Ralph Lopez majored in economics and political science at Yale University. He is an advocate of "impact journalism."
Super Tuesday: March 3rd, 2020
6:30 pm ET
The media is now playing up a "Biden bounce" after his victory in tiny, unrepresentative South Carolina, and late endorsements.
"Former Vice President Joe Biden is now projected to win the most delegates in the Democratic primary as a slew of new Super Tuesday polls find his campaign surging. Election forecaster FiveThirtyEight, which long forecasted Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to win a plurality of pledged delegates, now shows Biden as the odds-on favorite to lead the field."
At the same time, reports of an almost exact replay of voter registration problems in California, the huge delegate state where Sanders was far ahead in polls, threaten to tamp down Sanders haul of delegates. Voters are forced to vote on "provisional ballots."
"...state elections officials reported that 15 counties had experienced problems with their computer systems connecting to California’s statewide voter database. While voters could still cast ballots, the problem meant there was no way to update registration records or show that a citizen had voted. To avoid any chance of someone voting more than once, some locations were asking voters to cast provisional ballots — a fail-safe method of voting in which eligibility is confirmed after election day and before the vote is counted."
"In February, California mailed 3.7m primary ballots that, to the astonishment of many who received them, excluded the presidential candidates. These ballots do have candidates for all other primary races, including for Congress, but not the race for president.
Within this mountain of primary ballots, artifacts of California’s arcane and complex voting system, lies the potential to cripple the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, the favored candidate among independent party voters."
At the same time, there are reports that Texas, the next biggest cache of delegates, is now in play after a strong Sanders lead for weeks.
California still has more than four more hours of voting.
There are more reports of voter registration problems in California; I will provide screenshots and links soon. Voters registered as Democrats for 20 years who've never had a problem voting are suddenly dropped from the rolls and must cast a provisional ballot. Recall that the DNC's NGP-VAN database contains all records of donations to primary candidates—it's easy to see who supports whom.
Talking points on the "Biden bounce" seem strangely aligned. Recall how Hillary was touted as "Comeback Kid" after dismal performances in 2016 Iowa and NH contests.
Looks like Sanders was almost 10 points up over Biden in Texas as recently as the last week in February, and 15 points in an NBC/Marist 2/23 - 2/27 poll. However, the poll aggregator Real Clear Politics in its latest average only cited two pollsters, Emerson College which calls landlines only and also uses an online survey, and Data for Progress which uses a "text-to-web" methodology, in other words, anonymous online respondents who pursue surveys. Landline only polls are criticized for skewing towards elderly and shut-ins. The majority of people in the US under the age of 35 have only cellphones, no landline.
Poll averages published by Real Clear Politics as of 2/27, before the "Biden bounce."
Polls Going into Super Tuesday
- Sanders: 30%
- Biden: 10%
- Warren: 17%
- Bloomberg: 12%
- Sanders 30%
- Biden: 21%
- Warren: 13%
- Bloomberg: 18%
- Sanders: 30%
- Biden: 10%
- Warren: 17%
- Bloomberg: 12%
- Sanders 25%
- Biden: 11%
- Warren: 21%
- Bloomberg: 12%
- Sanders: 25%
- Biden: 18%
- Warren: 11%
- Bloomberg: 19%
In California, the Secretary of State should be prevented from making any announcements on results whatsoever until all of the suddenly necessary "provisional ballots" are counted. In addition, the state should direct all jurisdictions to post the digital images of the ballots for public verification of the machine counts. These are the images of each ballot that are automatically generated by the optical scanner vote-counting machines that tally the votes on the paper ballots. They are entirely anonymous.
Most voting districts in the US use optical scanner vote-counting machines to tally paper ballots, and most optical scanner vote-counting machines automatically generate and store digital ballot images. For help on this in your own district contact Audit Elections USA, a non-profit citizens' election integrity organization.
A commenter at Yahoo News makes a good point: Now "momentum" has been compressed to not days or weeks between primaries to literally hours, when people don't even know what is going on in other states. Or it could be a set-up. First there was the bounce, then there was the momentum. Apologies for exiting my reportorial tone but do they really think people are this stupid?
