Friday, November 07, 2008

Franklin Co., where vote totals are more like guidelines or suggestions...

In 2004, I got the blogging bug. I posted a diary on DailyKos that showed one Gahanna precinct with more than 4000 votes for W, several times the number of registered voters. This got picked up and started a buzz that ultimately helped fuel the stolen elections meme (I'm sorry about that, but it most certainly would have happened without me).

(I pored over numbers from several BOE's, and I'm pretty sure that Bush's margin was in 2004 was far less than the 118,000 that went on the books officially. I'm also pretty certain that Bush's margin was closer to 118,000 than to 0, and that Bush carried Ohio more substantially than Kerry carried Wisconsin, for example.)

I bring up ancient history, because Franklin County is home to one of the closest congressional races in the country (Kilroy/Stivers), and has a state house race (Marian Harris's race in the 19th), where the margin is currently listed as 40 votes out of more than 65000 cast. It is imperative that the count be accurate, yet what do we get?

1) Franklin County is alone in reporting "overlap" numbers, meaning that for congressional races in which the majority of voters reside in Franklin County, Franklin County puts the votes from all counties in the district into its "county totals." This practice fooled everyone from CNN to ONN into reporting totals that double-counted Union and Madison in the 15th and double-counted Delaware and Licking in the 12th. This confusion was so pervasive that the SOS results website, which was the only major vote count site to have the totals accurately reflect the unofficial results, was 'corrected' yesterday to show the inaccurate results consistent with everyone else. Way to go, Franklin BOE.

2) After having an embarrassing glitch in which the unofficial count included precincts with more votes than voters in 2004, that would never happen again, right? Wrong. Three precincts in the unofficial canvass had more votes than voters this year. This casts doubt on every single one of the precinct-level totals reported. I am not exaggerating or engaging in hyperbole. Let me explain:

The official explanation is that votes "were counted twice." As an example, Worthington 3-D originally had 633 votes counted for 534 registered voters. As you can tell by the odd number of votes cast, we're not looking at a simple doubling of all the precinct's votes. We're looking most likely at a doubling of the machine-votes from election day. The corrected total listed for that precinct this morning is 411 votes, meaning that 222 votes were double-counted.

Now imagine a precinct with 1000 registered voters, 600 of whom voted, 400 of whom voted early/absentee/paper ballot. Now imagine that the election day machine votes were double-counted. The report would show 800 votes (400 + 2*200), for a turnout of 80%. When turnout is listed at 119%, you look for a problem and fix it. When turnout is listed at 80%, you applaud civic engagement.

If these get missed, it will have the effect of slightly amplifying e-day machine voting, and diluting early/absentee/paper voting. If a race has a 40,000 vote margin, this won't matter much. With a 400 vote margin, or a 40 vote margin, it could make the difference.

Out of curiosity, you might ask, are there any precincts that show unexpectedly high turnout that could reflect such a situation? I'll throw out a candidate:

UA Ward 1 2006 turnout 2008 turnout
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-A 52.7% 91.1%
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-B 57.8% 74.1%
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-C 42.4% 75.2%
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-D 50.4% 75.6%
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-E 61.2% 84.2%
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-F 54.6% 83.4%

UA Precinct 1-A had average-to-below-average turnout compared to other UA ward 1 precincts in 2006, yet had far-and-away the highest turnout in 2008. In fact, after having good (but not remarkable) turnout in 2006, they had the highest turnout of any of the 854 precincts in Franklin County in 2008. Perhaps they had a couple of really good precinct captains, but perhaps the BOE might want to double-check...

And in case you're wondering, Obama is listed as winning UA1-A 449-390, but Stivers is listed as leading Kilroy 471-321.

Of course, all of this probably pales in comparison to what's going on in the provisional balloting, which is apparently concentrated in certain precincts (inferred by the opposite pattern, where turnout is unexpectedly low given past turnout and turnout in nearby precincts, e.g. Cols 12-B, Cols 42-B, Cols 51-D,Cols 84-G, Dublin 1-F, Prairie-J, Marble Cliff, etc.).

Some of this is due to random variation and the perfectly mundane influence of unknown events, but...

