Waiting to Vote

One of the underreported stories from last week’s election was the effect of long waiting lines at polling places. Many polling places in Ohio, for example, had lines of three hours or more. Though many voters waited, determined to cast their votes, quite a few must have been driven away. Not everybody has three hours to spend at the polling place.

story in the Boston Phoenix, by David S. Bernstein, points to significant reductions in the number of polling places in some parts of Ohio, compared to the 2000 election. According to the article, polling places were consolidated on the theory that voters would cast their votes much more quickly on the touch-screen systems that were to be used in this year’s election. But then many counties put aside the touchscreens due to security concerns, and used the old punch-card system instead. The result is the same voting system as before, but with many fewer polling stations. Add in a higher than usual turnout and long lines result.

How did this affect the election results? Some data from the article:

Of Ohio’s 88 counties, 20 suffered a significant reduction — shutting at least 20 percent (or at least 30) of their precincts. Most of those counties have Republicans serving as Board of Elections director, including the four biggest: Cuyahoga, Montgomery, Summit, and Lucas.

Those 20 counties went heavily to Gore in 2000, 53 to 42 percent. The other 68 counties, which underwent little-to-no precinct consolidation, went exactly the opposite way in 2000: 53 to 42 percent to Bush.

In the 68 counties that kept their precinct count at or near 2000 levels, Kerry benefited more than Bush from the high turnout, getting 24 percent more votes than Gore did in 2000, while Bush increased his vote total by only 17 percent.

But in the 20 squeezed counties, the opposite happened. Bush increased his vote total by 22 percent, and Kerry won just 19 percent more than Gore in 2000.

This suggests that the long lines may have driven away more Kerry voters than Bush voters. But it’s only a suggestion at this point, not a solid inference; and in any case the effect doesn’t look big enough to call Bush’s victory into question.

It would be great to see a carefully, methodologically sound study of this issue.



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  1. How do you jump to the conclusion that more Kerry voters left than Bush voters? Look at the map, stupid, it was red in almost every county in the country.

Comment by John — Saturday November 13, 2004 @ 11:51 am PST

  1. John,

All I wrote is that the cited data “suggests” (not “proves”) that more Kerry voters than Bush voters left the polls in those counties.

Perhaps you could try to explain why the color of the map in *other* counties matters.

And let’s try to keep a civil tone here, please.

Comment by Ed Felten — Monday November 15, 2004 @ 9:11 am PST

  1. For those who, like ‘John’ above, have fallen prey to the socio-intellectual blindness induced by staring overlong and unquestioningly at that simplistic and extremely misleading ‘Red State-Blue State Map’ an irresponsible press keeps reprinting without having given it so much as a first thought, let alone a second, the rigorously-constructed cartograms found at: http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/election/
    should serve as a much-needed corrective.
    -D. Berevich

Comment by D. Berevich — Thursday November 18, 2004 @ 1:33 am PST

  1. Thursday, November 25, 2004
    Exposed: Funding vote fraud – a “five star” investigation
    Hope you all had a fine Thanksgiving. If the following account is true, we may not that damned turkey hanging around for another four years.

Saudi money? For vote fraud-watchers, the article of the day must be Wayne Madsen’s piece in the Online Journal. It is a must-read:

November 25, 2004 – According to informed sources in Washington and Houston, the Bush campaign spent some $29 million to pay polling place operatives around the country to rig the election for Bush. The operatives were posing as Homeland Security and FBI agents but were actually technicians familiar with Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S, Triad, Unilect, and Danaher Controls voting machines. These technicians reportedly hacked the systems to skew the results in favor of Bush.

The leak about the money and the rigged election apparently came from technicians who were promised to be paid a certain amount for their work but the Bush campaign interlocutors reneged and some of the technicians are revealing the nature of the vote rigging program.
Madsen goes on to say that money for the operations was funnelled through a Saudi-linked financial entity based in Houston called Five Star Trust, which was also apparently used to fund both Bush and Bin Laden.

Other monies came from carefully-hidden Enron loot stashed away in the Cook Islands:

Cook Islands banks also handled some of the weapons smuggling financing of the Iran-Contra scandal. A former Justice Department attorney who helped prosecute the BCCI case said the use of the Cook Islands by the Bush reelection team indicates they wanted the bank arrangements to be a “quick folding tent” operation that would cease to exist when the election was over.
Madsen goes on to detail the complex history of these Cook Island accounts, which apparently continue in the same inglorious money-laudering tradition of the Nugan/Hand bank.

The article does not name names – that is, Madsen’s sources have not gone on the record. Not yet. But Madsen is a serious writer, his account is detailed, and his knowledge of parapolitical financing is solid. This is the sort of article that either changes history or proves to be a scarlet red herring.

My guess? I’ll bet you three donuts that his sourcing amounts to more than mere scuttlebutt.

So pass Madsen’s piece around. Let’s all do what we can to solidify this research. For example…

I’ve tried some preliminary Googling on Five Star Trust (which is also spelled “5 Star Trust”). One citation goes to a court case listed here, involving one Marion Horn, Jr., a.k.a. “J.R. Horn,” a one-time Republican candidate in Kentucky later convicted of wire fraud. (Also see here and here.) From what I can tell, the guy received a ridiculously attentuated sentence – 18 months – for a serious crime (one commentator mentioned the figure of “$1B”) committed while on parole for a similar offense.

Eighteen months…! Isn’t it nice to have friends?

Much of the above information came by way of the Diligizer Board, which seems to be a clearinghouse for information about shady operators in the financial world. On one page they take a brief look at an accused security fraudster named Howard E. Liner – and just look at what pops up:

He claims to be directly involved with VP Chaney and running actually the FED program. Mr. Liner pretends to be a former JAG and Military attorney. They are connected to Noir Intertrade, who shall be the commitment holder! They also mentioned the 5-Star Trust, the worlds richest trust with TRILLIONS (sorry forgot to ask the currency!!) on the account in Credit Suisse and UBS.
Hmm. Did he just say trillions? It that’s true, the allegation of Saudi involvement may well have substance.

Mind you, truth becomes a particularly elusive commodity when we look into financial wheeler-dealers operating on this level. Please understand that, at this time, I have no idea if or how any of the above data connects to the allegations of election tampering. But right now, every little bit of research may prove useful.

In a previous article, I mentioned John Allen Paulos, the latest expert to note the foul odor surrounding this election. (I neglected to mention that Paulos wrote Innumeracy, one of my ladyfriend’s favorite books.) Paulos felt uncomfortable with the conspiracy idea, because he did not see how so widespread a scheme could take place without one or two players getting talky. (Of course, people once made similar disparaging comments about Enron’s plot against California.)

If Madsen’s article proves true, Paulos’ main objection has been met: Lips have indeed loosened.

If we really do have a conspiracy, what should we expect next? Well, these things tend to follow a predictable course. The corpses should pop up soon: “Mysterious “suicides” in underground parking structures, healthy men suffering heart attacks, that sort of thing. After that will come the Gerry Posner-esque debunkers who will smirk their most arrogant smirks at all of us “tin-foil-hat” guys.

Until then, we should have ourselves a nice little shit-storm. While it lasts, we must grab hold of any and all stray evidence that blows our way.