Friday, October 31, 2008

State Employee Contradicts Helen Jones-Kelley

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that a state employee is contradicting Helen Jones-Kelley's account of the background check on Joe the Plumber.
Vanessa Niekamp said that when was asked to run a child-support check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16, she thought it routine. A supervisor told her the man had contacted the state agency about his case.

Niekamp didn't know she just had checked on "Joe the Plumber," who was elevated the night before to presidential politics prominence as Republican John McCain's example in a debate of an average American.

The senior manager would not learn about "Joe" for another week, when she said her boss informed her and directed her to write an e-mail stating her computer check was a legitimate inquiry.

The reason Niekamp said she was given for checking if there was a child-support case on Wurzelbacher does not match the reason given by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Jones-Kelley stated it is common practice to do background checks on people who have money and appear in the news.

Niekamp told The Dispatch she is unfamiliar with the practice of checking on the newly famous. "I've never done that before, I don't know of anybody in my office who does that and I don't remember anyone ever doing that," she said today.

And if that's not bad enough...

On Oct. 23, Niekamp said Doug Thompson, deputy director for child support, told her she had checked on "Joe the Plumber." Thompson "literally demanded" that she write an e-mail to the agency's chief privacy officer stating she checked the case for child-support purposes, she said.

Ohio Democratic Governor Ted Strickland who previously denied political motivations had no comment.

I Made A Difference, So Can You

Stickers reading "I Made a Difference, So Can You, Vote" are taking on a completely new meaning as investigations continue to find out-of-state-voters, underage voters, and duplicate registrations in Ohio.

Sounds like Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner knew exactly what she meant when she spent $28,000 on 4.6 million "I Voted" stickers.

Maybe some of that money could have been used to check those 200,000 mismatched voter registrations.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Patrick Wang Californian Who Voted in Ohio?

The Columbus Dispatch has reported that a "native Californian" voted in Ohio.
• A 33-year-old native Californian voted in Ohio on Oct. 4 using the address of a German Village house. The current resident of that house and the Californian were roommates at UCLA in the mid-1990s. The California native is registered as a permanent vote-by-mail voter in San Francisco County, meaning that he can vote there as well. He had utilities connected at his new business address in San Francisco on Sept. 1. His MySpace account, last updated in August, lists his address in San Francisco.
A review of the Franklin county Ohio voter registration records reveals that a Patrick Wang, 33, registered to vote on Oct. 4, 2008 at an address in German Village.

There is also a MySpace page set up for a Patrick Wang that indicates that he attended UCLA from 1993 - 1997. The last login to the account was on 8/17/2008.

It isn't clear how the Dispatch was able to match the two Patrick Wang's definitively but this certainly appears to be the vote they are referring too. It is also not clear if Wang cast the vote or if someone using his identity did. Either is obviously a problem. The Dispatch stated that he could not be contacted.

Meanwhile, Brunner asked the state attorney general to investigate get-out-the-vote phone calls made by the GOP. Sounds like she's got her priorities straight.

UPDATE: Wang also has a LinkedIn account and is a member of the group "Obama for America."

Election Officials: Alzheimer's patient's vote "odd" , non-resident votes "system that works"

As the Columbus Dispatch continues to identify suspect votes that have been cast in Ohio, no longer can Jennifer Brunner claim that problems with registered voters don't lead to votes being cast. She is now left to calling the votes "odd" and the problem "miniscule."

The Dispatch identified a Alzheimer's patient who has voted.

In Highland County, 95-year-old Mildred Meddock registered and voted for the first time in her life despite her advanced Alzheimer's disease.

Her granddaughters learned of her newfound patriotism when they visited the nursing home where Meddock lives and saw an "I voted today" sticker on her clothing.

Records show that Meddock registered Sept. 26 when two Highland County Board of Elections employees visited the home, Heartland of Hillsboro, about 65 miles south of Columbus. Four other residents also were registered and voted that day.

"I'm hot. I'm livid," said granddaughter Chrystal Brown. "A month ago, she couldn't tell you her name she was so bad, and, depending on what time of day it is, her name is the only thing she can tell you."

Brunner characterized the vote as "odd".

The Dispatch also found votes cast by apparent out-of-staters living in New York, Kentucky, and California.

A man who most recently lived at Rescue Mission in Syracuse, N.Y. He listed his address as 154 E. Long St. Downtown. There's no such address. The 49-year-old man never has registered to vote in New York.

A 27-year-old man who has lived in Kentucky since 1998 listed his address as 2462 Parsons Ave. That address, if it existed, would fall somewhere below the Rt. 104 overpass near the railroad tracks in a heavily industrialized area of the South Side.

A 33-year-old native Californian voted in Ohio on Oct. 4 using the address of a German Village house.

Brunner said the problem with of non-Ohioans voting in Ohio was "miniscule."

Matthew Damschroder, deputy county elections director, went even farther:
Damschroder agrees. In a county with nearly 850,000 registered voters, "One (double voter) is not indicative of systematic problems. It's indicative of a system that works," he said, referring to the California man with ballots here and there.
I'm not quite sure what system is supposed to be working, but I think ACORN and the Obama campaign know what he's talking about.

