Response to Howard Stanislevic’s “Watching and Waiting for a Return to Innocence”
Richard Charnin (TruthIsAll)
Updated Jan. 21, 2011
Howard claimed that NY State made a big mistake in replacing Lever machines with optical scanners. He wants the levers back. But he did not realize that levers had the biggest exit poll discrepancies by far of all voting methods.
I updated this post to include New York State recorded votes by county for the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.
It has not escaped our attention, or that of our readers, that our last post was over a year ago, when it first became evident that New Yorkers would lose their voting system and have it replaced by a software-based system that our legal system is incapable of regulating. We called that post “The End of Innocence” and it covered quite a lot of ground.
“Our legal system is incapable of regulating”. What are you saying, Howard? That the legal system is corrupt? Then why don’t you focus on the corruption, rather than shill incessantly for a return to lever machines? Yes, the 100 year history of lever machines was truly the “Age of Innocence”: New York voters were innocent of the fact that their votes cast on Levers were tabulated by corrupt humans and rigged computers .
There hasn’t been a need to post anything more since then; we would just be repeating ourselves. We’ve met with the powers that be in both houses of the State Legislature responsible for making election law, and they have taken our suggestions under advisement. No laws have been passed to verify election results. But we’ve seen lots of interest in the National Popular Vote (NPV), Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) and other practically unverifiable voting methods. Even Internet voting!
That is commendable, but what makes you think that NY politicians were ever for fair elections?
Perhaps in light of the state’s highest court’s Dec. 20th denial of a hand count in the NY State Senate District 7 race in which computers — rather than voters — determined which party will control the Senate, it’s time for a quick review of how we got here.
Computers don’t decide anything. Humans do. You need to change “computers” to “election officials”.
New York has become the Florida of the Northeast when it comes to elections, or perhaps worse since we don’t even attempt to count thousands of undervotes reported by the ballot scanners. Our new machines don’t even warn voters of the effect of casting overvotes, which Florida has corrected after their unfortunate 2008 experience.
So you are concerned about election officials not doing their jobs to hand count the paper ballots produced by optical scanners. You could never accuse them of not counting the paper ballots produced by mechanical levers. There weren’t any.
There is plenty of blame to go around so we’ve tried to summarize it for your convenience as we keep watching and waiting for a Return to Innocence. Those who are responsible for our current situation know who they are, although they may be in denial about it.
Here’s what happened:
1. New York has a history of paper ballot fraud (Tammany Hall) which lever machines were effectively designed to prevent. We don’t trust PEOPLE or PAPER unless they can be watched. We do trust machines that can be locked against tampering, observed when opened, and that work on simple observable mechanical principles such as gravity and that can’t switch votes during elections the way software can. They are part of a voting system and a legal system designed to prevent fraud. Reinventing that system to deal with computers is a lot harder than most people think. In fact, it’s never been done!
2. Over the last several years, our public officials have heard very little from New York’s precinct-count optical scanner (PCOS) advocates and “good-government” groups about the need for software-independent elections (software-independent voting systems are only the beginning!). The opinions of National Institute of Standards and Technology experts and other computer scientists about the need not to trust software, the ineffectiveness of the “certification” of software, BUGS in New York’s actual voting system software, etc. have never been widely disseminated except in testimony to a few legislative committee members by people such as us and a few election officials, and on Internet mailing lists and blogs not read by the general public. We’re sorry to say there are very few of us making the case against allowing computers to “decide” election results. We are unfunded and practically alone. Compared to the push for Instant Runoff Voting, National Popular Vote, and even PCOS itself, we are voices in the proverbial wilderness. And that’s a shame.
3. The same lack of informed consent applies to the so-called manual auditing of elections counted by computers, which is the only way to restore some trust and the NYS-constitutionally required bipartisan administration of elections (that explicitly includes vote-counting). That constitutional requirement has been undermined by the use of vote-counting software. But almost no one wants to hand-count more than 3% of the vote. Counting substantially more than this means the machines were a waste of money. No one wants to hear this after spending $50 million on them, plus the recurring costs of ownership which will be much more over time. One notable exception is Columbia County in which, prior to the elections, both election commissioners agreed to conduct 100% hand counts. Before an election is the best time to make such an agreement since partisan disputes over winners and losers of contests will not arise. You can read more about that good news here, thanks to Commissioner Virginia Martin.
Waiting for a return to innocence? You mean waiting for unverifiable levers? Just who is in denial?
“New York has a history of paper ballot fraud”. Once again, we get to your true agenda: you don’t trust paper ballots, but you love those mechanical levers. Howard, how quickly you forget: New York votes were CAST on levers; they were tabulated COUNTED on central tabulators. That is how votes cast on levers were switched. You must be aware of this fact yet you continue to ignore it. You are an engineer and this ain’t rocket science. So what is your explanation? We have been waiting a long time for it.
After a seven year investigation, the NIST has finally agreed that WTC 7 fell at free-fall acceleration – and yet still claim that it collapsed due to fires. You referred to “simple observable mechanical principles such as gravity” above. And we are supposed to believe the obviously politicized NIST? What can you tell us about the “bugs” in the central tabulators that were used to COUNT the votes CAST on levers? You claim to be a “voice in the wilderness” as you continue your quixotic campaign to bring back those UNVERIFIABLE lever machines while ignoring the facts that votes were CAST on levers but COUNTED on central tabulators.
Finally, we can agree on something: we need a robust manual hand-count of the votes CAST Optical scanners that are COUNTED on computers. Sound familiar? So why don’t you admit that the voting system in which votes CAST on mechanical lever machines and COUNTED on central tabulators is INFERIOR to the current system in which the PAPER BALLOTS can be hand-counted?
