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By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2008 12:01am PT  

While getting caught up with New Hampshire, after three days of travel and other related maladies, in preparing for a long catch-up article on the latest there (to be posted late late late tonight), I came across the following, from the latest numbers as posted last Friday night on the NH SoS website results page.

I've translated the numbers from the SoS's ridiculously impossible-to-read page, to something a bit more useful...

NASHUA, WARD 5
Diebold
Result
Hand
Tally
Discrepancy
Total
Votes
%
Error
CLINTON 1,030 959 -71 7.40
EDWARDS 405 377 -28 7.42
OBAMA 673 678 +5 0.73

Beyond the folks above, in Nashua, Ward 5, Richardson lost 3 votes (out of 72, as tallied by Diebold originally) and Biden lost 1 (out of 9). Everyone else, including Kucinich, remained exactly the same after the hand count in that one precinct.

Note: The above numbers are from Nashua, Ward 5. As opposed to Manchester, Ward 5, which we pointed out last Thursday, with some consternation, after enormous disparities were revealed by the post-election hand count in that precinct as well.

Much more later. Or, as the democracy-hating editorialists at the Eagle-Tribune wrote today: "[W]e have a partial recount of Democratic ballots underway in New Hampshire even though it is certain that the results will not change an iota....The whole idea that it will is a fallacy that is destructive to Americans' confidence in the democratic process."

UPDATE: As promised, much more now here...

CORRECTION: The original headline for this article referred to the disparities being in Nashua, Ward 4. In fact, they were in Nashua, Ward 5, as the rest of the article had properly reported. We have corrected the headline, and regret the original typo.

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By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2008 12:24pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from the road...

The Grand Lake Theater marquee in Oakland last Thursday Night, for the screening of UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections...

More photos as I can get time to add them once I'm back home and/or off the road for a bit. Though here's a very quick clip from inside the theater --- with a great crowd turning out! --- during the screening...


Was great to meet so many of you there and at the Sacramento screenings on Tuesday! You are my heroes. Thanks for coming out! Buy a DVD and spread the word in your town...

UPDATE: Photos from the Sacramento screening, now posted by Bill of Sacramento for Democracy.

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Scores of Votes Mistallied for Every Major Democratic Candidate
UPDATE: NH Union Leader Says Disparities Discovered in Hand Count Due to Veep Votes Added to Prez Totals...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2008 6:26pm PT  

As mentioned last night in this disturbing article, the early results of the hand counts of one Diebold precinct in Dennis Kucinich's election contest in New Hampshire are now being posted, as they come in, at this New Hampshire SoS page.

As mentioned earlier today, NH SoS Bill Gardner told WMUR in NH that "We did nine of the 12 wards in Manchester, and a lot of the votes were exactly the same...Some went up by a vote or two." He didn't, of course, note that a lot of the vote counts (most of them) were off by 5 or more.

And now, the rest of the numbers from the rest of the Manchester wards are coming on. And get a load of Ward 5:

Diebold
Result
Hand
Count
CLINTON 683 619
EDWARDS 255 217
OBAMA 404 365

All of the other candidates seem to have lost votes as well. No clue who received them instead, and must run out to tonight's Oakland screening of UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections. But I thought you'd want to know.

WMUR might want to know too. Since their only source seems to be whatever Gardner tells them. They can be contacted here.

There are more fresh numbers there, but we haven't yet had time to review 'em. Other than that, everything is fine with your election system. Or, as WMUR "reported" at 6pm ET today: "The continuing Democratic primary recount in New Hampshire has not found any voting problems."

UPDATE: The New Hampshire Union Leader reports this as the reason for the huge disparities discovered via the hand count:

The widest variations so far were in Manchester's Ward 5. Vote counters there mistakenly transposed write-in votes for vice president as votes for presidential candidate. As a result, all major candidates lost votes. Kucinich lost three in the ward and has a total of 20 votes there. Hillary Clinton lost 64 with a new total of 619; John Edwards lost 38 and has 217 votes; Barack Obama lost 39 and has 365, and Bill Richardson lost seven, leaving him 39.

We've been on the road, and thus, unable to confirm that explanation one way or another, or even add this update from yesterday's paper until now. But we're happy to share it with you nonetheless (even as some dKos fans in comments, have suggested our lack of pointing it out as some sort of "conspiracy theory". Get over yourself, kids. And stand up for democracy while you're at it!)

For related coverage, please see our index of notable New Hampshire-related BRAD BLOG articles, since the '08 Primary.
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By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2008 4:55pm PT  

Also meanwhile...Out there in MSM world, where reality creates its own definition, WMUR is reporting that all is fine in New Hampshire:

CONCORD, N.H. --- The continuing Democratic primary recount in New Hampshire has not found any voting problems.

