The Evidence for Ballot Tampering in Escambia County, Florida
Escambia County had zero overvoted absentee ballots that contained exactly two marks for presidential candidates. The statistical probability for this is beyond astronomical. The only possible explanation is fraud committed by elections officials.
An examination of data collected by the Miami Herald(1) during its examination of overvoted ballots provides convincing evidence of fraud in the counting of absentee ballots in Escambia County. More than 21,500 absentee ballots were cast in Escambia, of which the Herald identified 296 ballots as overvoted. All these overvoted ballots contained three or more marks(2) in the presidential race. Not one ballot contained marks for exactly two presidential candidates. The odds against this result — no overvoted ballots with exactly two marks — are so high that "astronomical" would be an understatement.
Optically scanned ballots with distinct marks for two different candidates are a common occurrence. Such overvotes occur less frequently on absentee ballots than on ballots cast at the polls — but only when there is no "voter protection" at the polls. Various factors can influence the rate at which such ballots are cast, including ballot design (the rates at which overvotes are cast, and "double-marked" ballots occur, are significantly higher in those counties that split their presidential race between two columns than in the counties where all the candidates were listed in one column) and the make-up of the absentee pool of voters.
Even allowing for such factors, the complete lack of double-marked overvotes in the Herald data from Escambia County's absentee votes should raise questions that warrant an investigation into possible ballot tampering. In most counties, there are more double-marked overvotes than overvotes with three or more marks. No other county even comes close to the results found in Escambia County, where overvoted absentee ballots were exclusively marked three or more times. The odds against this result occurring naturally are so prohibitive that, unless the Herald data is completely erroneous, fraudulent tampering with the ballots is the only explanation.
According to the Orlando Sentinel(3), more than 10,000 ballots were duplicated in at least 26 Florida counties because they were "damaged or defective" (as permitted by law).(4) These duplicates included ballots that contained overvotes and undervotes where the voter's intent was determined. All but a handful were absentee ballots duplicated in Republican-dominated counties where votes cast at the polls were scanned and tabulated in individual precincts.
Nearly one quarter (2,400) of these duplicated ballots came from Escambia County alone, where duplicated ballots represented more than 11% of the absentee ballots cast.(5) According to the Sentinel, "Escambia's 'duplicating team' of more than a dozen poll workers went to great lengths — working until 2 a.m. — to make sure their absentee voters got a second or third look to have a mistaken ballot corrected and duplicated."
The Sentinel also states that the duplication of ballots was done "with no outside scrutiny," even though Florida law requires that duplicating ballots must be done "in the presence of witnesses."
Other Florida counties show results that warrant investigation. In both Bay and Santa Rosa Counties, for example, the percentage of absentee ballots that were overvoted is so much smaller than average that ballot tampering must be investigated both counties. At least two other counties (Flagler and Seminole) have very low rates of double-marked overvotes that also should be investigated.
Escambia's absentee overvote rate, in itself, is not low enough to raise suspicion; the absolute lack of any double-marked ballots is what is so noteworthy