Red Flags Suggest Potential E-Voting Issues In Bizarre South Carolina Election

from the where's-the-paper-trail? dept

Earlier this week, Pickle Monger pointed us to the very, very bizarre story of Alvin Greene winning the South Carolina Democratic primary despite being broke, unemployed, holding no campaign appearances or rallies, and having raised no money. No one knew who the guy was, basically, until after the election happened… which is certainly quite strange. Also, once the news came out and the press scrambled to figure out who the hell this guy was, it came out that he’s facing felony charges for obscenity. The question in the submission was “did they use e-voting machines in South Carolina.” At the time there weren’t enough details, so I didn’t follow it up.

Of course, there are many different theories as to why Greene won — from the popular charge that he was a “plant,” to the idea that he was just first on the ballot. However, as Liberty McAteer sends over, it does seem like some are starting to notice (you guessed it) the e-voting machines.

It turns out that South Carolina uses ES&S e-voting machines. ES&S has a long history of problems with its e-voting machines. Here are just a few highlights (there are a lot more where these came from). ES&S machines have lost votes in Florida. The company gave California machines that were not certified. After stalling, it finally let security experts review its machines, which were found to be severely lacking, leading California to decertify machines (yes, remember this is the same state that was also given machines that weren’t certified in the first place!). In one election ES&S gave the vote tallies to a totally different election. People using ES&S machines have found that they voted for the wrong candidate. It’s also quite easy for anyone to recalibrate certain ES&S machines, so that it’s easier for people to make mistakes while voting. In South Dakota, ES&S machines added thousands of phantom votes. And then there’s Kentucky, where officials were recently arrested for using the confusing interface of ES&S e-voting machines to get people to leave the polling place before submitting their votes, so those officials could change their votes.

Oh, and the best part? Most of these ES&S machines have no audit trail. So there’s no way to go back and check what happened. Fantastic. And that’s what was used in South Carolina. But, if you do some statistical analysis, it’s possible to discover if there are some red flags of problems. And boy are there red flags:

One potential red flag: A significant difference between the results of absentee and election day ballots.

According to [expected primary winner Vic Rawl campaign manager Walter] Ludwig, of the state’s 46 counties, half have a disparity of greater than 10 percentage points between the absentee and election day ballots.

“The election day ballots all favor Mr. Greene. We don’t know what it means,” Ludwig said in an interview. “We did significantly better on absentees than Election Day, which is according to the mathematicians, quite significant. The other reason is, it didn’t happen in any other races on the ballot.”

In Lancaster County, Rawl won absentee ballots over Greene by a staggering 84 percent to 16 percent margin; but Greene easily led among Election Day voters by 17 percentage points.

In Spartanburg County, Ludwig said there are 25 precincts in which Greene received more votes than were actually cast and 50 other precincts where votes appeared to be missing from the final count.

“In only two of 88 precincts, do the number of votes Greene got plus the number we got equal the total cast,” Ludwig said.

Greene also racked up a 75 percent or greater margin in one-seventh of all precincts statewide, a mark that Ludwig notes is even difficult for an incumbent to reach.

While not proof, those points certainly raise serious questions about the e-voting machines and how they were used.

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Comments on “Red Flags Suggest Potential E-Voting Issues In Bizarre South Carolina Election”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Burying the lede

Court records show Greene was arrested in November and charged with showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student, then talking about going to her room at a university dorm.

Charged with disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity, Greene could face up to five years in prison. He has yet to enter a plea or be indicted.

Fact vs Fiction says:


I just wanted to say this:

If George W. Bush, could somehow dupe numbnut voters to elect him as President of the United States…twice…then why are all the numbnuts in the mainstream media wasting their time trying to figure out how an unemployed U.S Army Veteran, won a primary for a senate seat that the Democrats would never realistically have a chance of winning in the end?

Mr. Greene probably suffers from PTSD and is not “all there”…if you know what i mean. I honestly believe that he used $10,000 of his own money to register as a primary candidate, AND I also believe that they South Carolina Democratic Party thought they saw a “sucker” who they could get 10 grand from with ease.

In the end, Mr.Greene got the last laugh (though i think he needs *help* a.k.a meds), and the longer the SC Democratic Party tries to bury this guy, the worse they will look to the electorate.


Fact vs Fiction says:

Re: Re: Okay...

Please tell us what is “HIGHLY irregular” about this election other than Mr. Greene being a mentally handicap “unknown” (simply due to the mainstream media having intentionally ignored his candidacy) who beat the establishment canadidate?

Ever heard of the idiom “Shit Happens”??

E-Voting machines fucking up is the norm, however this does not mean that Mr.Greene should have only received a losing percentage of the vote.