Helen Jones-Kelly: Joe the Plumber Checks "well meaning"

The Columbus Dispatch continues to dig into multiple stories it is breaking.

Helen Jones-Kelley, the registered Democrat and Obama contributor, OK'd the background checks on Joe the Plumber in her role as the Ohio Director of Job and Family Services. The checks were even more extensive than originally revealed.

Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, disclosed yesterday that computer inquiries on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher were not restricted to a child-support system.

The agency also checked Wurzelbacher in its computer systems to determine whether he was receiving welfare assistance or owed unemployment compensation taxes, she wrote.

She is sticking by her story that it's her duty to do background checks on anyone in the news who says they have money.

"Given our understanding that Mr. Wurzelbacher had publicly indicated that he had the means to purchase a substantial business enterprise, ODJFS, consistent with past departmental practice, checked confidential databases ," she wrote...

Jones-Kelley wrote the checks were "well-meaning," but misinterpreted amid the heated final weeks of a presidential election.

Jones-Kelley stated that the results remained confidential. Anyone want to take a bet on how confidential they would have remained if they had turned up something?

And people wonder why the source of the L.A. Times tape won't come forward and provide it to someone else.

UPDATE 10/31: A state employee contradicts Jones-Kelley's account: "I've never done that before, I don't know of anybody in my office who does that and I don't remember anyone ever doing that,"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama Supporters Behind Joe The Plumber Info Searches

The Toledo Blade reports that Toledo police have identified a clerk as accessing Joe the Plumber's information illegally.

Julie McConnell, has been charged with Gross Misconduct for allegedly making an improper inquiry into a state database in search of information pertaining to Samuel Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16.

Wurzelbacher came under the spotlight after being spoken about during the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain.

The inquiry into Wurzelbacher's record is a violation of department and state policy governing the use of the Law Enforcement Automated Data System. The clerk is under fire for making the inquiry for a non-law enforcement purpose.

Julie McConnell is a registered Democrat in Lucas county.

Meanwhile Helen Jones-Kelley confirmed that she authorized the check on Joe the Plumber. Jones-Kelley, who donated $2,300 to Obama's campaign, said it wasn't politically motivated.

Amid questions from the media and others about "Joe the Plumber," Jones-Kelley said she approved a check through the Support Enforcement Tracking System to determine whether he was current on any ordered child-support payments. She said the check was not politically motivated.

It is unclear whether Wurzelbacher is involved in a child-support case, and Jones-Kelley said such information cannot be publicly shared. Reports state that he lives with a 13-year-old son in suburban Toledo.

"Our practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look" at them, Jones-Kelley said, citing a case where a lottery winner was found to owe past-due child support.

Just doing their duty as public servants.

McConnell a Registered Democrat

Michelle Malkin points out that a quick search of campaign donor records doesn't turn up Julie McConnell's name. A quick search of Ohio's registered voters in Lucas county shows McConnell is a registered Democrat though.

McConnell is the Toledo police records clerk who improperly looked up Joe the Plumber's information. Just doing her duty as a public servant.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

2008 Ohio Vote Projections By Precinct

In a previous post, I ran a 2008 vote projection assuming the 2004 turnout percentages and 2004 margin of victories for each county. Using the 2008 registered voter list as a base, all things being equal to 2004, McCain would actually win Ohio by 125,000 votes, which was slightly more than the 119,000 Bush actually won Ohio by in 2004. This is because counties that went for Bush in 2004 actually had a larger increase in registered voters in 2008 than counties that went for Kerry.

At the time I said I would run another projection at the precinct level instead of at the county level. My assumption was that Obama was registering new voters in Democratic friendly precincts in the Bush counties. By running the projections at a precinct level, I expected my projections to narrow considerably.

I have completed my analysis and the results and the exact opposite of what I expected. Running the projections at a precinct level (there are over 11,000 precincts in Ohio) and summing them up increases McCain's margin of victory to over 147,000 votes.

I used the same method as I did at the county level in my previous post. I took the current number of registered voters for each precinct, multiplied it by the turnout factor for that precinct in 2004 and then applied then gave McCain and Obama the same percentage of the vote that went Democratic and Republican in 2004. This netted McCain an additional 22,000 votes over doing the same thing at a county level.

It should be noted that approximately 1% of all precincts in Ohio appear to have been redefined since 2004. In cases where the precinct did not exist in 2004, I applied countywide factors to make the projections.

What this means is that the new voters did not just come in primarily Republican counties. They came from the most Republican precincts in those counties.

Even in Democratic leaning counties, precincts with some of the largest increases in registered voters went Republican. For example, Monclova Township Precinct 11 is in Lucas county, increased by over 1,000 registered voters in 2008. In 2004, Lucas county went for Kerry 61% - 39% but this particular precinct when for Bush 54% - 44%.

The opposite is also true, some of the largest decreases in registered voters came in precincts that lean heavily Democratic.

All of this would appear to be good news for McCain, but obviously the polls don't show this.

This means one of three things are happening:
  • Obama went into the heart of the Republican strongholds and found Democratic voters and registered them.
  • Voters who voted for Bush in 2004 are crossing over and voting for Obama this year or not voting at all.
  • The polls are wrong and are assuming a larger turnout of Democratic voters than has occured in the past and will occur this year.