Well, they're sort of correct. "Voting" problems aren't the concern. As we frequently point out, the voters are still doing fine. Leave them alone. The election problems, and the horrible administration thereof, are another matter entirely. And on that front, loads of problems have been "found." But only if you bother to look at them, of course.

Given WMUR's following quote from NH Sec. of State Bill Gardner, which is demonstrably wrong in 3 seconds time if you bother to look at the SoS's very own web page for hand count results, it's not a surprise that WMUR thinks everything is just rosy:

"We did nine of the 12 wards in Manchester, and a lot of the votes were exactly the same," Gardner said. "Some went up by a vote or two."

That is what we in the business of actual reporting would call: a lie. Check the numbers for yourself. Yeah, it's technical true that "a lot of the votes were exactly the same," as Gardner says, in the same way that a lot of the troops who go to Iraq don't get killed.

But many more vote counts were not at all the same, ranging anywhere from 5 to 8 votes off in regular cases, across almost all candidates.

And before you say that's no big deal, we'll remind you that in 2004, had just 6 votes per precinct been registered in Ohio for John Kerry instead of George W. Bush, we'd have a different person sitting in the White House right now.

Other than that, and the fact that Gardner has no idea where the memory cards are for his Diebold machines, and all other matter of horrible election oversight, yeah, everything's just fine in New Hampshire.

...CONTACT...
WMUR Newsroom contact page

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By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2008 3:20pm PT  

Meanwhile...Over at The Daily Kos, the world's largest and most powerful supposedly-Progressive blog, its founder and its front-page diarists would seem to be as out of touch with their own readership as the Democratic Party seems to be with their constituency, if the results from the following online poll running over there today (results as of 3:00pm PT today), offers any indication...

You'll recall that previously, with no "extraordinary evidence" for the "extraordinary claim" that Hillary Clinton won the NH Primary (maybe she did, maybe she didn't, 80% of the ballots were never counted or verified by anybody, so who knows?), Kos and his designated lead authors threatened readers with permanent banishment for discussing the serious concerns about "faith-based" elections, such as the one that took place last week in New Hampshire.

Updated for Kossacks in denial: Wrote Kos himself, in comments on this recent thread...

"Anyone who persists with this crap is engaging in unsupported conspiracy theories and violating site policy, a bannable offense."

I'll note that none of the diarists over there previously bashing The BRAD BLOG, by making claims, without evidence, about "claims" they claim we claimed, bothered to link up --- or even answer to --- our post disputing those claims with actual evidence to the contrary.

Looks like these guys would fit in very nicely with today's Democratic Congress. Keep up the bad work, fellas. It's only your democracy at stake.

(P.S. I'm in Oakland tonight for the screening of the more-aptly-named-than-ever new documentary UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections. If I recall correctly, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas resides near the Bay Area. I'd love to see him come out to the screening tonight at the Grand Lake Theater at 7pm. Details here. Ticket is on me. I'd be delighted to talk to him about his apparent lack of interest in transparent, verified elections after he takes a look at this film, and listens to the Q&A I'll be a part of thereafter...if he happens to be in the 'hood. It's not too late to get it straight for '08, Mr. Moulitsas! Especially since it looks like your readers already have.)

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Index of Notable BRAD BLOG Coverage...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2008 8:35pm PT  

Counting voters' ballots. What a nice new idea for American democracy...

  • 1/8/08 - 'Problems' with Paper Ballots in State Inaccurately Reported by National Mainstream Media
  • 1/8/08 - Pre-Election Polls Wildly Different Than Results Announced for Clinton/Obama
    [Initial post-primary report, updated many times]
  • 1/9/08 - Tribune Media: MSM Failed to Note 'Hackable Diebold Red Flags' in NH Primary Results
  • 1/9/08 - New Docs: Exec at NH's Diebold Vote Counting Firm Convicted of Narcotics Trafficking
  • 1/9/08 - 7 Point Swing for Clinton Over Obama in NH's Diebold Precincts
  • 1/9/08 - Chris Matthews: Raw EXIT POLL Data 'Indicated Significant Victory' for Obama in NH
  • 1/10/08 - Brad Discussing Concerns on Stephanie Miller Show
  • 1/10/08 - KUCINICH CALLS FOR 'RECOUNT' OF NEW HAMPSHIRE BALLOTS
  • 1/11/08 - The REAL Question (for now) About New Hampshire
  • 1/11/08 - MAHER: Diebold Only Ones Who Know What Went on in NH (VIDEO)
  • 1/12/08 - Diebold Voting Machine Failures Reported Across State
  • 1/14/08 - Eternal Vigilance: Not Just for Founding Fathers Anymore;
    Or, Counting Voters Ballots in American Elections, and Other 'Conspiracy Theories'
  • 1/15/08 - Election Contests Get Technical, Testy Before They Even Begin
  • 1/15/08 - Kucinich Pays, Count to Begin; Republican Howard's Funds Bottlenecked at Bank Now Accepted by SoS! [Item Updated Many Times with Much New Info!]
  • DEMOCRATIC COUNT BEGINS...

