A Wichita Eagle article in July, 2015, reported that Wichita State mathematician Beth Clarkson found irregularities in election returns from Sedgwick County, Kansas, along with other counties throughout the United States, but has faced stiff opposition from the state in trying to confirm whether the irregularities are fraud or other, less-nefarious anomalies.
Clarkson, a certified quality engineer with a doctorate in statistics, said her calculations from the November election showed enough patterns to suspect that “some voting systems were being sabotaged.”
Analyzing election returns at a precinct level, Clarkson found that candidate support was correlated, to a statistically significant degree, with the size of the precinct. In Republican primaries, the bias has been toward the establishment candidates over tea partiers. In general elections, it has favored Republican candidates over Democrats, even when the demographics of the precincts in question suggested that the opposite should have been true.
Clarkson’s interest in election returns was piqued by a 2012 paper released by analysts Francois Choquette and James Johnson showing the same pattern of election returns, which favor establishment Republican candidates in primaries and general elections. The irregularities are isolated to precincts that use “Central Tabulator” voting machines — machines that have previously been shown to be vulnerable to hacking.
The effects are significant and widespread: According to their analysis, Mitt Romney could have received over a million extra votes in the 2012 Republican primary, mostly coming at the expense of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. President Obama also ceded significant votes to John McCain due to this irregularity, as well.
While Clarkson has found the same statistical irregularity in a number of localities, her efforts to confirm whether they amount to fraud have been centered on Sedgwick County, Kansas, due to the locality’s use of Real Time Voting Machine Paper Tapes, which provide a paper trail that other localities don’t have. However, her efforts to verify Sedgwick County’s election returns have been repeatedly shut down.
She first requested a recount of the 2013 election, but the time frame in which a recount could have been requested had passed. She then requested the machines’ computer records from the Sedgwick County registrar, who declined off and suggested she sue Secretary of State Kris Kobach if she wanted the records.
Kansas’ Secretary of State Kris Kobach lobbyed to have the judge in the lawsuit block Clarkson’s case from proceeding.
Her suit was denied because a judge ruled that the paper records constituted ballots, shielding them from the state’s open records law. This ruling is suspect at best, given that the paper records do not have voters’ names assigned to them; they only record when and how a ballot was cast for recount purposes.
“I’m really concerned that our voting system has been undermined by these voting machines,” says Clarkson. “And I think we’ve got to do something about it if that’s the case. My research suggests that fraud via manipulation of the software that runs on voting machines here, across Kansas and across the nation may be occurring.”
“What convinced me that vote fraud is possible? It started with the 2004 Ohio presidential election. In 2005 I obtained and examined that data and it confirmed what other statisticians had said – that the results were highly suspicious. The official report from the congressional hearing on that election describes it as ‘the abuse and manipulation of electronic voting machines and the arbitrary and illegal behavior of a number of elected and election officials which effectively disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters in order to change the outcome of an election”.
An independent report criticized Kansas “…for lacking voting machines that produce a paper trail, having no statewide audit of elections, and allowing military and overseas voters to send in absentee ballots via unsecured email.”
Considering that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback won re-election in 2014 by a 3.7% margin it would be prudent for the state to come clean.
Voter rights advocates across the country have feared the efficacy and reliability of electronic voting machines because of their lack of accountability, accuracy, and the ease with which they can be hacked. One of the largest suppliers of electronic voting machines, Diebold, donated large sums to George W. Bush’s campaign. In 2012, concern over electronic voting arose when Mitt Romney was found to have both campaign and business ties to a company supplying voting machines.