Posted by: shannynmoore | November 10, 2008

Alaska Election: The Envelopes Please

It doesn’t bother me to have fundamental differences with people. If it did, I’d never get out of bed. The person I most respected growing up, my Pop, was and is a conservative ideologue. I’m crazy about him. Disagreeing with facts is fair and healthy. Arguing from a place lacking intellectual curiosity is quite another as nothing is learned nor gained.

Since my first post questioning the voter turnout and other anomalies in Alaska’s election, I’ve been accused of all sorts of things. I have been misquoted in the Anchorage Daily News. They claimed I wrote the election was “stolen.” I wrote “Stolen Election in Alaska?” It wasn’t the word, it was the punctuation.

But there is good reason to be concerned. A lawsuit filed in 2006 in State Superior Court to release the Diebold GEMS Software from 2004 revealed the database had been tampered with. Unfortunately, the user log-in and password were set to the default settings so it was impossible to tell who had edited the software numerous times post election, since all entries were made by “administrator” with password: “password”. So it’s not too outrageous for anybody to believe it’s important, this time, to pay very close attention to the results of last Tuesday’s election…diebold1

Since Election Day, the votes have been rolling in to the Division of Elections. They are now reporting 90,635 ballots remaining to be counted; nearly 29 percent(28.8%) of the total vote has not been counted yet.

Though closer to the total votes cast in 2004, the turnout percentage is still down from that election in which neither our own Governor nor Barack Obama were running. The total ballot count is at 314,268, with turnout at 63.3% (registered voters = 495,731). Turnout in the 2004 General was 66.6%, with 314,502 voting and 472,160 registered voters statewide. If 100% of the
requested mail-out ballots are returned in time to be counted, we can expect about 3600 more.

I’m proud of the Alaskan mail in voters. They really have shown up this year. All the evelope licking and stamping, well, it’s impressive. So far, 92% of those who requested absentee ballots have returned them! Fantastic! You betcha. I wonder what GOTV worked so well since the 2004 was dismal. A total of 58,559 absentee ballots were mailed to voters and 32,075 were returned by the Election Day deadline in 2004. That was a pitiful 54%. I’m hard pressed to figure out why there is a 38 point difference in voter participation in the absentee ballots while the poll voter turnout was down.

Monday’s newly posted ballots [PDF] include about 4,000 additional “Questioned” [elsewhere known as "provisional"] ballots and about 5,600 additional Absentee ballots. Wednesday, the Division of Elections (DOE) plans to count the majority of early vote and absentee ballots that were verified by Election Day. The DOE plans to count the remaining ballots on Friday. However, there could be enough ballots left after Wednesday’s count for any of the races to still go either way. A public records request
has been submitted to the Division of Elections, as per many of the recommendations laid out by Brad Friedman, for a number of important pieces of information that are required so that citizens of all parties may try to ensure an accurate reconciliation of all votes cast.

All camps; Ted Stevens and Mark Begich in the Senate race, and Don Young and Ethan Berkowitz in one of the House races with the strangest results, are still at work. Crunching numbers and refreshing the Alaska Elections website as often as possible. It feels like 2000 Bush-Gore around here.

On the state-side races, leadership positions are being divvied up and plans going forward for the session in January. But polling showed huge differences in at least 5 of the state House races, and with 29% of the votes still UNCOUNTED, it seems prudent to give it some time.

Between the hanging chads in Florida, long lines and lost voters in Ohio, the tampered software in Alaska, and the increasingly long list of all-too-regular election “irregularities,” it’s time for a change. It’s time for a new cabinet level position. Why shouldn’t we consider a Secretary of Election Integrity? We must find a way to insure the basic right of Americans to vote, to have that vote counted and to have it counted accurately and transparently, so that everyone – all political parties and citizens alike — can know that it actually meant something.

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Responses

  1. I hope they “found” my ballot that was dropped into the box instead of going through the optical scanner on election morning.

  2. Hey Shanny,

    Great post!

    But some of your links aren’t working.

    Thought you should know.

  3. What would the argument look like if this were the other way around? If Begich were the one found guilty on 7 counts? If it were a democrat? It is interesting that the same party of a-holes that came out both barrels against ACORN scoffs at anyone looking under the mattresses for vote/ballot corrutpion on the other side of the “house”. It’s the same old and SO played tune of the republican party. They don’t care enough to stop pointing their crooked fingers and notice that their own house is on fire. Distraction politics. SO played….

