Updated December 12, 2004

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Tens of Thousands of Votes Lost, Stolen, Miscounted

By Christopher Bollyn

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Florida—There were thousands of reported incidents and problems with electronic voting systems on Election Day. In Florida alone there were more than 4,369 incidents of voting problems
reported to Voteprotect.org.

For example, in Carteret County, N.C., thousands of votes were lost, while in Sarpy County, Neb., a single voting machine recorded 10,000 extra votes.

In Carteret County, the Associated Press reported, “a voting machine used to store electronic ballots ran out of storage space” and 4,438 votes “disappeared.” Because the electronic voting machines used in Carteret County do not count or create a paper ballot, the disappeared votes were irretrievably lost.

While the mainstream media is certainly aware of these incidents and the flaws inherent in computerized voting systems, it has come out after the election in support of such unverifiable voting systems.

An article by Wyatt Buchanan in The San Francisco Chronicle of Nov. 11 provides a good example of how the corporate-controlled press supports unverifiable voting systems even while reporting their failures.

“Accusations of widespread organized voting fraud,” Buchanan wrote, “wilt under scrutiny. Academics and independent groups watching closely for shenanigans say that, so far, no evidence has emerged that suggests a ‘stolen election.’ ”

The Chronicle article, however, does mention a half dozen incidents that indicate that thousands of votes were lost, added, or miscounted across the nation.

The Washington Post and The New York Times came out with similar articles on the same day. What these mainstream newspapers are trying to do is support unverifiable voting systems and centralized vote counting by discrediting various vote fraud theories that cropped up on the Internet. Rather than criticizing the insecure electronic voting machines that now control our elections, the controlled press attacks the skeptics.

Sharon Machlis, writing in Computerworld on Nov. 3, points out the most obvious problem with electronic voting machines. “Did those controversial electronic voting machines properly record Americans’ votes yesterday?” she asks.

“We’ll never really know,” Machlis wrote. “Without a paper trail, there’s simply nothing to check against in order to verify accuracy.

“For a vendor, it’s great work if you can get it: Install systems where your users have no way to measure achieving the desired results,” she wrote. “For our democracy, though, it’s unacceptable.”


During the recent election, many voters had to wait for hours because of the limited number of voting machines. In Columbus and Knox County, Ohio, some voters waited until 3 a.m. to vote.

“It’s inexcusable to commit to a [voting] system that can’t properly function at peak times,” Machlis wrote. “We’re not talking about impatient online holiday shoppers here. We’re talking about the foundation of our democracy.

“Mechanical voting machines with levers have the same scalability problems, of course,” she added. “But paper ballots read by optical scanners do not.”

If a paper-ballot polling site becomes swamped with voters, officials can set up more tables and pass out ballots down the line. “It’s a lot tougher to add machines—mechanical or [electronic] voting—that don’t exist,” Machlis wrote. “Sometimes, simpler is better. Especially when you can prove that it works.”


One of the “conspiracy theories” about the Nov. 2 election points to the exit polls conducted in the “swing states.”

In Florida, New Mexico, and Ohio, exit polls showed the Democratic presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry leading, but victory went to George W. Bush after the votes were processed in the states’ central counting tabulators.

American Free Press asked John Zogby of the polling firm Zogby International about his Election Day prediction that Kerry would win the election by winning Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. Zogby, who based his predictions on pre-election polls, told AFP: “The polls were correct. My prediction was wrong.”

Dr. Steven F. Freeman from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Organizational Dynamics analyzed the exit polling data for his Nov. 10 paper The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy.

“Exit polls showed [Kerry] ahead in nearly every battleground state, in many cases by sizable margins,” Freeman wrote. “But then in key state after key state, counts were showing very different numbers than the polls predicted; and the differentials were all in the same direction.”

The data that Freeman used “comes from exit polls conducted for the National Election Pool (NEP) [formerly Voter News Service or VNS], a consortium of the major television networks and the Associated Press, by two respected polling firms, Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.” Freeman says that the exit poll data is unofficial and “not meant to be released directly to the public.”

Warren Mitofsky is the head of both exit polling firms. When AFP called Edison Media Research to ask about the discrepancies, I was told to contact Robert Zimmerman at the Fox News network. Zimmerman said
that Fox is handling the calls for Edison as a member of the consortium. He was unable to answer any questions about the discrepancies but did say that Fox gets its election polling data from AP.


Freeman charts the data, taken from the CNN web site, “before the data changed,” showing the predicted versus actual percentages in battleground states. “In 10 of the 11 consensus battleground states, the tallied margin differs from the predicted margin, and in every one, the shift favors Bush.”

CNN, a member of the NEP, had “uncalibrated” data (not yet “corrected” to conform to announced vote tallies, Freeman notes) on its web site until about 1:30 a.m. on election night.

For example, exit polls in Ohio indicated that Kerry would win by 4.2 points with 52.1 percent. While Bush was expected to lose Ohio with only 47.9 percent, when the votes were processed he received 51 percent and won the state by 2.5 points. The tallied versus predicted differential in Ohio is then 3.1 points for Bush.

In Pennsylvania, Kerry was predicted to win by 8.7 points but won by only 2.2. The differential is then 6.5 for Bush.

In Florida, exit polls indicated a very close race with Bush edging Kerry by one-tenth of a point. After the votes were processed in Florida, however, Bush won by 5 points. The differential in Florida is then 4.9 points for Bush.

This also happened in the “battleground states” of Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. Only in Wisconsin did the exit polls match the actual results.

Freeman’s statistical analysis for Ohio shows that Kerry’s tallied vote of 48.5 percent is an extremely unlikely result. “It turns out that the likelihood that [Kerry] received only 48.5 percent of the vote is less than one in 1,000 (.0008),” Freeman wrote.

The same analysis for Florida, where Kerry received only 47.1 percent, given that exit polls indicated 49.7 percent, is less than 3 in 1,000 (.0028), Freeman found. In Pennsylvania, the likelihood of the Kerry result having occurred is less than two in 1,000. Freeman says that the likelihood of any two of these statistical anomalies occurring together is on the order of one-in-a-million, but the odds of all three occurring together are 250 million to one

“As much as we can say in social science that something is impossible, it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error,” Freeman concluded.

The unexplained discrepancy leaves two explanations, Freeman wrote. “The polls were flawed or the count is off. Given that neither the pollsters nor their media clients have provided a solid explanation to the public, suspicion of fraud, or among the less accusatory, ‘mistabulation,’ is running rampant and unchecked. That so many people suspect misplay undermines not only the legitimacy of the president, but faith in the foundations of this democracy.”

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