Thursday, January 24, 2008

So much for the New Hampshire recount?

The hand recount of the ballots in the January 8 New Hampshire Democratic primary has now worked its way through about 40% of the total ballots. However, the funds provided by the Kucinich campaign, which requested the recount, have run out. So unless someone else comes up with more money, this looks like it.

On Saturday, when about 27% of the ballots had been recounted (including, I believe, most of the ones from precincts where the ballots were originally scanned by machines), the preliminary results were as follows:
So far, it appears that (1) errors have been found in the original vote counts, though the error rates would not have affected the outcome; (2) the miscounts were largely caused by human error, not machine malfunctions or machine-rigging; and (3) there is no evidence of fraud.
On Monday one of the bloggers at Daily Kos who had been following the recount, mspicata, summed up the preliminary results and their implications a bit more forcefully:
Despite the hysterical claims of ballot box fraud, it has become clear -- at least to those with open minds -- that the New Hampshire primary was well-run and produced a highly accurate result. There is no evidence of hacking of the Diebold scanners; there are no issues with chain of custody; there is no significant shift in votes as a result of the recount. There have been errors found, however, and they were all caused by the same group of culprits: humans. [He then spelled out the details as of Saturday. --JW]
Today, with about 40% of the votes counted, it's basically the same story.
"None of the results, as far as where the candidates finished, changed," Assistant Secretary of State David Scanlan said. "There were minimal changes in the different voting precincts. Where there were differences beyond one or two votes, we were able to explain them" as human error.
Another Kossack who followed the recount closely, Elwood Dowd, offers his summing-up of the results and some lessons to be learned from them HERE and HERE.

As long as they had started the recount, it's a pity they couldn't finish it. (Does anyone out there have around $30,000 they'd like to donate for that purpose?) But on the basis of the results from this partial recount, it does seem safe to conclude that in New Hampshire, at least, the election-night voting figures were pretty much accurate. Elsewhere in the country, a lot of voting systems need a lot more fixing between now and November.

--Jeff Weintraub
=========================
Boston Globe (AP)
January 23, 2008
Recount of N.H. Dem primary ends
By Joe Magruder

CONCORD, N.H. --
A re-count of about 40 percent of the ballots in New Hampshire's Democratic presidential primary closely tracks the results reported on election night.

The Secretary of State's office finished the partial re-count Wednesday and posted the results on its Web site, www.http://www.sos.nh.gov/.

"None of the results, as far as where the candidates finished, changed," Assistant Secretary of State David Scanlan said. "There were minimal changes in the different voting precincts. Where there were differences beyond one or two votes, we were able to explain them" as human error.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich sought the re-count based on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton mostly beating Obama where votes were counted by machine, but mostly losing to him where votes were counted by hand in the Jan. 8 primary.

Experts said the difference in voting patterns between machine- and hand-counted precincts dates from at least the 2000 Democratic primary, and stems from demographic patterns rather than fraud.

Scanlan said the state stopped the recount after using up the $27,000 Kucinich paid toward a statewide recount.

Clinton won the primary with 39 percent to Obama's 37 percent. Kucinich had around 1 percent and said he didn't expect his standing to improve, but believed sufficient questions had been raised to warrant a statewide recount.

He believes the state should finish the re-count at its own expense, spokesman Andy Juniewicz said. The secretary of state's office had closed for the day and could not comment.

Votes were re-counted in 68 of the state's 301 precincts, 23 percent. They accounted for a disproportionate share of the vote because they comprised all of one populous county, Hillsborough, and most of another, Rockingham.

In the re-counted precincts, Clinton dropped 25 votes, 0.05 percent, to 48,940; Obama also dropped, by 7 votes, or 0.02 percent, to 38,408.

Manchester's Ward 5 had the biggest changes affecting the two leaders, but both candidates lost votes, so the changes were a wash. The second biggest percentage swing involving Clinton or Obama was in Nashua's Ward 5, where Clinton lost 71 votes, or 7 percent, while Obama gained 5 votes.

In both precincts, Scanlan said election night totals were faulty because of human error counting ballots where votes had been cast for vice president as well as president.

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