I guess we'll know more next week.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The more things change

The 2008 numbers are nowhere near final, so the tables below will change a bit when all is said and done, but they probably won't change enough to alter whatever interpretation you project upon them. In 2000, there was a hard fought presidential election in which Ohio was a swing state. In the 12th District, the Republican-held seat was open following the retirement of John Kasich. State Rep. Pat Tiberi, the Republican, faced off against Franklin Co. Commissioner Maryellen O'Shaughnessy, the Democrat. Bush won Ohio, and Tiberi took the 12th, losing in Franklin, but running up the score in Delaware and Licking Counties.

In 2008, 4 term incumbent Pat Tiberi outspent his opponent David Robinson 10-1, leading to all major pundits rating the seat "Safe Republican" until the days immediately preceding the election. Robinson was completely unknown before the campaign started, and even began the primary battling a party-endorsed candidate. It was once again a Presidential year, with Obama taking Ohio this time.

How did these very different situations play out?

2008 F
Rob. 101140 24221 15620 140981
Tib. 95419 59623 34201 189243
3rd 5873 2589 1504 9966

2008 F
Rob. 49.96% 28.02% 30.43% 41.44%
Tib. 47.14% 68.98% 66.64% 55.63%
3rd 2.90% 3.00% 2.93% 2.93%

2000 F
O'S. 87255 15594 12223 115072
Tib. 79289 36539 23414 139242
3rd 5793 1658 1259 8710

2000 F
O'S. 50.63% 28.99% 33.13% 43.75%
Tib. 46.01% 67.93% 63.46% 52.94%
3rd 3.36% 3.08% 3.41% 3.31%

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Either Franklin Turnout Blew, or

There are a buttload of outstanding paper/provisional/absentee ballots.

Total Franklin County votes cast 11/04: 533,575
Total Franklin County Votes cast 11/08: 490,035 (as of current unofficial FCBOE results)

UPDATE: According to one well-placed source:

"Franklin County BOE is still processing 100K paper ballots. In addition, we are still awaiting their report on provisional ballots."

If that's accurate, then 15-20% of the Franklin vote has yet to be tallied.

What in the hell is going on with the numbers in OH-12???

Every media outlet has a different set of numbers, and most of them don't even make sense. The Franklin County BOE is showing what would appear to be more than 500,000 votes cast in the race (paper + machine), which is obviously ridiculous. The numbers on the pdf labelled 'Franklin County pre-election absentee and election day paper' are the same numbers that the SOS is reporting for all votes from all methods across all three counties (and that Franklin reports elsewhere as the unofficial final result). Assuming that those are the best numbers, the end result was 56-41, but I'm gonna wait for some clarification and precinct level numbers (the Franklin county 'results by precinct' document isn't). Why can't Franklin report the numbers from just Franklin? If they were hoping to avoid confusion, reports of 60% Tiberi totals in the media are a pretty good sign they've failed in that objective.

I will say, there aren't 15 points for Robinson hiding anywhere in this mess. Congratulations to Mr. Tiberi on another victory.

Nancy Garland appears to have won her race by 700 votes, which is a landslide compared to the 12 vote margin Marian Harris is reported as having in the 19th. Congratulations to the Garland campaign, who worked their butts off these last several months. My fingers are crossed for Marian.

I unfortunately have neither the time nor the energy to pursue my curiosity on these matters, but I'll update if and when that changes.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

All Things Are Possible

Really mixed emotions here at Robinson's election night HQ. Dispatch Media and others have called the race for Tiberi (sad) but looking at the numbers, this seems premature. There are a ton of uncounted paper ballots, ballots which should break pretty heavily for Robinson (hopeful), and before everyone had processed the latest updates in their own race, Barack Obama began his speech acknowledging his victory (excited).

Garland carries a narrow lead.

Congrats to Issue 5 supporters. I told you so.

From Somewhere in the Renaissance Hotel

So, the ODP promised wireless access. They couldn't deliver. They did give me a nice media badge, which helped me get back into the hotel after the fire marshall had shut it down. The second floor ballroom, which erupted like a volcano when Ohio was called for Obama, was barricaded by police from the first floor, and the first floor was barricaded from the street.

