Apparently giving contrite public officials a way to prove their sincerity about restoring the public trust in elections, many New Yorkers are demanding a 10% hand count audit of all the ballots cast during the New York presidential primaries. The Democratic primary especially made news when hundreds of thousands of voters who say they had registered Democrat found themselves stripped from the voter rolls, or their party affiliation altered without their knowledge.
Election Justice USA, which is leading a lawsuit by voters who say they were deprived of their voting rights, is calling upon New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer to appoint an independent auditor to conduct the hand count audit. Election Justice USA declares in its petition:
"We the people have lost confidence in the results of the 2016 New York Presidential Primary."
The petition has gathered nearly 5,000 supporters in a little under a week.
The State of New York presently requires that a random 3% of voting machines be audited within 7 days of any primary. In Chicago recently, a similarly mandated hand count of paper ballots exposed, according to witnesses, conduct by election officials which constitute criminal violations of federal election laws in order to boost votes for Hillary Clinton.
At a specially convened hearing of the Chicago Board of Elections, members of the citizen election watchdog group Who's Counting testified that they saw officials, in one instance, remove 21 votes from the hand count of votes for Bernie Sanders, and add 49 votes out of thin air to Hillary Clinton's total. As a random audit of just one machine in jut one precinct, the watchdog suggested that the fraud could be far more widespread.
The law which required the audit in Illinois, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, is contained in Illinois state laws Chapter 10 Section 25. Many states, including NY, have similar laws. In hand count audits, the voters' choices on paper ballots are hand counted to see whether the totals match the numbers displayed by the optical scan machines, which are the numbers which are sent to the central database and reported out to the press. Because modern optical scan tabulators are very accurate, discrepancies are a good sign that the machine has been hacked, and that the vote totals on the machine have been jacked up or down independently of the paper ballots.
In New York state, the law requires that 3% of voting machines selected at random be subjected to a hand count audit, within 7 days after a primary. After the Democratic primary fiasco, it is not clear whether or not the mandatory random audits have taken place.
In its petition Election Justice USA has asked NYC Comptroller Stringer, as a Clinton "superdelegate," to recuse himself from the investigation.
Election watchdogs say that it is important for monitors to follow the selection process of machines to be audited, to insure it is truly random.
Random paper ballot audits, whether required by law or forced by citizens, legislative action, or court order, have taken the spotlight after analysis of exit polls throughout the Democratic primary season showed startling statistical anomalies. In 20 out of the last 22 Democratic primary races, exit polls showed Sanders doing significantly better than the official vote tallies, and in 8 out the the last 22 primaries, exit polls showed Sanders exceeding his recorded vote by more than the margin of error. One mathematician has calculated the odds of the latter pattern at 1 in 8 million.
Random audits, and audits directed at specific precincts judged to be of interest, would be one way of uncovering whether or not these statistical anomalies actually occurred, or if something else was behind them. Co-authors Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman, who have published books on election fraud, write:
"If international election standards were applied to the 2016 primaries, eight states – Georgia, Massachusetts, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, New York, Tennessee – would be investigated for suspected fraudulent election results."
Activist and actor Tim Robbins recently used his media stature to bring attention to the findings of analysts suspicious of election fraud against Sanders. And last week, the liberal group MoveOn.org began circulating a petition asking UN monitors to oversee the Democratic primary in California in June.
Sampling of Mandatory Random Ballot Audit Rules in Some States (NCLS.org)
Alaska - One randomly selected precinct that accounts for at least 5 percent of ballots cast in that district. Hand count.
Arizona - 2 percent of precincts in county or two precincts, whichever is greater. Hand count.
California - 1 percent of the precincts, randomly selected, and one precinct for each race not included in the randomly selected precincts. Hand count.
Colorad0 - Random selection of 5 percent of voting devices used in the county, plus additional equipment if there is a report of equipment malfunction. At least two races per device must be audited. Hand count and electronic.
Connecticut - At least 10 percent of randomly selected voting districts. Hand count or electronic.
Kentucky - Randomly selected precincts representing 3-5 percent of the total ballots cast in each election. Hand count.
Maryland - Two manual audits and one automated audit: manual tallying of totals reports and signed voter authority cards in 5 percent of precincts, and an automated audit of total voters checked in against total ballots cast. Hand count and electronic.
Minnesota - Depends on county size. At least two precincts for smaller counties. For larger counties, four precincts or 3 percent of precincts, whichever is greater. Hand count.
Missouri - At least 5 percent of precincts. Hand count.
New Jersey - At least 2 percent of election districts. Hand count.
New Mexico - Audit of electronic vote tabulators in randomly selected precincts is conducted for all federal offices, government and statewide elective offices. The number of precincts to be tested depends on the winning margin for each office. Hand count.
New York - Random selection of 3 percent of machines. Hand count or electronic.
North Carolina - Sample hand-to-eye count of the paper ballots or paper records of a statewide ballot item in every county; precincts are randomly selected. The size of the sample of each category shall be chosen to produce a statistically significant result and shall be chosen after consultation with a statistician. Hand count.
Pennsylvania - Recount of random sample of the lesser of 2 percent of votes cast in a county, or 2,000 ballots. Hand count or electronic.
Tennessee - Automatic audit of at least one precinct for small counties and at least five precincts for large counties. If after the automatic audit there is a variance of more than 1 percent between the unofficial election results of the top race and the automatic audit, a hand count of 3 percent of the precincts is conducted. Hand count and electronic.
Texas - Not more than three races in 1 percent of precincts or three precincts, whichever is greater; does not apply to tabulation of DRE machines. Hand count.
Man shows how to hack an optical scan vote reader in 5 minutes.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
John Welford from UK on May 02, 2016:
It sounds as though the US could learn a thing or two from the UK. I shall be counting votes in a local election on Friday - all votes are on paper and every one must be verified before counting, so that the number recorded as being issued equals the number being sorted and counted. If a candidate is unhappy everything is recounted, however long it takes. There is no "calling the result" in the UK because every votes counts and is counted.
tominator on May 02, 2016:
Please help us audit Chicago through litigation. And help in NY anyway you can. We can't let Hillary steal our Democracy. What's the point of voting if our votes are not getting counted?