Voter Suppression and Exit Poll Discrepancies in Arizona Democratic Primaries (VIDEO)

UPDATE: March 28, 2016

Complaints of voter registration tampering were so prevalent regarding the March 22 primary election that even Secretary of State Michele Reagan confirmed that fraud had occurred during a committee hearing at the state Capitol in Phoenix the following week. The hearing was packed with angry Arizona voters waiting in line to testify before the committee, most of them demanding a revote.

Voter Suppression

Insufficient polling places in Maricopa County

One of the problems plaguing Arizona’s Democratic primary this Tuesday was a ballot shortage, as exemplified in Maricopa County, the largest county in Arizona, where budget cuts resulted in a 70 percent drop of polling places, reducing the number of open polling places from over 200 down to just 60, compared to 2012. Consequently, people spent entire work days waiting in line to vote, as voting lines stretched for over half a mile. Undoubtedly, many of them had to leave before voting, in order to avoid missing work, something many likely couldn’t afford to do. The County recorder justified this blatant incident of voter suppression by claiming that “turnout is traditionally low” in Maricopa County. CBS reporter Joe Dana put this incident in perspective: the “2012 primary had 300,000 voters and 200 polling places. 2016 primary had 800,000 voters at 60 polling places.” Polling places in densely populated Latino neighborhoods were particular targets for closure.

Numerous Democrats in AZ were mistakenly listed as independents or Republicans

Long-time registered Democratic voters suddenly found their party preference had changed to Republican or been removed entirely, resulting in voter rolls listing them wrongly as independents. Additionally, independent voters who had attempted to register as Democrats were allegedly told that they hadn’t registered at all, disqualifying them from participating altogether in the closed primary. Independents make up a plurality of more than one-third of registered Arizona voters.

Danny Robinson testified in front of the House Elections Committee and spoke on behalf of his daughter in Tucson who spent hours waiting in line to vote.

They told her she wasn’t a Democrat anymore, she was an Independent and she wouldn’t be able to vote,” he said, adding, “they were telling people standing in line that their vote wasn’t going to count and the election had been called. I want justice for my daughter. I want a revote.

Arizona was called for Clinton while people were still waiting in line to vote

Because of all the delays, many Arizona residents were still in line waiting to vote when Arizona was called early for Clinton, with only 1% of the vote in. A declaration of victory while people are still waiting to vote is likely to discourage many people from continuing to stand in line in order to cast a ballot they assume won’t make a difference.

Why does voter suppression hurt Sanders?

One might think that voter suppression in a party primary would not necessarily favor one candidate or the other. Of course, that all depends on whether or not the suppression was targeted at one candidate or the other. At this time I know of no good evidence that shows that to be the case.

However, one thing that must be considered is that, in general, any across the board voter suppression favors Clinton over Sanders. The reason for that is that Clinton did far better than Sanders across the board, in early voting, compared to Election Day voting, which took place largely when Bernie Sanders was hardly known to voters.

Consider Arizona, where voter suppression was especially marked. The election was called for Clinton with only 1% of the vote in, when she was ahead by a margin of 61.5% to 36.1%. All of that total reflected early voting. Yet, with 17% of the vote in (I don’t have later data on this), Sanders was leading Clinton in Election Day voting, by a small amount. Thus, any voter suppression would elevate the importance of early voting in determining the final statewide results and thus affect the delegate count in favor of the candidate who did better in early voting.

Conclusion on voter suppression

There’s no way to know for sure that the voter suppression in Arizona (and Ohio, where many voting precincts ran out of ballots before the polls closed and caused many potential voters to lose their chance to vote) was targeted at one candidate or the other. But to think that voter suppression didn’t happen in Arizona, where the most populous county in the state reduced the number of polling places from 200 to 60 and ended up with voting lines half a mile long, would be simply naïve and even delusional. This kind of skullduggery begs for a thorough investigation, aimed at discovering the cause and preventing future chaotic episodes during this primary season. Therefore, please consider signing this petition to the White House requesting that these episodes be investigated promptly.

