Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hand Counts vs. Machine Counts


The difference in the results between the hand count precincts and the machine count precincts in the New Hampshire primary is worth looking at. I emphasize worth looking at. On the various blogs, people are assuming that because someone is pointing out discrepancies or asking for a recount they are claiming that the vote count was manipulated. There are actually 2 problems.

1) The actual possibility that the count has been tampered with. That is a serious and real problem, because the machines have been demonstrated to be vulnerable by a variety of computer scientists.

2) The appearance that the vote has been tampered with combined with the possibility that it could have been tampered with undermines people's confidence in the process. Fewer people participate, and the winner of the election ultimately has less legitimacy because there is the suspicion that the count was not accurate. That in itself is a serious problem.

Here is a post on the bradblog that illustrates that:

"Honestly though it really makes little to no difference whom steals what anymore as they are ALL crooked & corrupt plus the Congress is utterly worthless and clearly in the pocket of that top 2% so not a damn thing is ever going to change until we change EVERYTHING."

Here are the specifics about the hand count/machine count discrepancies:

Clinton and Romney went up in the machine count. All other candidates went down, or stayed approx the same. Why isn't it more random? Some up, some down?

Clinton by machine: 39.618%
Clinton by hand: 34.908%

Obama by machine: 36.309%
Obama by hand: 38.617%

Edwards by machine: 16.853%
Edwards by hand: 17.584%

Richardson by machine: 4.330%
Richardson by hand: 5.548%

Romney by machine: 33.075%
Romney by hand: 25.483%

Huckabee by machine: 10.560%
Huckabee by hand: 13.318%

McCain by machine: 36.766%
McCain by hand: 39.322%

Ron Paul by machine: 7.109%
Ron Paul by hand: 9.221%


The breakdown here makes it look worse.

Here is a possible demographic explanation, from about 1/2 way down the page:

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 10:11 — Anonymous (not verified)
Bullshit from a New Hampshirite

"No, no, and no. I'm a born and bred New Hampshire, one who is interested in both candidates, and I'll tell you right now: this doesn't fit the political profile of New Hampshire. We're genuinely one of the squeakiest-clean states when it comes to corruption. The big-city-rural-debate makes much more sense here. Look at the map at the NY Times on where Obama was popular--out in the western part of the state by Keene--VERY rural besides Keene--and right up the river to Canada--VERY rural, excluding Hanover, which is not really a city either. Lots of hand counting.
Take your conspiracy theories elsewhere, bub"

But other comments point out that it seems implausible that Obama did worse in the cities.

Here is a map, with the breakdown of the vote by region.


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The Diebold machines that were tested and de-certified in California were the Diebold GEMS/1.18.24/AccuVote, including the AV-OS (AccuVote Optical Scan), Central Count AV-OS, AccuFeed and Smart Cards.

In New Hampshire they list there machines simply as "ACCUVOTE" and don't say what model. Diebold has a long history of saying that they were going to fix problems, and then not fixing them.

On this page you can find out more about how the machines were approved. The clip called - Diebold Vendor John Silvestro Admits Product is Defective (3.4 MB) is worth looking at.

Here is a list of the various studies showing the vulnerabilities of the Diebold systems.

Photo courtesy of Midnight Research which has this to say about hacking Diebold:

The Open voting Foundation released information on alternate booting configurations for the Diebold voting system. This includes hi-resolution picutres of the internals of the system and also show the exact jumpers to configure. According to them, a “completely legal and certified set of files can be instantly overridden and illegal uncertified code be made dominant in the system, and then this situation can be reversed leaving the legal code dominant again in a matter of minutes” — which is pretty scary. The worst part is that they say the flash could be read from a “field-added” piece of flash memory, which implies that one could run whatever they wanted on the system.