  • 1/16/08 - HAND COUNT BEGINS: DIEBOLD MISCOUNTED VOTES; MEMORY CARDS MISSING; MACHINES FAILURES; MORE...
  • 1/17/08 - NH's WMUR Reports 'No Problems Found' in Hand Counts; Only Source: NH SoS
  • 1/17/08 - Huge New Disparities Found in Manchester, Ward 5 During Hand Counts
  • 1/21/08 - 7.5% Vote Count Discrepancy Found in Nashua, Ward 5
  • 1/21/08 - (Butch & Hoppy) + Post-It Notes = NH's Chain of Custody
    And Other Recent News from the Election Contests in New Hampshire...
  • REPUBLICAN COUNT BEGINS...

  • 1/23/08 - Kucinich Hand Count Stopped; Republican Howard Count to Begin
  • 1/23/08 - EXCLUSIVE: Letter from Kucinich to SoS Cites 'Significant Variances', Requests 'Full and Accurate Recount' to be Carried out by State
  • 1/24/08 - SoS Gardner Appears to Lie to Media About Kucinich Hand Count
  • 1/25/08 - SoS Calls For Temporary Halt in Republican Hand Count, Candidate Albert Howard Objects
  • 1/25/08 - VIDEO: 'Shame of Custody' - Breakdown in Ballot Storage; SoS Refuses to Answer Questions
  • 1/29/08 - VIDEO: 'First in the Nation' NH, Worst in the Nation Chain of Custody
  • 1/29/08 - Diebold Issues 'Product Advisory' in FL: Malfunctions in Same Machines Used in NH
  • 2/1/08 - Howard Demands SoS Allow Unvoted Ballots to be Counted, Says Diebold Errors Reported in 21 Towns
  • Election Integrity matters. Help support our efforts. Please DONATE TO THE BRAD BLOG.
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    Also: Diebold Memory Cards Unaccounted For; Public Record Request by Election Integrity Advocates on Ground Reveal 550+ Votes Read as Blank by Op-Scanner in Stratham...
    Clinton, Kucinich Observers There, Nobody from Obama or Edwards, Says Election Attorney...
    By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2008 8:09pm PT  

    Blogged by Brad Friedman from on the road...

    (As mentioned in previous items, I'm now on the road --- currently in Oakland for the Thursday night screening of the more-ironically-named-than-ever documentary, UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections --- and doing my best to keep up while moving. So apologies for the terse reports for the moment, as I continue to roll and have limited time online.)

    LATEST OUT OF NH: Disparities being found during hand-counts of ballots, in many wards, many candidates. Diebold op-scan memory cards unaccounted for at the moment, Secretary of State (SoS) doesn't track them after elections, doesn't track error reports during elections. LHS Associates (see below) handles all of it instead, according to reports on the ground. Public records request reveals hundreds of ballots in one area scanned as blank due to incorrect ink used on ballots, and other problems on LHS problem report forms.

    * * *

    Numbers are now being posted from both the Democratic and Republican hand-counts in the NH Primary Election contest. So far, only wards in Manchester (Hillsborough County) have been hand-counted, and disparities between the original counts from the Diebold optical-scan machine and the hand inspections seem to be occurring in many wards, and for many candidates.

    Here is the SoS Recount page with the totals, that I haven't yet been able to review in full.

    While sources on the ground at the counting today have told me that officials were not announcing the originally counted results at the counting room, the SoS web page lists what they claim are the original counts --- previously verified by nobody --- versus the recounted numbers.

    The disparities, as I've quickly been able to review them, are small, but consistent, in ward after ward, across almost all of the candidates. I'm told that the manufacturers of the optical-scan machines (in this case, Diebold) have estimated an expected error rate of 1% on this type of tallying device which, as noted by one of our contacts in NH, is ridiculous, if you consider that most states and counties only kick in "automatic recounts" when the margin between the two leading candidates is less than .5% or so.

    ADDITIONALLY...Public records requests are being made on the spot, for errors and malfunctions at various voting precincts. An early review of the error forms turned over from the public record request made by Election Integrity experts overseeing the counting, has revealed that in Stratham there were some 550 ballots that were not read by the op-scan at all. They were seen as blank ballots. Officials there noticed the problem, and then hand-counted some 3000 ballots after the error was discovered.

    Apparently, as we've seen elsewhere, voters were given the wrong pen to use and the op-scanners did not "see" this particular type of ink.