  4. Shannyn,

    There is zero proof anything is awry with the election; and it saddens me that you continue down this path without any evidence.

    As Bev Harris –who’s a bit crazy but right most of the time– points out, it’s the exit polls you’re supposed to look at for signs of fraud, not the ones partisan pollsters gin up beforehand. It is the exit polls that are looked at by international election monitors for signs of fraud.

    All the exit polls I read about pointed toward results close to the ones we now see.

    I truly hope that this hue and cry of ‘stolen election’ is not being raised by the Berkowitz crew and his surrogates to somehow make up for their deeply flawed candidate and his ineffective campaign.

    Mark may just pull this one off, but Ethan’s finished. We now need to find a non-worthless Alaskan to run against Don in 2010: any suggestions?

  5. Bill Scannell I am disappointed in your lack of curiosity here. Shannyn never said the election was stolen. She questioned it? What’s wrong given Diebolds sorry history here with questioning the results? Or making sure every vote is counted? These rotten sonsofbitches manipulated the software dozens of times post election in 2004. No one did jail time because they used the default settings. I would want to audit the election just for the screwy results of the last election.

    At the very least, Don Young should be credited for besting Hillary Clinton’s “most stunning upset in political history” in the NH Primary over Obama. She beat Obama by 12 points there; Young flipped the election by 16 points. Let’s give him credit??? No??? Pre polls are not have by that kind of percent. You’re full of shit on this one Bill. Oh wait, I have an idea, let’s count all the fucking votes! Let’s audit the sonsofbitches and make sure EVERYONE’S VOTE COUNTED!!!!!

  6. Here’s what I know about the 2004 election: some chick from the Democratic Party came to our house..going door to door and gave us the opportunity to do abstentee ballots..this was like 4 weeks before the elction. We dutifully filled in our ballots, sign sealed and gave them to the Democrat Party chick. Well, lo and behold in March, we get a letter stating our votes were not counted. What recourse did we have? None. So why the pathetic return on absentee? Maybe the chuckleheads at the Dem office who dropped the ball?

  7. The point is… we shouldn’t be scanning ballots or using machines at all. Really. Canada seems to pull it off without this ridiculous drama.

    By introducing machines to take out one source of error and bias, we just introduced another source of error and bias.

    This election.. how about we pick some districts at random and go ahead and hand-count all the paper ballots to audit the machine totals? An enlightened Lieutenant Governor could use his influence to make this happen and, you’d think, be able to finally either confirm or put to rest a lot of fears regarding our votes.

  8. “Sean”,

    Not to confuse you with facts or anything, but I thought you’d like to know what an exit poll was. An exit poll is when pollsters stand outside the polls on Election Day and ask people –after those people have voted– for whom they just voted.

    If those exit polls don’t track closely (within a percentage point or so) with the declared result of the election, then you’ve got a potential problem with election fraud.

    It is this standard that is used to monitor elections all over the world, making sure they are fair, as in “free and fair”.

    Now (again with the facts) all the exit polling I’ve read about said that Mark’s race was crazy close and that Ethan was getting smoked. Which is the current state of affairs. Which is why we’re waiting for the remaining ballots to be counted before we take down our Begich lawn signs.

    Which is why screaming ‘fraud’ isn’t particularly helpful.

    A final thought: it is better to have the method by which one votes decided at the lowest possible political level. That way it makes it easy for people to know whom to blame if things get weird. It also makes it more difficult to steal an election on a grand scale if different methods are used in different places.

    “Mike”, you make some good points. HAVA (Help America Vote Act) is the root cause of many problems…you might find reading up on it interesting.

    -Bill

  9. No one is screaming anything except COUNT THE FUCKING VOTES! Audit the DOE based upon our past history which you obviously are oblivious to.

    What is your investment in NOT demanding a full accounting of the vote?

    If NOTHING were fishy about the results…I would want a full accounting of EVERY BALLOT: Cast ballots, spoiled ballots and uncast ballots.

    Why aren’t you praising Don Young for the most stunning political comeback IN HISTORY???

  10. To correct my previous comment..it was the 2006 election..not the presidential but govenor’s race. I started thinking about it and thought…”wait, that was 2 years ago…”

  11. “Sean”,

    You’re a retard. Please ask your SpEd helper to make pictographs explaining what I have written. In particular, have her illustrate “STOLEN ELECTION IN ALASKA?”.

