ABSENTEE FRAUD IN ESCAMBIA COUNTY

The Miami Herald's overvote data provides conclusive evidence of the fraudulent counting of absentee ballots in heavily Republican Escambia County, where George Bush won by a nearly 2 to 1 margin overall, and nearly 3 to 1 margin in the absentee vote.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Escambia County's Republican dominated Election Canvassing Board stayed up until 2AM on election night, "duplicating" over 2400 absentee ballots that were either overvoted or undervoted. Some ballots were looked at two or three times to make sure that as many absentee votes as possible were recorded.

According to the Sentinel, about 10,000 ballots were duplicated in 26 counties. Escambia County accounted for almost one quarter of those ballots. Those 2400 ballots represented over 11% of all the absentee ballots cast in Escambia County.

But the Miami Herald overvote data shows that Escambia County almost certainly was doing a lot more than duplicating what was really on the ballot. The Herald data contains not one single overvoted ballot in which there were only two marks for President. Of the sixty counties where the absentee overvote could be isolated, Escambia is the ONLY county that had no "double marked" absentee overvoted ballots.

According to Florida law, it is illegal to count a ballot on which a mark is made for more than one named candidate. But of the over 21,000 people who voted by absentee ballot in Escambia County, the county board found not one single double voted ballot for which it could not determine voter intent. Throughout Florida, at least 1 out of every 275 absentee ballots cast was double-voted—and that is AFTER at least 26 counties (most of them precinct scanned counties) duplicated absentee overvoted ballots when voter intent could be determined.

The table below provides an idea of how anomalous the Escambia County results are.. Lake County is a good place to start any comparison, because it had a large number of absentee votes and overvoted ballots, but did not hand count and duplicate any of its overvoted ballots.

When the Miami Herald looked at the Lake County overvotes, they found 3103 total. 1615 of those were ballots with only two marks. The Herald was able to determine voter intent on 953 of those ballots, which means that the Herald could not determine voter intent on at least 662 of the Lake County double marked ballots (662 is a minimum, and assumes that ALL the ballots that the Herald found votes on were from the pool of double voted ballots. However, it is likely that at least some of the multiple marked ballots showed voter intent.)

We see much the same thing when we look at Lake County’s absentee overvote. Out of over 11,600 absentee ballots cast in Lake County, there were 227 total overvotes, of which 125 were double marked. The Herald found 86 valid votes among these absentee overvotes, which means that voter intent could not be discerned on at least 39 of the double marked ballots.

And the numbers for Lake County’s poll cast overvotes are similar as well. 2876 were cast, of which 1386 were double marked; the Herald found 867 with voter intent, meaning at least 623 did not show voter intent.

Like Lake County, Escambia County did not look at the poll cast overvotes. The Herald found 3201 poll cast overvotes, of which 1531 were double marked. The Herald managed to recover 421 of the poll cast overvotes, which means that there were at least 1110 ballots with double marks on which voter intent could not be determined.

But unlike Lake County, Escambia County looked at the absentee overvoted ballots, and duplicated those on which it could discern voter intent. And somehow or other, there was not one ballot with just two marks on it for which the Escambia County Canvassing Board could not determine voter intent. In other words, out of over 21,200 absentee ballots cast in Escambia County, there was not a single ballot with two marks on it that the Canvassing Board could not figure out. This is especially odd, when one considers that the Miami Herald could only determine voter intent on at most, 421 of 1531 double marked ballots cast at the polls.

The table shows that there should have been, at an absolute bare minimum, 100 double marked absentee ballots. Even among those counties which hand-counted and duplicated their ballots, the number of double marked overvoted ballots was at least a third of multiple marked ballots, and Escambia had 296 multiple marked absentee overvotes. And according to the Herald data, the Escambia County Board was able to determine the voter intent on 100% of those ballots. The Herald never even came close to a 100% recovery rate on any group of overvoted ballots.

There are thus only two possibilities—either the data provided by the Herald was completely wrong for Escambia County, or Escambia County committed fraud when it counted its absentee ballots. It does not appear likely that the Herald data is incorrect however (requests for the Herald to verify its Escambia County data have so far met with silence.)

The question of what exactly the Escambia County Board did with the ballots is intriguing, but ultimately irrelevant. Perhaps they erased some marks on some ballots, and added marks on others, then duplicated these "fixed" ballots to get the outcome they desired. Or perhaps they just created a whole pile of phony ballots, and pulled all the double marked ballots out of the "overvoted" pile. The fact is that on the night of November 7th, there was absolutely no reason for the Escambia County Board to suspect that anyone would ever consider scrutinizing their absentee ballots; as the Miami Herald has stated, such scrutiny is "unprecedented".

The possibility of fraud is further enhanced when one considers other actions of the Escambia County Board. Despite having the capacity to tell voters at the polls whether their ballots had overvotes and/or undervotes on them, Escambia County chose to turn off the "voter protection" feature on its precinct based scanners. The reason given was the cost of providing ballots for people who made mistakes (about 23 cents each). In other words, after spending over a half million dollars to buy machines that would tell voters that they had made a mistake, the county "saved" less than $750 by not telling 3201 people that their ballots had been overvoted. Nevertheless, the county did spend over $550 on duplicate ballots for absentee votes.

And unlike every other Florida County, when Escambia provided the Herald with its overvoted and undervoted ballots, it did not provide them precinct by precinct. Instead it presented them in four groups, two that were ballots cast at the polls, and two others that were absentee ballots. Nor has Escambia County responded to various requests for precinct based breakdowns of its overvoted and undervoted ballots.

There is clearly sufficient evidence to launch a criminal investigation into the way in which ballots were counted in Escambia County. That, however, is a matter for the state Attorney General. But there is also good reason for the federal government to launch its own investigation.

