Saturday, November 3, 2012

Exit polling: a proof of fraud, not a hope for reversal

I have learned happily that there will be exit polling this year and that the Edison Mitofsky company, which has employed people to do this since the late 1980s, continues. Such polling does provide some independent measure, if its work has not been too much distorted by adjusting to the stealing of the 2004 election on machines that leave no paper trail. Below is a correspondence with Richard Winger of San Francisco in response to my article "The Darkness: Suppose computerized voting machines shift two per cent?" here.

"It is not true that there are no exit polls this year." Richard wrote. "I am an exit pollster this year."

I responded

"Dear Richard,

Great to hear. Is this true universally and under the guidance of the Times consortium (or is it working for someone else)?

If you know, how are pollsters dealing with the early voting/exiting polling relationship?

All the best,

Richard added:

"The Edison Mitofsky company has been doing exit polling for the big TV networks, plus AP, since the late 1980's. I don't think the New York Times itself has ever been involved with these exit polls."


I then clarified

"Actually, the Times with a consortium of other papers commissioned Edison Mitofsky to do the polling in 2004, and refused – along with Edison Mitofsky – to release the results. The Times wrote this fall that it was not involved in or not doing exit polling. I inferred mistakenly that Edison Mitofsky also was not. I am very glad to learn that I was in error.

Just as a further point: what does Edison Mitofsky say about what it will release about the polls and when?"


Richard answered:

"I don't know the last question but since the networks pay for the exit polling, I assume they will certainly want to get their moneys' worth and will announce as soon as the polls are closed in any particular state."

Note that the Edison Mitofsky company works only for profit and not for confirming truth about elections. It does not release results, as in 2004 at the Times' bidding, when its contractors ask it not to.

Now one could imagine exit polling as a check on the stealing of elections, a kind of public trust or responsibility.

But in America, neither the process of voting (the computer programs which record votes) nor exit polling - seemingly meant to empower people and record accurately what happens in an election - can be trusted, if the private firms involved decide neither to share the detailed results (they hid them after the first exit polling revealed a Kerry victory in Ohio by 2.3% in 2004) nor to alert the public to possible fraud.

This is a really big problem with the election, not a fraudulent claim about voter "fraud," used to suppress mainly potential Democratic voters (the elderly, students, the poor). The latter challenge is being met in this election, to a large extent, by upholding the right to vote. Still, see the story of Peggy Cobb, a 97 year old from Sandy Springs, Georgia who has voted since she was eligible, was looking forward to voting a last time, and was deprived first of her vote and, in a series of defeats, finally of the sense of accomplishment and pleasure it would have given her and any trust in the state of Georgia. See below. The former needs to be, and is not.


I responded to Richard:

"Very helpful. But I am more interested in the methodology and if there are questions i.e. a significant discrepancy as in 2004 between exit polling and "recorded" votes in key states (Ohio, Florida, Colorado seem good candidates this time around, and there may be more), what are they planning to do?

Because exit polling was said to be mistaken in 2004 (there is no evidence that it was; it was accurate to .3 of a point for each candidates in 41 states), some networks began issuing "blends" of exit polling and recorded vote data then and in 2008. I am very interested in what Edison Mitofsky's response was to the stealing of the 2004 election and whether they continue to exit poll in an unvarnished way or whether they have "adapted" in some way. Have you done this more than once and are you aware of any changes?

That the Times consortium did not allow the company to release the polling in 2004 (I don't believe it has been made public since, but hopefully I am wrong about that) is worrisome.

Oh, and at least you won't be ducked for being "an ungodly man" in San Francisco…"


Richard replied:

"Edison Mitofsky certainly doesn't tell its lowly exit pollsters any of these things! I just don't know and I hope you have good luck finding out."

I responded:

"Figured as much but I am deeply grateful for your correcting me and for a reassurance that there will be some independent standard (given no paper trail where I voted in Jefferson County, Colorado) to detect problems with/fraudulence using these machines."


That there is exit polling permits some separate standard for theft after the election - supposing that the results are reported accurately; in 2004, some reports, which were too obviously questionable\damaging to Bush, were quickly taken off the air - and, with this qualification, is reassuring. That the machines without a paper trail are still being used and that the theft in 2004 has not been broadly acknowledged means that only catching a thief redhanded, so to speak, can avert the success of the theft. The possibility, for Romney's minions, and Tagg who is directly in the scene, may be tempting.

And my suspicion is that, given Edison Mitofsky, a corrupt moneymaker and its past willingness to hide the results of polling as it began to reveal theft, anomalies will swiftly be diluted, skewed, lied about.

The only other solution is for Obama to win by enough of a margin that they can't shift that many votes without being obvious (probably 5% of the vote - a net 10% switch - would be too much). So every effort counts...


Peggy’s story: The cruel cynicism of the voter ID crusade
10:49 am November 3, 2012, by Jay Bookman, AJC (The Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Hans von Spakovsky, a former Fulton County Republican party official and now a star of the right’s nationwide effort to suppress voting through strict voter ID protocols, continues to pretend that in-person voting fraud constitutes a major threat to American democracy.

Yet when challenged to present evidence of such a threat, as he was in a recent article in The New Yorker, he continues to fail.

