Did Democrats in several counties in Florida defect in mass numbers to George W. Bush this election? That is what we’re asked to believe.
According to at least one report, some counties, such as Nassau, saw a nearly 29% reduction in the number of Democrats voting, while Sumter saw a 10% drop. There was a corresponding 48% and 43% increase in Republicans voting in those counties, respectively.
But that’s not the surprising stat.
Those two counties used “E-Touch” — or electronic touch screen — voting machines, and are notable outliers compared with the rest of the counties using the same type of machine. Across the board, there is an increase in Republican voting, from 8.8% (Martin county) to 51.2% (Hillsborough county), along with an increase in Democratic voting, from 11% (Hillsborough) to 51.5% (Martin). Except for Nassau and Sumter, there were increases everywhere for both Republicans and Democrats.
Hold on, I still haven’t given you the startling stats.
There was another type of voting machine used in some counties, an “optical scan” machine. These are the typical voting machines, where you color in a circle, or punch out those infamous chads. Those physical marks are then counted by these optical scanners. In these counties, there were also some notable changes in voting pattern.
Republicans saw dramatic increases in many counties, between 25.2% (Flagler county) and 712.3% (Liberty county). Yes, a 700 percent increase in votes for Republicans in one country.
You might expect similar increases in these counties for Democrats wouldn’t you?
No such luck.
In thirty-six of fifty-two counties using optical scan machines, Democrats saw a reduction in votes, between -3.1% (Highlands county) and -70% (Holmes county). In the counties that showed increases, they ranged between 3.2% (Marion county) and 37.6% (Monroe county).
Let’s review that.
In “E-Touch” counties, all showed increased voter turnout for both Republicans and Democrats, except for two counties, which showed drops for Democrats.
But in “optical scan” counties, all showed increased voter turnout for Republicans, and 36 of 52 of them showed drops for Democrats.
These optical scan machines, by-the-way, received much less scrutiny this year than the electronic touch-screen voting machines, and the method of collecting the data from the optical scan machines uses a standard Windows™ PC, and a database which can be opened up in Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access, and edited without any trace of the changes. (There is a great write-up of this whole mess at Common Dreams Newsletter. There is also a live video demonstration showing this in action at VoterGate.tv.)
The tin-foil-hatter in me wonders why there’d be such startling decreases in Democratic votes across so many optical scan counties, while showing increases everywhere for Republicans. Did Democrats really defect in such huge numbers to vote Republican? Or did the numbers get manipulated after the fact?
And, more importantly, will the media outlets pursue this story?