Claims of electoral fraud favoring Clinton. Tin foil hat?

Every election since 2000 (maybe earlier) we hear claims of massive electoral fraud. This time it’s from the supporters of Bernie Sanders (of which I am one).

I hear over and over how exit polls that used to match the actual tally within the margin of error no longer do. This time around I see claims that these discrepancies almost all favor Clinton.

This article is an example of the things that are being said.

He argues that in numerous states the exit polls for the Democratic primaries vary from the final tally by more than the margin of error and almost exclusively in Clinton’s favor, while at the same time the Republican exit polls are very accurate.

I see repeated claims that exit polls are used to determine fraud in foreign elections and that some of the discrepancies here rise to the level that sets off alarms for election monitors in foreign countries. Is that true?

What’s going on here? The exit polling discrepancies, if true, do seem odd. However, to accept that it’s fraud I’d have to believe that the Clinton campaign (or someone friendly to it) has tentacles reaching into local precincts all over the country, yet not one election official has spoken out about being threatened or bribed or whatever. It doesn’t quite rise to the level of Moon hoaxers, but it does seem pretty unlikely.

Could it be the voting machines? In theory they called be controlled by a smaller group of people. In the past it’s been claimed that they switched votes from Democrats to Republicans which, if true, would indicate that in the past the Republicans had control of the machines, but now the Democrats have control, and the Republicans have none, otherwise Trump would have been eliminated by now. How would such control shift? Are the Illuminati controlling it all for some goal above and beyond the two party system?

That last question is of course not serious. I ask it to make a point.

He’s got them there. Why else would you defend yourself against a lawsuit if it’s not because you’re guilty?

From the article:

Sanders does better with people under 40. What does he think 40+ year old people do all days? Play golf and watch Matlock? Yeah, I’m sure it’s much harder for college students and Starbucks baristas to wait in line than it is for 50 year olds.

Because defending against lawsuits is expensive and the typical first move is to get the case thrown out.

Clinton won Brooklyn. By a healthy margin. For this to make any sense as a conspiracy would require Clinton’s “agents” to know in advance who was going to vote for Sanders and only remove those people – otherwise Clinton was costing herself a ton of votes that could have won her more delegates by lowering the overall Brooklyn total.

The author sounds like an idiot.

I agree with that last comment. The idea that someone could predict among Democratic voters who would vote for Sanders, and then change their registrations, is the worst of tinfoil hat.

He also says the data in his table was drawn from a group dedicated to proving election fraud. I’m sure none of them are cherry picking or manipulating their sources of data.

Exit polls are not supposed to be used for making a prediction about who will win an election. They are useful for getting an idea of what kind of demographic groups favor what candidates and what kind of of issues the voters might be thinking about. That’s it.

When they are used to predict which candidate will win, the exit polls are generally wrong.

Here is a tweet from Nate Silver that explains it all: [written in the spring of 2012]

If you want detail, here is an excellent article by Silver listing all the reasons that make exit polls unreliable:

People make things up. No, I don’t know why.

If only we had a profile of likely Sanders voters.

Yes. Sanders does well with working-age people. These people also vote less consistently because they have other things to do, and they may have children to look after, which is why suppression is more effective against them.

While it’s true that nobody could know who a particular person was going to vote for, it’s possible to predict with some degree of accuracy which way an election district will go.

And there were significant problems in Brooklyn (although I voted without any trouble, I was voting in a solid Clinton district, which, to those who see a conspiracy here, would make perfect sense).

There were enough irregularities to get the attorney general of New York State interested, and to force the suspension of the chief election official in Brooklyn.

I was going to post previous Silver’s analysis, but you beat me to it.

Exit polls are conducted mainly by young people - they are known to generally approach young people more often - which totally explains the Bias people seem to think is occurring.

People that don’t understand statistics, polling, errors, and what not are often times swayed by this stuff.

Bernie Sanders - if anything - I think has beaten his polls. While it is easy to try and cherry pick data here and there - there is little doubt that he has done very poorly among AA and older people - and old people tend to turn out at much higher rates than young people.

While there can be no doubt he has made an imprint on this election - the idea that people supporting Clinton would need to cheat to win is kinda silly.

If only we had actual evidence that these voters were being targeted.

I can believe that states change laws or precincts reduce polling places in ways that deliberately favor one candidate over another. I’m sure that happens. Exhibit A is gerrymandering. Exhibit B is voter ID laws.

But none of that would have anything to do with exit polls, which are the main element of this author’s argument. Gerrymandering, voter ID laws, changes in polling places, and illicit changes in registration (as has been claimed) prevent voting, and if you’re prevented from voting then you’re not going to be part of the exit polling.

