Ralph Lopez majored in economics and political science at Yale University. He has been published in the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun.
(Breaking, March 9th, WFAA News: Fully 10% of votes in Dallas County, Texas were not counted; recount possible.)
Wildly divergent exit polls in South Carolina and Massachusetts, and documented voting problems in California and Texas, have prompted veteran election watchers to suggest that there may have been election fraud and voter suppression on Super Tuesday, always at the expense of the Bernie Sanders vote.
Are Exit Polls an Indicator of Election Fraud?
Edison Research/CNN polls show 4-point and 7-point discrepancies in South Carolina and Massachusetts, respectively, between the computer-tallied vote totals and exit polling. Exit polls are considered by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to be one reliable—although not in itself conclusive—indicator of election fraud. Election fraud may be perpetrated by the hacking of vote tabulation machines or reporting incorrect results that are different from the tally tapes from each machine.
Although exit polls may be wrong, which even among experts are considered just one limited but useful tool for detecting fraud, it is more unusual when the errors always point in the same direction. Both the SC and MA exit polls showed Sanders doing better than the official vote tallies.
The Biden Bounce
In South Carolina, where Joe Biden scored what was described extensively in the media as the "Biden Bounce," Biden gained nearly 5 points in the official tally over the exit poll projection, and an astonishing 7 points in the official tally in Massachusetts. The typical margin of error for Edison Research polls is 3%.
Owner of TDMSResearch.com Theodore de Macedo Soares wrote of Massachusetts after the primaries:
"The 2020 Massachusetts Democratic Party presidential primary was held on March 3, 2020. Election results from the computerized vote counts differed significantly from the results projected by the exit poll conducted by Edison Research and published by CNN at poll’s closing. As in the 2016 Massachusetts primary between candidates Sanders and Clinton, disparities greatly exceed the exit poll’s margin of error. Sanders won Massachusetts in the exit poll and lost it in the computer count."
Soares has noted that it is particularly suspicious when other exit polls seem to be quite accurate in other contests, or with respect to candidates of little interest. In 2016, exit polls between Hillary Clinton and Sanders were off in a manner that favored Clinton, but were always within a point of being accurate in other races.
It should be noted that Soares' calculations are based on early, "unadjusted" exit polls, which are based on surveys alone. Controversially, polling companies often "adjust" the numbers to more closely match the machine-count totals. A New York Times article says of this year's Michigan primary exit polls:
"The numbers on this page are preliminary estimates from exit polls. They will eventually be adjusted to match the actual vote count."
Polling companies have never adequately explained how it is scientific to fudge the results of raw data.
Since Edison Research did not publish overall results for each candidate, Soares used the gender-based results to arrive at total figures.
Bernie Sanders polled a 1-point victory over Biden in 2020 Massachusetts exit polls, but in the official tally Biden scored a nearly 7-point win. Biden's victory in SC would have been whittled down by 4 points had exit polling been correct, but Biden nevertheless would have won massively in the early primary state.
Long Lines at Polls Diminished Voter Turnout in L.A. and Texas
Sanders won handily in California, but his haul of delegates might have been even greater had more people been able to vote at walk-in polling stations. In a rare piece of mainstream journalism, the Wall Street Journal editorial board denounced the conduct of the California primary in "California Steals Its Own Election: Voting reforms create an electoral mess and deny Sanders a bigger win."
Long lines at polls tend to harm younger voters the most, since the vote-by-mail constituency is heavily weighted to older voters. Young voters are one demographic in which Sanders tends to do particularly well. The long lines in L.A. also heavily impacted Latino voters, another Sanders stronghold.
Many people dropped out of lines, unable to wait hours to vote due to work, school, or family responsibilities.
The long lines in California prompted election officials to apologize. Los Angeles County Registrar Dean Logan, the top official of California's largest county and the largest county in the nation, told the Los Angeles Times:
“This was a challenging day for a lot of voters in L.A. County and I certainly apologize for that...That’s something that has to be better.”
In Santa Monica, one voter wrote to the L.A. Times:
"I attempted to vote six times on Tuesday in Santa Monica but was unable to do so because of long lines. Wait times ranged from an hour and a half to four hours. I have voted in Santa Monica in the last four elections and have never had to wait longer than 20 minutes to cast my ballot."
