Whether statistician Beth Clarkson, PhD, head of Wichita University's National Institute for Aviation Research, is ultimately proven correct, today's must-listen, in-depth interview with her on The BradCast should remind us all, once again, why neither election officials nor voting systems are simply to be trusted.
Without the ability to carry out public oversight, democracy vanishes. That's what's happening right now in the state of Kansas, where Sec. of State Kris Kobach is attempting to block Clarkson's legal attempt to audit touch-screen voting system "paper trails" in Sedgwick County (Wichita), the state's most populous county.
Confirming a theory initially reported by two other statisticians in 2012 [PDF], Clarkson has found that computer-reported results from larger precincts in the state, with more than 500 voters, show a "consistent" statistical increase in votes for the Republican candidates in general elections (and even a similar increase for establishment GOP candidates versus 'Tea Party' challengers during Republican primaries). Those results run counter to conventional political wisdom that Democrats perform better in larger, more urban precincts.
The larger the precinct size, she explains on today's program, the higher the percentage of the vote for the GOP candidate. Clarkson finds "that is the case, and that is a relationship that is unexplained and very troubling." Previously, statisticians Francois Choquette and James Johnson found a similarly unexplained relationship while examining reported vote totals in Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Even more disturbing, in hopes of further testing her theory, Clarkson has filed a lawsuit under the state's public records act in hopes of auditing some of the so-called "paper trails" from the state's unverifiable touch-screen voting systems, but Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach (a long-time GOP vote suppression champion) is fighting her access to those records in court. Kobach's full response is here [PDF]. The response from the Sedgewick County Election Commissioner Tabatha Lehman is here.
Clarkson tells me she believes the statistical pattern she confirms in KS is evidence of rigged elections.
"There have been a few theories advanced," to explain the statistical pattern. "The one I find most probable is that the voting machines are being manipulated. Their vulnerability seems to me a fairly high-probability explanation for this particular pattern. It fits exactly what you'd expect to see if people are flipping the votes within voting machines."
While I've been skeptical of the general theory for some time, for reasons that I explain during the program, Clarkson makes a compelling case, particularly for the ability of the public to oversee their own elections by examining the voting systems in question. If the public is not allowed to examine the so-called "paper trail" of these god-forsaken machines, what good are they?
"Suspicion isn't proof," Clarkson is careful to note. "The reason I'm suing for the paper records is because an audit can provide proof. Statistics are not going to be convincing to most people over the long term because they don't understand the math, and you don't believe what you don't understand. But an audit is fairly straightforward and the results should be fairly definitive."
She adds that Kobach's attempt to keep her from examining paper logs and tapes makes little sense, particularly when they concern elections which are long enough ago that the results may no longer be officially contested. "Voting is important and we want to keep those records secure so we can be assured of the accuracy of the count. But they're so secure now, nobody gets to see them."
Also today, as if we needed yet another reminder of why neither electronic voting systems nor election officials are simply to be "trusted", on Friday, New Mexico's Republican Sec. of State Dianna Duran --- like Kobach, also a long time "voter fraud" fraudster --- was charged with 64 criminal counts related to embezzlement, fraud, money laundering, violations of the Campaign Practice Act, tampering with public records, conspiracy, and a Governmental Conduct Act violation.
(For longtime BRAD BLOG readers, the new charges against Duran may sound vaguely familiar.)
Download MP3 or listen online to the complete show below...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)