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Message Richard Hayes Phillips

Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D.
December 6, 2006

In the 2006 general election, according to the official website of Ohio
Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, there were 4,177,498 ballots cast in
State of Ohio. Of these, only 3,831,716, or 91.72%, contained votes for
Governor, and only 3,826,829, or 91.61%, contained votes for United States
Senate. These numbers create the appearance of undervote (or overvote) rates
8.28% and 8.39%, respectively, in the two most hotly contested statewide races
on the ballot. When the unofficial election results are examined county by
county, there is a strikingly abnormal distribution of undervotes and
overvotes. I have chosen the United States Senate race to examine in detail
because there were only two candidates on the ballot (and one write-in
which makes the mathematical analysis simpler than for the Governor's race,
in which there were four candidates on the ballot (and two write-in
candidates). A similar analysis could be done, and should be done, for the
race, and for all races in which the unofficial results were very close.

The methodology was simple. The percentage of undervotes and overvotes for
each county was derived by fifth grade mathematics. The total number of
votes counted for the candidates combined was subtracted from the number of
ballots cast. The remainder is the number of uncounted ballots, or undervotes
plus overvotes. This number was divided by the number of ballots cast to
determine the percentage of ballots left uncounted in each county.

There are 88 counties in Ohio. Of these 88 counties, according to
unofficial results posted by J. Kenneth Blackwell, 71 counties had rates of
and overvotes ranging from 0.88% (in Greene County) to 6.90% (in Holmes
County). In 62 of these 71 counties, the percentages were tightly clustered
between 2.00% and 4.50%. The rate in these 71 counties combined was 2.99%.

In 16 of the other 17 counties, including 4 of the 10 most populous counties
in the State of Ohio, the percentages of undervotes and overvotes were
clearly anomalous, ranging from 11.91% (in Montgomery County) to 26.48% (in
Cuyahoga County), with a combined rate of 19.46%, or six and one-half times the
rate in the rest of the state. Just four counties -- Cuyahoga, Lucas,
Montgomery and Stark -- accounted for 219,332 undervotes and overvotes, or
62.55% of
the statewide total of 350,669. Cuyahoga County alone accounted for 148,928
undervotes and overvotes, or 42.47% of the statewide total. It is difficult
to believe that more than one in four voters in Cuyahoga County could not
decide between Sherrod Brown and Mike DeWine.

In Marion County, Blackwell reported 19,853 total votes cast, and 21,128
votes counted for the United States Senate candidates -- an overcount of 1,275
votes. These are known as "phantom votes," because they are apparitions, with
no explicable origin. There can never be more votes counted for an office
than the number of persons voting in the election.


County Ballots Votes Undervotes/ Voting
Cast Counted Overvotes Technology

Cuyahoga 562,498 413,570 148,928 26.48% touch screen
Morrow 15,679 12,242 3,437 21.92% touch screen
Belmont 29,045 23,192 5,853 20.15% touch screen
Coshocton 16,138 13,107 3,031 18.78% touch screen
Licking 70,705 57,704 13,001 18.39% touch screen
Jackson 12,025 9,974 2,051 17.06% touch screen
Lucas 164,003 139,003 25,000 15.24% touch screen
Tuscarawas 36,124 30,750 5,374 14.88% touch screen
Stark 139,646 119,011 20,635 14.78% touch screen
Perry 12,775 10,894 1,881 14.72% touch screen
Carroll 12,664 10,898 1,766 13.95% touch screen
Highland 14,351 12,358 1,993 13.89% touch screen
Wood 50,666 44,190 6,476 12.78% touch screen
Adams 9,592 8,378 1,214 12.66% touch screen
Hancock 28,692 25,114 3,578 12.47% touch screen
Montgomery 207,952 183,183 24,769 11.91% touch screen
Marion 19,853 21,128 -1,275 -6.42% touch screen

Note that there is no county falling between Holmes County (6.90%) and
Montgomery County (11.91%). The counties listed above are clearly anomalous.
unofficial results cannot be right. And, of course, the unofficial results
in Marion County are impossible.

Note also that all 17 counties listed above utilized touch screen voting
machines, known in the trade as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE). 31 of 88
Ohio counties utilized optical scanners, and none of them had this problem.
Data on voting technology utilized in 2006 by each Ohio county is displayed on
map provided by www.yourvotecountsohio.org

A word of caution is in order. In the 2005 general election in Ohio,
several counties reported incorrect figures for total ballots cast. The false
numbers were derived by counting absentee ballots twice, as the Diebold
tabulators were programmed to do. However, there is no evidence that this is
cause of the abnormally high numbers of undervotes and overvotes reported in 16
counties in the 2006 general election. The combined totals of absentee and
provisional ballots are reported by Blackwell for each county, and in no case
are these numbers anywhere near what would be required to account for the

To the contrary, unofficial voter turnout in these 17 counties was 54.35%,
compared to 52.21% in the other 71 counties of Ohio. That is not much of a
difference. There were 1,402,408 ballots cast in these 17 counties. If the
rate of undervotes and undervotes had been about 3%, as was the case elsewhere
in the state, there would have been about 42,000. Instead there were 267,712
(or 268,987 if one takes into account the 1,275 phantom votes in Marion

This raises the disturbing possibility that some 227,000 votes were lost by
touch screen voting machines in Ohio. Surely this merits a full-scale
investigation. Whether or not this "affected the outcome," a phrase generally
intended to mean who won and who lost the election, is beside the point. If
227,000 votes were not counted, the outcome was affected.
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Richard Hayes Phillips has been an observer of election statistics for 46 years. He has a doctorate in geomorphology from the University of Oregon, also holds degrees in politics, geography and history, and is a former college professor. When not (more...)
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