If it's 1, that's bad news for Republicans and Ohio could be blue for a long time.

If it's 2, it will be interesting to see if the voters who switch will stick or not in future elections.

If it's 3, hang on to your hats, it could be an interesting election night.

UPDATE: Geraghty at The Campaign Spot notices the same thing in Virginia.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Government Computers used to Find Dirt on Joe the Plumber

The Columbus Dispatch is investigating why, after the last debate, his information was accessed by someone in the Ohio Attorney General's Office, Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency, and the Toledo Police Department.

Paul Lindsay, Ohio spokesman for the McCain campaign, attempted to portray the inquiries as politically motivated. "It's outrageous to see how quickly Barack Obama's allies would abuse government power in an attempt to smear a private citizen who dared to ask a legitimate question," he said.

Isaac Baker, Obama's Ohio spokesman, denounced Lindsay's statement as charges of desperation from a campaign running out of time. "Invasions of privacy should not be tolerated. If these records were accessed inappropriately, it had nothing to do with our campaign and should be investigated fully," he said.

Of course the Obama campaign doesn't have anything to do with this. Just like they don't with the invalid voter registrations from ACORN, the illegal votes cast from the out-of-state Vote From Home volunteers, or the invalid campaign contributions made to the Obama website itself.

The breadth of the inquiries is really scary when you consider all he did was ask a presidential candidate a question.

"We're trying to pinpoint where it came from," she said. The investigation could become "criminal in nature," she said. Brindisi would not identify the account that pulled the information on Oct. 16...

On Oct. 17, BMV information on Wurzelbacher was obtained through an account used by the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency in Cleveland, records show...

The State Highway Patrol, which administers the Law Enforcement Automated Data System in Ohio, asked Toledo police to explain why it pulled BMV information on Wurzelbacher within 48 hours of the debate, Hunter said.

This will just show again how far Obama supporters are willing to go to get thier man elected. In their case, the ends always justify the means.

Country first. What's that?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ohio Early Voting

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that early voting is leaning heavily Democratic.

Democrats are dominating early voting so far, using a broad strategy to get as many ballots as possible cast ahead of Nov. 4's elections. Republicans have been using a more narrow approach, going after specific targets, such as young voters with hunting licenses.
In Franklin county, Democrats have cast 9,000 more votes than Republicans, for example. These votes will give Obama a lead going into the election but at this point it doesn't appear to be insurmountable.

I'm trying to find early voting numbers for each county now.

Ich Bin Ein Ohioan

Everyone's an Ohioan these days...

O'Brien has spoken to attorneys for both campaigns and asked election officials to review the residency status of John McCain's and Barack Obama's staff members, as well as those of other get-out-the-vote groups, who have few Ohio ties but registered and requested absentee ballots.

"One thing that is crystal-clear is the law -- if you are a temporary resident or a visitor, you are not entitled to register to vote and you're not entitled to vote," O'Brien, a Republican, told The Dispatch yesterday.

He recommended that anyone with a questionable registration from those groups destroy their absentee ballots and steer clear of the polls. "There is no debate. Ohio law says it in black and white."

The warning went out to both campaigns and the campaign spokesmen from both campaigns are registered in Ohio.

This all started when 12 students from a liberal group registered to vote from the same address.

O'Brien already was investigating 12 people involved with the group Vote From Home who registered and have cast or requested absentee ballots. All list their address as the same Brownlee Avenue house on the East Side.

The Vote from Home members, who came to Columbus to register new voters, are from out of state and have no apparent intention of remaining here after the election -- raising questions about whether they meet legal residency requirements to vote.

I'm glad to see officials taking this seriously. Maybe if people see the consequences of this, they'd think twice before trying.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ohio Registered Voters: 8.23 Million as of 10/12/2008

Voter registration in Ohio closed 10/6/2008 and Jennifer Brunner, Ohio's Secretary of State, released a new registered voter file compiled on 10/12/2008.

A quick review shows that there are now 8,231,970 voters registered in Ohio, up 100,000 from two weeks ago. This is up 252,340 voters compared to the 2004 Bush/Kerry election, with the majority of the increase coming from counties that went for Bush in 2004. In comparison, the registered voter count increased by almost 450,000 from 2000 to 2004, with the vast majority coming in the Kerry counties.

Cincy Enquirer Verifies Ohio Voter Findings

The Cincinnati Enquirer examines the Ohio Voter rolls...

In Hamilton County, 17 people are registered to vote from riverfront addresses south of Mehring Way - places with street numbers that would put their homes somewhere in the Ohio River.

Another 46 voters are registered at addresses that would put their homes in the middle of the Paul Brown Stadium parking lot, or at the riverfront project known as The Banks - which hasn't been built.

An Enquirer analysis of more than 8 million Ohio voter registration records found a litany of quirks, inconsistencies, errors, duplicate registrations and other problems with little more than two weeks until Election Day.

Thousands of voters appear on registration lists twice - some as many as six times. At least 589 registered voters - mostly in Franklin and Cuyahoga counties - were born in 1991 or later, which puts them under the legal voting age.