I've been cut off from the internet since my last post, so I hope nothing else exciting has happened...

In the meantime, I dropped in on Robinson's Campaign HQ, where Nick Barnes, the volunteer coordinator was holding down the fort while everyone else was out looking for a few more votes. That encounter led me to my current location in the Robinson election night HQ, where I finally managed to get online (BTW, a special shout out to Progress Ohio, who provided me with a table and a wireless connection earlier during the parade of polling places.)

Right now, I'm excited about Obama. I'm not a robot. But only one of the three things I want to know has been called - Obama won Ohio (and the shouts I'm hearing right now tell me that the networks have called the whole thing for Barack), but the Robinson race is too early too call, and the Ohio House is trending toward our majority, but...

I'm a numbers guy. I'll write more when I've processed more.

And once again, sorry about the videos earlier. The early reviews all contain the word "nostril."

Voting Problems

There was a debate going on, with Tim Russo on one side, and most everybody else he brings the subject up with on the other: Should you refuse a provisional ballot?

The answer is no. You should not. But that doesn't mean you should simply accept one either.

First of all, I requested and filled out a paper ballot today. If the line at your polling place is long, you will be offered one automatically. Everyone has the right to request one. These are REGULAR ballots and they will be counted tonight. An added bonus? Your vote can't be flipped on a paper ballot (more on that later).

If your ballot doesn't clearly say "Provisional" then it isn't provisional.

If your correct address is in the pollbook, and your driver's license has your picture on it, you can vote a regular ballot*. Ask for the presiding judge if the pollworker doesn't want to give you a regular ballot. This should not still be happening, but it is still the number one problem at the polls.

This info is all over the nets, but just in case...

Oh - Flipping Votes - rumor has it that some Clintonville machines were flipping Obama votes to... Nader.

*There is one exception to this, though I hesitate to even bring it up. If mail to you from the BOE was returned as undeliverable, you need ID that has your current address on it. A DL with your current address will work, as will a bill or other document. A DL with an old address is not acceptable in this extremely rare situation.

Issue 5: Now We Wait

I dropped by COHHIO to chat with Bill Faith and Sandy Theis about the final day in the campaign to keep HB545 intact. Earlier today reports had been coming in of Payday Lending supporters using aggressive tactics at the polls, especially in Central Ohio. Those reports have trailed off, but there is some indication problems still might be occurring in the Mahoning Valley. The general impression of the folks I talked to though, was that the encounters were pushing voters toward a "yes" vote in response to their dislike of the campaigners and tactics of the Vote No side.

I asked Ms. Theis if she was feeling confident given the polling in the last few days that showed overwhelming support for the new regulations on lenders. She said that between the confusing ballot language, being outspent more than 60-1, and looking at the fact that only one referendum in the past 140 years has resulted in more "yes" votes than "no" votes, that it would take all that support just to have a chance.

I'm more confident then she is.

Part of the antsiness might be the fact that things are now pretty much out of their hands. The campaign has no GOTV operation, a relatively small number of volunteers at the polling places, and is relying on free media (including talking to bloggers like myself - even when we're late for the interview...) to keep pushing their message today.

As one supporter said, "Now we wait. There's not much more we can do."

Pivoting from their words to mine...

If you haven't voted yet, or are in a conversation with someone who hasn't, remind them that the bill that the lenders seek to overturn was passed by a large bi-partisan coalition - Dems and Republicans from the furthermost bands of the ideological spectrum voted for this bill. Every major paper (and most of the minor ones) support a "yes" vote on Issue 5, and many people who normally wouldn't care one way or another are voting yes simply because of the intelligence-insulting, brazen falsehoods of the Lenders 'Vote No' campaign.


GOTV and the Garland Campaign

Dropped by a non-descript house in Blacklick, because Liz Brown of the Garland campaign is Staging Manager for the coordinated Obama GOTV effort in this ward. They're making their second sweep of all identified voters, with two dozen volunteers working out of this location alone.

I talked to Liz about the state of the Garland campaign. She's confident that Garland will beat McGregor, and boldly predicted that the Ohio House will not only turn blue, but that the Dems will have a 2+ majority.

