Since it’s Election Day and not much to do except vote (and, well, live), let’s talk about electoral fraud. Not the type that Republicans have been caterwauling about (and which essentially doesn’t exist), but good ol’ fashioned cooking the books. There are two disturbing reports out that describe some truly bizarre patterns. Here’s what they found in the GOP Iowa caucus in 2012:
What the authors did is look at the percentage of votes cast (the vertical axis on the left) according to the number of votes cast, where voting precincts where sequentially added from largest to smallest (the horizontal axis on the bottom). In other words, if the smallest precinct had 100 votes, with the next largest having 110, then the 210 mark on the graph would give the results of those 210 votes. Admittedly, one graph is tinfoil helmet territory, but look at New Hampshire in 2012:
And Arizona in 2012:
And Ohio in 2012:
Oddly enough, this pattern occurs in seven other states. And it always favors Mitt Romney. This doesn’t seem to be an urban/rural divide either: the authors took a geographically randomized subset of the data and found the same patterns. In addition, these patterns also hold within counties. What it looks like is that someone is electronically putting his or her thumb on the scale in large precincts to tilt things towards Romney (the one state that doesn’t appear to have this problem is Utah where Romney won in a blowout). This also isn’t opponent specific: in some cases Paul took the hit, while, in others, Santorum did.
Similar patterns are found in some of the 2008 primaries and in the 2008 general election. In 2008 in Cuyahoga County, OH, the same type of pattern favored McCain over Obama, even though there is no relationship whatsoever between the ratio of Democrats to Republicans and precinct size (R-squared is 0.01). Interestingly, these patterns also weren’t seen in the 2008 Democratic or Libertarian primaries.
The only hypothesis I can think of that doesn’t involve fraud is that Romney’s campaign is brilliant at microtargeting voters and maximizes efficiency by targeting large precincts (though I think this is falsified by the spatial randomization test).
I hope someone at Obama’s headquarters is keeping an eye on this. And for the love of the Intelligent Designer could we please get rid of electronic voting machines? Yes, this sounds crazy, but if anyone were to do this, wouldn’t Romney, who has demonstrated an utter lack of scruples and shame, be the guy to do it? He certainly has the money. No one, including me, wants to believe that he, or one of his supporters, has committed electoral fraud on a national level, so I am desperately open to other hypotheses.
Haven’t come up with one yet.
I will now don my tin foil helmet.
Note: The paper can now be found here.