Monday, February 01, 2010

Black Box Voting: Rage Against the (Diebold) Machine(s)?

So Coakley won the hand count?

I didn't know that.

A little something from Black Box voting re: Coakley vs Brown in MA.

This article is about our right to know, not about Martha Coakley or Scott Brown. And lest you think something here favors a Democrat, just you wait, I'm still working on anomalies in the NY-23 election that are just plain hard to 'splain. As Richard Hayes Phillips says when people tell him to forget it, "I'm a historian, I've got all the time in the world." NY-23 still has history to be written. My public records are starting to arrive. But that's another story.

Back to Massachusetts, I think you have a right to know that Coakley won the hand counts there.

That's right.

According to preliminary media results by municipality, Democrat Martha Coakley won Massachusetts overall in its hand counted locations,* with 51.12% of the vote (32,247 hand counted votes) to Brown's 30,136, which garnered him 47.77% of hand counted votes. Margin: 3.35% lead for Coakley.

Massachusetts has 71 hand count locations, 91 ES&S locations, and 187 Diebold locations, with two I call the mystery municipalities (Northbridge and Milton) apparently using optical scanners, not sure what kind.


The greatest margin between the candidates was with ES&S machines -- 53.64% for Brown, 45.31% for Coakley, a margin for Brown of 8.33%. It looks like ES&S counted a total of 620,388 votes, with 332,812 going to Brown and 281,118 going to Coakley. Taken overall, the difference -- 8.33% Brown (ES&S) added to 3.35% Coakley (Hand Count) shows an 11.68% difference between the ES&S and the Hand Counts. Of course, as Mark Twain used to say, there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics. These statistics don't prove anything, and probably shouldn't be discussed without a grain of salt handy before examining more detailed demographics.

As a point of reference, however, in the Maine gay marriage issue recently there was no significant overall difference between machine count and hand count locations.


Diebold's results are 51.42% for Brown, with 791,272 Republican votes counted by Diebold, vs. 47.61% for Coakley, with 732,633 Democratic votes counted by Diebold, for a spread of 3.81% favoring Brown.


It's always interesting to watch hand counts beat machine count results to the newspaper.

In the Massachusetts special senate election, results from six of 71 hand count locations were reported about 2 1/2 hours after the polls closed, with the remaining 65 hand count locations in right away. The slower hand count results represent 8.45% of all hand count locations.

These latecoming hand-counted results favored Coakley very heavily (she got 55.68% of these, earning 4,610 votes to Brown's 42.9%, representing 3,552, a 12.78% margin) Whether the reports came to the media late or the media posted them late is unclear.


ES&S had 12 of its 91 locations reported at least 2 1/2 hours after polls closed, a total of 13.2% of all its locations (as compared with just 8.45% of slower reporting hand count locations). So ES&S certainly wasn't faster than hand counts, overall!

These slow-arriving votes represented 88,288 of ES&S's 620,388 votes. Overall Brown got 46,257, for 52.39% of the late-arriving ES&S votes, and Coakley got 41,238, for 46.71%, yielding a margin of 5.68% of the late-arriving votes going to Brown, for a net gain of 5,019 votes to Brown.

North Attleboro and Paxton appear to be the last locations in the state to be reported, and they are both ES&S. North Attleboro brought in 10,881
very late votes, 71.48% of them going to Brown; Paxton brought in 2,036 votes, 65.37% going to Brown.


Yes, I know they're supposed to be called Premier machines now, and ES&S bought the company so it's now all one big monopoly family, and then the whole kit and kaboodle in New England -- Premier and ES&S -- is programmed by the juicy little LHS Associates guys. But I like to just call them Diebold, that familiar name which we all know and love.

Twenty-four of Diebold's 187 locations wandered in late, smoking cigarettes and wearing a bathrobe. That's 12.83% of all its locations. Apparently it was faster to hand count 8,497 ballots, as they did promptly in Newburyport, or 7,339 ballots, as they hand counted in public for all to see in Milton, than to push a button and wait five minutes for the machine to spit out a Diebold results report in Pelham where they had 725 votes. East Brookfield's 899 Diebold votes must have run out of gas somewhere; they weren't reported for hours.

All in all, a total of 170,594 Diebold votes took a long time to stumble in the door, These votes -- surprise! -- favored Coakley. She got 86,214 of them, for 50.54%, and Brown got 82,911 tardy Diebold votes, for 48.60%, putting Coakley on the plus side of the late arrivers by a 1.94% margin, for a net gain of 3,303 slow-moving votes.

They'd called the election by the time the 170,594 tardy Diebold votes showed up. Coakley had conceded. And of course, there are many ways to look at this if you don't trust voting machines, and why should you? It's hard to know who was fooling around, or if anybody was.

1 comment:

rjs said...

in case you havent seen this yet:
vote by diebold