Early Returns, the Post-Gazette's online guide to Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania politics Politics Editor James O'Toole
Nov. 9, 2006 Some interesting numbers out of the enigma that is Westmoreland County, via the Trib-Review
: "The GOP is at a nearly a 2-to-1 disadvantage in voter registration to Democrats, but the county overwhelmingly supported
political neophyte Lynn Swann for governor. By an almost identical margin, however, it cast aside two-term U.S. Sen. Rick
Santorum in favor of his Democratic challenger
Swann carried Democratic county
TRIBUNE-REVIEWThursday, November 9, 2006
Tuesday's election brought mixed results for Westmoreland County Republicans.
GOP is at a nearly a 2-to-1 disadvantage in voter registration to Democrats, but the county overwhelmingly supported political
neophyte Lynn Swann for governor. By an almost identical margin, however, it cast aside two-term U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in
favor of his Democratic challenger.
In the gubernatorial race, in which Democratic incumbent Ed Rendell easily won re-election, county voters supported Swann
by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin. Meanwhile, Democrat Robert Casey Jr., who defeated Santorum for the Senate seat, carried
Westmoreland County by 8 percentage points. ..
See the numbers for Westmoreland County for yourself
E-voting not easy in Westmoreland County
By Rich Cholodofsky
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Programming errors in every voting machine in Westmoreland County
left voters standing
in long lines at some polls, turned away at others and using paper ballots in one Jeannette precinct.
A software glitch that caused more than 800 touch-screen machines to act as though it was not Election Day prompted
some computers to shut down early and others to never function at all.
Officials blamed the failures on a glitch in which the electronic ballots loaded into the new computers were given an incorrect
time stamp. All of the county's voting machines, more than 800, reflected Monday's date and were not ready to accept
votes when the polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Commissioner Tom Ceraso said hardware might have to be stripped from the computers to verify that vote totals matched the
number of ballots cast in yesterday's election...
State party officials monitored the problems in Westmoreland County and throughout Pennsylvania, where numerous issues
with electronic voting machines were reported.
State GOP Chairman Rob Gleason Jr. issued a statement yesterday afternoon urging counties in which there were machine
failures to pull those computers offline and use paper ballots.
"We need to make sure this election is fair and that every single Pennsylvania voter gets an opportunity to cast their
ballot. Machine failures are occurring in various parts of the state, and we need to take the appropriate steps to
ensure an accurate vote," Gleason said.
State Democrats also were monitoring the elections.
"We're hoping the results are not tainted," said Abe Amoros, spokesman for the state Democratic Committee.
Watchdog groups critical of the electronic voting systems, which in the primary replaced the 50-year-old lever
voting machines, said they were not confident the vote tallies reported last night were accurate.
"It may be OK, but it may be a problem," said Mary Beth Kusnic, a Westmoreland County poll worker and a member
of VotePa, a watchdog group that has complained about Pennsylvania's reluctance to allow the electronic voting machines to
generate paper trails to ensure accuracy in reporting vote totals.
"The machines are so new, we don't know. It makes me sad this happened, but I'm not surprised," Kusnic said.
Susan Hansen, a political science professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said the impact of the technical error
could invalidate the election.
"I'm not sure there is a right answer. This is all new territory," Hansen said.
The malfunctions had an initial impact in getting the votes counted last night.
While it could take days to get all the votes counted, delays in having initial vote tallies were directly related to the
Unity Township's Roble precinct lost both of its machines for about 30 minutes yesterday morning and had to turn people
Judge of Elections Lisa Burkardt said the first machine malfunctioned after three voters used it. The second machine broke
down a short time later. ...
Remember though, as the nation again focuses on O.J. - gone uninvestigated is the election of 2006 and those malfunctioning
electronic voting machines across the county.
In Pennsylvania, for instance, voters were assigned to an incorrect voting precinct because "maps" weren't up to date.
We've posed, whatever happened to the SURE system which was supposed to be used to make sure people were voting in the correct
Meadow Lane residents cast ballots in wrong congressional district By Rich CholodofskyTRIBUNE-REVIEWTuesday, November 14, 2006
About 60 residents of a new housing development in Hempfield Township cast ballots last week in the wrong voting district,
according to officials in the Westmoreland County Election Bureau. Homeowners in the two-year-old Meadow Lane Farm Estates
plan near Bovard were incorrectly directed to vote at the Bovard Volunteer Fire Department rather than at the township's Fox
Pre-election, as recently as September 24, 2006 Officials Wary of Electronic Voting Machines.