    When you scream “FIRE?” in a movie theatre, people tend to miss the punctuation in ones voice and react as if there’s, you know, A FIRE in the theatre, so you don’t scream it unless you’re pretty damn sure you know what the hell you are talking about.

    Don Young’s apparent reelection says as much about the unwillingness of Alaskans to elect an effete San Franciscan who has never had a real job as it does about the political skills and longevity of Dirty Don.

    The reason why the good guys lost the congressional race to a shady character no one likes is that we ran a crap Outside candidate everyone hates against him.

    The reason why the good guys may pull off the Senate race is that we had a good Alaskan candidate everyone likes on the ballot.

    Had Sarah’s wingnut drones stayed home or more Ds gone and voted, then Mark would be the next Senator from Alaska. Both would have had to occur for Ethan to have had a shot at barely squeaking by.

    -Bill

  12. Bill-
    Luckily nobody screamed anything, instead they typed it up and posted it online where that question mark is pretty easy to notice.

    But the level of debate you’re adding here is a really nice change of pace, just like it was when you were smearing Ethan for Jake. I’m no fan of Ethan, but c’mon man you can do better than calling him an “effete San Franciscan.” Have you really not gotten over the fact that you chose to back a loser? If you were from here you would have known Jake didn’t have a chance, and that your slimy little tricks would backfire. Get over it. I’ll join you in being somewhat glad Ethan isn’t going to be representing me in DC, but he sure as hell would have been better than Don.

    But what is going on has nothing to do with the personalities involved. There are some interesting anomalies in this election, and if nobody asks the questions nobody is going to be forced to answer them.

  13. I think there are ways to disagree without insults and swearing?

  14. I’m a Texan who is checking in frequently. Thank you for your diligence on the Alaska vote count. I’m hoping any reforms you can make may trickle up to the rest of us states. Keep updating, please!

  15. “Dave”,

    I would have been happy to have anyone with a ‘D’ after their name representing me in the House of Representatives so no, I am not happy Ethan lost.

    Please, let’s find someone good for 2010.

  16. Shannyn, thanks for this and all posts related.

    I agree with Lynn maybe you boys could stick to the facts.

    Bill about those exit polls you seem to have so much faith in; do you recall how they did not match with the actual voting count in Ohio in2004.

  17. Bill-
    Thank you oh so much for explaining exit polls. 1st, you don’t need to be a dick. Your critique and the ADN’s of Shannyn’s post was inaccurate. You were called out on this thread and now retreat to an ad hominem argument. Also, your condenscention reeks something fishy as in one who is a DOE gatekeeper. AK has had issues with elections in the past. Exit polls has always been spotty-despite your glowing explination of them. When both Dittman and I.Moore are bewildered by the results…something’s iffy dude. Parnell and the DOE should have their asses held over the fire until this is sorted out. Quit being an apologist for a potentially corrupt DOE and help people like Shannyn kick and scream to get the truth.

  18. I am sure that a majority of Alaskans do not want a seven-times felon to represent their interests in Washington.

    It seems obvious that someone (I don’t know who) in Alaska is trying to get all of your votes legitimately counted, despite Stevens and his buddies at Diebold.

    Whomever it was that “found” those additional votes should be hailed as a HERO in Alaska. There is hope for Alaska after all.

  19. Sorry for swearing earlier everyone. Bill, let’s just hold hands and sing Kumbaya! Move along…nothing to see.

    Let’s just NOT have any intellectual curiosity about anything. Certainly, let’s NOT insure ALL the votes are counted. Why bother. Math is HARD. Democracy is HARD…Elections are NEVER stolen are they? That’s the stuff of tinfoil hats!

    Bush won fair and square in 2000 and again in 2004! And just because the Diebold Software was edited and manipulated by the Alaska DOE numerous times post 2004 election, and only released to the Alaska Democratic Party after a State Superior Court order, and just because the Alaska election in 2004 saw dozens of precincts with 100%+ turnout, some precincts as high as 234% turnout, well…move along…sleep well. Democracy in Alaska is just fine and our electorate just loves to vote and vote and vote…

  20. Let’s go to a vote-by-mail system like Oregon has. They have a great turnout and no complaints of voter fraud. See this article:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40032-2004Dec31.html

    Considering the convenience for voters and Alaska weather, it would be a great system for us. I would like to see a petition in Alaska to go to this innovative form of voting.

    We need to check our vote counting machines. It has been proven that at the very least, electronic voting machines CAN be easily compromised and some brands seem to be more vulnerable than others.