    Some of the election day error and incident reports, as read to me over the phone just now by Susan Pynchon of Florida Fair Elections Coalition and Paddy Shaffer of Ohio Election Justice Campaign, both of whom are on the ground in NH overseeing the counts, and assisting Republican contest candidate Albert Howard...

    (Town of Stratham, 9:00pm)

    PROBLEM: Printout indicated 550 "blank voted" ballots which indicated that bad pens were used.
    SOLUTION: Went to Stratham to confirm that approximately 15 bad pens were used on election day. The town had, by that time, hand counted and announced those results as official.

    PROBLEM: Too many blanks, used wrong marking pens
    SOLUTION: Sent Gerry and Tina with lucid machines.

    (Town of Lebanon, precinct #2, 9:00 (am or pm?))

    PROBLEM: Corrupt Count.
    SOLUTION: Shut off and back on. Count back to 155.

    (Town of Manchester, 9:30pm)

    PROBLEM: P/U 3rd Bad Machine per John S. (likely refers to John Silvestro, owner of LHS)
    SOLUTION:

    I spoke with Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org, who is also on the ground in NH, and she asks: "If it wasn't 550 ballots, but just 55 or so in some places, would they even have seen it and known to recount ALL of the ballots?"

    She also noted that the error report came from LHS Associates, the private company (with the, um, less-than-reputable background) that is the sole Diebold vendor, programmer, operator and service provider in NH and most of the other New England states.

    (UPDATE: Harris has more of her own first-hand observations now posted here at BBV.)

    LHS, apparently, is the one responsible for tracking (or not) and reporting (or not) any such errors, rather than the Secretary of State or local election officials. That tracks with previous BRAD BLOG reporting on LHS, and how they operate in Connecticut, where there are similar concerns for whether or not the SoS even knows what the error rates are for the system they use, since problem reports are given to LHS instead of to public officials.

    The BRAD BLOG has reported within the past few days machine problems during the election in a number of towns. In fact, of the first four towns we called that used the Diebold machines, all four reported machine failures of one type or another.

    FURTHER...Voting Rights attorney John Bonifaz, legal director of VoterAction.org, was on the scene today, and just told me that he has great concerns about the transparency of both the initial election and the hand-count auditing process that got under way in earnest today.

    "I'm very concerned that this is not a fully transparent process that is happening there," he told me.

    The sensitive memory cards containing the programming and tabulation from the Diebold optical-scanners are apparently "missing in action" for the moment. Those cards, as viewers of HBO's Hacking Democracy know by now, may be used to hack an election, such that only a proper hand-count of the paper ballots afterwards will reveal the hack. (See the video of that hack for yourself right here. The same exact machine being hacked in that film was used across the state to count 80% of the ballots in NH in last week's primary.)

    And yet, says Bonifaz who spent time today speaking with New Hampshire Secretary of State, Assistant Secretary of State and Deputy Attorney General, nobody seems to have any idea where those cards are and what has become of them.

    He says he was told by Secretary of State William Gardner that his office doesn't get involved in tracking what happens to those memory cards. Some have reportedly been returned to LHS, and may have had their memory erased already.

    "When you have a private company counting 80% of the votes, and you later learn that the memory cards are unaccounted for, you have a serious question about the transparency and accountability in that process," Bonifaz said.

    He notes that federal law requires all materials from elections be preserved for 22 months after the election. So if those materials have already been lost, destroyed, or over-written, there are legal questions that must be addressed.

    Bonifaz also noted that while representatives and observers for the Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich campaigns were on site, nobody at all seemed to be there from either the Barack Obama or John Edwards camps. (Incredibly enough, I might add!)

    * * *

    Our earlier report today had a number of important updates that you may wish to review. Including the fact that the Kucinich people have asked for more observers (with video cameras if you have them!) at the State Archives Bldg., 71 South Fruit Street, Concord, New Hampshire, to help oversee the 6 counting teams. Much more in that report as well...

    UPDATE 1/17/08 6:25 PM PST by Emily Levy: There are enough volunteers for tomorrow's counting. After Friday's counting, the count will be suspended for the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday weekend and is scheduled to resume next Tuesday. Folks on the ground in NH ask that you not show up there without talking with someone first, as they don't want anyone to make the trip unless they're needed. Volunteering will be coordinated, and that system is being set up now. Check back here for updates.

    For related coverage, please see our index of notable New Hampshire-related BRAD BLOG articles, since the '08 Primary. And please consider donating to our efforts to continue to report on issues of Election Integrity in NH and elsewhere, as what virtually nobody else in the media (MSM or blogosphere!) seems willing to do at this time.
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    SEVERAL UPDATES: Howard's Funds, in Full, Now Accepted by SoS Gardner, Republican Recount is On!
    By Emily Levy on 1/15/2008 5:34pm PT  

    Guest Blogged by Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us
    -- Now UPDATED several times by Brad Friedman from on the road...

