Perspectives, News & Opinions From The Researchers At Edison

Joe Lenski Quoted on Hand Counts vs. Optical Scanners in NH

Entry by Tom Webster | Friday, January 11th, 2008 | Permalink

Jennifer Agiesta and Jon Cohen ran a blog post in yesterday’s Washington Post about the current conspiracy theory that ballots counted by optical scanning machines gave Senator Clinton the win in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary, and that hand-counted ballots actually favored Obama. Frankly, given the socio-economic and psychographic differences between the various precincts that use one method or the other, the only “suspicious” finding would be if there were no differential at all. In fact, there are loads of differences one could imagine between, say, a large urban precinct that requires optical scanning just to get through the night, and a small rural precinct whose handful of votes can be hand-counted in just a few minutes.
Our own Joe Lenski looked into the history of these precincts, and found that the differences between the two types of precincts is not new, and not unique to 2008–they are simply different sorts of precincts. As Joe himself noted in the Agiesta/Cohen piece, “unless there has been hidden election fraud in New Hampshire for the last three presidential primaries the ‘evidence’ being used by these fraudsters probably does not hold up to any rigorous statistical analysis.” Kudos to Jennifer and Jon for digging into the numbers.

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