Election Mistakes

I want to preface this by pointing out that I’m not contesting the results of my election. For one, I don’t care to. I have better things to do with my time. For another, contesting the results wouldn’t really change anything, as I still lost pretty handily. The point of this is not that I was cheated, defrauded, or had the election stolen from me; none of that is the case. I lost to Rivera, and nothing is going to change that, and that’s fine. Instead, the point of this is to highlight a massive problem in the election system, and one that reveals, yet again, that the entire system is broken and it is time to stop trusting in it.

So a supporter sent me a screenshot he took from the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s website showing the election results for Sheriff of Cheshire County. The first thing that stood out to me was the fact that I did so well in Rindge, which is where the write-in campaign for Earl Nelson unofficially began, but then I saw the numbers for Westmoreland, and how Eli Rivera secured 7,710 votes there.

You can find the spreadsheet on the NH SOS’s website.

I’ve been pretty much everywhere in Cheshire County. In fact, one of my rock bands, FUD, practices in Westmoreland. It’s like 2 stores and a post office, so it’s not a big place. I knew something was not right, so I looked up the population of Westmoreland, and it’s 1,697. That isn’t the total number of registered voters; that’s the entire population. Yet this town of fewer than 1700 people shows more than 7,000 votes for Rivera. That’s weird.

The correct result for Rivera, according to Paul Cuno-Booth of the Keene Sentinel, is 768. The election clerk reported 768 directly to the Sentinel, and presumably to the New Hampshire Secretary of State. It was in adding these numbers into the spreadsheet that someone at the Secretary of State’s office screwed up–and in a strange way.

At my job, we have to manually reconcile credit card payments. I was trained on using a 10-key calculator in high school, and I’m still pretty good at it. That said, some typos are pretty common. It’s easy to hit an 8 instead of a 5, or to hit Enter instead of a decimal. But here we’re dealing with a 4-digit number that should be a 3-digit number, and still only one of those digits is actually correct. 768 accidentally changed in to 7710.

I know this wasn’t intentional. I don’t mean to suggest that it was. It’s just one hell of a mistake.

It would be easy to assume that this is an outlier, and that it’s unusual. But that probably isn’t the case. In all likelihood, this is happening at least once in all county-level races, several times in all state-level races, and an incalculable number of times in national races. If there was to be just one major mistake (I would characterize official results being incorrect by a factor of ten as being a “major mistake”), what are the odds that it would happen in my race? The odds would be astronomical, given how many local and state elections there really are. However, the more common such mistakes are, the likelier it becomes that it would happen in my race.

I’m not doing the calculus on these odds. Someone else with more time and boredom can take care of that if they want. For me, the logic of it is enough. The odds that there would be just one major mistake in the election and that it would happen to me in my race are at least one in several tens of thousands, depending on how many races there were this year.

In reality, I would venture the statement that these kinds of mistakes are common, because you have to think about all the channels through which this information goes, and you have to keep in mind that every single place you find a human being there is the possibility of a mistake. First, the counters tabulate every vote. They then report these to the election clerk, who reports the results to the media and to the Secretary of State. A typo here can change everything. Being unsure whether one is looking at a hasty 8 or a hasty 0 can change everything. Is that a 1 or a 7? Did the election clerk report results correctly? In the case of Westmoreland, they did, but this is a generalized question.

Once that happens, did the reporter in the media who received the results make a mistake when he or she reported the results? Did the clerk at the Secretary of State enter the results correctly when he or she reported the results?

In one town in New Hampshire, this involves probably a total of 6 or 7 people, with vote counters included. That’s 6 or 7 possible mistakes. Now multiply that into a county-level election, as mine was, with 27 different precincts, and you get between 120 and 200 possible mistakes, since some of these districts involved more poll workers. Erring on the side of caution, that’s 120 possible places mistakes that can be made just in Cheshire County in a single race. Now multiple that by the number of races. In my district, I think there were ten races. So we’re looking at 1,200 possible miscounts or misreported results or typos or accidents or other mistakes, just in one county.

And we’re not done.

Now let’s include the entire State of New Hampshire, which has ten counties. Assuming these numbers are generalized enough to be “more or less accurate” in all ten counties, we’re looking at 12,000 to 20,000 possible mistakes somewhere along the way, just in the State of New Hampshire.

And we’re still not done.

Now let’s take that and include the other 49 states. New Hampshire is a fairly low-population state, so we can assume the numbers will be higher in most other states. But even if we don’t make that assumption, we’re still looking at 588,000 possible mistakes in a national election.

Sadly, we’re still not done.

Factor in now the number of mail-in ballots, the possibility of lost mail, the possibility of actual voter fraud, and the fact that Judicial Watch found 1,800,000 voters that don’t actually exist, and found that the number of registered voters in some counties were 177% the total number of actual eligible voters. Throw in some intentional deceit and bad actors–people who intentionally “make mistakes” or simply lie about votes and results–and you’ve got a recipe for “Holy shit, you’d have to be touched in the head to have any faith whatsoever in this system.”

The numbers they’re giving us for election results might as well just be made up on-the-spot when you really think about how much potential there is for honest mistakes to occur, nevermind the reality of bad actors. I don’t care who won the presidential election; they’re both horrible. And I sincerely doubt that there are bad actors in enough places to sway the election, as Trump has been working hard on Twitter to suggest. I’m not really concerned about bad actors; the system has pretty much done everything it can to ward against those.

The part that concerns me, and that should concern you, is the level of fallibility displayed here. Humans are imperfect, and we make mistakes all the time. This is why I proofread before I publish anything. I make mistakes, and I don’t always catch them at the time that I make them. Think about how many mistakes you make on a daily basis, and how easy it would actually be to report 7710 votes instead of 768. Then think about the magnitude of a national election.

This provably happened in at least one election in the United States, and you’d be hopelessly naive to believe that it didn’t happen in other races. Why are you still trusting in this system? It not only failed to protect voters from a trans Satanist anarchist as their Republican candidate for sheriff, it demonstrably produced results of that election that are incorrect. And this is just one town, in one county, in one state. Honestly, can you trust any of the numbers being reported? I think you’d have to be a fool to trust the system at this point.

We can minimize the damage by seceding from the United States. Not only is it a bad idea to let the ignorant voters of other states determine our rulers, it is an even worse idea to allow the mistakes that can be made in 49 other states determine our ruler. Ideally, we can eliminate the damage by abolishing the state apparatus entirely, but a good first step would be to minimize the damage, and we can do that with secession.