    Brad just called me with the following:

    "I'm in Sacramento tonight for screening of Uncounted but wanted to give you a quick update. Dennis Kucinich's campaign did in fact get their money in on time. The recount will be starting tomorrow. However, on the Republican side, though the money was wired to the bank for candidate Albert Howard, according to sources on the ground, something at the bank delayed release of the funds in time to meet Secretary of State Gardner's 3:00 p.m. deadline. As I wrote last night, Gardner's demand for full up-front payment does not seem to be in accordance with the law, which requires only a written guarantee that payment will be made. Trying to learn more but may not have anything until tomorrow because I'm off the grid for much of the night."

    Guess that's a solar-powered movie, then.

    UPDATE: Apparently SOS Gardner will still allow Howard and his team to have a count if he comes in with the money later, according to hints in the Union Leader.

    And in BRAD BLOG comments, Bev Harris explains some of the details from on the ground, and what seem to be disparities in the way Gardner is handling the Dem. Kucinich count, versus the Rep. Howard count.

    UPDATE FROM BRAD, 1/16/08, 10:35am PT: I was able to speak to some of the Kucinich folks last night (stepping out from the screening in Sac) to try impress upon them some of the chain-of-custody issue concerns described in Bev's comments below. We'll see if I made any progress. As I tried to explain in yesterday's piece, due to the extraordinarily complex and technological systems used in elections these days, a simple count of the paper ballots does not do the trick.

    Most notably, I've tried to draw the Kucinich team's attention to Albert Howard's extraordinarily good letter to SoS Gardner, describing exactly what is needed if one is to have a legitimate and reconcilable recount that will offer the confidence in the count, as sought in the first place. If you haven't seen that letter, please do. It's at the bottom of this post from yesterday, and serves as a very good template for any candidate asking for a recount these days, in an election using a computerized voting systems such as the easily hackable, prone-to-error Diebold op-scan system (and many others just like it!)

    Still on the road today, rolling from Sac to Oakland, so on and off the net throughout the day. More updates when I'm able...

    UPDATE FROM BRAD, 1/16/08, 1:05pm PT: Just spoke with Albert Howard spokesperson Eric Newhouse. Just after 3pm ET, a check for the full $55,600 was delivered to and accepted by SoS Gardner for the Republican-side hand count. The Republican ballot count, he says, will now begin... More, again, as I can learn it as I roll in N. California...

    UPDATE FROM BRAD, 1/16/08, 1:17pm PT: Marc "Armed Liberal" Danziger --- who last week had called me "Tawana Brawley" (an African-American woman who had claimed, without evidence, that she was gang-raped by a number of high-ranking, white NY public officials some years ago) --- has just written a new post headlined "Start Sauteeing The Crow". Writes Danziger [emphasis his]

    As irritated as I was at Brad Friedman for coming out of the gate with what I saw as a conclusion unsupported by specific evidence, I fully share his discomfort with the current technology and processes used in voting in New Hampshire.

    Now, the first rigorous study I've seen of the voter data has come out - and it supports him.

    He points to a "rigorous study" at ScienceBlogs.com and quotes from their analysis of the reported NH results (as "counted", until now, only by an error-prone, hackable Diebold optical scanner, and double-checked by nobody). Danziger says they write:

    To my complete (and continuing) amazement, the "diebold effect" on Hillary's votes remains after controlling for any and all of those demographic variables..., with a p-value of <.001: that is, there are less than 1:1000 odds for this difference occurring through chance alone, and that's after adjusting for variability in Hillary's votes due to education, income, total population, and population density.

    Note: I'm still on the roll and haven't had time to check the study he points to yet.

    Also note: Danziger, above, claims that he was "irritated" (he had written I deserved a "boot to the head" and was claiming a "Diebold conspiracy") when I offered "a conclusion unsupported by specific evidence".

    The only "conclusion", I ever "offered" was that 80% of the paper-ballots in NH have never been counted by anybody. That conclusion is 100% accurate, and fully supported by very specific (and undisputed) evidence. I wrote, at length, about Danziger and others of his supposedly-Progressive ilk, and their phony unevidenced claims about my accurate claims back here.

    He needn't "sautee crow". What he needs to do is retract and apologize. Period. Not sure why that's so difficult for him (and the others).

    UPDATE FROM BRAD VIA EMILY, 1/16/08, 5:11 pm PT:
    HAND COUNT OBSERVERS NEEDED IMMEDIATELY IN N.H.

    Brad phoned from the road to say:

    "Have been speaking with the Kucinich folks, and am encouraged by the early word. It seems they may finally be begging to "get it". Will have more soon when I'm back online and can get you more.

