Scholars on the votes, Ohio undervotes (Keith Olbermann)
November 18, 2004
SECURE UNDISCLOSED LOCATION— We return to Academic Dueling In Our Time, already in progress.
A UC Berkeley sociology professor, director of his school’s Survey Research Center, is scheduled to conduct a news conference at 1 p.m. ET today at which his “research team” will report that “irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000-260,000 or more excess votes” to President Bush in Florida.
[...] And stay tuned for the latest disaster from Ohio.
For 40 years, the Dayton Daily News reports this morning, Shirley Wightman has worked at polling places on election days. Two weeks ago, she says, turnout was high - 611 voters - and she and her colleagues paid careful attention to their punch-card, chad-filled, voting stations in Washington Township, Ohio.
“We checked the machines periodically,” Ms. Wightman told the paper, “and I could see nothing wrong with them.”
Yet when the votes were tallied, 168 of the 611 voters had made no choice for president. Unless these were the famed undecideds we heard so much about in the closing weeks of the campaigns, something went terribly wrong. 27 and a half percent of the voters in that “Washington X” precinct in Montgomery County officially didn’t have a presidential preference.
This was the high point of the Daily News’ investigative analysis of the still-unofficial voting results in its county— or more properly, perhaps, the low point. The paper discovered that of the 284, 650 votes in Montgomery, a total of 5,693 registered no valid vote for president. And the percentages were significantly higher in the 231 precincts that wound up voting for Kerry (2.8%) than did the 354 that wound up voting for Bush (1.6%).
Besides Washington X, a second County precinct exceeded 27% ‘undercount,’ as the election professionals, such as they are, call it. Washington X, Kettering 3-A, and five of the other top ten ‘undercount’ precincts by percentage wound up supporting Bush.
Since, as the papers note, political scientists suggested that the poor and the lesser-educated are presumed to have more trouble with punch card voting, there are several logical disconnects here. Given the outcomes in those two precincts, Washington X and Kettering 3-A, were those mostly Bush voters who managed to blank out more than a quarter of their own ballots, or did the precincts wind up voting for Bush because more than a quarter of the ballots had no valid presidential vote?
What happened in the voting precincts in Moraine, Ohio? 2,557 votes were cast at seven sites there. The President won the city by 2%. The number of ballots without a valid presidential vote was 5.6%.
[...] The Associated Press today carries a report of 2,600 ballots in nine precincts around Sandusky, Ohio that were counted twice— as that paper puts it— “likely because of worker error.” The Clyde precinct showed a voter turnout of 131%, to the dismay of the head of the elections board, Barb Tuckerman.
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