Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.


- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Still too close to call... and some fishy business

I have been hearing strange reports today about 'voter purges' and 'changed registrations' in Monroe Co., Indiana (home of Bloomington and Indiana University.)

One rather astounding number that just doesn't make sense: 85% of the voters that voted in 2004... have since been purged.

Come again? 85%? Are we the Ohio of the 2008 Primary?

From Black Box Voting:

Posted on Sunday, May 4, 2008 - 6:10 pm

In April 2008 when Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita announced the release of "record high" voter registration rolls, with 4.3 million voters set to vote in the Tuesday May 6 primary, he didn't mention that a whopping 1,134,427 voter registrations have been cancelled.

Now, the voter rolls are supposed to be tidied up prior to each election. Indiana's last general election was in Nov. 2006, and they have had a slew of special and general elections since then. So how have 1.1 million voters -- 26 percent of the current statewide list -- escaped the regularly scheduled voter registration cleanup squads? Who are these million voters and where do they come from?

One quarter-million of them come from just two northwestern Indiana counties: Lake and Porter. Lake County reports purging 137,164 voters and neighboring Porter County cancelled out 124,958 voters.

Lake County, the home of Gary, Indiana, has spawned the Jackson Five and a great old musical (The Music Man) and and has been referred to as "the second most liberal county in America." Lake County has one of the heaviest concentrations of African-American voters that you'll find anywhere in the USA.

Nearby Porter County, the home of Valparaiso, is 95% white and went solidly for Bush in the 2004 election. It also has a lot of college kids.

For whatever reason, these two counties had ... what ... massive data entry problems? Exceptionally messy records? Lots of dead people who climbed back into their graves? Or will we see a lot of disappointed voters on Tuesday, when they perhaps learn that they were among the lucky million people who got purged?

HERE'S WHERE THE HEAVIEST PURGES ARE:

Lake 137,164 48% (Gary)
Porter 124,958 115% (Valparaiso)
Marion 68,120 10% (Indianapolis)
Monroe 66,009 85% (Bloomington)
Tippecanoe 53,456 58%
Madison 42,952 47% (Anderson)
Hamilton 42,325 26%

The percentage represents the ratio of the number of purges to the current voter list. Example: If a location currently has 100,000 voters on its rolls, and purged 53,000 along the way, we assign a ratio of 53% to the purge vs. current list.

It would be nice to have the original quantities, it would make for a cleaner number, but this is not available on the Secretary of State's Web site, so I haven't got a tidier statistic for you, wish I did. I also wish the time period for these purges was clearly indicated, but it is not indicated -- nor can it be derived -- from available information at Indiana's official election Web site.

TOOLS YOU CAN USE

It's always interesting to look for impossible numbers on election night, like the "more votes than voters" situation that sometimes crops up. It speeds things up to have a place to plug the information in. Here is a spreadsheet -- quick and not too fancy, I'm sure you can improve on it. It has every Indiana county, along with their official registered voter statistics for the 2008 primary, and some historical data from 1992 to the present, along with links for the source documents from the secretary of state:

http://www.bbvdocs.org/IN/state/quickrank-INDIANAreg.xls
(Excel file, 71 KB)

Here are links that may be very good to provide additional statistical information which you can plug in:

http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/elections/index.html

And here is a link to the source document containing the cancelled registration information used for this article:

http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/pdfs/Statewide_Voter_Count_by_County5.1.08.pdf

Here's a quick spreadsheet with the Indiana voting machines by county -- you can get that on the Sec. State's Web site too, but it's not in a database format. You can cut and paste these into your analysis sheets if you'd like to get comparisons of results by county.

http://www.bbvdocs.org/IN/state/IN-spreadsheet-template.xls

AND NOW ABOUT THOSE VOTING MACHINES

Another press release on the Indiana Secretary of State's Web site deals with the $360,000 penalty he's hitting Microvote with for failing to follow the law. Oh yes, and the Microvote Infinity, which will be very widely used in the Tuesday May 6 primary, has been decertified!

That's not going to stop anyone in Indiana from using it, however. The decision was that anyone who already bought these things gets to use them -- despite the fact that these machines have been embroiled in lawsuits in at least three counties, one in Pennsylvania for machines that just didn't work, and two in Tennessee where candidates have asked to redo elections due to bizarre anomalies -- like vote totals that wandered away in the wee hours of the night.

Microvote's insurance company declined to cover the firm, according to yet another lawsuit, because the insurance company alleged that Microvote was selling defective products. The judge ruled against the insurance company, saying the product wasn't defective, it just didn't work.

I haven't plugged this in yet, but those of you who are comfortable with spreadsheets can quickly add the voting machines by county to your voter registration spreadsheet to see how many votes all together will be subjected to Microvote.

Ah, but we aren't done with Indiana voting machines yet. Indiana is also fond of the ES&S paperless iVotronic touch-screens, the ones that lost 18,000 votes in Sarasota County Florida and were the subject of a blistering report by Dan Rather. In Rather's report, he showed shocking footage of the touch-screens being manufactured in a sweat shop in the Philippines. Their quality control test was to shake the machine and if it didn't rattle, it passed the test.

THINGS YOU CAN DO ABOUT INDIANA

1. Do some public records requests to either the state or the counties, and ask for their VRG-5 form, which is the NVRA tracking form on which the number of voters purged must be reported.

For tips on how to do them, here's our tool kit, scroll down to the section on public records:

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit.html

I'm pushing hard right now to get TOOL KIT 2008 done -- it's a stripped-down model with emergency measures for the fall election. Unless you tell me not to, I'll let you know as soon as it's ready for download.

2. Another useful form you can request: The CEB-9 form, which is the County Election Report that must be turned in after the election. Here's one, take a look at the information it contains:

http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/pdfs/CEB-9.pdf

3. If you are a number-cruncher, grab the spreadsheets here and wail on 'em during Election night. You can get additional historical information from this site:
http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/index.html
(Choose the drop-down menu "general by state" and select Indiana, then choose the year you want. Confusion factor -- this site color-codes Republican as blue and Democrat as Red. Has lots of good stuff).

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: People usually catch things like "more votes than voters" weeks after the election. The dang Indiana information doesn't break voter registrations out by party which makes crunching the primary numbers a little harder. But you may still get the jump on some red flags if you track this stuff as it's coming in on spreadsheets that tell you what the stats are going in.

A WORD ABOUT THE TV PROJECTIONS

The first number they quote is the adjusted exit poll number, and it comes from asking people about who they voted for.

You'll notice that those projections often change -- sometimes dramatically -- just an hour or so later. That's because we have learned that they are paying elections officials (through their associations or otherwise) to call and fax them the results off the voting machine poll tape.

In fact, the National Election Pool (used to be Voter News Service) is getting this stuff BEFORE the election officials and way before the secretary of state.

The point here is, when what you thought was "exit polls" suddenly changes, that is the impact of those called-in poll tape results. Yep. That's the voting machines talking, and when they say something different than the people answering the exit pollers' questions, we should be looking at the programming on the machine, not the exit pollers, for answers.

I expect to see early projections altered significantly as soon as those poll tape numbers are called in to NEP.

So to recap, good things to do Tuesday:
1. Public records
2. Number crunching
3. Pray

Good luck to us, all,

Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting

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