Polls are closed in California. Massachusetts is shaping up to be a three-way tie between Sanders, Biden, and Warren, splitting the delegates three ways. But if Biden inches ahead by even one-half point it will be portrayed as a big Biden "win."
Concerns over election hacking are no longer in the realm of conspiracy theory but conspiracy reality, with NBC New York reporting on the upcoming 2020 RSA Conference in San Francisco:
"With Super Tuesday and the California primary election just days away, it went almost without saying that election hacking would be a hot topic at one of the world's biggest cybersecurity events."
There is already strong evidence that DNC-aligned players hack Democratic primaries, in no case as stark as that of Tim Canova, the upstart primary challenger to DNC chairwoman and US Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, in 2016. In that Florida case, when the challenger sued to inspect the paper ballots as a result of unusual voting patterns, the election commissioner, a friend of Schultz, simply, illegally, destroyed them.
So it is interesting to note that the new voting system in California was certified even over a rafter of concerns over hacking security, detailed in a report commissioned by the CA Secretary of State himself, Alex Padilla.
The consulting firm of Freeman Craft McGregor group found among these:
- Both the vote tallying machine and the ballot marking device possess Ethernet ports which can be connected to the Internet
- The ballot marking device possesses a USB port that the report deems not necessary for the system's basic functions. The report states: "The System also does not conform to CVSS 7.3.b, which states “Voting systems shall only have physical ports and access points that are essential to voting operations and to voting system testing and auditing.” Permitting the System to start from an external USB drive is not needed at any time to implement voting operations."
- "Seals, locks, labels and sensors can all be bypassed."
- "excessive root access and the ability to boot the system from a USB port give access to the system by unauthorized individuals. Either scenario can result in undetected changes to files and data."
- The testers were able to gain access to the electronic event logs. California Voting System Standards (CVSS) state: “Any unauthorized physical access shall leave physical evidence that an unauthorized event has taken place.”
- "It is possible to insert or remove ballots from both the BMD and ballot transfer boxes without detection."
Election integrity advocates such as Audit Elections USA have long contended that a core feature of any reputable election system is hand-marked paper ballots, except for disability, counted either by hand or by optical scanner vote-counting machines which generate digital ballot images. Most, just over half of US jurisdictions, already use these. The problem is election departments are loath to make them public, without giving any good reason why. It would cost almost nothing. Neither do they willingly allow the public to inspect and recount the paper ballots, and in fact citizens suing for the right have always lost in the courts.
The big ones come in. Bernie absolutely stomps Biden in 494 delegates California, at the moment with a lead of 12% and apparently widening as results roll in. Bernie so far keeps Biden to under a point ahead in Texas, again a strange reversal in the poll average which has Sanders an average of 9 points ahead two weeks ago.
So in Texas, Sanders and Biden will basically split the delegates, no great damage to the Sanders campaign. Now the question is how much will possible shenanigans tamp down Sanders' harvest in California. Provisional ballot voters must raise a stink. Walking away with a bursting bag of delegates in California more than makes up for losing in a half-dozen other states, some of them not by much.
Based all on a "bounce" from one of the poorest, smallest, and most conservative states in the country. This is a time for Bernsters and election integrity activists to begin poring over results county-by-county, state-by-state, looking for the worms in the oatmeal. With fine-tooth combs. No conspiracy when the DNC says flat-out it is entitled to pick nominees in smoke-filled rooms.
The bottom line is it looks like Bernie lives to fight again, but the Biden Comeback narrative will fill the news pages and CNN, a sure sign that the DNC may be planning to do exactly what it has stated in open court, with no retraction, that it has every right to do. Rig the election.
As DNC attorneys in Wilding et al vs. DNC told a judge in 2017:
“[We could] go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way.”
Wed 3/4/20 1:16am ET
It looks like Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the above-mentioned congresswoman whose election department friend illegally destroyed the paper ballots in her contest when her primary challenger sued to inspect them, endorsed Joe Biden. Is there ever a single person in the DNC crowd aware of all the bitter ironies they put forth in this black comedy?
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.