Monday, January 28, 2008

New Hampshire Recount

The day after the New Hampshire primary, one of my housemates in New London was getting angry. "I was here in New Hampshire, the elections were not stolen, these aren't the kind of people who would do that." Is what he said over and over to a variety of people and posted over and over in a variety of forums.

During the counting of the votes in his precinct, however, he was not at the polling place. Instead, he was rightly showing disappointment with a campaign that had kept him meaninglessly sitting around all day. Furthermore, only absentee ballots were counted by hand.

I agree with his premise. At no time did I get the feeling that anyone running that precinct location would seek to lead the others in altering the vote count.

However, just because a person is in the room, does not mean that a person is looking at the right things to catch fraud, asking the right questions, or even on the right side of the room. While observing elections in Russia, I recall that my official election complaints - a total of eleven - were eleven more than the complaints of anyone else my polling location. The room was full of observers, Russian election law was clearly being violated, but everyone stood, watched and didn't complain. Some guy even kept trying to chat with me throughout the process. I didn't travel all that way to chat with that guy, I went there to verify an election.

In New Hampshire, any number of shenanigans could have occurred in the polling place. I doubt that they did occur though, because the folks there seemed like real decent people. What has occurred though is that the system of balloting has been taken out of the hands of the regular folks there (and throughout the US). We don't count our ballots together anymore. In Nevada, ballots were counted together, as a group, by hand. In New Hampshire, in the precinct that I was in, there were Optical Scan machines with a paper trail (namely the ballot). I used to be comfortable with the optical scan as long as there is a paper trail, but New Hampshire has shed light on why we ought not be. There are many examples of that.

Dan, thank you for sending this interesting chain-of-custody video from New Hampshire.

- Allan
(Blue Island, IL)

PS If these of custody videos do not work, click the one in the post above. It seems to be working well.

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