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This Election is Not Over -- With Exciting New Math Calculations!


This Election is Not Over -- With Exciting New Math Calculations!

by Jonathan S. Shurberg

Since 11/2, there have been various stages of dealing with what happened.  Anger, denial, claims of fraud, etc., etc.  Blaming Kerry for "quitting."  More recently, talk has shifted to procedural issues like how to fix the voting system (didn't we DO this four years ago?  Apparently not.)

What has become clear to me, reading between the lines and ignoring a lot of sh*t (sorry) is that THIS ELECTION IS NOT OVER.  Floating around in various threads is the notion that several states are still counting votes ( Ohio and New Mexico principally, but also Iowa and Nevada ).


I made a comment here this morning about the 155,000 provisional ballots in Ohio , and the critical importance of the requested recount, so as to get to the 93,000 undervotes.

Folks, it's not over.  I don't think the Kerry folks think it's over either.  If I'm right, and if it comes out the way I think it might, it will be the greatest stealth campaign in the history of the world, quite frankly.

Let's pull it together.  Right now, it's 286-252 in favor of Bush.   Ohio has not even begun to count the provisional ballots.  There are 155,000 or so.   Ohio has a history of provisional ballots, based on state law.  In 2000, 90% of the ballots counted, and of those I understand that 90% were for Gore.  Applying that standard to the 155,000 would give Kerry 125,550 additional votes, and Bush 13,950.  That would narrow the margin from 132,000 (the 136,000 figure includes the now-infamous Gahanna 4,000 vote error in Franklin County ) down to about 24,600.  Originally, this was why Kerry conceded; he just couldn't get it done on the provisional ballots alone.

Ahh, but now there's a new development.  A recount (or an "audit," as one diary called it).  Fine.  Whatever, call it what you want.  But Kerry couldn't ask for it, because he'd be called a sore loser, Al Gore with a Brahmin accent.  The lawyers are there, they're sniffing around, they're ready to deal with the shenanigans.  But (here's the great part) it's not Kerry's recount.  The media is treating the Cobb/Badnarik recount request as a joke, but it's not.  If the recount is held, the first thing elections officials have to do is dust off the 93,000 undervotes on punch cards (dear God, not again).  And yes, Ohio has a uniform state standard:  0 or 1 corners attached, vote counts.  2 or 3, no dice.  So the recount won't be shut down -- and Blackwell can't change the rules.  God, I love Bush v. Gore (never thought I'd write those words).

Again, look at the history.  Traditionally, 90% count, and the split is about 4-1 for Democrats -- undervotes are almost exclusively from poor and/or minority areas.  Take 93,000, 90% is 83,700.  80% of that is 66,960 for Kerry, with 16,740 for Bush.  That 24,600 vote Bush lead after the provisionals now goes to  . . . . fanfare, please . . . . ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 44th President of the United States , John Kerry, by a 25,660 vote margin in Ohio .

Now the margins could change, most likely on the undervotes.  Let's say Kerry only gets 70%, rather than 80, of the undervotes.  He still wins, this time by about 9,000 votes.

Obviously, it would help if we could turn around New Mexico , Iowa and/or Nevada as well, to create a cushion for legal challenges and to create more legitimacy to this process.


Since 11/2, Blackwell has been trying to make rule changes, like the one where he tried to say that if you left your birthday off the provisional ballot, it didn't count.  Sorry, Ken, there's a prior rule about that, and it says that the absence of the birthday is not enough to disqualify a provisional ballot.  Privately, I suspect they are absolutely freaking out, because Bush v. Gore limits their ability to pull post-election shenanigans like changing the rules.

I think that one of the reasons that Bush has been accepting a lot of Cabinet resignations now, rather than in January, is to create an inevitability in the minds of the public and the media that this is a done deal.  No one in the media is dealing with the analysis I set forth herein, which is not my own analysis, but simply a mathematical exercise gleaned from what little public information is out there.  The media went home on 11/3, and other than a few smirking
"conspiracy" stories since, has not really addressed the final counting of votes in Ohio or elsewhere.  Bush's lead in New Mexico has been cut from 14,000 to less than 6,000, and they're still counting.

Repeat after me:  it ain't over til they count the votes.  Which means it ain't over.  Will Kerry win?  No idea.  Can he win?  Yes.

