Written by Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D.
Friday, 27 November 2009 12:14
CANTON, NY – As reported earlier this week, the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections has certified impossible numbers in the special election for New York’s 23rd Congressional District. 93 “phantom votes,” more votes counted than the number of ballots cast, were reported in six election districts, and negative numbers reported for the “blank ballots,” or “undervotes.”
Such numbers are a red flag, indicating that something is terribly wrong with the electronic vote tabulation system countywide. Further scrutiny of the election results reveals numerous precincts where the results, although not always mathematically impossible, are not credible.
On Friday, November 6, three days after the election, one of the involved campaigns obtained from the Board of Elections a spreadsheet of the preliminary (unofficial) election results, precinct by precinct. Absentee ballots had not yet been counted. This serves as an important “snapshot” with which to compare the final (certified) results.
As previously reported, voting machine failures at eight polling places in St. Lawrence County caused the Board of Elections to hand count those ballots. Realistically, there was no other choice but to do so. According to the Board, the locked voting machines were transported to a warehouse in Canton where the ballots were counted by hand. The problem with this procedure is that it is illegal under § 9-100 of New York State Election Law, which requires that the votes be counted at the polling place:
§ 9-100 At the close of the polls the inspectors of election shall, in the order set forth herein, lock the machine against voting, account for the paper ballots, canvass the machine, cast and canvass all the ballots, canvass and ascertain the total vote and they shall not adjourn until the canvass be fully completed.
An audit of the poll books and absentee voter lists for these eight polling places reveals that the final vote count cannot be correct in two of them. In Massena’s 1st and 2nd districts, there were 565 actual voters at the polls and 26 absentee ballots, for a total of 591; but there were 575 votes counted for Congress and 11 “blank” ballots, for a total of 586, which indicates that 5 ballots were not counted. In Rossie, there were 138 actual voters at the polls and 6 absentee ballots, for a total of 144; but there were 147 votes counted for Congress and 4 “blank” ballots, for a total of 151, which indicates that 7 extra votes were counted.
For three of these polling places, the preliminary hand count could not have been correct. In Louisville, there were 885 actual voters at the polls, but only 691 votes were counted for Congress on Election Night. In Waddington, there were 754 actual voters at the polls, but only 347 votes were counted for Congress on Election Night. In Rossie, there were 138 actual voters at the polls, but only 94 votes were counted for Congress on Election Night. 53 votes were counted later. Bill Owens got 50 of them.
One possible reason for the short counts on Election Night is that the Sequoia/Dominion ImageCast machines have two slots and two bins for ballots. There is a slot which sucks a ballot into the optical scanner, much like a dollar bill is sucked into a vending machine, and after the ballot is scanned it drops into a locked box. There is another slot in the front of the machine which can be opened when the scanner breaks down and emergency paper ballots need to be segregated and counted by hand; these ballots drop into a separate locked box. It is possible that the Board of Elections initially counted the ballots from one box but not the other. But this is precisely why § 9-102.3(b) of New York State Election Law requires that the ballots be counted in public at the polling place, and why § 9-108.1 requires that the number of ballots be cross-checked with the poll books to be sure that all the ballots have been counted.
§ 9-102.3(b) Paper ballots and emergency ballots cast during voting machine breakdowns which have been voted shall then be canvassed and tallied, the vote thereon for each candidate and ballot proposal, announced and added to the vote as recorded on the return of canvass.
§ 9-108.1 The board of inspectors, at the beginning of the canvass, shall count the ballots found in each ballot box without unfolding them, except so far as to ascertain that each ballot is single, and shall compare the number of ballots found in each box with the number shown by the registration poll records, and the ballot returns to have been deposited therein.
Another problem with these voting machines is that it is mechanically possible to open both ballot slots, and both locked boxes, even while the optical scanner is operating. This opens the possibility that ballots could be deposited into the wrong ballot box, inadvertently or deliberately, and never be counted. An eyewitness who voted at the only polling place in Russell told me that she was not allowed to place her own ballot in the machine; a poll worker examined her ballot and placed it into the machine for her. This caused her to be concerned about both the privacy of her vote and the security of the vote count.
As previously reported, the number of “blank” ballots, or “undervotes,” is calculated by subtracting the number of votes counted for a given office from the total number of ballots cast. In the Congressional race, the highest percentage of “blank” ballots anywhere in St. Lawrence County was in Russell’s 2nd district. According to the poll book there were 590 actual voters at the polls, and there were 9 absentee ballots, for a total of 599, in Russell’s 1st and 2nd districts combined. According to the certified results there were 334 ballots cast, of which 19 (5.7%) were blank, in the 1st district, and 264 ballots cast, of which 29 (11.0%) were blank, in the 2nd district. It is highly unlikely that 11% of the voters made no choice among three candidates in one of the most hotly contested races in the nation.
And these numbers are a minimum. As previously reported, “phantom votes,” which are votes counted for an office with no actual voter, have corrupted the vote count in St. Lawrence County. “Blank” ballots, which are ballots cast with no vote the office, are the exact opposite; and as shown in Oswegatchie, they cancel each other out. For every “phantom vote” that enters the system, a “blank” is subtracted from the totals.
The second-highest percentage of “blank” ballots for Congress was in Hammond. According to the poll book there were 569 actual voters at the polls, and there were 81 absentee ballots, for a total of 650. According to the certified results there were 646 ballots cast, of which 60 (9.3%) were blank – again, a highly unlikely percentage for a hotly contested race. Moreover, the preliminary (unofficial) results had shown 305 votes for Owens, 206 for Hoffman, and 37 for Scozzafava. The final (certified) results show 298 votes for Owens, 228 votes for Hoffman, and 60 votes for Scozzafava. The difference, which should represent the 81 absentee ballots, is -7 for Owens, 22 for Hoffman, 23 for Scozzafava, and, by subtraction, 43 blanks. Whether the drop in Owens’ vote total is an error or a correction is unknown. But there is simply no way that 43 (or even 36) of 81 voters who took the time and effort to cast an absentee ballot made no choice for Congress.