Exit poll discrepancies

Background: The great exit poll discrepancy controversy of the 2004 Presidential Election

Those well-versed in the history of election fraud may remember the great exit poll discrepancy of 2004, in which John Kerry won the national vote according to the exit polls, whereas the official vote count handed the victory to George W. Bush. The divergence between the exit polls and the official vote count was about 4%. The difference was particularly aggrandized in the important swing states, where even a slight deviation in the vote count could have been the determining factor between winning and losing. But there was only one state where it did play a decisive role, and that was Ohio, where the exit poll discrepancy was over 6%. A win in Ohio would have handed the entire election over to John Kerry.

Further investigations found numerous anomalies in Ohio, and eventually a mass of evidence was accumulated that made it highly probable, if not nearly certain, that the 2004 Presidential general election in Ohio was electronically manipulated to give that election to Bush. Many instances of rampant voter suppression all over Ohio had been documented as well. A detailed summary of the evidence for electronic manipulation in Ohio was published at Democratic Underground years later, when Bush was no longer president..

Yet throughout all the incessant discussion of this issue on social media and left-leaning forums all over the web, not a word of it was even mentioned by the national news media, except for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. Instead, corporate media presented the public with “adjusted” exit polls, meaning exit polls that were modified to conform to the officially reported vote count. (One could attribute benign or malignant motives to this omission. The benign explanation is that our national news media merely assumes that when there is a discrepancy between exit polls and the official vote count, the exit polls must be wrong, because it is unthinkable that the discrepancy, no matter how large, could represent manipulation of the vote count, by electronic voting machines or otherwise.)

Yet almost all other liberal democracies around the world take exit polls much more seriously than in the United States, and in fact use them to help in assessing the validity of the official vote count. When a significant discrepancy between the official vote count and the exit poll results is discovered, the issue is investigated, and sometimes the official count is modified, depending on the results of the investigation. In the United States, not only does this never happen — it is never even discussed.

Of course there is always the existence of some bias in exit polls. But they are far more accurate than pre-election polls, for several reasons: 1) They assess whom the voter actually voted for, rather than whom he or she intends to vote for at some later date; 2) Pre-election polls use models that estimate which poll respondents are likely to vote in an election, based on data from previous elections. These models may or may not accurately apply to the circumstances surrounding the current election. To the extent that they don’t apply, the results can be substantially biased; 3) The accuracy of pre-election polls depends on obtaining a representative sample of voters for the poll, which is no simple matter. One very large potential source of error is that voters who exclusively use cell phones may be grossly under-represented compared to voters with land lines in pre-election polls, with many of the latter tending to fall in the older age brackets. This kind of problem is rendered nearly virtually irrelevant by exit polls, which are conducted as voters leave their polling locations. It doesn’t depend on respondents answering a telephone call from an unknown number, or some other overly complicated sampling methods.

Exit poll discrepancies in the 2016 Democratic primaries (Source)

Exit polls (preliminary results): Sanders +6.6
Official count: Clinton +1.4
Difference: 8.0 in favor of Clinton (compared to exit poll)

Exit polls: Sanders +6.4
Official count: Sanders +1.6
Difference: 4.8 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Exit polls: Clinton +3.8
Official count: Clinton +14.0
Difference: 10.2 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Exit polls: Clinton +28.0
Official count: Clinton +31.2
Difference: 3.2 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

North Carolina
Exit polls: Clinton +12.6
Official count: Clinton +14.4
Difference: 1.8 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Exit polls: Sanders +2.4
Official count: Clinton +1.8
Difference: 4.2 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

Exit polls: Sanders +3.8
Official count: Clinton + 0.2
Difference: 4.0 in favor of Clinton in the official count (compared to exit poll)

In other words, there were substantial exit poll discrepancies in all 7 of these recent primary contests, favoring Clinton in the official count for each one, compared to the exit polls. These discrepancies are in general larger even than what was recorded in the 2004 Presidential Election. As in 2004, not a word of this is reported by the national news media, who predictably regurgitate only the “adjusted” exit polls, updated to perfectly fit the official vote tally. If the exit polls are in fact an accurate measure of who actually received the most votes in these states, Sanders would have won 4 of them instead of just one, and he also would have received more delegates in each of the others. Additionally, the momentum of these victories would have propelled him to more easily garner additional wins from increasingly confident voters as he progressed through the race.

*This article was expanded from original source published at Democratic Underground.

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