Chapter 9: Exit polling discrepancies.
Were votes directly manipulated in the U.S. Democratic primary elections? Before examining the evidence and coming to a final conclusion, we must first acknowledge several points:
- According to the Electoral Integrity Project, the United States ranks lowest in election integrity among all Western democracies.
2. Vulnerabilities have been repeatedly found in U.S. election machines, which are privately owned and run on closed-source software. It has been demonstrated, repeatedly, how easily these machines can be compromised.
4. Exit polls predict election results with a relatively high degree of accuracy, and have been a method used around the world to determine whether election results are legitimate. It is unlikely that a final vote count will exceed the exit poll’s margin of error; it is significantly less likely that this will happen on a regular basis and favoring one candidate over the other.
5. The U.S. political system is dominated by a small group of wealthy and powerful individuals and corporate interests. Naturally, these groups want to maintain their wealth and power, and these groups overwhelmingly favored Clinton versus Sanders — because Sanders was a threat to their hegemony, and Clinton was not. It is not a stretch to believe that at least a few of these powerful interests would find it appealing to make sure Sanders doesn’t win, even if it meant direct manipulation of the votes. And with so many connections and resources at their disposal, and considering the low integrity and low security of the voting machines, it would not be too difficult for someone to do this. To think it’s impossible is wishful thinking.
These points are not debatable, but, of course, this does not necessarily mean the machines and vote counts were manipulated. It is not proof. What these points really show is that that there exist a motive, means, and opportunity. Because of this, we should look into the process, rather than simply ignore the issue or disbelieve the possibility.
Any Democrat who worries about “Russian” manipulation of our election, but denies the possibility of primary election manipulation, is a pure hypocrite. It is quick and easy to claim that “Russians” interfered in the general election, but how could one then scoff at the possibility of foul-play in a primary election?
The question is rarely asked, even by Democrats, about primary election integrity. Thankfully, though, some experts and analysts have not only asked the question, but have turned up evidence that warrants, at the least, heavy suspicion.
We are not supposed to have blind faith in these experts and analysts who make these claims. We are supposed to look at what they’re presenting, what they’re concluding, and determine if their data, methodology, and conclusions are true. In the following space, I will bring to light some of the evidence and allegations, then, you must decide for yourself.
Before proceeding, one final point must be acknowledged. Even if no votes were directly manipulated in the primary election, that does not negate the rest of this report. Even if no votes were changed directly, the primary election was still unfair and undemocratic, in the many ways already outlined. It will still mean that the DNC requires heavy reform if it is to operate “fair and democratic” primary elections in the future.
If it does turn out to be true that votes were directly manipulated, that means the primary election was even more unfair and undemocratic, even more “rigged,” than even most Sanders supporters have suspected. And, of course, the allegations would move beyond the bounds of “unethical and undemocratic” into the realm of “illegal and criminal.”
The claims of election fraud rest on the following premises:
- Clinton exceeded expectations in virtually every exit poll that was conducted, and in most cases, exceeded the margin of error. The odds of this happening are very statistically low. If there is an explanation for this massive irregularity, it is yet to be adequately explained, and is typically “waved away” as an “abnormality” by the defense.
- Exit polls were cancelled in multiple states, and in California, where exit polling was cancelled, independent exit polls found major discrepancies in the election results.
- “Clinton does best in areas where voter machines flunk hacking tests,” reads at least one analysis.
- A post-election, independent audit at the Chicago Board of Elections revealed a direct manipulation of ballot counts — an adding of votes for Clinton, and removal of votes for Sanders — to match the election results. The original tally, before the “correction” to match the final election results, was more in line with polling predictions.
- Independent audits were often denied, or made very difficult, by state parties.
- A major report with Election Justice USA found that Clinton’s vote percentages were “artificially inflated,” and Sanders’ were “artificially depressed” — in areas with electronic machines. If the report is accurate (it is open source, and should be peer-reviewed with far more urgency if we consider ourselves a “democratic” nation), it would be proof of systemic election fraud. At the end of this chapter, I will summarize its methodology and findings.
Hillary Clinton consistently exceeding exit polls
There are a number of other sources that compiled and examined the exit polling discrepancies. One post on the “Sanders for President” subreddit, “Investigative Journalism: Why Bernie may have actually won New York,” sourced and discussed the exit polling discrepancies (among other issues) after the New York primaries.
