places like Ohio, South Carolina, Alabama, Boston, Chicago, New York, and many others.

Part 1: Taking Election Fraud Allegations Seriously
Part 2: Debunking Some Election Fraud Allegations
Part 3: In-depth Report on Exit Polling and Election Fraud Allegations
An Interview With Lead Edison Exit Pollster Joe Lenski
Part 4: Purged, Hacked, Switched
Part 5: Chicago Election Official Admits “Numbers Didn’t Match”

 

Chicago Election Official Admits “Numbers didn’t match”: Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders Election Fraud Allegations (Part 5)

Jim Allen, Communications Director for the Chicago Board of Elections (BoE), acknowledges that “the numbers didn’t match” initially in the legally mandated 5% audit of voting and tabulating machines after the recent Illinois Democratic primary between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Allen, however, insists that this is simply a “perception issue” and that absolutely no election fraud took place.

Allen was responding by phone to my questions regarding allegations from citizen vote monitoring groups Who’s Counting? – Chicago and the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project (IBIP). Dr. Lora Chamberlain is a leader of Who’s Counting, which works with IBIP to credential election day monitors and joined them this year to audit the audit. IBIP was started in Illinois in the aftermath of the 2000 Al Gore versus George Bush Debacle. A total of six members of the two groups gave affidavit-based testimony at the April 5, 2016 Chicago Board of Elections meeting.

The testimony is, simply put, beyond stunning.

It can be viewed in its entirety on the official Chicago Elections YouTube channel. Beginning around the 24 minute mark will launch you into a most profoundly bizarre and troubling hour of bureaucratic bore and can-this-be-for-anything-like-real nonsense-mongering.

Chicago BoE Legal Counsel James Scanlon says early on that “[t]he 5% audit or tabulation cannot be used to change the results of the election. It’s only a means of testing the voting equipment.” Multiple times BoE members suggest that citizens testifying aren’t really credible to talk about an audit because they aren’t professional auditors. As Andrew Galipeau notes by way of comment over at YouTube, the entirety of the citizen monitoring discussion takes place after the BoE has already pulled a fast one to certify the election results without allowing time for objections from those who showed up to do just that:

0:00 Meeting opens and introductions
0:30 1st item of business (accept the results)
0:45 From the audience “Can we object?” – “No, not yet”
1:01 “Any discussion? Does not let audience know this is the time to object/discuss
1:14 Motion passes and they accept the results.
1:38 Meeting is adjourned.
1:48 You can see her visibly exhale in relief, as they have just certified the results and the public has not realized Special meeting is started (but they have already accepted the results). The entire rest of the video is essentially meaningless and just putting on a show for the public to air grievances with no legal recourse available. Really wish we could fix it, bureaucracy is bullshit. It’s all certified legally official before 2 minutes into the video.

I followed up with an interview of Dr. Chamberlain and spoke by phone with Jim Allen twice. Between one direct comment on the video and my interviews with Allen, the Chicago BoE never denies the counting irregularities. When pushed, they simply state, as Allen did in a follow up email to our conversations,

The numbers did match. There were questions about the process of taking the first tabulation sheet back and finding and correcting the errors on that tabulation sheet. The numbers did match. Again, no votes were added or removed.

Allen used an analogy with me about balancing your personal checkbook: “If you are going through your checkbook and the first time is mismatched, you don’t immediately yell ‘the bank is ripping me off’.”

What isn’t clear, on this analogy, is whether the checkbook figures were ever actually balanced or whether the bottom line was simply fudged to accept that the bank is always right.

Four of the people who gave testimony described unbelievable irregularities in detail without a single word of rebuttal about the specifics of how the audit tabulation occurred from the Board. In sharp contrast to a more orderly audit in Rensselaer County, New York, Chamberlain, Michelle Suzanne Gale, Rebecca Kerlin, and William Shipley stated that problems included erasure of tally sheet votes when they didn’t match (then adding some to get to the correct, pre-determined number), attempts to hide the work that was being done or to block the view of monitoring citizens, rapid adding of tallies to tally sheets near the end of the day to make things work, inconsistencies in the way names were read leading employees tallying the results to say “wait, I’m confused” without real redress, most stations having a single person to tally results for particular machines rather than two tally-ers, tally-ers falling asleep or absenting themselves to the bathroom while the results continued to be read-out, double reading of votes that had already been tallied, and multiple methods for cheating or fudging the results when they didn’t match, which was apparently quite often.

Shipley says in his testimony that he took photographic evidence, which I have not yet seen, of the erasure of tally marks.