Hammond is not the only polling place where one candidate or another managed to lose votes subsequent to Election Day.
* In DeKalb’s 1st district, where there were 355 actual voters at the polls, the preliminary (unofficial) results had shown 201 votes for Owens, 128 for Hoffman, and 26 for Scozzafava. The final (certified) results show 189 votes for Owens, 132 votes for Hoffman, and 34 votes for Scozzafava. The difference, which should represent 16 absentee ballots, is -12 for Owens, 4 for Hoffman, and 8 for Scozzafava – a net increase of no votes at all.
* In Lisbon’s 1st district, the preliminary (unofficial) results had shown 146 votes for Owens, 149 for Hoffman, and 13 for Scozzafava. The final (certified) results show 121 votes for Owens, 159 for Hoffman, and 19 for Scozzafava. The difference, which should represent 19 absentee ballots, is -25 for Owens, 10 for Hoffman, and 6 for Scozzafava, shows instead a net decrease of nine votes.
* In Massena’s 9th district, the preliminary (unofficial) results had shown 108 votes for Owens, 87 for Hoffman, and 2 for Scozzafava. The final (certified) results show 119 votes for Owens, 69 for Hoffman, and 4 for Scozzafava. The difference, which should represent 11 absentee ballots, is 11 for Owens, -18 for Hoffman, and 2 for Scozzafava – a net decrease of five votes.
There are also places where more, not fewer, votes were added to the totals than can be explained by the reported number of absentee ballots. This happened in 43 of 102 election districts. In 31 cases the discrepancy was only one or two votes, which could easily be due to corrections made during recanvassing of the vote totals as required by law. But some examples are not so easily explained.
* In Ogdensburg’s 1st district, where there were 305 actual voters at the polls, the preliminary (unofficial) results had shown 141 votes for Owens, 103 for Hoffman, and 10 for Scozzafava. The final (certified) results show 167 votes for Owens, 119 for Hoffman, and 16 for Scozzafava. The difference, which should represent 9 absentee ballots, is 26 for Owens, 16 for Hoffman, and 6 for Scozzafava – a net increase of 48 votes. Even now, there are reportedly 16 blank ballots out of 318, or 5.0% of the total. Altogether, 318 is four votes too many. But more importantly, the electronic vote count on Election Night was short by 51 votes, or 16.7% of the actual total of 305. Either these were initially counted as blanks, or not counted at all, or some combination of the two.
* In Lisbon’s 2nd district, the preliminary (unofficial) results had shown 114 votes for Owens, 110 for Hoffman, and 9 for Scozzafava. The final (certified) results show 116 votes for Owens, 133 for Hoffman, and 12 for Scozzafava. The difference, which should represent 7 absentee ballots, is 2 for Owens, 23 for Hoffman, and 3 for Scozzafava – a net increase of 28 votes. Thus the electronic vote count on Election Night was short by at least 21 votes, or 8.3% of the actual total. (The poll books do not reveal the precise number of voters at the polls, because Lisbon was a multiple-precinct polling place, as were Massena’s 9th and 10th districts).
* In Canton’s 9th district, where there were 323 actual voters at the polls, the preliminary (unofficial) results had shown 221 votes for Owens, 83 for Hoffman, and 10 for Scozzafava. The final (certified) results show 242 votes for Owens, 91 for Hoffman, and 22 for Scozzafava. The difference, which should represent 33 absentee ballots, for a total of 356, is 21 for Owens, 8 for Hoffman, and 12 for Scozzafava – a net increase of 41 votes. Even now there are reportedly 6 blank ballots out of a total of 362, which is exactly six votes too many. The electronic vote count on Election Night was short by nine; either these were initially counted as blanks, or not counted at all, or some combination of the two. But more importantly, if there were any “phantom votes” in the system, as occurred in Canton’s 2nd, 4th, 6th and 7th districts, we have no way of knowing because the machine reported more “blanks” or “undervotes” than “phantom votes” and cancelled them out.
More examples, with somewhat less egregious numbers, could be cited for all of the categories presented in this article. But it suffices to show that, in addition to the six districts where “phantom votes” appeared in the certified results (Canton’s 2nd, 4th, 6th and 7th districts, Massena’s 14th district, and Oswegatchie’s 2nd district), there were suspiciously high percentages of “blank” ballots reported in Russell’s 2nd district and in Hammond; extraordinary declines in the vote totals subsequent to Election Day in DeKalb’s 1st district, Lisbon’s 1st district, and Massena’s 9th district; and lost votes on Election Night in Ogdensburg’s 1st district, Lisbon’s 2nd district, and Canton’s 9th district. Each of these fourteen corruptions of the vote count can be attributed to false electronic vote tabulation. Together with the breakdown or freezing of the Sequoia/Dominion ImageCast voting machines at eight polling places, there is more than enough evidence in St. Lawrence County alone to show that the court-ordered “pilot” election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District was an utter failure, and that the time-tested lever machines were much more reliable.
Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D., is one of the leading election fraud investigators in the United States. His book on the 2004 Ohio election, Witness to a Crime: A Citizens’ Audit of an American Election, based on examination of some 30,000 photographs of actual ballots, poll books, and other election records, is available at http://www.witnesstoacrime.com
Last Updated on Friday, 27 November 2009 15:12