Richard Charmin, an election fraud analyst, analyzed the entire primary election. In March 2016, he concluded that Clinton’s votes were “being padded in red states.” In April 2016, after the New York primary election, Charmin concluded that “the exit poll was forced to match the recorded vote with impossible adjustments,” and that, at best, Clinton should have won by a much smaller margin, and at worst, the votes were manipulated and suppressed so much that Sanders actually won New York. The data and methodology is extensive; I will not examine them here (see the links). (Charmin eventually concluded that Sanders actually won the entire election if the votes were not manipulated.)
Journalist Doug Johnson Hatlem explains the NY primary problem in an article, “New York Primary: Why is Exit Poll Data Adjusted to Match Final Voting Results?”
Two graduate students at Stanford university also conducted a study that determined a high likelihood of election fraud, especially in “states with voting machine vulnerabilities,” and that the odds of the exit polling discrepancies were so low as to be statistically impossible.
This would match the analysis in Hatlem’s article, “Clinton Does Best Where Voting Machines Flunk Hacking Tests: Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders Election Fraud Allegations.”
We are not simply to “trust” Charmin, Hatlem, and others, on their analysis and conclusions. The question is why these reports are (1) being so easily dismissed and (2) have not been urgently peer-reviewed by as many experts as possible. One prudent independent researcher, alone, could probably go a long way in verifying these studies. A dedicated team could do much more.
What can be verified relatively easily is the exit poll data — and how it deviates so much from the final vote counts. The main question becomes: why? Are there explanations for this occurance that do not amount to election fraud?
There are a number of given reasons, from the defense, on why Hillary Clinton’s final vote count so often exceeded exit polls (or the exit poll results were adjusted dramatically as the night went on) — and why exit polls “don’t really matter much,” aren’t always accurate, or aren’t even useful in predicting final results. In this article, Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders: In-depth Report on Exit Polling and Election Fraud Allegations, again by Doug Hatlem, eight distinct arguments in defense of exit polling discrepancies are addressed:
After addressing each of these arguments, one by one, Hatlem concludes:
At the end of this section, the Election Justice USA report will also deny alternate explanations, and conclude that election fraud is the likeliest possibility.
2. Cancelling exit polls
Why would exit polls be cancelled? And again, why did the polls show such a mismatch in California? Polls leading up to the election showed Sanders and Clinton in a tight race, some putting them at a tie, and Clinton at only +2% in the Real Clear Politics polling average.
Contrast this with the final results:
As you can see, Clinton greatly outperformed the pre-election polls. And again, many excuses can be made. An independent exit poll, though, showed Sanders winning the counties that were polled.
And why did another independent exit poll in Arizona — where Edison Research did not perform their usual exit polling — find a 33 percentage swing in Clinton’s favor?
The “early voting” rationale was addressed previously by Doug Hatlem. In one of his eight points (#4), he simply explains that exit polls are already weighted to account for early voters. Richard Charmin shows data that Sanders was ahead in early voters, and claims that the overall vote was flipped by 15% in California. In his analysis is a reference to an Election Justice USA exit poll which finds a 23% discrepancy in Los Angeles. Election Justice USA claims 16% overall discrepancy in the Democratic race, with less than 1% discrepancy in the Republican race, with both done by the same polling company.
3. Voting Machines favor Clinton
For anyone serious about this issue, it is again worth reading Doug Hatlem’s article, Clinton Does Best Where Voting Machines Flunk Hacking Tests: Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders Election Fraud Allegations. Just one excerpt here:
4. Independent audit at the Chicago Board of Elections asserts manipulated vote count
It is worth examining the allegations that, during an audit, votes were removed from Sanders and added to Clinton to match the recorded vote count. In other words, in the audit, the data (ballots) were changed to match the conclusion (results), rather than the other way around.
The claim is also that if Sanders won Chicago, like the recount suggested, then he would have won the state of Illinois. Clinton ultimately won Illinois by a few percent, again, exceeding polling expectations.
It also seems that (1) it was very difficult to initiate the audit — with forced delays and unnecessary obstacles in the process — and (2) the election results were already made final by the Board of Elections before the audit, and would have stayed that way no matter what was discovered during the audit. That’s like saying, “okay, we’ll finally let you recount the votes, but just for fun.”
5. Lack of election transparency and difficulty of proceeding with vote audits
Reports from a multitude of states — especially, it seems, California, Arizona, New York, Nevada, Iowa, Illinois, and Florida — showed that it is not only difficult to vote in many cases, it is even more difficult for the public to verify the results, demand audits, and proceed with recounts.