There are many reasons why the primary electorate may have voted for Mr.Greene, some of which can be classified as ‘ignorance’, ‘numbnuttery’, or republican operatives intentionally voting for Mr. Greene.

Fact: There is no positive correlation between absentee ballot returns and election day returns.

Fact: Most of you are grasping at straws.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Okay...

No one is saying that there’s absolutely must be a problem here.

They’re saying that it’s highly unusual for someone who is unemployed, broke, and hasn’t actually campaigned to win a fucking election.

There’s a highly fishy smell here. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s fish about, but someone should probably check it out and make sure there isn’t a gas leak.

OK, bad metaphor, but the point is that this is highly suspect and there’s nothing wrong with verifying the results and making sure that something didn’t go wrong with the election.

clayusmcret says:

Re: Okay...

They are desperately trying to rationalize why a supposed educated electorate voted for an empty paper bag. Twice now. Bottom line is unless they’re specifically voting against someone they don’t like, voters have no clue who they are voting for any more and Party protectors have to explain away perceived ignorance as some form of electoral abnormality. Anyone think maybe they just wanted the incumbent out so badly they didn’t really care who they chose?! That’s going around this year and is the most plausible reason, but that goes against party incumbents so NO NO! it must not be why.

OneNemesis (profile) says:

Re: Okay...

Thank-you for your ad hominum attack on me and my fellow voters. I am one of those “numbnuts” that voted for President Bush.

I have found, in my numbnut life, that people that make statements like that just don’t understand cordiality. Are you a member of that group? While I disagree with you, I would never disparage you or your friends for disagreeing with me. I might not be happy with your decisions (or candidates), but they are yours and you will have to live with them just as I live with mine.

As far as Mr. Greene is concerned, unless you know him well, I would suggest that you refrain from making disparaging remarks about him. It is just not proper!

This article is about the potential of e-voting machines and their possibility (probability?) of fraudulent results, not (at this time) Mr. Greene.

Rob says:

Re: Re: Cordiality

Well, Mr. numbnut Dubya voter, you can just “cordially” apologize to the rest of us for your incredibly stupid judgment and for ruining the country. You don’t get a pass on this one, you are an idiot. Ooh, did that hurt? It was supposed to.

Yes, this is an ad hominum attack on you. You screwed up. Aren’t you conservatives the ones who talk about being “responsible for your actions”? Take some responsibility, then we’ll talk cordiality.

As for Mr. Greene, who knows? In a low-turnout election, lots of weird things can happen.

lordmorgul says:

Re: Re: Re: Cordiality

“You don’t get a pass on this one, you are an idiot. Ooh, did that hurt? It was supposed to.”

Hahah. Do you really think calling someone an idiot on the internet effects their politics? If so, your own political goals and beliefs must be incredibly shallow (by which I mean to say you are the product of propaganda and lacking any root in truths you blow with the winds of ‘change’ whatever that happens to mean at the time).

I would die for my politic stance. I also voted for George Bush, twice, and for his father. I will continue to vote as I see fit, and will never apologize for it. Do as you wish liberal, but I pray you find something worth believing in sometime… and that you can actually define it.

Bubba Gump (profile) says:

Re: Okay...

So, GWB duped numbnut voters into electing him?
Just like Obama did this time around?

Is that what you’re saying?

I’m assuming that you have the authority to call the average voter a “numbnut” since you have a proven intelligence far above the norm. If not, please explain how you are not included in the group you consider “numbnuts”.

Mr. Toad says:

Re: Okay...

“If George W. Bush, could somehow dupe numbnut voters to elect him as President of the United States…twice…then” …

Geniuses like YOU go out and elect Obama, NOW who is the numbnuts !!!

Actually he was elected the same way Mr. Greene was, but since YOU are not paying attention …

I think you need to pay a LOT more attention to what is going on and stop all that filtering that you do …


Anonymous Coward says:

It still blows my mind that these companies can so badly fuck up machines that COUNT VOTES. I mean how hard can this possibly be? It sounds more like a “Programming 101” class project.

This is one of those “shyster or imcompetent” things. Either you’re a shyster and trying purposefully doing it wrong to push some agenda, or you don’t know what the FUCK you’re doing. Either way, it’s bad.

The Devil's Coachman (profile) says:

Why overlook the obvious? This is South Carolina, you know.

The collective IQ of the entire state is in the low double digits, and this is just another illustration of the results of that. Why on earth should anyone care who votes for whom in that benighted state? The population who permitted this laughable insult to democracy richly and thoroughly deserver the outcome. I honestly hope they vote the moron in, and get to live with the results for years. Stupid is as stupid does, and you can’t fix stupid. I suppose they will have to update the dictionaries of the world to re-define stupid.

