By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2012, 1:46pm PT  

Well this item from Washington Posts' "The Fix" blog today is rather troubling. It seems the the media consortium which previously ran Exit Polls on Election Day --- the best indicator of fraud and failure in election results (as opposed to pre-election polling which is far less accurate) --- is being scrapped in some 19 states, for the very first time, in the upcoming Presidential Election...

Breaking from two decades of tradition, this year’s election exit poll is set to include surveys of voters in 31 states, not all 50 as it has for the past five presidential elections, according to multiple people involved in the planning.

Dan Merkle, director of elections for ABC News, and a member of the consortium that runs the exit poll, confirmed the shift Wednesday. The aim, he said, “is to still deliver a quality product in the most important states,” in the face of mounting survey costs.

The decision by the National Election Pool — a joint venture of the major television networks and The Associated Press — is sure to cause some pain to election watchers across the country.
Here is a list of the states that will be excluded from coverage: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

That would seem to be an invitation to fraud in those states, since Exit Polls have traditionally served as a helpful check and balance against fraudulent or simply inaccurate election results, particularly for the almost 100% unverified election results that the media now count on to report results in all 50 states. Those results come from often-failed, easily-manipulated computer tabulators used across the entire country.

This news is disturbing, as you probably already noticed, for a number of reasons...

First, Democrats will be troubled to see that most of the states listed above are believed to be strongly Republican states, but keep in mind that Congressional and local races, even in such states, are often very competitive. The same is true for those few states mentioned above which are believed to be Democratic-leaning. So Republicans should be equally troubled by this news.

There will now be no simple way to check for red flags of fraud or simple mistabulation on Election Night without the media consortium's Exit Poll data. (Though it should also be noted that the consortium has long refused to release raw data from their Exit Polls to the public, ever since raw data for Exit Polls in 2004 showed John Kerry winning handily in the bulk of the contested swing states, only to have computer reported election results purportedly show George W. Bush was the winner in those states.)

For example, to focus on just one of the states where Exit Polling is being scrapped, in South Carolina they use 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems across the entire state. There will be no data at all for use in finding red flags to compare to whatever the computers report the election results to be. And that's very troubling.

But it's not only states which use 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems which should be a concern to voters.

In Palm Beach County, FL last March, for example, it was only a post-election hand examination of a portion of paper ballots that revealed the computers had gotten the results of three elections wrong, naming two losing candidates to be the "winners" in two of those contests. The correct results were only determined after a court-approved hand-count of all of the paper ballots in the race, during which the company who manufactures and programs the computer tabulators, Dominion/Sequoia, admitted that all versions of their electronic voting systems have a bug that can result in the same inaccurate election results.

Those same systems used in Palm Beach County are still used in dozens of states across the country. In that case, unlike South Carolina, there were paper ballots to examine after the election, though most states do no hand examination of paper ballots at all either on Election Night or afterward. They rely instead only on the computer reported results which are either correct --- or not. Who knows?

Exit Polling data might have helped to identify problem races in such states, but no longer in some 19 of them across the country.

It was Exit Polling during the Wisconsin Recall Elections in June which predicted a 50/50 tie in the Gubernatorial recall between Scott Walker and Tom Barrett. Yet, 30 minutes or so later, after all of the news nets had reported the incredibly close Exit Polling results gathered throughout the day, the computer results told us the winner was Walker by huge numbers.

Those questionable and completely unverified results (WI does no post-election spot-checks of any of the paper ballots cast in their state elections, and only a minimal check of Presidential races months after certification) led to a bi-partisan group attempted to hand-count paper ballots across the entire state. The group is still trying to count those ballots in many counties, even though where election officials are refusing to give them access to the ballots.

The Fix goes on to note...

All 19 of the states with no exit polls are classified as either “solid Obama” or “solid Romney,” and there is only one “toss-up” gubernatorial or U.S. Senate race not on the list: the competitive North Dakota match-up of Heidi Heitkamp and Rick Berg.

Two other contests in the “leaning” Democratic category aren’t on the list: the U.S. Senate race in Hawaii and the governor’s race in West Virginia.

That is not good, and only makes the privatization of our formerly public election system even more opaque and difficult, if not impossible, for the citizenry to oversee. For those who might wish to manipulate the election system, it's now a 30-second no-brainer and just a few keystrokes away for any election insider to flip results on computer systems with almost no possibility of detection, or even indication that results may be the very opposite of the voters' intent.

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