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In April 2008 when Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita announced the
release of "record high" voter registration rolls, with 4.3 million voters
set to vote in the Tuesday May 6 primary, he didn't mention that a whopping
1,134,427 voter registrations have been cancelled.
Now, the voter rolls are supposed to be tidied up prior to each election.
Indiana's last general election was in Nov. 2006, and they have had a slew
of special and general elections since then. So how have 1.1 million voters
-- 26 percent of the current statewide list -- escaped the voter
registration cleanup squad? Who are these million voters and where do they
One quarter-million of them come from just two northwestern Indiana
counties: Lake and Porter. Lake County reports purging 137,164 voters and
neighboring Porter County cancelled out 124,958 voters.
Lake County, the home of Gary, Indiana, has spawned the Jackson Five and a
great old musical (The Music Man) and has been referred to as "the second
most liberal county in America." Lake County also has one of the heaviest
concentrations of African-American voters that you'll find anywhere in the
Nearby Porter County, the home of Valparaiso, is 95% white and went solidly
for Bush in the 2004 election. It's also got a lot of college students.
For whatever reason, these two counties had ... what ... massive data entry
problems? Exceptionally messy records? Lots of dead people who climbed back
into their graves? I truly hope we aren't going to see a lot of disappointed
voters on Tuesday, when they perhaps learn that they were among the lucky
million people who got purged.
HERE'S WHERE THE HEAVIEST INDIANA PURGES ARE:
Lake 137,164 48% (Gary)
Porter 124,958 115% (Valparaiso)
Marion 68,120 10% (Indianapolis)
Monroe 66,009 85% (Bloomington)
Tippecanoe 53,456 58%
Madison 42,952 47% (Anderson)
Hamilton 42,325 26%
Here's a picture map with the numbers and percentages for the whole state:
The percentage represents the ratio of the number of purges to the current
voter list. Example: If a location currently has 100,000 voters on its
rolls, and purged 53,000 along the way, we assign a ratio of 53% to the
purge vs. current list.
It would be nice to have the original quantities, it would make for a
cleaner number, but this is not available on the Secretary of State's Web
site, so I haven't got a tidier statistic for you, wish I did. I also wish
the time period for these purges was clearly indicated, but it is not
indicated -- nor can it be derived -- from available information at
Indiana's official election Web site.
TOOLS YOU CAN USE
It's always interesting to look for impossible numbers on election night,
like the "more votes than voters" situation that sometimes crops up. It
speeds things up to have a place to plug the information in. Here is a
spreadsheet -- quick and not too fancy, I'm sure you can improve on it. It
has every Indiana county, along with their official registered voter
statistics for the 2008 primary, and some historical data from 1992 to the
present, along with links for the source documents from the secretary of
(Excel file, 71 KB)
Here are links that may be very good to provide additional statistical
information which you can plug in:
And here is a link to the source document containing the cancelled
registration information used for this article:
Here's a quick spreadsheet with the Indiana voting machines by county -- you
can get that on the Sec. State's Web site too, but it's not in a database
format. You can cut and paste these into your analysis sheets if you'd like
to get comparisons of results by county.
AND NOW ABOUT THOSE VOTING MACHINES
Another press release on the Indiana Secretary of State's Web site deals
with the $360,000 penalty he's hitting Microvote with for failing to follow
the law. Oh yes, and the Microvote Infinity voting machine, which will be
very widely used in the Tuesday May 6 primary, has been DECERTIFIED!
That's not going to stop anyone in Indiana from using it, however. The
decision was that anyone who already bought these things gets to use them --
despite the fact that these machines have been embroiled in lawsuits in at
least three places, one in Pennsylvania for machines that just didn't work,
and two in Tennessee where candidates have asked to redo elections due to
bizarre anomalies -- like vote totals that wandered away in the wee hours of
Microvote's insurance company declined to cover the firm, according to yet
another lawsuit, because the insurance company alleged that Microvote was
selling defective products. The judge ruled against the insurance company,
saying the product wasn't defective, it just didn't work.
I haven't plugged this in yet, but those of you who are comfortable with
spreadsheets can quickly add the voting machines by county to your voter
registration spreadsheet, using that voting machine spreadsheet I linked
above, to see how many votes all together will be subjected to Microvote.
Ah, but we aren't done with Indiana voting machines yet. Indiana is also
fond of the ES&S paperless iVotronic touch-screens, the ones that lost
18,000 votes in Sarasota County Florida and were the subject of a blistering
report by Dan Rather. In Rather's report, he showed shocking footage of the
touch-screens being manufactured in a sweat shop in the Philippines. Their
quality control test was to shake the machine and if it didn't rattle, it
passed the test.
THINGS YOU CAN DO ABOUT INDIANA
1. Do some public records requests to either the state or the counties, and
ask for their VRG-5 form, which is the NVRA tracking form on which the
number of voters purged must be reported.
For tips on how to do the records requests, here's our tool kit, scroll down
to the section on public records:
Post the documents and ask for any advice you need here, and report your
front-lines information for both Indiana and North Carolina here:
I'm pushing hard right now to get TOOL KIT 2008 done -- it's a stripped-down
model with emergency measures for the fall election. Unless you tell me not
to, I'll let you know as soon as it's ready for download.
2. Another useful form you can request: The CEB-9 form, which is the Indiana
County Election Report that must be turned in after the election. Here's
one, take a look at the information it contains:
3. If you are a number-cruncher, grab the spreadsheets here and wail on 'em
during Election night. You can get additional historical information from
(Choose the drop-down menu "general by state" and select Indiana, then
choose the year you want. Confusion factor -- this site color-codes
Republican as blue and Democrat as Red. Has lots of good stuff).
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: People usually catch things like "more votes than
voters" weeks after the election. The dang Indiana information doesn't break
voter registrations out by party which makes crunching the primary numbers a
little harder. But you may still get the jump on some red flags if you track
this stuff as it's coming in on spreadsheets that tell you what the stats
are going in.
A WORD ABOUT THE TV PROJECTIONS
You'll notice that those projections often change -- sometimes dramatically
-- just an hour or so later. That's because we have learned that they are
paying elections officials (through their associations or otherwise) to call
and fax them the results off the voting machine poll tape.
In fact, the National Election Pool (used to be Voter News Service) is
getting this stuff BEFORE the election officials and way before the
secretary of state.
The first number they quote is the adjusted exit poll number, and it comes
from asking people about who they voted for. The point here is, when what
you thought was "exit polls" suddenly changes, that is the impact of those
called-in poll tape results. Yep. That's the voting machines talking, and
when they say something different than the people answering the exit
pollers' questions, we should be looking at the programming on the machine,
not the exit pollers, for answers.
I expect to see early projections altered significantly as soon as those
poll tape numbers are called in to NEP.
So to recap, good things to do Tuesday:
1. Public records
2. Number crunching
Good luck to us, all,
Founder - Black Box Voting
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