Columbia County is to be commended. It was the only NY county which does a complete hand count of the optical scanned paper ballots. Columbia had just 26,000 voters in 2000 and 2004. This confirms that Columbia is serious about having fair elections: It was the only NY county of 67 in which Bush’s vote share DECLINED from 2000 to 2004!
New York State 2000 and 2004 recorded votes are provided for each county in the tables below.
One other interesting point to mull over:
In 2000, 2004 and 2008, the Democratic share of late votes recorded after Election Day was 7% higher than the Election Day share! Was it because the late votes were cast on paper ballots and Election Day votes on Levers?
New York City and the suburbs were the focus of massive Bush 2004 election fraud. I provided EIRS data showing that in heavily Democratic NYC, long lines and faulty machines disenfranchised voters: http://www.richardcharnin.com/NY2004EIRS.htm
In 2004, there was a 17% increase over 2000 in the national recorded vote (105 to 122 million). Kerry captured 57-59% of new voters!
Recorded vote changes from Bush/Gore 2000:
1. Kings (Brooklyn): Bush +75% and Kerry +5%!
2. Bronx: Bush +59% and Kerry +10%!
3. Queens: Bush +36% and Kerry +5%!
4. Nassau: Bush +30% and Kerry -2% decline!
5. Rockland:Bush +29% and Kerry -9% decline!
6. Orange: Bush +27% and Kerry +9%!
7. Staten Island: Bush +40% and Kerry -9% decline!
4. Instead of the facts about NOT trusting computers to count votes, what our public officials and the media have been told is that:
New York has the most “rigorous software certification process”;
paper ballots would be “available” for audits and recounts, “if necessary”;
NY would “RELY on the paper ballots”;
NY has a 100% “recount” law (the Election Law § 9-208 “recanvass,” which never required recounts of ALL paper ballots, but only absentee, emergency and provisional ballots, and was recently amended only to require some form of ballot accounting).
All of the above provided New Yorkers who did not fact-check these statements with a false sense of security about our voting system, our election laws and our ultimate “reliance” on paper ballots to “verify” elections.
In other words, New Yorkers have been sold a bill of goods and the Legislature and Judiciary have heard very little to correct this record.
Right. So let’s start by recognizing that the fault lies not in our machines, but in our corrupt election officials and judges who refuse to hand count the optical scanned paper ballots counted by CENTRAL TABULATORS (I.E. COMPUTERS). And remember that there were NO paper ballots in the LEVER/COMPUTER voting system in which the votes were ALSO counted by CENTRAL TABULATORS.
Have you been reading my posts? I already wrote about voters having a false sense of security in the UNVERIFIABLE levers:
With respect to the SD 7 no-recount case, perhaps the attorneys should have had a computer scientist such as Ron Rivest or Rebecca Mercuri testify about the need not to trust software to count votes. But the judge didn’t even want to hear testimony from an election auditing expert.
And please remember, the lawyers in the SD 7 case were working for the NY State Senate — who also have their OWN lawyers who have written some of the very election laws in question in this case! This is part of the same Legislature that has not been properly educated about the risks of computerized vote-counting in the first place — only to have it come back and bite them in their bids for re-election.
But first you must recognize the facts about NY central tabulators. Compare Oregon (which mandates random hand-counting of paper ballots to check the machine counts) to New York, where votes that were CAST on levers and MISCOUNTED by computers could not be verified since there were NO PAPER BALLOTS TO RECOUNT.
And now that NY has optically scanned paper ballots, the corrupt election officials and judiciary REFUSE TO COUNT them as a check on the central tabulator (i.e. computer) machine counts!
Now why don’t you call out the corrupt NY officials who refuse to count the paper ballots and stop whining for a return to the ancient, corrupt, unverifiable, paperless, nontransparent, Lever machines which can be rigged by shaving the gears, not counting past 999 and which break down in highly Democratic districts, disenfranchising thousands. And those lucky enough to have their votes CAST can still have them miscounted on CENTRAL COMPUTERS – and never know it.
Do you get it yet?
The future for election integrity looks pretty bleak in the Empire State, but we’ll keep watching and waiting. The other major bright spot is of course Nassau County’s bipartisan lawsuit to return to the lever voting system, which is ongoing.
That is a bright spot? To bring back an UNVERIFIABLE voting system in which votes CAST on LEVERS only to be COUNTED on CENTRAL TABULATORS? Denial is not just a river in Egypt.
These are the facts that you conveniently ignore:
1. NY votes were cast on levers
2. The votes were counted on central tabulators
3, Central tabulators are computers
4. There were no paper ballots to verify the machine counts
5. The lever voting system was never transparent!
The 2004 NY exit poll showed a massive 12% discrepancy in Kerry’s margin. The exit poll timeline indicated that Kerry won NY by a constant 64-35%. But the recorded vote was 58-40% (the exit poll margin of error was less than 2%). According to the Census Bureau, there were more than 300,000 uncounted votes in NY State, the vast majority for Kerry: http://www.richardcharnin.com/2004NewYorkLeverExitPollDiscepancies.htm
Kerry’s New York margin was reduced by nearly 1.0 million votes due to election fraud. In California, his margin was cut by approximately 1.4 million. Bush won the recorded vote by just 3.0 million, so approximately 80% of his “mandate” came from the two biggest Democratic states.
Kerry won the national aggregate of the state unadjusted exit polls by 52-47%, but lost the recorded vote by 50.7-48.3%. The average exit poll discrepancy (WPE) was 7.4%. The WPE for mechanical lever precincts was 11.6%. It was 7% for DRE and optical scanners, but just 2% for votes cast on paper ballots. http://www.richardcharnin.com/NewYorkConfirmationKerryLandslide.htm.