Friday, December 17, 2004

Squeaky Clean Recounts in Ohio

The Ohio recounts are going on right now. The Ohio law states that three per cent of ballots must be hand-counted. These are then fed into the machines and if the two totals match, no general hand count of the county is necessary.

This seems a little silly to me. The only thing it is measuring is the ability of the machines to provide the correct tally now rather than on November 2, and only on those votes which were then deemed acceptable. Undervotes and overvotes are not looked at, and in most places the recount witnesses have not been allowed to study the polling book which would have the signatures of voters in it. This seems a total waste of time, and probably is not what the third party candidates had in mind when they asked for a recount.

In any case, the Ohio machines are so precise that fourteen counties have produced flawless results: not a single vote had to be reassigned! One that had less success decided to order a new machine and to test if that one would work flawlessly, too, instead of going on with the required hand-count. I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry, though it's all pretty funny.

The statistical likelihood of the recount matching the election findings exactly in so many counties is extremely small if the recounts were real. There are always the odd hanging chads or unclear markings by voters. But not in Kenneth Blackwell's Ohio, it seems.