Voters are registered at post office boxes, office buildings with no residences, police stations and even park benches.

Underaged voters? Duplicate registrations?

Yep, Ohio Voter brought them to you first!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

2008 Ohio Vote Projections: McCain's Margin of Error Less Than 1%

UPDATE: Tonight I'll be comparing this projection against the actual votes to determine how each candidate it doing to predict Ohio early.

I've completed my initial projections of Ohio's vote for the 2008 presidential election based on the current registered voter list and past behavior. The bottom line is McCain has some room for deterioration from Bush's 2004 performance. But not much.

I did my preliminary projections at the county level. Hopefully I will be able perform the same analysis at a precinct level to see if there is much of a difference.

To do my preliminary projections, I took the 2008 voter registration counts for each county, applied a turnout factor equal to the turnout for the county in 2004, and then applied the a factor representing the percent of votes Bush got to determine a McCain baseline and a factor representing the percent of votes Kerry got to determine a Obama baseline. I did this for each county and totaled them up for a statewide total.

Using this method, McCain wins Ohio by 125,928 votes. This was a slight improvement over Bush's performance (118,000 votes) because Bush counties actually showed a slightly larger increase in registered voters in 2008 than Kerry counties.

That means, if everything mirrors 2004 (turnout, margin of victory in each county), McCain wins Ohio by a little over 125,000 votes.

But everything remaining the same is highly unlikely, and the things that will change favor Obama. The question is, how much will they change and how much will they eat into the 125,000 votes?

The first factor to consider is turnout. Turnout in Bush counties was 72.29% while turnout in Kerry counties was 68.86%. After the 2004 election, Ohio's voter lists were purged of invalid voters with a significant number coming from the urban counties that favored Kerry. These invalid voters artificially lowered the turnout in Kerry counties to some extent and you would expect higher turnout in 2008. What's unclear is how many of the new voters registered are invalid. It's clear that ACORN has been registering some invalid voters but it's not clear how many really made the actual registration list, etc.

For the purposes of this analysis, I'm going to assume the turnout in the Kerry counties increases to the same level as the Bush counties in 2004. This would require an 5% increase in the number of voters turning out in Kerry counties.

This increase in turnout would net Obama an additional 24,572 votes.

This means that even if Obama raises the turnout in Kerry counties 5%, matching the turnout percentages in the Bush counties, he will still lose Ohio by over 100,000 votes.

Obama will not win Ohio by just increasing turnout in his base counties. He must also eat into Bush's margin of victory.

There are a couple ways he could do this. Bush won his counties in 2004 by an average margin of victory of 20.90%. Kerry won his counties by an average of 16.62%.

If Obama can win the same Kerry counties by 20.90% like Bush won his, he brings the election to within 2,500 votes. Factor in the increased turnout in the Kerry counties and he wins by a little over 20,000.

Likewise, if Obama can reduce McCain's margin of victory in the Bush counties to 16.62%, he brings the election to within 5oo votes. Again, factor in the increased turnout in Kerry counties and he wins by 24,000.

Another option. Increase the turnout in the Kerry counties as stated above and increase his margin of victory by 0.9% in Kerry counties while reducing McCain's by 0.9% in Bush counties.

The result: a 5,849 vote victory for Obama. Is that close enough for you?

In a future post, I would like to perform a similar analysis at the precinct level. Using a county rollup could hide trends in voter registration that I am missing.

I would also like to look at trends in 2000 to 2004 results and see what happens if I project them out into 2008.

The bottom line is something everyone knew. McCain has very little margin for error and can't allow even a 1% deterioration from Bush's margins of victory if he is to win Ohio.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One Third of Ohio's 2008 Registered Voters Mismatched

Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner released info today stating that 200,000 of the 660,000 voters registered in 2008 do not match Ohio MVR or SSN records.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner estimated that an initial review found that about 200,000 newly registered voters reported information that did not match motor-vehicle or Social Security records, Brunner spokesman Kevin Kidder said.

It appears as though Brunner has made this available online, thus meeting my Open Records Request.
Brunner previously cross-checked new-voter registrations with databases run by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle and the Social Security Administration and made the results available online, but the 6th Circuit said the information was not accessible in a way that would help county election boards ferret out mismatches.

I'm out of town right now and haven't downloaded the latest voter registration file but will when I get home over the weekend. This will allow me to break down the mismatches by county and other demographics.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Brunner Gets it Right

Reversing an earlier decision, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner will now give county election officials information on registered voters whose registration information did not match MVR or SSN records.
Brunner also said counties will have access within a week to a list of new
voters whose registration information does not match records with the state
Bureau of Motor Vehicles or Social Security Administration. But what
elections officials are supposed to do with that list remains a mystery.

This is the information I submitted an open records request for and stated should be easy to provide.

Brunner said in her directive: "To reinforce our preparations for a
successful election that ensures voter confidence, I hereby direct boards of
elections to swiftly and fully investigate all specific allegations or evidence
of voter registration fraud, illegal voting or voter suppression in their
respective jurisdictions."

But during a press conference today, she said reports of widespread voter
fraud are overblown.

