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This article is about our right to know, not about Martha Coakley or Scott Brown. And lest you think something here favors a Democrat, just you wait, I'm still working on anomalies in the NY-23 election that are just plain hard to 'splain. As Richard Hayes Phillips says when people tell him to forget it, "I'm a historian, I've got all the time in the world." NY-23 still has history to be written. My public records are starting to arrive. But that's another story.

Back to Massachusetts, I think you have a right to know that Coakley won the hand counts there.

That's right.

According to preliminary media results by municipality, Democrat Martha Coakley won Massachusetts overall in its hand counted locations,* with 51.12% of the vote (32,247 hand counted votes) to Brown's 30,136, which garnered him 47.77% of hand counted votes. Margin: 3.35% lead for Coakley.

Massachusetts has 71 hand count locations, 91 ES&S locations, and 187 Diebold locations, with two I call the mystery municipalities (Northbridge and Milton) apparently using optical scanners, not sure what kind.


The greatest margin between the candidates was with ES&S machines -- 53.64% for Brown, 45.31% for Coakley, a margin for Brown of 8.33%. It looks like ES&S counted a total of 620,388 votes, with 332,812 going to Brown and 281,118 going to Coakley. Taken overall, the difference -- 8.33% Brown (ES&S) added to 3.35% Coakley (Hand Count) shows an 11.68% difference between the ES&S and the Hand Counts. Of course, as Mark Twain used to say, there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics. These statistics don't prove anything, and probably shouldn't be discussed without a grain of salt handy before examining more detailed demographics.

As a point of reference, however, in the Maine gay marriage issue recently there was no significant overall difference between machine count and hand count locations.

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Diebold's results are 51.42% for Brown, with 791,272 Republican votes counted by Diebold, vs. 47.61% for Coakley, with 732,633 Democratic votes counted by Diebold, for a spread of 3.81% favoring Brown.


It's always interesting to watch hand counts beat machine count results to the newspaper.

In the Massachusetts special senate election, results from six of 71 hand count locations were reported about 2 1/2 hours after the polls closed, with the remaining 65 hand count locations in right away. The slower hand count results represent 8.45% of all hand count locations.
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These latecoming hand-counted results favored Coakley very heavily (she got 55.68% of these, earning 4,610 votes to Brown's 42.9%, representing 3,552, a 12.78% margin) Whether the reports came to the media late or the media posted them late is unclear.


ES&S had 12 of its 91 locations reported at least 2 1/2 hours after polls closed, a total of 13.2% of all its locations (as compared with just 8.45% of slower reporting hand count locations). So ES&S certainly wasn't faster than hand counts, overall!

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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.

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"It's not the votes that count, it's the people th... by Tom Sanders on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 9:05:55 AM
At this point Bev, it really doesn't make any diff... by robertsgt40 on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 9:32:51 AM
That pattern is exactly what I would expect to see... by John Toradze on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 10:09:50 AM
OK, so the Hand counted areas voted the way they d... by sbaker on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 10:47:45 AM
"But it's most unfair to the citizens of Massachus... by Dennis Kaiser on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 11:23:37 AM
Do the Hand-count districts reflect the demographi... by Scott Baker on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 11:40:06 AM
is to create doubt and distrust of the elections t... by John Sanchez Jr. on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 12:34:26 PM
Instead of using Maine for comparison, you need to... by Natalie Oberman on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 1:04:36 PM
Thanks to Bev for her work on this and NY-23 where... by Gustav Wynn on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 1:41:39 PM
The only real protection we have on the Republican... by Richard Lee on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 9:18:53 PM
In the comments for this article on the author's s... by Natalie Oberman on Thursday, Jan 21, 2010 at 12:00:41 AM
With so many questionable electronic election resu... by Phillip Owens on Thursday, Jan 21, 2010 at 6:34:47 AM
Sounds like "hanging chads" to me. The technology ... by John Majors on Thursday, Jan 21, 2010 at 8:15:05 AM
(Tried to reply to Gustav, but there's no preview/... by Bia Winter on Thursday, Jan 21, 2010 at 9:43:28 AM