Stupid (adj.) 1. Behaving as a voter in South Carolina elections would.

2. Being a resident of South Carolina.

3. Believing that South Carolina has a functioning government.

4. Trying to explain why South Carolina exists at all.

The Devil's Coachman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why overlook the obvious? This is South Carolina, you know.

Guess we know where you’re from by now, eh? I’m from what is called the New York Metropolitan Area, and we certainly have no shortage of stupid people up here. What we don’t have is anything approaching the percentage in South Carolina. Having been there, and as a result having developed a desire never to return, I can speak authoritatively on the matter. BTW, the trolling hooked you good, didn’t it?

So enlighten us. Why is it that politics as usual in South Carolina is something that Groucho Marx could have made five or six movies about, starting recently with the idiot Mark Sanford, and now the hoohah over Nikki Haley? Yeah, I know they’re not necessarily germane to the article, but you have to admit there seems to be a common thread. All these upright, bible-beating, holier-than-thou turds gulling the slack-jawed electorate time and time again, half the time being re-elected repeatedly despite their exposure.

Anyone can go after stupid people anytime, but when the morons put themselves in the news, they are naturally easy targets. Try this link from the Washington Post if you need some recent history. It almost implies things are improving. Obviously, they have a way to go.

TPBGirl says:

How it was done and how Alvin Got elected

In an “Open Primary”, it is not unusual for all the republicans to all go vote for the WORSE democrat on the ballot. It is a lobbiest tactic and it works. That way in November, the GOP can overtake the DEM with no problems. This strategy has been used for years and years. It was used on Alvin Greene to. E-Voting is just an excuse for the Dems to try to get him thrown out.

(In open primaries, it doesnt matter if you are a registered democraot or registered republican, you can vote for whoever you want. All GOP voted for Alvin. lol)

Unfortunately my family were lobbiest my whole life.

Lina Inverse says:

A "favorite" with 4 percent name recognition is not sure to win

Quoting Democratic aligned Public Policy Polling pollster Tom Jensen:

“It’s really not that surprising that someone with only 4 percent name recognition would lose a primary,” said Jensen. “Even though Rawl was well-known in insider circles, he just hadn’t made any impact on the voters at large.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A "favorite" with 4 percent name recognition is not sure to win

A pointer from shows a poll where Rawl had 5% favorability, 14% unfavorable and the remaining 82% saying not sure (or if you prefer, going “who?”).

This is followed up with an article that summarizes the weirdness of these results. The author thinks it’s either the plausible explanation (two “broadly unknown candidates” + other factors) or one that requires “access to software and machines”.

AW says:

How hard could this seriously be?

Here is a free way to build a secure voting machine:
Any operating system…I’d say linux for cost and general security.
Opera browser in kiosk mode.
Encrypted web page
All machines go to a local tally box.
All votes cast are given a unique semi-random(there would be a need to identify the district and the voting cycle) vote number that gets printed on carbon paper where one copy goes to the voter and one copy goes into a locked box underneath the machine.
All access ports are locked via two keys one kept with the manufacturer, one with the district. Once election results are verified the machines have all votes electronically recorded to the library of congress and the machines are wiped.

None of this is hard or expensive. Man I should get into this business.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

I really do not like the concept of E-voting at all.

Paper ballots and their “hanging chads” while time consuming to count and not at all perfect,
are still physically tangible.

And it does not take an advanced degree in micro-processor technologies to re-count the votes if there is a challenge by the losing side in a close race.

If the Florida votes in dispute during the 2000 Bush-Gore Presidential race had been Internet-Cast-Votes, history may have been different, our democracy could have ruptured.

Maybe not, but I would not choose to risk it.

To have the core of the American democratic process become an activity of cyber-space is something I find spooky.

Hackers have proven to be some of the most talented minds of our time and there has yet to be a cyber-system that has been made impregnable to attack.

When it comes to voting for President or anything else, I would rather take my chances with the

Primitive , yes ; slow yes.

But it is a truer to recount.

The less that can go wrong , the less that will go wrong ~~~

Wink says:

Why care?
There is not political parties that do anything different really, any one who gets there will be influence by the same powers and will do exactly what those powers want not differently(e.g. Obama the great change that nobody saw)

The only people who care are the heads of the parties involved but for the population they are not representing anyone they ignore what the people want and keep doing the same things people already are tired off.

Besides in the U.S. the popular vote is for show only, people vote for some representatives and those representatives are the ones putting people in power like the president.

Chris C says:

Look who owns ESS

One thing everyone seems to be missing. Look who owns ESS. Large banking families (Rothchild Realty) Oil Corporatations etc.

So we are letting the banks, oil etc count the votes with a software that they own and create. Then just taking their word for it that they will be honest and not sway the vote in their best interest.

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