Given that over 18% of Escambia's registered voters are of African American descent, and the 9 to 1 statewide margin provided to Al Gore in the African American community, it is highly likely that a very large percentage of Al Gore's votes in Escambia came from blacks who voted at the polls. And given the significant difference in the percentages cast for Gore at the polls and by absentee ballot, it is also highly likely that there was a significant disparity in the percentage of blacks who went to the polls as opposed to voting absentee, with a far higher percentage of blacks voting at the polls. It is also highly likely that there is an historical pattern of higher percentages of blacks voting at the polls. Consequently, the decision to turn off voter protection at the polls while going to the time and expense of duplicating absentee ballots that were overvoted and undervoted must be seen as an intentional act of discrimination against black voters. Such discrimination would be a violation of the United States Constitution, The Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and requires an immediate federal criminal investigation.

The Herald data suggests that Escambia County was not alone in the fraudulent counting of ballots. Bay County, with nearly 12,300 absentee votes, and only six absentee overvotes (all of them double marked) may well have engaged in fraud as well. (According to the Orlando Sentinel, Bay County duplicated many absentee ballots, and is refusing access to the original ballots). And Santa Rosa County, with only a single overvoted absentee ballot out of over 7600 cast also deserves further scrutiny. On average, at least one in every 109 optically scanned absentee ballot was overvoted (at least one in every 91 poll cast optically scanned ballot was overvoted) which suggests that these counties achieved a "voter intent" recovery rate for there overvoted absentee ballots that was far greater than what could be expected.

 

OVERVOTES IN OPTICALLY SCANNED COUNTIES

county county

code

voting method poll double poll multi poll total abs double abs multi abs total all double all multi all total abs recov all recov extra dbl abs extra dbl ttl
Bradford BRA oc
324
310
634
28
32
60
352
342
694
3
93
25
259
Charlotte CHA oc
1695
1029
2724
160
95
255
1855
1124
2979
56
322
104
1533
Franklin FRA oc
177
127
304
14
14
28
191
141
332
3
32
11
159
Gadsden GAD oc
709
1049
1758
37
49
86
746
1098
1844
0
0
37
746
Gulf GUL oc
153
146
299
24
20
44
177
166
343
9
35
15
142
Hamilton HAM oc
136
202
338
16
9
25
152
211
363
0
0
16
152
Hendry HEN oc
412
267
679
47
33
80
459
300
759
7
45
40
414
Jackson JAC oc
444
561
1005
31
25
56
475
586
1061
0
0
31
475
Lafayette LAF oc
90
65
155
9
6
15
99
71
170
0
0
9
99
Lake LAK oc
1490
1386
2876
125
102
227
1615
1488
3103
86
953
39
662
Levy LEV oc
371
312
683
17
8
25
388
320
708
0
0
17
388
Liberty LIB oc
91
62
153
8
6
14
99
68
167
0
0
8
99
Okeechobee OKE oc
438
286
724
43
33
76
481
319
800
12
122
31
359
Suwannee SUW oc
327
325
652
13
16
29
340
341
681
0
18
13
322
Taylor TAY oc
283
191
474
16
26
42
299
217
516
0
29
16
270
Alachua ALA op
28
25
53
26
22
48
54
47
101
0
6
26
48
Baker BAK op
13
12
25
14
8
22
27
20
47
0
3
14
24
Bay BAY op
96
57
153
6
0
6
102
57
159
3
47
3
55
Brevard BRE op
59
23
82
37
17
54
96
40
136
2
23
35
73
Citrus CIT op
25
6
31
11
11
22
36
17
53
0
4
11
32
Clay CLA op
52
52
104
13
41
54
65
93
158
0
15
13
50
Columbia CLU op
236
343
579
15
20
35
251
363
614
0
22
15
229
Escambia ESC op
1531
1670
3201
0
296
296
1531
1966
3497
0
421
0
1110
Flagler FLA op
1
0
1
3
3
6
4
3
7
0
1
3
3
Hernando HER op
22
24
46
33
68
101
55
92
147
12
17
21
38
Holmes HOL op
9
7
16
7
17
24
16
24
40
0
3
7
13
Leon LEO op
0
0
0
43
12
55
43
12
55
0
0
43
43
Manatee MAN op
781
394
1175
66
23
89
847
417
1264
34
358
32
489
Marion MRN op
580
257
837
8
2
10
588
259
847
1
0
7
588
Martin MRT op
0
0
0
16
40
56
16
40
56
0
4
16
12
Okaloosa OKA op
348
264
612
34
31
65
382
295
677
17
106
17
276
Orange ORA op
205
383
588
195
392
587
400
775
1175
48
96
147
304
Polk POL op
164
250
414
86
168
254
250
418
668
9
31
77
219
Putnam PUT op
10
16
26
15
38
53
25
54
79
0
0
15
25
SantaRosa SAN op
35
28
63
1
0
1
36
28
64
0
11
1
25
Seminole SEM op
20
10
30
11
7
18
31
17
48
0
11
11
20
St.Johns STJ op
46
43
89
27
18
45
73
61
134
0
4
27
69
St.Lucie STL op
32
12
44
53
15
68
85
27
112
0
0
53
85
Volusia VOL op
33
19
52
70
32
102
103
51
154
11
18
59
85
Walton WAL op
23
20
43
15
14
29
38
34
72
7
7
8
31
Washington WAS op
31
20
51
0
0
0
31
20
51
0
10
0
21

MORE

OC=Centrally scanned ballots OP=Precinct scanned ballots
Double=ballots with two marks only Multi=ballots with more than two marks
Poll=ballots cast at the polls Abs=ballots cast absentee
Recov=Ballots which, according to the Miami Herald, indicated voter intent
Extra dbl=minimum number of unrecoverable double voted ballots