Many of us came to activism on the issue of computerized voting after reading the powerful analysis, by some of our most dedicated election integrity activists, of the flawed 2004 vote count. That analysis demonstrated the correctness of the original 2004 Mitofsky/Edison Exit Poll that predicted a win by John Kerry by 3%. It undermined the vote “count” that gave George Bush a victory by 2.5%.
We have made progress however. There have been courageous actions by elected officials in states such as California, Florida, Ohio, and Colorado. New Jersey and Minnesota are leading in establishing audit protocols. New Yorkers have faced off with the Justice Department over implementing HAVA. Many more states will have paper records and paper ballots this year. Some leading activists have had the opportunity to move inside to make reform a reality. In this long process, activists and officials have often placed their careers, livelihoods, reputations, and relationships on the line in calling attention to election problems and in demanding reform.
We now have a controversial New Hampshire primary election outcome that contradicts every major polling prediction. It is very important that we pause and get our framing right as we address concerns over last night’s outcome. We have an opportunity to establish the principle that contradictions between scientific polling data and controversial computerized election system outcomes always require investigation. This event comes just two days after the New York Times Magazine raised the alarm by warning readers that their votes could disappear.
Are the stars aligning in our favor? Consider who was affected directly and uncomfortably by last night’s events: pollsters, pundits, media outlets, and campaigns. These are the people we need on our side this year and these are the people who are looking for an explanation for what happened last night. We must avoid wild speculation and accusations, the theories that hinder us in achieving our goal, a review of the process of counting votes.