Allen was willing to cop to some of the troubles, especially with tallying. He attributed it to counters not having enough space on their tally sheets. “The tally sheets did not change in size,” Allen told me, when they moved from the election day machines to the early voting machines. Early voting included substantially more votes as it took place over a fifteen day window before election day. The citizens groups emphasized as well that it was the early voting machines with the most troubles. This led, according to Allen, to “writing on the backs of sheets” when “instead of keeping the first tally sheet and handing the preparers of the hand count a new blank sheet to start over” they just used the same, smaller-sized sheet. “So you were correct, the numbers didn’t match” the first time around. But, Allen added, “there’s no proof or evidence we are aware of that any votes were added or erased. That’s a pretty inflammatory allegation.”

That “inflammatory allegation,” however, is precisely what multiple affidavits and witnesses insist happened. Most troubling, in my viewing of the video and follow-up discussions and emails, there is only one suggestion ever of a recount when, as both sides agree, the tallies didn’t match. BoE members never come close to describing any procedure required in terms of starting over when things do not match. Shipley instead reports around the 1:21 mark that when one brave auditor in a single instance spoke up against what appeared to be pressure from the top to make things just match, they were reluctantly told to recount. The individual tally-er did so and said again that it did not match. A third time, then, they were asked to recount, and it still did not match. At this point, according to Shipley, other counters were brought in to bring the audit results in line with the reported vote total.

Since Chamberlain in particular reported that the mismatches would have meant substantially more votes for Bernie Sanders in a very specific case, I followed up with her to ask if all or most of the mismatches were similarly suggestive of a miscount favoring Clinton. Chamberlain responded, “It appears to us that the inaccuracies were mostly in favor of Hillary,” but she added, “we are not going to say that in a court of law because we didn’t have every table covered every day” and “there was a lot of blocking behavior” by BoE employees throughout the process.

Allen, for his part, is most upset about the timing of the affidavit reports. For citizen monitors, it makes perfect sense. The audit ended at the beginning of the last week in March and they showed up to the next meeting the first full week in April. For Allen, this was much too late as “things were sealed” as of the certification which they were legally required to do by that date. For Allen, the two groups “waited until after the board was required to make a legal declaration” before raising objections. Chamberlain and IBIP, however, reasonably believed that they were showing up to make objections at precisely the right meeting.

Allen insists that the machines are perfectly good, even though they were first certified in 2002 and put into use in 2006. They’ve survived more intense recounts, by Allen’s reckoning, with candidates from two sides present and without showing a single missing vote.

And this appears to be the real rub.

Allen and the Chicago Board of Elections have an overweening trust in the machines that tabulated the early votes. For Allen, the citizen groups’ objections are mystifying; he thinks they mean that the entire Board and its employees and volunteers were “in the hop for Clinton.” Near the end of my initial conversation with him, I double checked to make sure that Verified Voting information is correct about the type of machines used for early balloting in Chicago.

By this point in my research I had realized strongly that it isn’t enough to simply state that electronic machines are stealing votes. There are dozens of different types of voting and vote tabulation machines in use across various states and counties. They are not all equally vulnerable to hacking of votes. Some are quite old; some were newly bought and put into use for this election cycle. Some are networked to other voting machines or tabulators in a particular county; some are not. Some have paper trails while, sixteen years after Bush v. Gore, some still do not. Some have been very provably hacked, while others have  passed “Red Team” vulnerability tests. (And some of the ones that have been hacked are particularly vulnerable because they are networked, hacking has proven viral, and hiding the corruption, even from a paper trail, is easily accomplished.)

On Monday my final report in this series, Part 6, will look at a handful of machines among the worst of the worst as they are present in various counties throughout various states. Do those worst of the worst machines match up with where exit polling is most terrible or not?

Allen responded to my question to confirm that Chicago early voting machines are the AVC Edge II Plus or EIIP. Over the final ninety seconds as we closed that initial phone conversation, I quickly Googled the AVC Edge. Other than having a paper trail, it is in fact among the worst of the worst. It would not take Allen’s entire crew to be corrupted, just a lazy audit process. In 2008 a team of scientists from the University of California Santa Barbara showed that a single person could hack the Edge without breaking the security seals. Furthermore, the hack could be accomplished in such a way that the bad code would easily spread to all other machines in a particular county.

Eight years later, those easily hackable AVC Edge machines are still counting votes in a wide variety of states and counties, including in the third largest city in the United States. And one of the only processes by which to test the security of these machines in Chicago is nothing less than a tremendous joke.

Part 1: Taking Election Fraud Allegations Seriously
Part 2: Debunking Some Election Fraud Allegations
Part 3: In-depth Report on Exit Polling and Election Fraud Allegations
An Interview With Lead Edison Exit Pollster Joe Lenski
Part 4: Purged, Hacked, Switched