"I don't believe there is an effort underway to steal the election," Brunner
said. "Ohio's bipartisan election officials have a duty to investigate
specific allegations of wrongdoing, protecting the rights of eligible voters in
the process. Republicans and Democrats both want fair elections, and our
preparation in Ohio is already showing results with successful absentee

I generally agree with her. It is a very good idea to provide this information to the county election boards and there was no reason not to. From an overall percentage perspective, the number of irregularities in the Ohio registered voters list is pretty small and the bipartisan county election officials are working together to investigate. For example in Cleveland, a very highly Democratic area of the state, the county election officials took it upon themselves to investigate ACORN instead of trying to hide or defend the group.

Ohio's election officials have not been as partisan as the Florida officials appears in the Bush/Gore election.

While I agree with Brunner that I don't believe there is a widespread coordinated effort to steal the election in Ohio, I do think it's important to open up the information so everyone can see that is the case.

It appears Brunner has taken a step in that direction.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ohio Newspaper Poll: McCain Still Leads by 2

The latest Ohio Newspaper Poll has John McCain leading Barack Obama 48 - 46. This is down from 48 - 42 in the poll conducted Sept 12 - 16. The latest survey was from Oct. 4 - 8.

Obama got a smaller bounce in this poll than I expected, and his advantage on the economy is less than I expected as well.
Also by a small margin, Obama was favored as the candidate who "would do
the best job in improving economic conditions," 47 percent to 44 percent.
Rademacher said the election was "still up for grabs" because 13 percent said
they might change their minds and 3 percent were undecided. Several said they
made up their minds only recently.

I'll be looking at the details of this poll in the next day or two, but the bottom line is McCain is still alive in Ohio.

The challenge is that Obama is spending a lot of time here while McCain is being spread across a lot of states he needs to win.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Who the Voters Are

In my last post I listed the most popular addresses in the list of voters registered in 2008 in Ohio. Now I look at the most popular name/birth year combination of voters registered in 2008.

Joshua Miller (born 1989) - 12 registrations
Ashley Johnson (born 1990) - 12 registrations
Ashley Smith (born 1990) - 12 registrations
Matthew Smith (born 1989) - 13 registrations
Michael Smith (born 1989) - 13 registrations
Brittany Smith (born 1990 - 14 registrations
Jessica Smith (born 1990) - 14 registrations
Matthew Smith (born 1990) 14 registrations
Ashley Davis (born 1990) - 14 registrations
Ashley Smith (born 1990) - 17 registrations
Brittany Smith (born 1989) 17 registrations

To put this in perspective, the top five baby names for girls in 1990 were:

The top five baby names for boys in 1990 were:

Is it possible that there were 17 separate Brittany and Ashley Smiths born in 1990 and 1989 that are registered in Ohio? Sure.

Do we know for sure? No.

That's why it's so important to understand which voter registrations did not match MVR or SSN records. That's why it so important to allow observers to monitor the early voting.

If the Ohio results are close, the state will come under fire again. It's important to let the sunlight in now, before the votes are cast.

Where the Voters Are

There's been a lot of focus on voters who appear on Ohio's voter list multiple times. I spent some time today looking at the addresses where multiple voters are registered. Here are the top ten addresses with voters registered in Ohio.

940 Second St, Portsmouth (Shawnee State University): 135 voters
217 W 12th St, Cincinnati (Homeless Shelter): 143 voters
1701 Payne Ave, Cleveland (Mental Health Clinic): 160 voters
1400 Brush Row Rd, Wilberforce (Central State University): 172 voters
2219 Payne Ave, Cleveland (Women's Homeless Shelter): 174 voters
2020 East Maple St, North Canton (Walsh University): 174 voters
1055 N Bickett Rd, Wilberforce (Wilberforce University): 184 voters
300 College Park Ave, Dayton (Univ of Dayton): 405 voters
2100 Lakeside Ave, Cleveland (Men's Homeless Shelter): 597 voters
0 Kenyon College, Gambier (Kenyon College): 698 voters

Federal Appeals Court: Nothing Here, Move Along

A federal appeals court has reversed a lower court's ruling and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner will no longer be required to provide county boards of elections lists of voters who registered but who's personal information doesn't match known values:
The three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Brunner is not required to provide county elections boards with the names of voters whose personal information does not match state motor-vehicle or federal Social Security records, as ordered Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith of Columbus.
What's amazing is how trivial this request would be to perform. The information is stored in the state's database.
Q. How are new voter registrations checked in Ohio?
A. Counties enter the information from new voters into their computer systems, and it is uploaded to a state database to check for duplicates
from other counties.
The personal information also is matched against state motor-vehicle and federal Social Security records.
Q. What if the motor-vehicle and Social Security records don't match the voter registration?
A. A notation is made on the voter's record in the state database, but counties are not sent a list of mismatches and can only access them by reviewing voter records one by one in the database. An appeals court is reviewing a judge's order that the counties must be given a list of the mismatches.
Brunner's office already makes a subset of this database available on it's website in a common format that can be easily loaded into databases for analysis. In fact, it is this subset that I have been analyzing for the last week. To perform the additional mismatch analysis requested, it would be necessary to add a single Yes/No indicator to the format of the file already being provided. This should be trivial.