In Texas, where Biden won by four-and-a-half points, USA Today reported:
"In Houston, voters who got in line at Texas Southern University, a historically black institution in a neighborhood of color, before the 7 p.m. deadline had to wait for hours to vote — many of them well past midnight, which means they were voting a day late. Some news accounts described the wait as nearly a full work shift."
Before the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday days later, Sanders had a strong polling lead in Texas.
In California, KQED News Radio reported in "Lawmakers Demand Changes to Los Angeles Voting After Long Lines and Delays":
"California officials are demanding changes to Los Angeles County's voting process after some Angelenos waited hours to cast ballots during California's primary election on Tuesday. State Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, announced Thursday that he'll introduce legislation for the general election that would require the county to either mail every voter a ballot or open more locations where votes can be cast."
In a March 5th article "Why Did It Take so Long to Vote in Texas and California?" - the New York Times wrote:
"On a day when most voting went smoothly, the two largest states in the Super Tuesday elections, California and Texas, struggled with hours-long lines in some major cities and complaints from some voting-rights groups that officials were seeking to reduce turnout for political reasons."
Newsweek reported on the day after Super Tuesday:
"Hours-long voting lines in parts of Texas led to significant frustration on Super Tuesday, with some suggesting that "voter suppression" was at play, particularly as the problems seemed to affect minority and student communities."
Some in the election-watching community challenged the notion that voting problems were the accidental result of unexpectedly high voter turnout. Independent journalist and podcast radio host Brad Freidman, of Los Angeles, wrote:
"Voting ground to a near halt on Super Tuesday in a number of states, most notably in major jurisdictions in Texas and California relying on electronic pollbooks and unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). Who could have predicted it? Oh, yeah. We did."
In an article run by Amy Goodman's Democracy Now, "Long Lines, Closed Polling Stations Hurt Black, Latinx & Student Voters in TX, CA," author and election expert Ari Berman observed:
"...in places like Dallas and Houston and San Antonio, that’s where you saw disproportionate lines. They were not the same lines in wealthy white neighborhoods that there were in black and Latino and neighborhoods where a lot of young people voted."
Both California and Texas were crucial to Sanders, who fared poorly in the southern states. The voting fiascos received no coverage in the major network broadcast media, which instead has been focused on the narrative of Joe Biden's new "momentum." This is even though the result is still not final in California, as millions of "provisional ballots" are still being counted, and will continue to be counted for weeks.
Provisional ballots are a type of ballot issued to voters in California who have recently changed parties, or enrolled in a party, who have had a change of address or who do not show proper ID. These hurdles to voting on a regular Democratic ballot were described by a whistleblower L.A. poll worker who was interviewed by citizen journalists The Convo Couch.
In Massachusetts, Freedom of Information Act requests have been sent to various city election officials asking for access to the ballot images which are generated by many optical scanner vote counting machines, in order to verify the vote counts. Election integrity activists say these images are one means of easily cross-checking vote-counting machine tallies.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Mike on May 10, 2020:
The Dems cheated Bernie again! Their only hope of winning anything in November is to increase their margin of. cheating. It's normally 5% and much higher in California, but they need greater numbers of mail in voting etc. to have any chance in 2020. Since the Democratic party is very adept at cheating they do have hope. On the other hand Republicans tend to believe in the Rule of Law. Dems tend to believe whatever it takes to gain power is justified. God bless our Republic and save us from corrupt democrats and may good people lose their blinders and wake up to the corruption.
Debby Z on March 16, 2020:
This is different but the same as 2016 Democratic Primary. Different ways (and a lot the same) and really nothing will change. I followed 3 law suits after 2016. All of them were squashed. One was for access to the raw data from the edison research group that suspended exit polls after the New York Primary in 2016. The other was the DNC Fraud Lawsuit which was revived a second time and quashed both times and the Citizen's Oversight LA suit. That did not end (quashed) until late 2019. We have no justice in this country. We have no transparency in this country. And we certainly have no democracy. But thank you for the confirmation of what I was already aware of. Jolantrue!
Andrey Repnitskiy on March 14, 2020:
Yes, it does look suspicious, and they are rigging poles now too! The media does everything to show Biden winning, but rallies tell us a different story: Bernie's rallies are huge and last long; people are very enthusiastic there, and Biden's rallies are smaller in number, he talks seven minutes and then starts arguing with someone. Then, look at the funds: Bernie has millions of contributors while Biden has 60+ billionaires and still has less money. Look at Bernie: he goes to Fox News, and spectators there, mostly Republicans, applaud him all the time and booing the interviewer whet she disagrees with him! Bernie is way more popular, and his ideas way closer to people, yet, Mr. Malarkey winning state by state, and wins them big!.. Isn't it suspicious? Yes, it is! Looks like rich people pay media to smear Bernie and praise Biden, then who said that all polls are honest? All we can see is a crowds around Bernie and Biden: they are very different in sizes, and we all see that Bernie should win; way more people come to him, but media always diminishes his victories... All that smells very fishy! They rigged the primary last time and they do it now!
