Of Recounts and Forensic Audits

Friday, October 01, 2021

I didn’t expect the 2020 election recount in Arizona to show much, but in Texas, I have skin in the game. I hold a fair expectation that I could pick up more votes than any other candidate.

In Maricopa County, Arizona, the County Government’s elected leaders (four out of five of them Republicans) and the county elections official (also a Republican), stood behind the accuracy of their election results. They even survived an attempted recall election, instigated because of their stand. Against them, the Republican majority in the State Senate paid $150,000 of the Senate’s money and another $5.7 million in donations for an audit, beginning with a company—Cyber Ninjas—that had no experience in doing similar work. Then when Cyber Ninjas could not finish the job by the contractual deadline, additional groups were hired in. For their money and efforts, out of over two million ballots, the Trumpistas got a report that showed that Democrat Joe Biden still won, but with 99 votes more than had been credited by the official count, and Republican Donald Trump still lost, but with 261 votes less. In the California gubernatorial recall election, the Democrats had to work very hard for their schadenfreude, but in Arizona, Republicans served them the opportunity as a gift.
For the record, I was not a candidate in Arizona. We completed 99% of our paperwork to be registered as a write-in candidate by the deadline, but failed to qualify by the margin of that other 1%. Nationwide, we received an average of 0.018% of the vote in states where we qualified as write-ins, so perhaps that shortfall cost us 600 votes.
In Texas I did qualify as a write-in, one of nine candidates to do so. Our American Solidarity Party ticket took 73% of all Texas write-in votes: officially 3,207. We finished in 5th place over-all, behind Trump, Biden, Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen, and Green candidate Howie Hawkins. Ironically, Donald Trump won all 38 Texas Electoral Votes (by a margin of 5.5%), which means that the Texas ‘forensic audit’ announced recently would serve primarily to massage the former President’s ego. While Arizona only audited one county, which had gone for Biden, the audit that Texas plans will count three large counties which Trump lost, and one he carried. When asked why more counties weren’t included, a GOP state representative asked, “To what purpose?”

For my campaign, Harris County holds the most interest. The 2020 election brought Harris County a new elections officer, but only after the report submitted to the state by the outgoing official had shorted us by 422 votes. By that time, the incoming official could send us a letter confirming our votes, but it was too late to change the statewide count, which had already been signed by Gov. Greg Abbott. All by itself, those 422 votes could make me the biggest gainer in the audit of these four counties.
Considering that nationwide, over 150,000,000 ballots were cast and individually counted in the 2020 election, and that those results have now been challenged and re-examined more closely than after any election in our nation’s history, I can only conclude that we have a remarkably reliable count. No election was stolen. Gov. Abbott argues that the Texas audit is primarily designed to make sure that counts in future elections will be more reliable still.
Taking Gov. Abbott at his word, this should always be our goal. To that end, one suggestion I would make is that states should report every vote. In several states, we qualified as certified write-in candidates, but these states only report the total number of write-in votes, uncredited to specific candidates. We estimate that this neglect cost us over 800 votes each in New Jersey and Virginia, 700 in Washington, 400 each in Oregon and Alabama, 300 in Iowa, and another 600 split between Alaska, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. We got 762 votes in Tennessee with only some of the counties accepting the write-ins. Two counties in New York failed to submit our 86 votes to the state in time to be listed in the official tallies. In some jurisdictions, the scanning machines were not set up to even read the write-in line. We received over 42,000 votes in states with full reporting, and suspect that we got an additional four to six thousand in states that don't report write-ins.

Yet even more important to election integrity would be expansion of Ranked Choice Voting and a lowering of the barriers against third party participation. We must end the practice of gerrymandering, and we must consider a system of districts with multiple representatives and proportional representation. Until we do these things, even an endless repetition of post-election audits will fail to give us a certifiable democracy.


Post a Comment