We talked about the late tenor of the campaign, which has saturated the airwaves with tough ads on both sides. I expressed surprise that Nancy had closed with an ad hitting McGregor on his tax votes. Ms. Brown handled the question well, giving a textbook defense of negative/contrast ads, and following up by making the distinction between non-issue based ad hominem attacks (The GOP's 'Wolves' ads) and issue-based attacks (going after McGregor's votes in the House).

For a race that everyone is marking as a nail-biter, the folks here seem pretty relaxed. It's hard not to share the optimism.

Parade of Polling Places

I talked to the volunteers pictured on this video. It's supposedly pronounced "Berrick." At least one voter insisted the name changed since last year, but no. In 2006 Ted and Sherrod both got between 75-80% at this precinct. I think our guy will just own this place:

At the Park Trails Clubhouse, they were allocated more than one machine per 100 registered voters (12 machines for 1168 voters). This is a really high machine-to-voter ratio. The reason? Columbus 45-H hast a ballot almost twice as long as mine was in Bexley. I wondered if it was overkill or not enough. Apparently, voting has gone smoothly all day, with lots of activity but minimal lines. It may turn out to be overkill. In case you're wondering, 2006 75% voted for Ted, 87% for Sherrod in Cols 45-H.

At the Canal Winchester Community Center, they have 3 machines for 277 registered voters, and fewer than 70 people typically vote there. By law, each location gets at least three machines, so I walked in and the pollworkers were half asleep. One person was voting. They had a ten minute wait when they opened. Since then, voting has been instantaneous. (Ted took 61% in 2006).

World Harvest Church. I admit it, the place gives me the willies. But it's a major polling location, with 21 machines for 3002 registered voters. I went here because I was curious about Issue 5. The video sucks, but the final shot is of a large "no on 5" placard with two people actively campaigning against the issue.

The video sucks and I'm having connectivity problems. Hopefully mine will be the biggest technical difficulties today. I'm still hearing that after four years of pounding, including one year of aggressive action that finally convinced the Franklin County BOE to make the rules explicit on their webpage and in the "notice of election," pollworkers are still unclear on how to handle ID. I've seen the flowcharts and quick reference guides put out by Brunner. I've always maintained that the training was at fault, not the workers at the polls. I'm not so sure, this time. Anybody who went through the training this year is encouraged to comment.

Line lengths are down all over. Go vote.

How About That Youth Vote?

So I realize that 9:30 is not a peak time, but this scares me almost as much as the opening nostril shot probably scares you...

In other news, I'm getting word that pollworkers in Reynoldsburg STILL don't know how to handle a Driver's License with an address that doesn'tr match the pollbook (hint: give the voter a REGULAR ballot, write down the last 4 digits of their DL# in the book)

At my precinct, I requested a paper ballot, I was in and out in ten minutes. People waiting in the hour-long machine line had no idea that it was an option.

When I was pulling out of the parking lot, Nancy Garland was walking up the residential street toward the school. That was surreal.

Already behind schedule, more later...

Bexley Lines, 6:45 am

I walked the block and a half to Montrose Elementary half an hour ago. The plan was for me to vote, come home, and get the toddler up and ready while Mrs. Dr. Bonobo went to vote. We had budgeted about 45 minutes apiece for voting under this plan.

Time for Plan B.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Blogging Today, Blogging Tomorrow

Today I have to take care of all my non-political/non-blogging responsibilities so that I have an entirely clean plate for tomorrow (and into Wednesday Morning).

Tomorrow, I'm planning a full day blog blitz, with photos and videos from around Central Ohio, starting with Montrose Elementary School before sunrise and continuing through the ODP victory party at the Renaissance downtown well into the night.

If you primarily read BB via visiting the site or via email (as opposed to using a feed reader), and assuming that you'll want to check in at all tomorrow, you'll want to check back early and often.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Falling Back

I'm out of state tonight, watching McCain on SNL in between attack ads that make Ohio look warm and fuzzy. Of course, the worst of the slime always drops in the last 72 hours, so maybe it's that bad back home tonight, as well.