  21. I worked on the UAA team that reviewed the security of Alaska’s electronic voting machines this year. Regarding the “admin/password” database access problem with GEMS you described in 2004, we did make the recommendation that the Division use unique usernames/passwords for all users logging in to both the system and the database. The full report is at http://www.elections.alaska.gov/election_security.php

  22. You guys need to get off the ‘intellectual curiosity’ thing.

    There’s a difference between ‘count all the votes and audit the results,’ and the enormous amount of unfounded speculation I’m reading here and elsewhere.

    Provocative statements, such as “There’s no doubt in my mind that this election was “fixed” here,” “It is a gross failure of our election system in which they are still being used with such a questionable record.”, “She seems quite capable of setting things up so that Stevens wins, Democrats lose, and most of all, Palin herself (always number one in her narcissitic and conscience-free world) is positioned to make a move for Stevens’ seat. God help Alaska”, “I don’t doubt at all that the GOP would try to pull something fishy up here, and I want this potential problem to get the exposure it deserves,” and on, and on, and on are not ‘intellectual curiosity.’

    Intellectual curiosity is not deciding what happened based on suspicions, and on scant evidence. Intellectual curiosity is not throwing around accusations before we even have results from the election.

    It’s about forming some hypotheses, making a plan to test them, and following through by examining the evidence.

    Freely accusing based on your own (currently) unfounded suspicions makes the rest of us lefties look pretty foolish.

  23. And don’t let this distract from also solving what is probably the most horrifying problem, voter suppression.

  24. I saw you on the Rachel Maddow Show and wanted to tell you I thought you did a good job!

    Cheers,

    Tom

  25. Do most of the election shenanigans appear to always favor the Republican Party? It seems that is the case. Couldn’t the incidence percentage of Republican vs Democrat election fraud be used much the same as the level of proof for worker discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Laws?

    Keep after it Shannyn and good luck.

  26. ALL the votes should be counted! End of story.

  27. http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/ten-reasons-why-you-should-ignore-exit.html

    I found this to be a very enlightening article. The guys at 538 seemed to be on the money with their poll analysis and predictions. Maybe the exit polls aren’t so reliable after all.

    Seems to me that shining more light on any aspect of government can’t hurt… unless you’re someone who is trying to hide something. I think you Alaskans are doing us lower 48ers a service tracking down fishy stuff and shining a light.

  28. Shannyn you are fantastic, and so is Rachel. Good job! This is such important information and it really needs to be investigated. All eyes are on Alaska, and we can not just accept the unacceptable! With all the votes yet to be counted, I am confident Stevens will be out, but not so sure about Young.

    Since Sarah is obviously already campaigning for 2012, we certainly do not want her representing us in the Senate and using that as a stepping stone! The only saving grace is one knows she will blow it with her self serving ways and ignorance. In the meantimeI am just so sad about the damage to our wildlife! Is there any way to get a petition for a re-vote on the aerial shooting? Keeping the natural balance is what is needed. Emphasis on NATURAL!

    Thanks for all of your hard work and inspiring the rest of us to be involved and stay involved!

  29. Hey Shannyn-
    Loved you on Maddow tonight! Great job, so glad you brought up the problems with the last election, too.

  30. GREAT job with Rachel tonight! Keep going after those bastards, girl!!!!

  31. YAY! I just watched you on Rachel! See! If there wasn’t anything to this, I doubt Rachel would have bothered. The stench is drifting down stream to those in the lower 48. If for no other reason than we REALLY don’t want to see a special election where Palin has a chance to be legitmized as a contender and sent to the senate. No offense, Alaska. I just want to see you put her feet to the fire on the per diem, who built her house, oh! And sort of be there when that pipe line either does or does not come through. There too. Anyway, Shannyn, you’re the coolest! Keep it up!

  32. So the question coming from a New Hampshire fan is: If Stevens wins and is removed from the Senate, why don’t you give Palin a run for her money and enter the race yourself?

  33. Thanks so much for keeping an eye on this. For some reason, the situation doesn’t seem strange enough to warrant much coverage, even on the Internet. I saw you on Rachel Maddow tonight and read your piece earlier on Bradblog?)

    It just seems so strange that after a massive turnout during the primaries a significant number of new registered voters, Gov. Palin on the ballot and Ted Steven’s recent conviction that turnout would be so low. It is also very strange that the race in Alaska is the only race in the US where the pollsters were so far off.