Brunner appears to be purposely hiding information.

I am currently preparing to file a Freedom of Information Act request with Brunner's office to get access to this information.

Maybe the court is right, there is nothing to see here. But it would be nice to be able to look and confirm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Where In Ohio is Freddie Johnson?

Freddie Johnson has become the poster child for the problems ACORN is causing registering voters multiple times.
"Sometimes, they come up and bribe me with a cigarette, or they'll give me a dollar to sign up," said Freddie Johnson, 19, who filled out 72 separate voter-registration cards over an 18-month period at the behest of the left-leaning Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now...

Johnson used the same information on all of his registration cards, and officials say they usually catch and toss out duplicate registrations. But the practice sparks fear that some multiple registrants could provide different information and vote more than once by absentee ballot.
Armed with this information, I searched the 8 million registered voters in Ohio to see what I would find.

There are 22 Freddie Johnson's registered to vote across Ohio. Hometowns include Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Pepper Pike, Euclid, Waverly, Akron, North Canton, and Mason.

Remarkably, six of them reside at the same address in Cleveland and were born in 1989 registering this year on 4/16, 7/8, 7/24, 7/25, 8/4, and 8/18.

I guess when official say they "usually catch and toss out duplicate registrations" they mean except for the 6 that they don't catch.

McCain's Hope

In my previous post listing a number of advantages that appear to favor Obama, I said I would also spend to time outlining reasons that could give McCain hope. Here are a couple.

1. Onsight early voting appears to be being done mostly by Obama partisans who would have voted for Obama anyway. At this point, it doesn't appear as though the fence sitters are voting early and McCain still has a chance to win their vote. There have been no indications of what is happening with the mail-in absentee ballots.

2. Kerry saw a much larger increase in the total number of registered voters in Democratic leaning counties from 2000 to 2004 (0ver 350,000) than Obama is seeing from 2004 to 2008 (around 60,000). That huge advantage only translated into a decrease of 50,000 votes in Bush's winning margin from 2000 to 2004.

3. Voter turnout in Democratic leaning counties has traditionally run 4% lower than in Republican leaning counties. Additionally, the Democrat's margin of victory in Democratic counties has run about 2 points lower than Republican's margin of victory in Republican leaning counties. This means it takes less registered voters in Republican countiers to get the same margin of victory the Democratic candidate gets in the Democratic counties.

4. It is extremely difficult for a Democrat to win a majority of votes in Ohio. Jimmy Carter was the last candidate to do so in 1976 when he beat Gerald Ford by a little over 11,000 votes. But wait you say, what about Bill Clinton? Bill Clinton did not win a majority of votes in 1992 or 1996. In fact, he got a lower percentage of the vote in Republican counties than Gore or Kerry in the last two elections. What happened was that Ross Perot pulled in over 1,000,000 votes in 1992 and almost 500,000 across Ohio, mostly from the Republican counties.

The bottom line, Ohioans in the rural counties will vote against Republicans, but even when they do, they'd prefer not to vote for Democrats. In the end, this may be McCain's best chance. McCain can still win these voters.

They are looking for a reason to vote for him. The question is, will he give it to them?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Party Affiliation of Ohio's New Registered Voters

In my previous post, I explained how the number of total number of registered voters increased by a little over 180,000 from the levels of the 2004 Bush/Kerry election. I also stated that two thirds of this increase came from counties Bush won in 2004. I also stated that while on the surface, this would appear to be good news for McCain, there were indications that this might not be the case. Today I will begin to explain some of those indications which come from an analysis Ohio voters who registered in 2008.

An analysis of the registered voter list in Ohio shows that 859,724 people registered to vote in 2008. The reason the total registered voters did not increase by this amount from 2004 is because many counties purged their registered voter rolls between 2004 and 2008, eliminating hundreds of thousands of voters on the rolls who were not longer valid.

Examining the characteristics of the voters who registered in 2008 clearly indicate an advantage for Obama.

The first indicator is an analysis by party affiliation. It is not required to declare a party affiliation in Ohio when you register to vote. In fact, that vast majority of 2008 registrants did not declare an affiliation. Of those that did though, they favored the Democrats over the Republicans by a 3:1 margin (93,700 to 33,841).

This breakout is significantly different from the voters who registered prior to 2008 in two respects. First, there are significantly more independents in 2008, and secondly, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is higher than normal.

Because the vast majority of new voters registered as independent, it's important to look at other characteristics of the new registrants as well to get more insight. Analyzing the new registrations by county can provide some of this insight.

This analysis also provides bad news for McCain, although not quite as bad.

Over 500,000 (59%) of the new registrations came from counties that supported Kerry in 2004 while a little over 350,000 (41%) came from counties that supported Bush in 2004. Looking at only the independent registrants reveal the exact same percentages.

Remember, Bush won Ohio by 120,000 votes.

If Obama wants to look for even more good news, it's that it appears that he is making inroads in counties that voted for Bush in 2004. In 83 of Ohio's 88 counties, even those that voted for Bush in 2004, there were more new Democrats registered than new Republicans.