For example, in responding to the New Yorker article, von Spakovsky listed a series of recent alleged voting fraud cases that to his mind justified the expense, bureaucracy and obstacles to voting created by voter ID laws. They were:


– the Democratic nominee for Maryland’s first congressional district removed from the ballot after it was discovered that she had registered and voted in both Maryland and Florida in the 2006 and 2008 elections;

– an Arkansas legislator resigning after pleading guilty (with three other defendants) to committing voter fraud;

– a Canadian couple and a Mexican citizen arrested for illegally registering and voting in Iowa;

– a New Jersey resident convicted on multiple counts of voter fraud;

– three Indiana residents (including a former Democratic mayoral candidate) indicted for voter fraud;

– three Ohioans indicted for double voting;

– a Mexican drug dealer’s guilty plea for voting illegally in the 2008 presidential election;

– Florida’s discovery of nearly 200 non-citizens illegally registered to vote, and

– a city-council race in Vernon, Calif., overturned owing to voter fraud.


That’s the best he could do?

Once again, none of the examples could have been prevented through voter ID. Requiring a drivers license to vote, for example, does nothing to prevent non-citizens from voting because citizenship is not noted on the license.

Also note that none of the examples cited by von Spakovsky involved an organized effort to alter an election through fraudulent in-person voting. Several involved absentee balloting, the easiest and most popular way to abuse the electoral process. However, it is noteworthy that the Republican Party has in general tried to expand absentee voting without tightening oversight because that’s the means that many of its own voters tend to prefer.

Peggy Cobb

Which brings us to the story of 97-year-old Peggy Cobb of Sandy Springs, as related in an email from her son Bill:


“I now have a crystal clear, visceral understanding of why some politicians think voter ID laws are so important. The suppressive power of this law to deter people from voting is far greater than I realized. Meet my mother.

She is 97, in good health and with virtually all her marbles (bad hearing loss, though), living an active, independent life in Sandy Springs. She moved here four years ago or so. Had one knee replaced a couple years ago.

Peggy has voted in every presidential election since she was eligible, and most if not all others, too. She pays attention to this stuff more than a lot of people I know. She insists, often with me chafing, on hearing the other side.

She has a Fulton County voter registration card and has voted in every election when she’s been here. Her expired Indiana driver’s license used to be enough ID at the polling booth. No more.

But all she had to do was go to a driver’s services office, show the necessary documents, and get her Georgia Voter ID. Some waiting. No fees. Great deal.

So Peggy gathered up her voter registration card, some utility bills, bank statements, rent receipts and tax returns and went to Driver Services. They said “Great, you have everything you need. Except a birth certificate.”

She went back home and eventually figured out how to order a birth certificate from Minnesota, where she was born and married. Six weeks later, it arrived. Peggy returned to Drivers Services very enthusiastic, since the election was only a couple weeks off. They said “Great, you have everything you need, except the last name on your birth certificate isn’t the same as on all these other documents.”

Well of course not, she got married in 1943. What else could that middle initial “V” stand for except her maiden name, Vanstrom?

No Georgia voter ID card for Peggy without a marriage certificate.

I rarely ever see my mother near tears, but I did then. Some combination of rage and foreboding maybe. Luckily, the Minnesota county that has her marriage certificate is very user friendly. They even do same day turn-around and overnight delivery, if you pay for it. Time was short. $53. But UPS screwed up and misdelivered it, so Minnesota sent another one (no charge) to my house. My wife and I made sure one of us was home all day to sign for it.

Yesterday, back to Drivers Services. A friend drove her. They said, “Great, you have everything you need, except your Social Security number doesn’t match our system. Sorry, no exceptions.”

The friend, who had only bargained for lunch really, drove Peggy home to search for more papers with her Social Security number on it, then drove her to a Social Security office in Marietta. The agent could find nothing amiss, and gave her some papers.

Drivers Services finally relented and gave Peggy a Georgia voter ID yesterday, 5 days before the election. What would she have done without that determined friend?

You probably can’t truly appreciate the physical and emotion toll this ordeal has taken on Peggy. She definitely can’t believe it.

“Why is Georgia doing this to me! Do they want me not to be here? I thought government was supposed to make voting as simple as possible. I don’t understand it!”

I explained the reason for Georgia’s anti-fraud requirements with a joke I heard a long time ago. It begins with a guy standing around constantly snapping his fingers.

“Why are you doing that?” someone asked.

“I’m keeping the elephants away.”

“What? There’s never been an elephant within a thousand miles of here!”

“See, it’s working.”

The reality, of course, is much more mean-spirited and pernicious. Peggy got the joke right away. But she’s still not happy. It’s not funny. At all.


No, Peggy’s not happy. In a later message, she herself spoke of her frustration with what she calls “Beautiful Georgia, my adopted state as I finish life’s journey.” Voting absentee, she says, “seemed sensible.” But on the other hand, she wanted to once again feel the excitement of voting in person, on Election Day.

“This year 2012 held new significance … my last year ever to vote in a presidential election. I wanted to feel part of this great privilege, wanted to again walk out of my precinct tapping my Georgia Peach voter sticker. Even if the day were dark, gloomy and cold, the sun would be shining.”

But “government intrusion stripped me of my established legal right to vote in 2012 unless I complied with new restriction laws…. I will vote in person on Nov. 6 but my spirit is broken. Trust in the government of my adopted state is shattered, a cruel joke.”

– Jay Bookman

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