Ralph Lopez (author) on March 13, 2020:
Please note tables of raw "unadjusted" exit poll figures have been added. - The Author
Ralph Lopez (author) on March 12, 2020:
DanTheAnalyst - You are right to do the math and call out TDMSResearch, but the raw data you are using may be "adjusted" later exit polls, another issue in itself. The CNN link given in TDMSResearch goes to these. "Unadjusted" exit polls are based only on survey results.
How and why polls they are adjusted by poll companies is a bit of a mystery, except to better match the computer count. A New York Times article says of this year's Michigan primary exit polls: "The numbers on this page are preliminary estimates from exit polls. They will eventually be adjusted to match the actual vote count." https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/03/10/us/...
What? That is very unscientific. You don't just add more chemical outside your protocol to an experiment if you aren't getting the results you want with your protocol.
I am attempting to obtain a screen-shot of early, raw exit polls so you can re-run the math on these if you like. Thank you for your vigilance.
Jo Buechler on March 10, 2020:
And...what are they going to do about these issues??? They need to be addressed!!!
Daryl Basarab on March 09, 2020:
This doesn't prove fraud, because it may be the Sanders voters are more willing to complete the polls than Biden voters, but it should be investigated out of due diligence. Some of the delayed results were weird too, including Iowa.
DanTheAnalyst on March 09, 2020:
This entire article is based on a math error. THERE WASN'T VOTER FRAUD. TDMS Research messed up the math.
I saw this and thought "hmmm.." Decided to double check.
First I wanted to see if this was consistent with other exit polls. It was't.
I had a hard time finding exit polls with solid predictions, so I used the same methodology used by TDMS Research in the article.
I found a Washington Post poll from SC. They didn't publish total expected results, but that was easy to extrapolate from the exit poll results by age. I multiplied the percent of voters within each age group by the percent of voters in that age group who voted for Sanders or Biden. I then summed up each age group's proportion to get a total predicted vote percent for Sanders and Biden according the the WaPo's exit polls.
According to this math the Washington Post exit poll was right on the money. that 48.5% of SC primary voters were for Biden and 19.9% were for Sanders. Biden actually won 48.4% and Sanders got 19.9%.
By extrapolating from age, I figured out that the NYT predicted that Biden would get 36.7% of the vote, he actually got 33.6%. The NYT predicted that Sanders would get 26.7% and he got 26.7%!!!! So they were a bit high on Biden than predicted, but that error didn't take away from Sanders.
So, I wanted to figure out what went on with this article and where they got their numbers. If you go the the TDMS Research page from which this article is sourced (I can't post links in comments, but if you search for "massachusetts democratic primary exit polls" you'll find the article) - In the article you'll see a link to the data source from CNN. TDMS says they used the exact same extrapolation methodology that I did, only based on gender, not age.
I tried to recreate their results. According to the CNN page the TDMS linked to, 41% of voters were male and 59% were female. 48% of males voted for Biden, so that means 19.7% of total votes were males voting for Biden (41% X 48% = 19.7%). Similarly 49% of females voted for Biden, meaning that 28.9% of total votes were females voting for Biden. (59% X 49% = 28.9%) If you add 19.7% to 28.9% you get 48.6% of total votes for Biden, which is very accurate to the final result, and completely different than the 44.7% that TDMS came up with in this article.
So. There wasn't voter fraud. Just screwed up math.
Robert J Kriegar on March 08, 2020:
"Awake"? Phhht. Vote by mail next time? Are you fkn kidding me?
Given the penchant to break all the rules, DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE THAT MAKES YOUR VOTE SAFE?
Michael Pascoe on March 08, 2020:
We need action. How do we get lawyers involved? This needs to be stopped now. Time is of the essence. Let's all of us do something. Brainstorm with each other to find a proactive solution so we are not crying about it in November.
Jenna in Charlotte, NC on March 08, 2020:
I felt like an idiot after I voted on the new "paper trail" machine in Charlotte NC our county had paid multi-millions for.