Update: A couple of good questions have been raised. I will try to answer. My understanding is that the 93,000 figure is undervotes, not spoiled ballots, which includes overvotes. If someone has information to the contrary, please let me know. I also understand that Ohio law is very unfavorable to overvotes.

Second, my math doesn't include the usual "errors" and "mistakes" that get made, almost invariably in favor of the Republican. Who'da thunk it? Or "machine errors" in Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties (I believe there are potentially a lot of votes in Franklin, because the turnout numbers seem very off in several precincts in Columbus, including where I worked on Election Day, and I've heard similar questions raised in Cleveland as well). So I don't think that my analysis is anything approaching a best case scenario, but a reasonable middle ground.

Bottom line: is this a 100-1 shot? NO WAY . Is it a slam dunk for our guy? Similarly, absolutely not. If I had to lay odds right now, I'd say it's 50-50. If that sounds chickenshit, sorry; but I bet it's better odds than you thought when you woke up today. ;-)

Update: OK, based on some comments (not the love notes, but some other ones), another math exercise is in order.

I assumed 90% of the provisionals and 90% of the undervotes would count. A number of posts (not the trolls, just the pessimists -- nothing wrong with that, just not who I am) said I was too optimistic. OK, fair enough -- let's try a different math problem.

Let's say only 70% of the provisionals count -- a bit higher than the 2/3 being reported in Cleveland -- but let's go with it. 70% of 155,000 is 108,500. Let's assume 90% are for Kerry (there's no reason to question that right now -- they are what they are, after all). That would mean 97,650 votes for Kerry and 10,850 votes for Bush, a lead for Kerry of 86,800. Subtracting that from Bush's current lead of 132,000 yields a Bush lead of 45,200.

Now we move on to the undervotes. If 90% is too high for the number to be counted (unlike provos , there is a standard and a history to go with it), let's use 80% instead, to be conservative (no pun intended). 80% of 93,000 is 74,400. Use the same percentage (80%) for Kerry (again, no reason to change here -- the ballots are what they are). 59,520 votes for Kerry, 14,880 for Bush, a net of 44,640. So now the lead for Bush is 560 votes -- gee, isn't that really close to 537? And remember, we haven't even touched the other aspects of a recount (some overvotes may count, not as many as we'd like, and who knows what may be under those voting machine rocks when they get turned over in the recount). WE ARE STILL IN THE GAME.

If you think I'm wrong, please tell me. Don't shout at me, don't insult me; tell me, show me. I'm an optimist, I can't help it, it's who I am. You pessimists out there, poke holes in my balloon. A few have tried, and I've tried to respond. It's your move. Have at it. I'm ready for ya.

Update : Last update. In comments, ineedalife, after calling me a "rube," then said my calculations were "naive." So just for him, here's a worst-case scenario.

Only 70% of the provisionals get counted. That's 108,500 votes. Kerry gets 85% rather than 90%. That's 92,225 for Kerry and 16,275 for Bush. Lead for Bush is now 56,050.

On the undervotes, only 70% get counted, and they break for Kerry 70-30 rather than 80-20. Of the 93,000 undervotes, that's 45,570 for Kerry and 19,530 for Bush, knocking the lead down by another 26,040 votes.

The lead is now 30,010 votes, with the recount still to go. Overvotes. Machine errors. Shenanigii (love that word). Absentees (at least some, from what I can tell). The margin will narrow further, maybe completely.

OK, so Bush wins by 5,000 votes. Or 10,000. Does that make you feel worse than you do now, or better? And remember, this is clearly the WORST CASE; it could easily get a lot better. Take that mandate and shove up Dick Cheney's ass. f*ck mandate, it's more like 2000 Redux. I feel better. Don't you?

Jonathan S. Shurberg is a self-employed trial attorney residing with his wife and two children in Silver Spring, MD. He has been licensed as an attorney since 1991, and has operated his own law practice in Silver Spring since 1996, concentrating in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury. Active in Democratic politics since 1982, he has been a strong supporter of progressive and Democratic causes, most recently serving as a volunteer attorney for the Kerry-Edwards Election Protection program in Columbus, Ohio on Election Day 2004.

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