Obama has set up a ton of campaign offices in Ohio and it appears that they are registering voters throughout Ohio, not just in the big cities.

With all of this said, this does not mean Ohio is a slam dunk for Obama. There are things that should give McCain hope, and I will be posting some of these soon.

UPDATE: The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that 666,000 new voters registered in Ohio in 2008, about 200,000 less than I reported above. That would seem to indicate that the voter file I used included name and address changes made in 2008 in addition to new voter registrations. The file supplied by the Ohio Secretary of State's office listed all 859,000 voters with a registration date of 2008.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Ohio Registered Voters: 8.16 Million as of 10/6/2008

Voter registration in Ohio closed yesterday and Jennifer Brunner, Ohio's Secretary of State, released a new registered voter file compiled at 8:19pm last night.

A quick review shows that there are now 8,162,815 voters registered in Ohio, up 100,000 from two weeks ago. This is up 183,185 voters compared to the 2004 Bush/Kerry election, with the majority of the increase coming from counties that went for Bush in 2004. In comparison, the registered voter count increased by almost 450,000 from 2000 to 2004, with the vast majority coming in the Kerry counties.

This is not a typo.

Kerry won 16 counties in 2004: Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Cuyahoga, Erie, Franklin, Jefferson, Lorain, Lucas, Mahoning, Monroe, Montgomery, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull. Bush won the remaining 72.

In 2004, the Kerry counties had 4,093,761 registered voters. In 2008 they have 4,152,087, up almost 60,000.

In 2004, the Bush counties had 3,885,869 registered voters. In 2008 they have 4,010,728, up over 120,000.

On the surface, this would appear to be good news for McCain. However there are indications that this may not be the case.

First, several Kerry counties cleaned up their registered voter lists, purging what appears to be almost 400,000 voters from the lists. The good news is that this eliminated 400,000 potential cases of voter fraud. The bad news for McCain is that this masks 400,000 new registered voters in Gore counties.

Second, Obama has made an all out effort to register voters in all counties in Ohio, opening 72 campaign offices throughout the state. It is likely that many of the new registrations in Bush counties are Obama supporters. It is unclear at this time, however, how many are.

As I have time, I will do a lot more analysis on the new voters who registered in 2008.

UPDATE: Originally, I inadvertently referred to the 2004 election as Bush/Gore instead of Bush/Kerry in my original post and I have corrected it. I have previous posts comparing the results of the 2000 Bush/Gore election to the 2004 Bush/Kerry election and typed up this summary quickly w/ two kids crawling all over me. Sorry for the confusion. I have corrected this post to correctly refer to the 2004 Bush/Kerry counts.

UPDATE 2: A new file with 8.23M registered voters is now available.

Last Call

Ohio voter registration ended tonight.

As expected, Brunner posted an updated voter registration file today. Hopefully I'll be able to download it in time to post some preliminary analysis tonight. I'll be spending a lot more time analyzing the list of over 8 million voters over the next several weeks, comparing them to the 2004 list as well as looking at the characteristics of the voters who have registered in 2008.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

He's One of Us: Obama's Great Great Great Great Great Grandmother an Ohioan

Wow, he's more of an Ohioan than I am. My family loses track after just one "great".

Dispatch Poll: Obama Up by 7

The latest Columbus Dispatch poll has Obama leading McCain 49% - 42%. The poll was conducted Sept 22 - Oct 3.

The Dispatch poll is different from others in that it is conducted by mail instead of phone. The theory is that this is more accurate because if someone isn't active enough to mail in the poll response, they aren't likely to vote. For this reason it has been very accurate in static races but because of the length of time to conduct, it can miss sudden changes in a dynamic race.

In the first Columbus Dispatch poll before the conventions, McCain held a 1 point lead. In the the Ohio Newspaper poll conducted Sept 12 - 16, he had a 6 point lead.

The difference in the earlier polls and this one is obvious. As I mentioned earlier, McCain held an advantage over Obama in all age categories over 30 despite the fact that "worse off" respondents outnumbered "better off" respondents by over 2:1. I pointed out that this was a tremdous area of vulnerability of McCain.

A breakdown of this latest poll basically shows the collapse of that support. Obama now has an advantage in every age group except those aged 65 - 74.

Interestingly, Obama is also showing tremendous growth in Northwest Ohio. The Ohio Newspaper poll had McCain leading in this area of Ohio 55% - 34%. The current Dispatch poll has Obama leading 45% - 41%. I'm not sure what would be driving that much of a change in a relatively rural area that has traditionally been pretty conservative. We may be seeing some erosion of support from conservatives.

Overall, I do agree that Obama has the lead in Ohio. The last several weeks have been bad for McCain and have hit him in his most vulnerable spot: the economy.

I do disagree with the Dispatch comment that "The Illinois senator's lead of 49 percent to 42 percent over Republican Sen. John McCain comes at an especially opportune time for Obama because thousands of Ohioans already are casting ballots in the state's first presidential election"

To date, the walk in votes appear to be coming in from Ohio's most partisan voters. I will need to see some data on the mail in absentee ballots before I declare a hole too big for McCain to dig himself out of.

