Verifying the Vote

I’m a statistician.  I became a statistician because I want to know things for myself.  Because if I don’t understand the math of something, I’m forced to rely on others to translate what it means to me.  If I can do the analysis for myself, I can believe it.

The impetus for starting this blog was reading this analysis of 2012 primary election results.  It was clear to me that the results were indeed highly anomalous.  But if you’re not trained in the sort of statistical analysis these guys were doing, it’s easy to dismiss such esoteric evidence.  I downloaded some of the data and checked their analysis. My results were the same as theirs.  Definitely a relationship exists between precinct size and % Republican/Romney vote.

They are claiming a widespread corruption of essentially the entire US political system.   If this was true, I should be able to pull down any election at random and the pattern would be present.  I decided to check out the data from my own state, Kansas.  So I pulled down data from the Kansas 2010 Election. That pattern is not as pronounced with the Kansas races as with the ones they presented, but the results do fit with their hypothesis of vote rigging – i.e. there is an unexplained positive correlation between large precincts and % republican vote.  My second post gives more detail on their hypothesis and my verification of it.

After giving the matter some thought, I have decided that I would like to audit my state’s voting system.  I want to do a hand count of all ballots in a handful of precincts of varying size and compare my own count of the physical evidence with the official totals. First of all, I need to learn about their systems and how to go about getting permission to do this.  I think I’ll stick with the 2010 election because I’m not interested in challenging the official results, just measuring my own count with theirs.  I have contacted my county’s election commissioner and will hope to speak with her about doing this for my own precinct.  I hope I can sell the election commissioner on assisting with my efforts in exchange for access to my results and that I can audit my own precinct for no more investment than a few hours of my time.

I plan to look at all questions that were on the ballet for that election, comparing my own hand count with the official tallies.  This will provide a measure of the expected error and I can determine if there is any bias to the errors.  If the voting fraud theory were to be correct, we would expect to see bias in the distribution of errors.  If there is no statistically significant bias, that proves the theory false.

Assuming no vote-rigging, this exercise would both prove that theory false and provide a baseline of the average expected error, helpful knowledge in planning changes to improve the voting system or assessing whether a recount might be worthwhile.  It would also indicate that there is some other factor that correlates with precinct size that would predict election results.  I have a feeling that knowledge could be lucrative if I only knew how to sell it.

I must admit, I am curious what the response will be to my request.  I am presuming that as a citizen, I have the right to do this.  But I have no idea what fees and paperwork burdens will be required of me in order to complete this task.  I think it will be a worthwhile journey to journal.

She wrote me back on Monday, asking me to clarify what I was asking for.  That bodes well.  I responded immediately, but haven’t heard back yet.

I nudged her by sending an email reminder the evening of 11-28-12.  She responded promptly the next morning with:

This is the first request we’ve had for this record, and we are trying to determine whether we are permitted or prohibited from disclosing this record under K.S.A. 25-2422.

We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience.

I looked up KSA 25-2422 on the internet*:

Statute 25-2422: Unauthorized voting disclosure. Unauthorized voting disclosure is, while being charged with any election duty, intentionally: (a) Disclosing or exposing the contents of any ballot or the manner in which the ballot has been voted, except as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.

      (b)   Endeavoring to induce any voter to show how the voter marks or has marked the voter’s ballot.

      Unauthorized voting disclosure is a severity level 10, nonperson felony.

That sounds to me like I need a court order. I figured there would be protocols to get access.  I wonder what it costs to get a court order and if I could manage that myself or will have to hire a lawyer.  It’s possible they could get around this by hiring me as a consultant to do the work, but I suspect that I will want the freedom to publish without their permission.  Besides, I want to extend it to other precincts not in Sedgwick County and part of this exercise with my own district is simply to familiarize myself with the system.

*I love the internet.