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DEMOCRACY: Government & Politics | November 14-16, 2004



An E-Mail to Democratic Activists &

A Posting in "Comments From Left Field"

Prompted by My Previous, Widely Circulated Statistical Analysis

I am sorry to report that I am not alone in my statistical conclusion: Professor Steven F. Freeman, a statistician at the University of Pennsylvania who got his PhD at MIT, has performed a very similar analysis of the unadulterated exit poll data vs. the officially reported votes (albeit more in depth than the analysis conducted by yours truly) and has come to a very similar conclusion: As Dr. Freeman puts it,

"As much as we can say in social science that something is impossible, it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts in the three critical battleground states [FL, OH, & PA] of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error."

Dr. Freeman calculates the odds of the discrepancies occurring as they did in just those three states (let alone the rest of the nation) at 250 million to one.

As Dr. Freeman notes, elections in Third World countries have been invalidated and governments overturned on the basis of such unbelievably large discrepancies between scientifically conducted exit polls and reported vote tallies.

What in the world is going on in America?

Please note that Dr. Freeman used the same data as I did: The raw "uncalibrated" data from Election Night, not the "corrected" data now posted, as on CNN.com, which as he states and as I previously indicated has been "conformed" to match the reported votes (evidently a routine post-election practice, which assumes that the reported results are more accurate than those obtained from the exit polls -- an assumption brought seriously into question by Dr. Freeman's analysis as well as my own).

Other information could conceivably explain matters (As Dr. Freeman notes, his paper is, of course, new and, thus, just starting to be peer-reviewed); however, any full explanation would also have to account for the data at hand, which shows -- as clearly as science and math can demonstrate anything -- that the differences between the exit poll results and the reported votes are highly statistically significant (I used the pollsters' typical 95% level of confidence for the nationwide data; Dr. Freeman has similar findings at even the 99% level of statistical confidence in FL, OH, and PA).

And the errors are consistently, extremely in favor of George W. Bush, not just in those three states but also, as Dr. Freeman reports, in all 10 of the 11 battleground states where the reported votes were significantly different from the exit polls. Having errors consistently in its own favor was how a major supermarket chain was convicted of price gouging not too long ago; the management claimed it was simply due to cash register computer errors (which, if completely random, would have occurred equally in favor of the customers as in favor of the stores).

Please remember, however, that I have NEVER stated that the grave inconsistencies between the national exit polls and the reported vote results were intentional -- a question more properly investigated by the authorities (such as the group forming in the House led by Rep. John Conyers) than by statisticians -- nevertheless, I have been given friendly warnings that I am venturing into the realm of "conspiracy theories".

While I do sincerely appreciate any advice given by friends, I must re-assert that like Dr. Freeman, I am just "doing the math". In fact, I started this extremely skeptical of the gossip going around the internet. I was actually quite shocked by what I found; but I am confident in my mathematical abilities, which have been borne out by Dr. Freeman's similar approach (including sex-weighted averages) and results (Those of you who have known me for the last 30 years or more know that I may be a bit "eccentric"; but when it comes to math or science, I know my stuff -- I'd better; I've tutored one or more of you at one time or another).

Our votes, of course, do not belong to Geo. W. Bush, John F. Kerry, CNN, or Diebold. They belong to each one of us. Our votes are ultimately our most precious possessions, the poor and the rich equal in the eyes of the law and the polling place. In a democracy, there is nothing more powerful than the right to vote; there is, thus, nothing more vital to safeguard.

At this very moment our brave young Marines and soldiers are spilling their blood and others' in the sands of Iraq in order to secure the right to vote (regardless of whether we, or they, happen to approve of the "grand scheme of things"). With that in mind, I didn't feel that staying up into the wee hours of Veterans Day night "doing the math" and then stating the truth -- knowing that I'd probably be called a nut or just be ignored -- was much of a sacrifice. Nor should any of you be inhibited from pursuing this, with an open mind.

As Dr. Freeman and, more humbly, I have demonstrated, extremely significant errors did occur in our Presidential Election. Whether these errors were caused by the exit polls and/or the vote count, whether they were intentional and/or unintentional, they must be investigated -- so that we may have genuine confidence in our government and so that good men and women down through history have not given their lives in vain.

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