    But for now, the Kucinich team is putting out the word that they need more observers for the election contest hand-counts in New Hampshire immediately. If you are available to get there, they are counting every day starting at 9:00 a.m. at the State Archives Building, 71 South Fruit Street, Concord, New Hampshire. Contact lead Kucinich attorney Manny Krasner on the scene. Bring video cameras and lots of blank tapes if you can."

    See update on volunteering, below.

    UPDATE: 1/16/08, 8:15pm PT: Final update in this thread. RESULTS OF FIRST DAY HAND-COUNT NOW IN. Many mis-tallied ballots reported, Diebold memory cards now "missing", much more. Details now here...

    UPDATE 1/17/08 6:25 PM PST by Emily Levy: There are enough volunteers for tomorrow's counting. After Friday's counting, the count will be suspended for the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday weekend and is scheduled to resume next Tuesday. Folks on the ground in NH ask that you not show up there without talking with someone first, as they don't want anyone to make the trip unless they're needed. Volunteering will be coordinated, and that system is being set up now. Check back here for updates.

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    Election Integrity Experts Converge and Join Both Republican and Democratic Candidates in Quest for Transparency
    New Hampshire Secretary of State Questioned About Documentation, Poll Records, and Diebold Memory Cards...
    By Brad Friedman on 1/15/2008 4:27am PT  

    By Brad Friedman from Sacramento...

    Election Integrity experts from around the country have been converging on the Granite State over the last several days, in preparation for "historic" state-wide hand counts of New Hampshire's Primary Election ballots, The BRAD BLOG has learned. Counts of votes on both the Democratic and Republican sides will begin in earnest this Wednesday, as long as the two contesting candidates deliver certified checks by 3pm on Tuesday, in amounts determined on Monday by Secretary of State William M. Gardner.

    The battle for transparency and accountability on the ground, where some 80% of the state's ballots were tallied only by error-prone, hackable Diebold optical-scan voting machines, without human audit or spot-checking of any kind, in last week's first-in-the-nation Primary, is already growing heated on both sides of the aisle, and even inside the statehouse as of Monday.

    While representatives from each of the contestants have reportedly been working together on several aspects of the two separate counts --- each claiming to have requested the hand-counts in order to help answer questions about anomalous reported results --- what has become immediately clear, during our interviews with several members involved in the challenges as well as Election Integrity advocates now in New Hampshire and elsewhere, is that these election challenges likely may not mirror the partial recount in 2004, held at the request of then-Presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

    The BRAD BLOG has obtained the two-page request for a detailed list of ballot and voting machine-related public documents and records submitted on Monday to Gardner by the previously obscure Republican candidate Albert Howard. Howard's request makes clear that the battle for integrity and transparency in post-election challenges may have finally caught up with the technical sea-changes in voting equipment that have overtaken the American election system over the last several years.

    Due to extraordinary complexities in the ever more complicated computer systems, scanners, tabulators, record sets, databases, and proprietary programming that have now been employed by election administrators across the country, the once-simple task of examining and recounting paper ballots --- where they still exist, as they do in New Hampshire --- has grown exponentially more technical and confusing.

    Early word on the ground in New Hampshire's capital city of Concord, along with concerns from candidates, surrogates, and election experts alike, suggests that these "recounts" could be like no other in the history of the country...

    --- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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    Or, Counting Voters' Ballots in American Elections, and Other 'Conspiracy Theories'
    Or, the Mainstream Media and the 'Progressive' Blogworld...One Big Happy Family...With Liberty and Democracy for None...
    By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2008 10:53am PT  

    -- By Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG

    Counting ballots is not done to find out what went wrong, but rather, to assure the results are right.

    ATMs are fairly reliable. But I have a feeling if you get $300 from one of them, you'll likely count, by hand, all three hundred dollar bills to make sure they are there. Right? You'd be an irresponsible fool to do otherwise.

    But with election results? Um, not so much.

    Mahjoun at "Drunkard’s Lamppost" --- a blog which brands itself as "Politics with a spreadsheet and a calculator" --- offers a concise and easy to read summary of the results, as reported, in Diebold vs. Hand-Counted precincts in New Hampshire, along with a very sober analysis (notable for such a "Drunkard") of what may, and may not, be taken away from such an analysis.

    Writes Mahjoun:

    There are so many variables in an election result that to put Hillary’s win down to jiggery-pokery without any real evidence is over the top.

    We concur. Although earlier in his piece, perhaps inadvertently, Mahjoun does a bit of "jiggery-pokery without any real evidence" himself, by stating:

    In the end, Clinton won because she was more popular in the large precincts which happen to be tallied by Diebold machines.