    Here are some questions:

    1. Who is overseeing the counting of the ballots in Alaska and is there is a non-partisan body overseeing the process?

    2. Is there any evidence of voter turnout in districts throughout Alaska. News reports of long lines, exit poll indicators, video outside polling locations?

    3. What is the chance of a re-vote. To my understanding, if no candidate surpasses 50%, a re-vote might be necessary.

    4. Do election officers need to publish details of those ballots that they deem to be problematic – apparently, there are a few thousand ballots from the batch recently ‘found’ that won’t be counted. Why?

    5. Why did all of the media show Alaska results with 99% reporting up to today when actually 1/3 of the votes hadn’t been counted yet?

    Sorry to bother you with so many questions, but you’re the only accessible source of information that I have found who thinks that this is as strange as I do.

    Thanks!

    Tom
    NOTE FROM SHANNYN*****************
    1. Sean Parnell, Lt. Governor, oversees the elections. He was Sarah’s running mate…kinda partisan.
    2. Some poll workers have reported light to normal loads, some have reported the lid was blown off the place…
    3. Re-vote highly unlikely. 50% isn’t required for these races.
    4.Officials have only reported they won’t count ballots with post marks after the 4th. People will be at the DOE to watch and contest ballots tomorrow.
    5. The 99% was from votes cast in precincts on Election Day.

    Hope that helps. Thanks.

  34. Thanks so much Shannyn.

    I’m looking forward to some new results on the race tomorrow night and later this week. I’ve bookmarked your blog as my source.

    I find it hard that a majority of Alaskans would want a convicted felon to represent them. Is that a maverick thing?

    Hopefully, with 90k votes yet to count, the final results will show that the majority actually don’t want a felon to represent them.

  35. Mike:
    Intellectual Curiosity is easy to understand! It isn’t as complicated as your rambling rhetoric. Intellectual curiosity is something YOU DO NOT POSSESS! I would have questioned this election just based upon the fact that the numbers were wacky in 2004.

  36. Shannyn, Enjoyed your interview on Rachel Maddow yesterday. Great Job. I’ve added you to my blogroll.

  37. Saw you on Rachel! What a talent! KUDO was the fool for letting you go. Would you even want that job back now? Cary is so boring and his points are so weak. We need your brainy investigative insights back on the airwaves. Can’t wait ’til TATI gives him the patty on the booty.

    Oh yeah, the elections, give ‘em hell girl!

  38. Yeah, I saw that perspective ADN put out there on your question (mark)…

    It was a sorry attempt at something the ADN could grasp.

    Keep up the good work gurl…

  39. The districts that will be counted today, where the voter history has been done and the cross-checking of names done, will not be representative of the final count. All the districts that will not be counted today supported Begich on Nov 4.

    The districts that will not be counted until later are:
    2) 54.2% Begich on Nov 4, 1919 absentee, 8 early votes
    5) 55.7% Begich, 1532 absentee, 43 early votes
    36) 53.2 % Begich, 1398 absentee
    6) 47.8% Begich, 46.3 Stevens, 1140 absentee, 119 early votes
    37) 50% Begich, 45.9 Stevens, 906 absentee
    38) 65.3% Begich, 443 absentee
    39) 58.3% Begich, 360 absentee
    40) 58.8% Begich, 518 absentee

  40. Doug: Where did you get this information re: which districts are being counted today vs. Friday (or later)?

  41. Shannyn, re: “So far, 92% of those who requested absentee ballots have returned them! Fantastic! You betcha. I wonder what GOTV worked so well since the 2004 was dismal. [...] That was a pitiful 54%. I’m hard pressed to figure out why there is a 38 point difference in voter participation in the absentee ballots while the poll voter turnout was down.”

    After all the 2000 & 2004 election scandal coverage, I think many people, nationwide, woke up to the problems with paperless voting — no audit trail, a much greater chance of your vote being improperly counted or outright deleted — and chose the absentee ballot as a more secure way to vote.

    It also beats the heck out of standing in line for hours, or worrying that something might happen on Election Day to keep you from voting at all.

  42. aren’t there laws that elections have to be secure?

    given that “the user log-in and password were set to the default settings so it was impossible to tell who had edited the software numerous times post election, since all entries were made by “administrator” with password: “password.” i would think it stands to reason that whoever approved use of the machines should be held criminally responsible for failure to ensure security of the results.


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