Thursday, January 17, 2008

NH recount shows anomalies

By Libby

I'm sure you've heard that Kucinich paid for a recount in New Hampshire and it's just started. Greg Mitchell has the link to the government site that is tracking the figures and while they're not dramatic, they are telling in terms of the validity of the tally.

While there aren't any huge discrepancies in any single venue, there are repeated mistakes throughout the spread sheet. Interestingly, they are almost all undercounts but they occur for both Clinton and Obama. If this pattern holds up, my fears on making the stand in NH will be realized. At best, it demonstrates that the system is unrealiable but if the numbers aren't that dramatic, the general public is likely to shrug it off as inconsequential, particularly if no one candidate benefits.

At worst, it feeds into a conspiracy theory I've been developing. It's been a while since I've offered up one, so consider this scenario. Say you control the vote count and you want to screw with it to benefit one side. In fact you've successfully done so already and people are wising up to it. So perhaps, as part of a long range plan, you allow your opponents to win an midterm election, but not with a large enough plurality to effectively push through their own policies.

You know that people are getting agitated and you anticipate the challenges in the next big contest to be more vigorous and wisely judge that the first challenge will be in a small state like New Hampshire. What better way to cover your tracks down the line than discredit your critics by allowing a small but benign discrepancy to creep into the count? Your critics can be painted as alarmists and the public is inured to small miscounts. By the time the contests reach the large states where skewing the results would make a difference, the expense of the recount will be daunting and the public won't be as likely to support it.

This is just a thought exercise. I'm not saying I believe this is true. I'm just saying that's what I would do if I wanted to cheat the system and it's not impossible that it could be done.