We appreciate Keith Olbermann immensely. We hope he stays on it and doesn't bow to an impatient news desk at NBC. He's trying reeeeealy hard to make it digestible to us ADD infomaniacs, and his work deserves your attention.
If by some small amazing turn of events you see John Kerry being sworn in on January 20th, you'll remember who in the mainstream media kept this story afloat.
LINK - I'll add one factor to explain the collective shrugged shoulder: reading this stuff is hard. It's hard work.As he said - it's hard work going through all this. And the above is my distilling of his distilling. As we've said many times, we're damned glad Olbermann has adopted this story - even during his vacation week - and we look forward to his nuturing it to bear more fruit in the coming weeks.
There are, as we know, lies, damn lies, and statistics. But there is one level of hell lower still - scholarly statistical studies. I have made four passes at "The Effect of Electronic Voting Machines on Change in Support for Bush in the 2004 Florida Elections," and the thing has still got me pinned to the floor.
Most of the paper is so academically dense that it seems to have been written not just in another language, but in some form of code. There is one table captioned "OLS Regression with Robust Standard Errors." Another is titled "OLS regressions with frequency weights for county size." Only the summary produced by Professor Michael Hout and the Berkeley Quantitative Methods Research Time is intelligible.
Of course, I'm reminded suddenly of the old cartoon, with the guy saying "I don't understand women," and the second guy saying, "So? Do you understand electricity?"
In his news conference yesterday at Berkeley (who attended? Who phoned in to the conference call? Why didn't they try?) Professor Hout analogized the report to a "beeping smoke alarm." It doesn't say how bad the fire it is, it doesn't accuse anybody of arson, it just says somebody ought to have an extinguisher handy.
...you are forced to conclude that compared to the Florida counties that used paper ballots, the ones that used electronic voting machines were much more likely to show "excessive votes" for Mr. Bush, and that the statistical odds of this happening organically are less than one in 1,000.
They also say that these "excessives" occurred most prominently in counties where Senator Kerry beat the President most handily. In the Democratic bastion of Broward, where Kerry won by roughly 105,000, they suggest the touch-screens "gave" the President 72,000 more votes than statistical consistency should have allowed. In Miami-Dade (Kerry by 55,000) they saw 19,300 more votes for Bush than expected. In Palm Beach (Kerry by 115,000) they claim Bush got 50,000 more votes than possible.
Hout and his research team consistently insisted they were not alleging that voting was rigged, nor even that what they've found actually affected the direction of Florida's 27 Electoral Votes. They point out that in a worst-case scenario, they see 260,000 "excessives" - and Bush took the state by 350,000 votes. But they insist that based on Florida's voting patterns in 1996 and 2000, the margin cannot be explained by successful get-out-the-vote campaigns, or income variables, or anything but something rotten in the touch screens.