More negative mailers. Ho hum. Tiberi is getting more personal in his attacks on Robinson. You know what I want to know? After two years of closely watching Tiberi and listening to him speak, it never occurred to me that his "I was a realtor, so I..." line doesn't make a lot of sense. He graduated OSU in 1985, worked for Kasich for eight years, was in the Ohio General Assembly from 1992-2000, when he went to the U.S. House. According to the Almanac of American Politics, he was an assistant on Kasich's staff from '84-'92, and a realtor from 1995-2000. It doesn't mention his tenure in the State House. His Wikipedia entry says that he worked as a realtor upon graduation from college in 1985, but doesn't mention his work on Kasich's staff. That may have been a misunderstanding on the entry-writer's part, as the Fox News candidate biography for Tiberi lists his real estate experience first, before his legislative work. His biography on his official house page lists his real estate experience last, saying "He also worked as a realtor with ReMax Achievers in Westerville." Tiberi has had a day job in legislative politics for the last 24 years, dating back to before college graduation. It would appear to me that he moonlighted from his taxpayer-paid job as a legislator because his legislator's salary (today's State Reps make $59k per year) wasn't sufficient for his needs and/or desires, or because somebody advised him that he needed a "real job" on his resume if he wanted to pursue his political ambition. Does anyone know where I can find out how many clients Tiberi actually had during his tenure as a real estate agent?

You know what? Forget it. I'm not going to spend the next 72 hours looking, and if all goes well it will never again be relevant. Forget I asked.


Does anybody else think John Boehner is about to totally explode? It's understandable that a man who has gone from majority leader to leader of a potentially very small minority (who in all likelihood will oust him as leader), who got left hanging naked on the first financial rescue package, and is stumping for a candidate nobody much likes anymore would be on edge. But this has simply been crazy. He called Obama's actions in the Illinois senate "chickenshit," demanded that the U.S. Department of Justice dispatch prosecutors to Ohio polling places, and proclaimed the DOJ's refusal to do so the result of Obama supporters "infiltrating" key positions in the Republican-run Department. This is his actual behavior. It leads me to imagine him having dreams where he tries to arrest Jennifer Brunner because of a Cuyahoga registration in the name of "Mickey Mouse," but Mickey actually shows up at the polls with ID and loudly proclaims his intent to vote for Obama. Boehner tells the two State Patrolmen he's brought along to now arrest Mickey for voter fraud. When the patrolmen say there's no evidence of a crime, Boehner screams that that they have his eyewitness testimony, goddammit, and what more do they need? At this point both patrolmen peel of their latex masks and reveal themselves to be Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who say "we're on your staff, we're in your caucus, we're running your ground game in the swing states. We're at Hoover and Heritage. Think you know your family, John? Don't be too sure..." He awakens from his dream in a cold sweat, with voice-mail, and that's how we get this week's behavior. Either that or he's always been a raving lunatic hiding behind the partisan hack facade.

Everyone's coming up with their predictions for the presidential map. I'm interested, but honestly, I think Obama will get between 270 and 300 EVs. As long as that's the case, my main interests are: 1) The two local races- Garland/McGregor & Robinson/Tiberi, 2) Control of the Ohio State House 3) Obama winning Ohio. As a matter of fact, I'd like to see one of those interactive mapping tools for Ohio's 88 counties. Anybody can predict that Cuyahoga and Summit will go for Obama, and Butler and Warren will go for McCain, but what about Wood and Erie? Athens and Jefferson? Hamilton? Beyond that, I'm interested in differences between Presidential margins and downticket margins by county and precinct. For instance, in which counties will McCain do better in his race than any downticket non-incumbent R does in theirs? In which counties will Obama do better in his race than any non-incumbent downticket Dems? In other words, where does Cordray beat Obama?

It's late. Before I start firing off letters demanding that the FBI investigate the Blue Jackets' horrible record in shoot-outs and raving about Gary Bettman's supporters driving the Zambonis, I'll sign off. Y'all should get some rest, too. Those three points of interest listed above? I'm predicting one of them won't be answered by the time the clock strikes midnight on Tuesday.