    Did she? Is there any evidence for that?

    As they like to say over at Daily Kos, after all, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." But that only seems to work one way. So, what exactly is the "extraordinary evidence" for the "extraordinary claim" that for the first time in United States history, a woman has won a Presidential Primary Election, while staring down the barrel of dozens of independent pre-election polls, all predicting she would take a thumping?

    Mahjoun's point might have been more accurately stated as "In the end, Clinton won because Diebold machines reported having tallied the ballots more in her favor in large precincts."

    That can be proven, after all. The Diebold machines did report, after they, and they alone, counted the paper ballots, without examination or independent verification, that Clinton received more votes in enough precincts to be announced the winner of the election. But unless there's something I'm missing, that's the only thing in this whole matter which can proven.

    Some democracy, huh?

    In conclusion though, Mahjoun gets it dead right, by pointing out what is, perhaps, the most important take-away from this entire mess, unless you are the sort, unlike me, who enjoys seeing these nightmares and questions repeated over and over again, in election after election in this country:

    For democracy to work, the system must be transparent and maintain the confidence of its participants. Proprietary voting machines fail both these tests. Americans, as far as I know, are still capable of counting, so should return exclusively to the paper ballot.

    Bingo. Buy that drunkard another drink!

    But such responsible coverage, from the mainstream media --- or, more disappointingly, the supposedly-Progressive blogosphere, which has had no shortage of new epithets for The BRAD BLOG and its founding father, Brad Friedman, over the past week --- has not been easy to come by.

    Rigging the Coverage...

    --- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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    Election Officials Confirm that Employees from LHS Associates, Diebold's Sole Programmer, Vendor, and Service Provider in NH, Were Allowed to Access Vulnerable Optical-Scan Systems Throughout Election Day
    Attorney General's Office Offers Conflicting Information...
    By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2008 9:57pm PT  

    Special to The BRAD BLOG by Dori Smith of Talk Nation Radio

    Early research into New Hampshire wards and towns which used Diebold's AccuVote Optical-Scan voting machines during last week's Primary reveals that chronic problems continue with the company's infamous paper-ballot voting machines.

    As well, the preliminary investigation reveals a great deal of confusion and conflicting information from local election clerks and a high-ranking official in the state Attorney General's office regarding protocols and security procedures for voting systems and memory cards, and how they are to be handled during Election Day failures.

    All four counties I contacted on January 10th that had used Diebold's electronic machines last week reported problems during the election with the machines. Two other calls that same day turned out to have been to areas where electronic voting is not in use, where hand counts are done instead. If the small sampling is any indication, a statewide study would likely reveal that voting machines failed many times during the 2008 Presidential Primary across the entire state.

    Problems with the systems were quickly revealed during all of my calls to officials who had used the optical-scan systems in Hanover, Exeter, Nashua, and Manchester.

    Little reporting or inquiry into such problems has been done so far by the mainstream media. Reports of machine failures in Stratham, leading to hand counting of votes after a "glitch" was discovered in the optical-scan systems used there, were buried in a local article on Primary results in SeaCoast Online on Thursday. The bulk of media reporting on the anomalous results from the election has focused, instead, on speculation as to what might have gone wrong with pre-election polls. Little if any coverage has been given to whether the results themselves were correct as reported, or whether voting machine errors or tampering may have occurred.

    The paper ballots cast by 80% of the state's voters have never been examined by anyone to determine the mechanical vote-counting accuracy. The computer counting of those ballots is overseen by a single, private company which is routinely granted extraordinary access to the systems, and interviews with a number of state officials indicate they all seem to have different understandings of what, if any, rules exist to regulate that access...

    --- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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    Failure Caused Officials to Hand Count Ballots, While Questions Remain About Details of the Problems
    Similar Reports Discovered Elsewhere, More on That Soon...
    By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2008 6:07pm PT  

    VotersUnite.org's John Gideon calls our attention to this snippet, from this recent story at NH's SeaCoastOnline [emphasis ours]:

    So many Democrats turned out in Stratham that Town Clerk Shirley Daley said she had to photocopy 87 ballots. Hartson said she began printing extra Democratic ballots at 6 p.m. when they began running low. Because of a glitch in the machines, clerks there had to hand count all of the extra ballots.

    Gideon follows up by asking: "They had to hand-count all of the extra ballots. What about the ballots that had already been run on the machines (note the plural)? How many other machines across the state had the same 'glitch'?"

    We tried to contact Town Clerk Daley on Friday, in order to find out, what came of the ballots counted before the problem was discovered, but their offices close at 12noon on Fridays.

    As to further such incidents across the state, it seems there were far more than anyone has so far reported. We will have another article shortly, concerning such reports of problems on Diebold voting machine across the state during last week's Primary Election. 80% of New Hampshire votes were counted on such machines. To date, none of those ballots have been counted, verified or audited by any human being to our knowledge.

