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Investigation into the 2004 US Election: Mis-allocation of resources leading to waiting times / poor equipment


Project: Investigation into the 2004 US Election

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November 1, 2004

       In Franklin County, electronic voting machines are delivered to polling places in Columbus and its suburbs. But they are unevenly distributed, with more machines being placed per registered voter in the higher-income areas than lower-income areas. [The Free Press, 12/16/2004] According to the Columbus Dispatch, the manager of election operations, a Democrat, recommended the placement of machines. [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004] At the end of the day, County Elections Director Matthew Damschroder, a Republican, reportedly orders workers to deliver another 99 voting machines, which were held in reserve in case there was a serious accident or a problem with a truckload, to the inner city precincts where long lines are expected. But only 44 of the reserve machines are delivered. Four machines are delivered the next day (See (Morning) November 2, 2004), 29 machines are “are delivered by the close of polls,” and 22 are left in a warehouse (See Morning-early afternoon, November 2, 2004). [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004]
Uneven distribution - In past elections, the county has aimed to have one machine for every 100 voters, with the maximum being 125 voters per machine. This formula assumes that the average voter will take roughly 5 minutes to cast his or her ballot. 200 voters per machine is considered the absolute maximum. [The Free Press, 12/16/2004; Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004]
After the elections, statistics will reveal that the voter-to-machine ratio was higher in Columbus than in its surrounding suburbs where the income level is higher. (See Morning-early afternoon, November 2, 2004)
Analysis by Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips - According to a signed affidavit by Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips, who holds a PhD in geomorphology from the University of Oregon, the uneven distribution of machines “cost[s] John Kerry 17,000 votes.” His conclusion is based on statistical analysis of Franklin County's election results which shows that wards with greater than 300 registered voters per machine had a lower voter turnout than wards with fewer than 300 registered voters per machine. Since areas with a lower density of machine placement were predominantly in Democratic Columbus inner-city precincts and since these precincts experienced lower than usual voter turnout, the implication is that many voters who would have voted for Kerry did not vote because of long lines. [Source: Affidavit, Richard Phillips, 12/10/2004]


(Morning) November 2, 2004

       In Franklin County, Ohio, four additional electronic voting machines are delivered to precincts in inner city Columbus. However 51 machines remain in a warehouse. [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004]

Morning-early afternoon, November 2, 2004

       In some heavily democratic Columbus, Ohio precincts, people wait 2-7 hours in long lines to cast their votes because of a shortage of voting machines. Machines delivered the previous day were distributed unevenly throughout the county, with a greater concentration (machine to registered voter) being placed in the higher-income suburbs (See November 1, 2004). 51 machines remain in a warehouse (See Afternoon November 2, 2004). [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004; The Free Press, 12/16/2004] After the elections, statistics show that the voter-to-machine ratio was higher in Columbus than in its surrounding suburbs where income levels are higher. In the affluent Republican stronghold of Upper Arlington not one of its 34 precincts had a voting machine which cast more than 200 votes. Only one machine, in ward 6F, came close to the maximum. It was used by 194 voters. However, in the Democratic city of Columbus, there were 34 polling machines which logged on more than 200 votes per machine and 42 machines that were over 190 votes per machine. In another words, in Columbus, 17 percent of the city's machines were operating at 90-100 percent over the optimum capacity while in Upper Arlington the figure was 3 percent. The high voter ratios in Columbus were due to a combination of increased voter participation and fewer voting machines. In Columbus, despite increased voter registration in the city, 139, or 29 percent, of the 472 precincts had fewer machines than in the 2000 presidential election. In some precincts, the number of machines was reduced by as many as five. This contrasted sharply with Upper Arlington, where only two precincts had fewer machines. In one of those precincts, voter registration had declined by 25 percent. [Columbus Dispatch, 12/11/2004; The Free Press, 12/16/2004]

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