An unfortunate coincidence has emerged from the New Hampshire primary results that is at least worth noting, if only for the sake of trivia (or democracy): Hillary Clinton performed better, and Barack Obama worse, in counties where votes were counted using Diebold machines. Whether you call it sour grapes or citizen journalism, the Brad Blog has the details.
We have absolutely no idea how someone might have pulled something like this off, and we certainly don’t want to suggest that it is in the character of the candidate or her campaign to do so. The point is, voting machine security is essential to our democratic process, and remains a problem that has not been resolved.
As long as these devices have serious vulnerabilities, doubt is possible, and a healthy democracy cannot function effectively in the shadows.
Update: For the record, the Brad Blog has not endorsed and does not support any of the candidates, but is focused on making sure elections are fair and accurate. Our apologies if we implied that the Brad Blog was upset over a Clinton victory.
As promised, in my long, and much-updated original piece from last night, first expressing concerns and asking questions about the NH results, folks today have been looking at the precinct numbers to compare the difference between those which “counted” ballots on Diebold op-scan systems (for about 80% of NH’s voters), versus those that still hand-count ballots in the Granite State (about 20% of the votes).
Ben Moseley of The Contrarian, most succinctly covers what other folks have found as well today. Namely, a 7 point overall bump for Clinton over Obama where the machines were used instead of hand-counts…
I just spent the last two hours putting together a spreadsheet of the Democratic results of the NH primary for each town with almost all but a few towns reporting, and the results were somewhat surprising.
I say “somewhat” because some people will say this entirely foreseeable. What the informal statistics show is that Hillary Clinton received a 4.5% boost in towns using Diebold voting machines compared to towns that didn’t. Meanwhile, Obama was hurt in these towns showing a 2.5% decrease in the Diebold towns.
Moseley responsibly notes, however, that there could well be other reasons for Clinton’s popularity in areas where Diebold’s machines are used, in lieu of actually counting ballots. For example, hand-counting in NH is generally done in the more rural areas and smaller precincts. Perhaps Obama is more popular, or Clinton less, in such areas for any number of reasons.
The comparisons are only anecdotally useful for that reason. However, had the hand-counted results matched up similarly to those in Diebold areas, it might well have been a sign that there was little to worry about. (Even if I personally think not counting ballots is always something to worry about. But that’s just me, one of those whacky pro-Democracy fellers, I guess.)
Moseley a blogger and political science student from American University, writes about Clinton’s Diebold bump: “Does this show election fraud? Right now I’m not sure, but the possibility definitely remains and must not be taken off the table.”
Then, in two updates, he offers a coupla more eye-brow raisers…
Update: Some more statistics from the data shows that Obama in non-Diebold towns garnering 38.7% of the vote to Clinton’s 36.2%. The results in Diebold towns show the exact opposite: Clinton with 40.7% of the vote and Obama with 36.2%. Not only are the positions swapped but the informal statistics have the second place candidate holding 36.2% in both cases, which could easily be a pure coincidence. What doesn’t make a lot of sense to me right now and this could be a mathematical mistake on my part is where Clinton got the extra 2% of votes in Diebold towns. All the other numbers almost exact for every candidate, even Edwards who recieved 17% of the vote in Diebold towns compared to 17.6% in non-Diebold towns. That still doesn’t make up for the extra 2% vote Clinton is receiving when she leads in certain towns compared to when Obama has the lead.
Update II: Another thing to keep in mind when looking at these statistics is that the Diebold machines create a 7 point difference (+4.5 for Clinton, -2.5 for Obama) which is exactly what the polls had been predicting. Again, I’m not explicitly stating there has been fraud, but in a supposed democracy such as ours, skepticism is a virtue and necessity.