    UPDATE 9:56pm As promised, further reports on problems with voting machines in other NH towns, now published here...

    For related coverage, please see our index of notable New Hampshire-related BRAD BLOG articles, since the '08 Primary.
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    Says 'Election All for Naught if We Can't Trust Results'
    Catherine Crier: 'Glad This Controversy's Come Up, Will Elevate Voting Machine Issue In Minds of American People'...
    By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2008 11:23pm PT  

    From tonight's Real Time with Bill Maher, with guests Catherine Crier of CourtTV, Mark Cuban of HDNet, and Tony Snow of Fox "News"/White House. On the topic of concerns about the New Hampshire primary results, and Diebold's sole-control over 80% of the ballots in the state...


    Some key quotes from the video...

    MAHER: I'm not saying something went wrong, but it does bother me that a private company runs the polling machines and that only they certainly, seem to know what went on in that [New Hampshire election].

    CRIER: What I'm glad about is that whole controversy's come up and that they're going to go back and take a look. It's going to elevate the whole voting machine issue in the minds of the American people before the elections

    [APPLAUSE]

    MAHER: We have so much debate, and there's so much interest in this election…but it all comes to naught if we can't trust what the result is.

    Tony Snow then immediately brings up Photo ID, completely and entirely out of context, and suggests, incorrectly, that the issue is "voter fraud." It's not. It's election fraud. The voters are doing fine. Leave them alone.

    Thankfully, Maher quickly destroys Snow in return. As does Crier.

    Cuban raises key points about the stunning Dan Rather investigative report, (complete video here) on "The Trouble with Touchscreens," which ran on Cuban's HDNet network last year (and which the entirety of the corporate mainstream media subsequently ignored.)

    The Real Time clip was very good.

    Hey Bill - If ya ever need me, I live about 5 minutes from your studio, and would be happy to share more with your viewers on all of this, if you really believe what you suggest about elections coming "to naught if we can't trust what the result is." You are, of course, absolutely right. Thanks for mentioning it.

    For related coverage, please see our index of notable New Hampshire-related BRAD BLOG articles, since the '08 Primary.
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    By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2008 3:58pm PT  

    As you might have guessed, I'm buried for the moment in a blizzard of incoming calls, emails, and more (such as bad, and misleading, articles and blog items about all of this), even while trying to both learn more details on a number of fronts and keep up with media appearances to discuss the issues so Americans might better understand what's really going on here, and what the concerns really are.

    So I'll have much more on all of this tonight, as I get caught up with a number of related items that I've been working on at the same time, while trying to keep up with all of the above.

    Until then, consider this an Open Thread. And I hope you'll help me, by continuing to spread the facts about the questions at hand.

    Those questions begin with this concern:

    While pollsters and the MSM and even theoretically-Progressive bloggers are speculating about what might have gone wrong in dozens of different, independent, transparent pre-election polls --- almost all of which found precisely the same information --- very few seem to be questioning whether the completely unverified results, from 80% of New Hampshire, counted on hackable, error-prone Diebold machines, completely programmed, controlled, and operated by a single, private, less-than-respectable company (LHS Associates), were actually accurate in the first place.

    At the same time, evidence exists that even the Exit Polls showed Obama was winning throughout the day, and there have been a number of eyebrow-raising questions about the reported results themselves, as discovered so far, during independent analysis of them. Not enough anomalies have yet been found, in my opinion, to raise any large red flags, but certainly a still-growing number of anomalies for yellow ones.

    I'll add that even if the ballots, if they are ever actually counted, turn out to reveal a different result than reported, it could be due to error, not fraud, and if fraud, it needn't have been committed by anybody related, in any way, to the Clinton camp.

    I believe we all deserve to know if the results, as reported, were accurate beyond a shadow of a doubt. That is the sensible and responsible question for the moment. And anybody who offers you reasons for why Clinton won (perhaps she did, we cannot know for sure at this time) or why Obama lost (perhaps he did, we cannot know for sure at this time) is doing nothing but irresponsibly speculating.

    Discuss. More tonight...

    (UPDATE: Okay, more tomorrow instead...promise. Lots going on.)

    For more, please see our index of notable New Hampshire-related BRAD BLOG coverage, since the '08 Primary. And please consider supporting the work of The BRAD BLOG with an ONLINE DONATION. Our support comes almost solely from readers like you. Seriously.
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    Cites Concerns About 'Unexplained Disparities' in Hand and Diebold Machine Counted Ballots
    Says 'It’s about establishing whether 100% of the voters had 100% of their votes counted exactly the way they cast them'
    By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2008 6:10pm PT  

    --- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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