Keep in mind also - “Margin of Error” only accounts for sampling error. That means that assuming you had a true random sample of the population - what is the error that is accounted for by using a sample instead of the full population?

It is the absolute best cases scenario for accuracy. Primary polls, general election polls, and exit polls that each sample 600 people will all have the same margin of error. However it is well known that general election polls are more accurate than primary polls and those are more accurate than exit polls (depending on timing).

None of them - over time are as accurate at the margin of error would suggest - even general election polls - if memory serves is about 1% point less accurate than the MOE would suggest - and I think primaries are about 3 points behind general.

It sounds like some bad stuff happened in Brooklyn and it should certainly be addressed, but I don’t think there’s any evidence that Sanders supporters were disproportionately affected. Brooklyn wasn’t some isolated pocket of support for Clinton. She won all the other boroughs, as well as Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, and Orange counties. The results in Brooklyn look like what you’d expect based on the rest of the city and its immediate area. If people were kept from voting in Brooklyn, most of them were probably going to vote for Clinton, not Sanders.

I’m sure this is just evidence of an even bigger conspiracy, though.

In what world is 40+ not “working age”?

It’s like people being all surprised that twenty thousand people show up for a Sanders rally/free concert but then he soundly loses – that’s not fraud, that’s the difference between an actual commitment to vote by people with jobs/families versus having an open Thursday night for Happy Fun Time Concert Rally with your friends.

Voter fraud never made a huge amount of sense to me as a crime, especially these current accusations.

People forget just how much shit goes wrong with elections by the time the next ones roll around. Elections are incredibly tricky to do well because the standard you’re held to is so high but they happen so infrequently you can’t build up experience. Every election season, there’s a litany of errors caused by amateurs deploying a complex infrastructure all across the country to be used over a single day.

Plus, if Clinton really was able to pull off voter fraud, she wouldn’t have started doing it so late in the season when the nomination is essentially in the bag. It doesn’t make sense from a political calculus point of view.

Instead, what seems like the far more likely explanation is that this year is extremely unusual to have competitive races in both parties so late in the primary season. Most of the later states have probably never had experience holding a primary of this scale and are flying completely blind. That’s why you see so much incompetence and poor execution.

In Bernie land

Lastday, Capricorn 15’s.
Year of the city, 2016.
Carousel begins.

The Brooklyn thing seems like a poster child for “take care in attributing malice to that which can be explained by incompetence”. The election official there seems to have skipped a step in the process of moving people’s status on the rolls, as well as letting a large backlog build up. That’s something you can investigate or suspend people for without it being evidence of a shadowy election fraud scheme.

Too many syllables. A haiku is 5-7-5.

I see this hasn’t been addressed.

My understanding is that these claims are way overblown. You don’t want to quote me, because I certainly am no expert and haven’t done any research to speak of, but I did read a lot about all this when it happened. The thing is, in Ukraine anyway there were dozens upon dozens of voting irregularities during the elections in question. (Just so we’re clear, when we’re talking “voting irregularities” we’re talking election districts where 130% of the people voted, ballot boxes that were not monitored for several hours–things that go well beyond anything that happened in New York or Arizona.)

One of the many, many things that pointed to fraud was the exit polling. Emphasis on “one of.” Investigators were already looking into allegations (and evidence) of fraud; this was just another reason to be suspicious. IIRC, too, the differences between the “results” and the exit polls in Ukraine were far, far larger than anything we’ve seen in these primaries–on the lines of a 30 point swing or something, which makes the 10-12-point differences in states like New York seem pretty piddling.

Anyway, there were already a whole bunch of ways to demonstrate that fraud had taken place. Exit polls only added to the questions. So no, they’re not “used to determine fraud.”

–Just as an aside, much of the notion that “exit polls are always right” comes from Robert Kennedy Jr., who wrote some impassioned stuff about Bush’s win in Ohio in 2004. He firmly believed that Ohio had been stolen from Kerry. Much of his argument, unfortunately, rested on the fact that the exit polls had initially favored Kerry in that state. Of course, in order to use the exit polling as “real evidence,” he had to construct an argument that gave exit polling far more accuracy and far more predictive value that it had. I believe he was the first to bring up the foreign election things, and he certainly insisted that exit polls in the US were just about always accurate. I have no idea whether Kennedy deliberately made things up and stretched the truth in order to support his thesis, or whether he was so agitated by the whole thing that he suspended his critical thinking. Either way, he did his argument a disservice, and unfortunately a lot of people seem to be passing on his misconceptions even now.

It’s always tin foil hat.