NY-23: Richard Hayes Phillips Corrects The Record

Last week Richard Hayes Phillips reported in an article in the Governeur Times “Impossible Numbers Certified in NY-23” as we carried here.

This week in a letter to the editor, he corrects the record based on further information: Letter to the Editor on NY-23 Results <read>

It was reported last week that the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections had certified impossible numbers for the special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District.  Just hours before certification, I received from the Board, in a .pdf file, by e-mail, their results for each election district (precinct).  These contained, for six election districts (four in Canton, one in Massena, and one in Oswegatchie), more votes counted for the candidates than the reported number of ballots cast and, therefore, negative numbers for “blank ballots” or “undervotes.”  These negative numbers actually appear, in a computer printout, in the .pdf file

The author has since learned that only the cumulative results for each contest, not the results for each election district, are actually certified to the State.  Thus it is not strictly correct that these negative numbers appeared in the certified results.  But they did appear in the district (precinct) totals from which the certified cumulative results were derived.

In response to the article, the Board of Elections, as always, has provided the data needed to analyze the situation.  Only the numbers for “total” ballots cast and for “blank” ballots have changed for the six districts in question; the vote totals for the candidates remain the same.  For comparative analysis, the Board has provided a breakdown of how many voters in each district voted in which manner (machine, absentee, affidavit, or special federal).

A comparison of these data confirms that there were enough “machine” voters (actual voters at the polls) to account for the vote counts for the individual candidates in these six districts. This is what my audit of the poll books had shown, as reported in the original article…

Thus, neither the “whole number” of ballots cast, nor the negative numbers for “blank votes” or undervotes, e-mailed to me by the Board of Elections just hours before certification, can possibly be explained in five of six cases.  No vote counting system should ever produce negative numbers. If negative numbers for “blank” votes are allowed by the computer program, “phantom votes” can be entered into the count, and this is a grievous flaw in the system.


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