Election Stats

January 14, 2008

Vote Counting methods, drawn on a NH map

Filed under: diebold, new hampshire — Brian @ 12:48 pm

The observation that the Diebold optical vote scanners may have a bias against Obama (and/or in favor of Clinton) is disturbing. But, before claiming fraud, we need to take a more careful look at the data. Perhaps the townships which use the scanners are generally larger – and the larger townships tend to like Clinton better? Or maybe the towns with Diebold machines are more conservative/liberal and vote differently for Clinton? Or perhaps there are other socio-economic factors which may correlate with the use of the Diebold machines? Many of these reasons have been proposed, but none seem to negate the vote counting effect.

One fairly obvious variable that has not been checked is location. The experts seem to think that the results make sense based on what they know about the geography and locations of the towns within New Hampshire. But, while I agree that the experts and pundits know that different parts of the state vote for different candidates, no one seems to care about the distribution of the actual vote counting methods within the state (which is the main issue).

NH map of vote counting methods

Figure legend: On the left is a map showing where hand counting and machine counting is used, and on the right shows where the small, medium and big townships are located – and the locations of hand and machine counting for medium sized towns (500-800 democrat votes).  (I have updated this map on Jan 17th with better data).

My first observation from looking at the left map is: “That explains it! All the towns which use Diebold machine are in the southeast of the state! If it was a patchwork of man vs. machine, then fraud would be more likely, but now I think that this is all just a location effect.”

But, then I made the map on the right and noted that the larger towns are also in the SE of the state – which agrees the previously observed strong correlation found between the size of the township and the vote counting method.

This means that when we look at just the medium sized towns – for which the Diebold pro-Clinton bias still exists, the map is now a patchwork! Thus, these mid-sized towns seem to not be grouped by their vote counting method and the Diebold bias still exists in that set of towns. So, maybe there really is some fraud there?

As you have probably heard, the NH Sec. of State will be doing a manual recount if Kucinich and Albert Howard can pay for the estimated cost. I don’t know if this is allowed by the NH-SOS, but perhaps it would be more affordable if only the mid-sized towns were counted – since that is really the only place where this potential bias is reliably detectable. The small towns and big towns are already biased in terms of their favorite candidate and biased in terms of the vote counting technique, but the medium towns seem to be missing those confounding variables.

[Finally, if you want to repeat this analysis, please feel free to use the data and code that I have used]

NOTE: on Jan 17, I updated the image with accurate counting method data, and better name assignments between Census and NH SOS towns.

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2 Comments »

  1. Very nice work!

    Before continuing our analyses, we should check and complete our data. Analysis done on incomplete or inaccurate data won’t have any credibility.

    Publishing data and scripts in easy-to-use format for analysis by others is a good idea if we want to drag independent experts.

    It would be nice if we could also get detailed poll data…

    Comment by semmelweis — January 14, 2008 @ 4:06 pm

  2. So the thing to do next first would be to exclude the counties where we can easily attribute the Diebold effect to the fact that we know that there’s some geographical south-eastern thing going on that favors Clinton.

    Taking the six south-eastern counties Belknap, Carroll, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham, Strafford as a group, the median (across the 132 towns, which has about 80% of the population of the state) advantage of Clinton over Obama in this group is 0.8 percentage points. In the 92 towns in the other three counties, Obama has a median advantage of 4.3.

    Within these SE counties, there is still a strong Diebold effect, but that’s to be expected because there’s still a geographical factor within those counties.

    In the other counties, Clinton still did better in Diebold towns (median 35.7 vs 33.9), but the effect is not significant (t-test, p < .15).

    I think it’s pretty clear that this is a geographical pattern, and not related to the voting method.

    Comment by Josh Tauberer — January 16, 2008 @ 7:36 am


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