With that said, he had better start digging now, or it will get to be too big very quickly.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Game's Still On in Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch summarized the 4,134 absentee ballots that were cast this week in Franklin County.

The early voters clearly favor Obama but there are two things of note. The first is the 668 voters who registered the same day they voted. It looks like we can expect these voters to total a couple thousand across the state by the time this period closes on Monday but probably less than 10,000.

The second was an almost throwaway line which initially may seem as bad news for McCain.
More than 80 percent of those who cast ballots and also voted in the March 4 primary were registered Democrats.
What makes this interesting however is that fact that you do not have to declare a party affiliation in Ohio when you register. In fact, half of Ohioans do not declare a party affiliation and only 31% are registered Democrats. In Ohio, only the strongest Democrats and Republicans register as such, the rest are undeclared.

Its clear it's these strongest Democrats who are voting early. These aren't Bush voters Obama is winning over or even fence sitters who McCain had a chance to win over. These are Obama's strongest supporters who he could always count on. He was always going to get these votes, be it on October 4th or November 4th.

There may still be a great groundswell toward Obama, but these results indicate that it hasn't happened yet. Not at the only place that counts at least: the ballot box.

Yard Signs and the Hillary Vote

Original Musings did a tongue-in-cheek poll by counting yard signs in her subdivision and determined John McCain was going to win the election.
There are about 300 homes in our subdivision — Summerfield — and, as of Thursday night, precisely 25 have put up yard signs for the upcoming election. Presumably the other 275-ish are voting, they’re just not comfortable openly stating their allegiance.

Of the 25 yards with signs …

* 19 have McCain signs (all of which are McCain/Palin)
* 6 have Obama signs (two of which are Obama/Biden, the rest Obama alone)
This got me to thinking a little bit more about yard signs and what they may or may not indicate.

Let's take the example above. The Summerfield subdivision is in Beavercreek, OH, just outside of Dayton, which is in Greene County. Green county leans Republican (Bush beat Kerry by over 17,000 votes and a margin of 61% TO 39%) and this particular area of Green county leans slightly more (65% to 34%) so it's no surprise that there are more McCain signs than Obama signs. What is interesting is the ratio of McCain signs to Obama signs, which is higher than you would expect.

The results of the Ohio primary may provide some insight. Clinton won this precinct over Obama by 51% to 47%. By comparison McCain got 51% of this precinct and 35% went for Huckabee.

Is it a coincidence that the Democratic signs are for "Obama" and the Republican signs are for "McCain/Palin"? I don't think so.

It looks to me like Palin is attracting some Hillary votes while solidifying those Huckabee voters as well. If this is the case, Obama could have a bigger hurdle to get over in Ohio than he expects.

With that said, this precinct shows the same trend as I am seeing throughout Ohio. Small increases in voter registrations which are leaning slightly more Democratic than you would expect based on their precinct/county makeup. There were 72 new voters registered in 2008 in this precinct, 10 Democrats, 11 Republicans, and 51 undeclared.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ohio's Early Voting Looks Light

Ohio's early voting on day one looks light, especially those who are registering and voting on the same day.

Franklin County (includes Columbus): 808, 72 also newly registered

Hamilton County (includes Cincinnati): 656, 54 also newly registered

Cuyahoga County (includes Cleveland): 558, 110 also newly registered

Lucas County (includes Toledo): 493 voted, 78 also newly registered

Montgomery County (includes Dayton): 363, 25 also registered

That means across Ohio's largest counties, around 3,000 votes were cast with about 339 registering on the same day. This should also be the high point as it included students busing in from the University of Toledo, camping from Ohio State, and union members in Cincinnati.

In the overall scheme of things, these are very small numbers. Now the number mailing in their absentee ballots could be another story.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Brunner on Ohio's 1,000 Underage Voters: No response

It's been over a week since I sent a note to Ohio's Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner asking how it was possible for there to be over 1,000 children under the age of 18 registered for vote in the State of Ohio.

My note gave her two weeks to clean Ohio's registered voter list before it is finalized next week. Will she do it?

I wouldn't know, she hasn't even bothered to reply.

I hope it's because she spending time looking through the 95,000 voters with a birth year before 1900 as well. I'm not holding my breath though.

Michelle Malkin points out that the Ohio Supreme Court has overruled Brunner and said that the county election boards need to fulfill absentee ballot requests supplied by the McCain campaign - even if a box indicating they were a qualified elector was not checked. Brunner had stated the requests should not be fulfilled.

At first I thought Brunner was specifically targeting the McCain ballot requests. Now I realize she was just expecting all those 16-year olds registered to vote to leave the box unchecked so she wouldn't send them a ballot.

How many will remain on the list in November? We should know soon. I'm expecting a new voter file early next week where I will look at these issues as well as many others.

If you have recommendations, feel free to leave a comment on what you would like to see me look into as I continue my analysis.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Little T-Shirt Humor

That's the problem with an economic collapse of a lifetime. Real news falls by the wayside.

Too funny...
The Denver police union is selling T-shirts that poke fun at protesters at last month's Democratic National Convention, but the main target isn't laughing. The back of the shirts reads, "We get up early to beat the crowds" and "2008 DNC," and has a caricature of a police officer holding a baton.