Election integrity is important. Having a transparent voting process is essential for basic democracy. It should be neither difficult to vote, nor difficult to validate the results. Experts should explore, rather than ignore, evidence of irregularities.
I will now turn to a final report of election fraud, which may be the greatest evidence of fraud in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries.
6. Independent investigation and analysis with Election Justice USA
Election Justice USA corroborated with statistical experts to release a report that showed in-depth analysis of voter patterns in various states and precincts. Their methodology utilized the same statistical principle that makes polling accurate: as sample size increases, the results should become more accurate, not less accurate.
What the researchers ultimately found is that in many districts, especially larger ones compared to smaller ones, and especially ones with “machine” ballots rather than hand-counted ballots, increasing sample size did not “level off” the voting totals. Instead, the vote counts frequently began to trend more toward one candidate, Hillary Clinton. The data often showed an “algorithmic” rather than “organic” trend, raising suspicion of votes being manipulated by “code” rather than other factors.
The report attempts to debunk the notion that these trends were due to “demographics” or other anomalies. By contrasting the trends between different primary elections, from different years, and both the Republican and Democratic parties — as well as looking at the differences between “paper” elections and “machine” elections — the trends suggest manipulation of votes in electronic voting districts.
The authors of the study ultimately concluded that the elections were manipulated so much on a systemic level that a true count of votes could have changed the election to a Sanders victory. In the end, they were not asking “whether” fraud took place, but exactly how much fraud took place, and whether the manipulated votes were enough to sway the election.
The authors of this report were also careful not to implicate any particular party or individual in the fraud. Even if the fraud were true, it was not “Hillary Clinton,” per se, who orchestrated (or even approved of) the process.
Yet, still, it should not be ruled out that Hillary Clinton could have been involved in some way. We don’t know — and it’s difficult to know when the problem is so ignored rather than critically analyzed. Neither the DNC, nor the U.S. government, nor many expert analysts seem concerned at all. Few have taken action to corroborate this report, or re-examine the election as a whole. The results are simply assumed correct… as if it couldn’t happen otherwise.
This was a quick summary of the report. The entire report is worth a full and careful read. More peer review should be done. If you are not going to read the report, some of the illustrative graphs are here. (There is a more thorough explanation of the graphs in the full report.) There is also a video interview here with the lead author of the report.
The United States should abandon electronic voting in favor of paper ballots, like the vast majority of Europe has done. Every point of the registration and counting process should be transparent and open to scrutiny, by both the public and the media. Voters should be able to determine quickly and easily if their vote was counted, and for whom it was counted. Registration should be automatic, or at least same-day. Primaries should be open, or at least semi-open. Polling stations should be plentiful, not sparse, and certainly not closed leading up to an election with high expected turnout. Exit polls must be conducted across the board, by reputable polling companies, and the data made public and easily verifiable.
There is no excuse for our current shoddy and shady election process, other than to suppress democracy. If you are worried about foreign interference in elections, it would be best instead to start worrying about interference from within our own borders. The United States is the most powerful nation in the world, and that power is concentrated into few hands — especially for a “democracy.” The people in power typically would like to stay in power, and they are supported by many others who benefit from these power structures that are kept in place.
Many of these powerful people have long since abandoned the sort of ethical or reasonable standards that the rest of us hold. These powerful folk have lots of resources and connections. We should not think it impossible for some person or group out there who would like to attempt, and could succeed at, manipulating an election process — which already lacks integrity at its core. And if the voter machines have not already been manipulated to compromise our elections, then someone, at some time, will find a way.
And this is why it’s not “Russia’s” fault. If the United States were so concerned with election integrity, we could easily secure our voting system by switching to paper ballots. We’d also mandate neutral observers, easy audits, open primaries, automatic registration, enough polling stations, and “election day” as a holiday.
If we were so serious about democracy, we’d first look to reign in our own media establishment. We’d break up the corporate media monopoly, and declare all utilities, including the internet, a public good. We’d enact public financing of elections, overturn “Citizen’s United,” and ban gerrymandering and corporate lobbying. We would support unions and worker’s rights, rather than virtually outlaw them, and we might even start to think about democracy in the workplace.
But for some reason, we haven’t done these things. Is it easier to blame a different country than our own?