Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Hampshire recount update

As some of you may recall, the state of New Hampshire has been carrying out a hand recount of the ballots in the January 8 Democratic primary at the request of the Kucinich campaign. Since the surprise outcome of the primary made some people suspicious--and since there are very good reasons to be worried about the integrity and reliability of voting systems elsewhere in the US--Kucinich and his campaign did us all a favor by asking for a complete recount to settle the matter.

All votes in the New Hampshire primary were cast using paper ballots (which should be true everywhere). Some precincts then counted them by hand, while others scanned them with machines.

Two bloggers at Daily Kos, Elwood Dowd and mspicata, have been keeping track of the recount. For those of you who are interested, below is an update from Elwood Dowd as of Saturday, January 19 (posted at Blue Hampshire). He'll keep posting further results HERE.

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, mspicata offered these preliminary conclusions:
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 spells out the details so far. --JW]
Could be. Stay tuned.

--Jeff Weintraub

[Final update?: The word as of Friday, January 23--which may prove to be the final word--is HERE.]
On Recount Results and Election Integrity
by: elwood Sat Jan 19, 2008 at 18:20:14 PM EST

The recount of the New Hampshire primary is well underway. 79,344 ballots - some 27% of the statewide Democratic total - have been recounted in public view. That total now includes 14 towns using hand counts, where 5,661 votes were cast.

Key results so far:
  • The raw miscount rate - that is, changes between the election night total and the recount total - is 857 votes.
  • There are an additional 70 hand-counted write-in votes originally lumped together as 'scatter' that were reallocated to obscure candidates, accounting for another 140 changes in total.
  • The raw miscount rate was 1.08%.
  • The miscount rate in scanner precincts was 1%.
  • The miscount rate in hand count towns was 2.6%.
  • Of the 857 miscounts, 401 from both scanner and hand count precincts are known to be or clearly appear to be simple human error.*
  • Subtracting the human errors, the maximum error attributable to the scanners is 0.57%.

Commentary below the fold. elwood :: On Recount Results and Election Integrity

The other lesson from the recount is how dishonest, willfully ignorant, and damaging to the cause of election integrity the highest profile self-appointed advocates of election integrity are.
* The 401 clear or apparent human error miscounts:

  1. 141 from Manchester Ward 5: VP write-ins had been tallied on a Presidential count sheet. This would have been clear in the recount room: e.g.,64 fewer ballots with Clinton as Presidential choice, 64 more ballots with Clinton as VP write-in.
  2. 110 miscounts in Nashua Ward 5. (By BradBlog and Bev Harris standards, there is clear evidence that Fraud occurs in wards numbered five!) The city clerk reports that this was human error, not scanner miscounts.
  3. 100 miscounts in Wilton. The hand-count town reported 386 votes for Obama, the recount found 286. This appears to be a transcription error, in my opinion.
  4. 50 miscounts in New Ipswich, where 77 Richardson votes were reported as 27. Again, my best guess is transcription error.