September 21, 2005

National Election Data Archive Critiques Baker-Carter Commission Whitewash

Carter-Baker Exit Poll Recommendation Would Hide Evidence of Vote Miscounts

The National Election Data Archive (NEDA) is a nonprofit organization of
statisticians and mathematicians devoted to the accuracy of U.S. vote

We commend the Carter-Baker commission for recommending that Congress
require a voter verifiable audit trail. Routine independent random
audits would go a long way toward ensuring the accuracy of U.S. election

We believe, however, that the Carter-Baker commission report
( erred in recommending that news
organizations “delay the release of any exit poll data until the
election has been decided”. This recommendation is ill-advised because
of the following facts:

• In the 2004 presidential race, the election pollsters, Edison/Mitofsky
(E/M), altered their data to match the reported vote tallies after the
official 2004 results were in. (See E/M report pgs 5
and 20.) Viewed in the context of this questionable practice of
altering exit poll results to match election results, this Carter-Baker
recommendation would deprive the public of knowing the true unaltered
exit poll results and eliminate a measuring stick against which to gauge
the validity of vote counts that could possibly lead candidates to
request recounts.

• Exit polls have historically been accurate, in both the USA and
abroad. Wherever paper ballots are hand counted, they are typically
within 1% of the exit polls, and this was the case in the USA in 2004.
When monitoring foreign elections, American officials rely on exit
polls to determine whether the elections were fair or not.

• In the USA, with the increased use of electronic vote counting, driven
by software which is confidential and known only to a handful of
individuals who are primarily of one party, and the lack of independent
audits to check accuracy, U.S. presidential vote counts have ceased
showing strong correlation to exit polls in recent years.

• Virtually all of the thousands of “glitches” reported by voters using
electronic voting machines favored the same party’s candidate. This is
statistically improbable, has nothing to do with exit polls, and
suggests that the counting software may have been inaccurate.

• Scientific analysis by the National Election Data Archive of the exit
poll data suggests high probability that there were errors in vote
counts in the 2004 presidential election. (See

If we told our votes to a man behind a screen who recorded our votes and
cast our ballots for us, and then put two individuals with party ties in
a room to count our votes and tell the rest of us who won, few among us
would trust the results. Yet this, in essence, is what we have done
with our electoral process when we cast votes electronically and allow a
handful of programmers to count them.

For these reasons, NEDA disagrees with the Carter/Baker Commission exit
poll recommendation and urges instead, in the strongest possible way,
increasing access to exit polling data and methodology to better monitor
the accuracy of our elections. NEDA recommends public release of all
detailed election data at the precinct level so that unusual patterns or
discrepancies that would be produced by vote count errors may be
detected and American democracy protected.

For further information Contact: Kathy Dopp 435-658-4657

Kathy Dopp
National Election Data Archive (NEDA)

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