I did not research the new machines before I voted thinking, "How hard can it be?". My mistake.
I lined up and a volunteer took me to the macine, explained, "Vote, review' and the card with your vote will spit out. Take it overth=o that tabulator. " Easy, right?
He inserted a rectangular white card into a slot in the machine.
I voted, confirmed my vote, and then the paper card inserted to record my vote was spit out.--blank on both sides.
I thought. "What? I did not know exactly what was supposed to be on that card. I read later that the card SHOULD have had my votes printed with a bar code.
It was blank.
My only excuse for my monumental idiocy to accept what I was told was that .I had a lot on my mind and thinking, "Well maybe it's some kind of laser recording or something."
I ALSO noted that a little old man in front of me at the 'tabulator' (card scanner) had a card blank on both sides... he had put the card in backward and the voter assistant standing there told him to turn it over. SHE TOO saw that the card was blank.
Perplexed when I inserted the blank card, I said,,'but there's nothing on it to read.." and she replied, "Oh it will read it..and give a message that says 'Thank you'" saying it read your card.
....It did say thank you...but there was NOTHING on the card for it to have scanned and read. .. I thought "well,, WTH,. and hurried on out of the precinct to finish my errands, mentally reviewing the entire experience...and then feeling like an idiot.
Later that evening, angry that I had accepted an obvious lie, I called the local election board to report it (and my own stupidity) and the woman that answered essentially called me a liar and said that was impossible, that the machine "absolutely would not accept a blank card without a bar code" and when I responded "but I KNOW what I saw: my card AND the card of the little old man in front of me were BLANK with nothing printed on them" she again repeated, "That is IMPOSSIBLE. The machine won't accept a blank card!" baldly implying I was lying, which angered me more. [I'd spoken to her a couple of times about another election in 2016 when I had been changed from a DEM to NPP somehow, and also when I had actually WORKED at my precinct in 2018, and she was a class A b*tch, I knew..but to call me a liar really chapped my jaws.]
I kept my cool, though, and told her I wanted to be present at the audit, and btw who did it? And she replied SHE did, and would not give me a day or time that the spot audit would be done. So I'm calling back on Monday to speak to a board member.
I also called the election fraud dept in Raleigh and was put through to an investigator....who not only admitted he had NOT voted but that he was involved in some other vague aspect of investigation and was completely unfamiliar with the way the machine should have worked! He did say I had "piqued his interest" and he was going to check into it. He obviously was a repub (didn't bother to vote) and since I truly can see were BERNIE is the one Trump is afraid of, I couldn't see him getting too invested, as I had voted for Bernie (and even wondered if that had triggered the blank card.)
And that is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and I not only feel stupid, but I AM FURIOUS at the ineptness of the NC staff AND investigators AND the local volunteers AND myself.
I asked my sister if she noticed anything odd at her precinct and discovered she voted on an old machine,,,paper record INSIDE the machine. Hers is a predominantly Republican precinct and she is, alas, a Republican. It made me wonder if the machines...the same ones used that Pennsylvania found to be unreliable, btw,---were only allocated to higher minority and latino areas such as my voting neighborhood...so there is no way really to validate how the votes in my precinct went.
Bryce Stock on March 08, 2020:
We need to demand accountability for election rigging.
1. Iowa unfair coin flips deciding delegates. Votes being counted for the wrong candidate. Delay in results because of voting app DNC forced on Iowa Dems.
2. Exit Polling not matching vote totals in Massachusetts or South Carolina.
3. 7 hour voting waits in Texas and California voters in explicitly dropped from records. Provisional ballots handed out in California which are never countered.
4. Woman caught changing Democrats to NPP or Republicans in Florida where only Dems can vote in the primary.
Its RIGGED. Bernie needs to call it out or we are going to lose.
Woman changed voter registrations in Florida.
Bad Coin Toss in Iowa (there are others too)
Bernie's votes being assigned to Deval Patrick (This was caught and fixed for once)
Vote Rigging in California being called out
7 Hour wait to vote
Exit Polling not matching Mass:
Exit Polling not matching in SC
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on March 08, 2020:
and today, it came out that one county in TX missed counting a batch of votes. Hope they can correct that quickly, but all these odd things make you wonder about the validity of our elections.
awake on March 07, 2020:
In California all they would have had to do is taken their ballot to a ballot box near by and put it in . Vote by mail next time