Pre-Nov. 2006 print media and the internet resounded with pointed election fraud allegations
The Nation's Ronnie Dugger posed How They Could Steal the Election This Time July 29, 2004 (August 16, 2004 issue) and Electronic Voting: The Stolen Election of 2004. A Pennsylvania group, Coalition for Voting Integrity, highlights Voters Unite Electronic Voting Problems--Examples of the Week.
Hopefully, the same will be conducted for Nov.7, 2006, but don't hold your breath.
Pre-election warnings of malfunctions and breakdowns proved true all day during November 7, 2006 - more than a couple of
machines had breakdowns on November 7, 2006, how about all, every single machine in Westmoreland County, PA, programmed incorrectly
with the "wrong" date, (see Some electronic voting machines not 'up to date').
Shockingly we are hard pressed to find the same election watchdogs, activists, Mark Crispin Miller- believers and followers, news commentators, columnists, net press, and officials (warning such malfunctions would be evidence of a rigged election, tampering, and fraud,) raising a ruckus
heard round the world now: voting machines malfunctioned = evidence of a stolen election.
We'll watch how things unfold up to the time the election returns around the country are certified and deemed "official."
There is the situation of Florida again. Beware. Thousands of undervotes for a House race in the same district wherein
a referendum to return to paper ballots was approved. Course, the Republican candidate's ahead there... so there's something
Here's the Gov-Sen-House vote totals for those races in the five counties... The undervote in Sarasota -- nearly 12 percent -- was far higher than in the surrounding counties, which had an undervote
rate of less than 3 percent. Also, the undervote rate for absentee ballots, cast on paper for fill-in-the-blank Optiscan machines,
was about 3 percent in Sarasota....
Just speculating. Wouldn't it be easy to manufacture fake machine votes, coordinating them with electronic polling
books, and then have a bunch of them be "undervoted" in a race expected to be "tight?"
Voter Trust USA tracking, not demanding investigations everywhere
Equal Justice Foundation Vote Fraud and Election Issues
So we've got about 16,000ish improper undervotes.
By the rough math I've seen, if we assume that the 16,000 votes
thrown out were completely random, and that this county has a bit of a Democratic edge, we end up with about a 1,000 vote
penalty for the Democrat in the race. And since the net difference in favor of the Republican is significantly less than 1,000
votes across all four counties, we seem to have a definitely shifted race.
IF on the other hand the undervote rates
are skewed in each precinct along the lines of that precinct being Republican, then fraud (or at least a fraudulent outcome)
would be less likely than a randomized loss. If the undervotes seem to cluster more in Democrat-leaning precincts, fraud is
MORE likely and the rate of skew against the Democrat even worse than what you'd get with randomized vote losses.
Upshot: if GOP-leaning precincts were the main target of vote loss, this could actually be fraud in a pro-Democrat
direction. If it's precinct-neutral, the effect will run in the GOP's favor enough to flip the outcome (and likely indicate
pro-GOP fraud). If the vote loss is clustered in Democratic precincts, it looks even worse as a case of pro-GOP vote fraud.
As I write this I have NO idea what such precinct-by-precinct analysis will show, nor have I done the analysis.
hope somebody closer to the ground in FL does though, and publishes it REGARDLESS of "who gets hurt" in which partisan direction.
The PROCESS has been brutally injured, that's what we should care about.
(Message edited by jimmarch on November 13,
Another Florida voting disputeA Times Editorial
Published November 10, 2006
While some voters choose to skip races, it is usually a small percentage in important races. In Sarasota, 12 percent of
voters made no choice in the House race, while other counties in the multicounty district reported only a small undervote
- just 2 percent in Manatee.
No one has shown any reason to suspect fraud. The undervoting was spread across many precincts and seemed to favor neither
candidate, according to an analysis by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Dent said there was no equipment failure to explain it.
Ballot design could have been a problem. The House race did appear at the top of the second screen, just above the list of
seven choices for governor, which could have confused some voters.
A narrow victory always invites close scrutiny of voting procedures, and that is appropriate. Yet guessing what went wrong
or embroidering conspiracy theories only undermines voter confidence in elections. A full and transparent investigation, which
the state Division of Elections has promised, is the only way to restore that confidence. Responsible critics will await those
[Last modified November 10, 2006, 01:30:36]