February 23, 2008
With an interest in defending the individual's constitutionally guaranteed Right to have and to know that his vote is being accurately counted, this Foundation determined the 2008 New Hampshire Primary recount offered an excellent, real-world opportunity to independently assess the statistical performance of optical scan, electronic vote counting machines relative to hand counting of ballots.
WTP has just completed its analysis of the data. Our principal findings are as follows.
Of the 347, 905 total ballots processed during the recount 305,207 (87.7%) came from towns and cities that use machines to count the votes, and 42,619 (12.3%) came from towns that use People to count the votes.
New Hampshire's vote counting machines violate federal accuracy standards. New Hampshire's machines experienced an error rate approximately 163 times greater than the error rate allowed under federal Election Law.
The probability that an individual's vote was accurately counted during the Primary was much greater if his vote was counted by hand than by machine.
Statewide, taking into consideration all the ballots that were included in the recount, the number of machine counts that were in error by more than 2 votes was 9.81 times greater than the number of hand counts that were off by more than 2 votes. The number of machine counts that were in error by more than 1 vote was 3.37 times greater than the number of hand counts that were off by more than 1 vote.
We identified 38 instances of apparent fraud where votes were being hand counted.
We were not able to determine if intentional or unintentional error was behind the more substantial discrepancies in machine counts. Nor were we able to determine the impact of the 21 machines that failed on Primary Day, or if other machine failures occurred but were not reported to the Secretary of State's office.
In brief, the analysis data supports the conclusion that not only are machine counts of votes much more likely to result in error, but the machine errors are of a significantly larger magnitude and variance than those observed for hand counting.
When the much higher frequency of machine-counted errors is coupled with the statistically disturbing magnitude of the machine errors, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the use of optical scan machines to count votes has robbed many citizens of New Hampshire of their Right to Vote and their Right to have their Vote counted accurately.
Our analysis of the state's data and election practices suggest that there are numerous steps that the government of New Hampshire can take to bolster the integrity of its election process - whether votes are counted by hand or by machine. Although hand-counting of votes is clearly not yet a perfected art, in keeping alive the practice of hand-counting, New Hampshire has served its citizens well. Beyond this, the state should not subject its People to further enduring electronic voting machines that grossly fail to meet even the minimal accuracy standards mandated by federal law.
We hope our analysis has provided some much needed light onto a matter that substantially affects the future of freedom in New Hampshire - and our entire Republic.