Kansas loves them some voter fraud hysteria. From going to the Supreme Court to try and make doubly-sure that non-citizens can’t vote in their elections to setting up a voter fraud website where citizens can report every kind of voter fraud except the kinds that have actually happened in the state, Kansas is on the forefront of voter fraud readiness and protection.
Except, perhaps, when it comes to the machines they use to record their votes.
According to the Wichita Eagle, Wichita State mathematician Beth Clarkson has found irregularities in election returns from Sedgwick County, along with other counties throughout the United States, but has faced stiff opposition from the state in trying to confirm whether the irregularities are fraud or other, less-nefarious anomalies.
Analyzing election returns at a precinct level, Clarkson found that candidate support was correlated, to a statistically significant degree, with the size of the precinct. In Republican primaries, the bias has been toward the establishment candidates over tea partiers. In general elections, it has favored Republican candidates over Democrats, even when the demographics of the precincts in question suggested that the opposite should have been true.
Clarkson’s interest in election returns was piqued by a 2012 paper released by analysts Francois Choquette and James Johnson showing the same pattern of election returns, which favor establishment Republican candidates in primaries and general elections. The irregularities are isolated to precincts that use “Central Tabulator” voting machines — machines that have previously been shown to be vulnerable to hacking. The effects are significant and widespread: According to their analysis, Mitt Romney could have received over a million extra votes in the 2012 Republican primary, mostly coming at the expense of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. President Obama also ceded significant votes to John McCain due to this irregularity, as well.
You can read the paper in full here.
While Clarkson has found the same statistical irregularity in a number of localities, her efforts to confirm whether they amount to fraud have been centered on Sedgwick County, Kansas, due to the locality’s use of Real Time Voting Machine Paper Tapes, which provide a paper trail that other localities don’t have. However, her efforts to verify Sedgwick County’s election returns have been repeatedly shut down.
She first requested a recount of the 2013 election, but the timeframe in which a recount could have been requested had passed. She then requested the machines’ computer records from the Sedgwick County registrar, which told her to kindly shove off and sue Secretary of State Kris Kobach if she wanted the records so badly.
When Clarkson initially filed her lawsuit requesting the paper records from the voting machines, her suit was denied because a judge ruled that the paper records constituted ballots, shielding them from the state’s open records law. This ruling is suspect at best, given that the paper records do not have voters’ names assigned to them; they only record when and how a ballot was cast for recount purposes.
She then sought a court order giving her access to a sample of voting records in order to check voting machines’ error rates. This order was ignored by the Secretary of State’s office, despite their being legally required to respond to her within 30 days. The office later said that they didn’t realize they had received her request.
Given Kansas’s professed diehard commitment to combatting election fraud, one would think that they would be all for analysis into whether the integrity of their elections have been compromised. Apparently you’d be wrong.
Correction: The original title of this post referred to the bias in election returns as “voter fraud.” As the allegation of fraud is not against individual voters, but rather administrators of elections, “election fraud” is correct. This change has been made where appropriate.