Re: question about hand-held statistical devicesin the field

From: Brent Turner <brent_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Fri Dec 21 2007 - 09:57:12 CST

In San Mateo, the recent democratic straw poll was ostensibly conducted as a
hand count, but then turned into a behind-the curtain computer generated
count. I managed to wrestle the original table counts away from tables (who
were instructed to stay mum and operating under lock down procedures). The
released results were apparently skewed as the computer results differed
from the actual hand count- In the hand count, Obama and Edwards were in a
dead heat with Clinton third. Kucinich, Dodd, Richardson and Gravel finished
out the pack. Per the computer count, Obama was lessened and Kucinich was
moved upward.

The media interest was the reason given for the lack of transparency- If
the primaries are conducted anything like the dry run straw poll- We better
keep our eyes on the brown paper bag.- Brent Turner

-----Original Message-----
From: Douglas W. Jones [mailto:jones@cs.uiowa.edu]
Sent: Friday, December 21, 2007 7:25 AM
To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list
Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] question about hand-held statistical devicesin
the field

On Dec 20, 2007, at 11:44 PM, Bev Harris wrote:

> Rick, I think you're missing a point.
>
> The detail results are not necessarily released in the caucuses.

Speaking as a regular attendee at the Iowa Democratic Caucuses,
they are. Not only the final delegate counts, but also the first
and second breakdown of attendees are announced to the caucus, and
once the delegate counts are determined, the caucus has to actually
elect those delegates.

Finally, at the end, the total official report from the caucus is
read to the caucus (who was elected to what, and representing what
preference group if applicable), and the caucus is asked to ratify
the report.

The cellphone report has no official stature, it's entirely for the
press. As such, hacking it would probably not be considered an
election-related crime, no more than hacking an exit poll. The
official reports are transmitted in a brown paper envelope to the
county central committee, where the delegate mailing lists are
assembled in order to get things set up for the county party
conventions. Generally, several people at the caucus take personal
notes, and there has been occasion when these notes were requested
by the county party because one of the official forms was in bad
shape.

> Who is on the other end of it? Each political party has a
> significant incentive to manipulate results. How do caucus goers
> know that the votes transmitted were properly tabulated?

We don't know. We hope that the news media has some integrity,
but as with all unofficial election reporting, it's outside the
system.

                Doug Jones
                jones@cs.uiowa.edu

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Received on Mon Dec 31 23:17:08 2007

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