Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Great Work By VoteRescue and VoteInSunshine Volunteers At The Texas Straw Poll


A small but very committed group of volunteers assembled on Saturday, September 1, at the Texas Republican Party Straw Poll in Fort Worth for the purpose of conducting a vote verification exit poll. The group succeeded in garnering a 23.8% participation rate, or 308 exit poll participants, among the 1300 official Republican delegates who voted in the official Straw Poll.

Below are our results, set side-by-side with the "official" results from the Straw Poll: (click image to enlarge)

The largest discrepancy between the exit poll results and the official results was in Ron Paul's totals. The exit poll showed Dr. Paul coming in second after Duncan Hunter with 90 (out of 308) votes and 29.22% of the total; the "official" results showed him coming in third with 217 (out of 1300) votes and 16.69% of the total.

"Pen, Pencil, Pen, Pencil, Pen, Pencil..."

As we hand-counted our results outside the main entrance of the Convention Center in full public view, a delegate/voter approached our table and mentioned that when he went to vote, he reached for a pencil, then thought better of it since he realized his vote could easily be erased. He told us that he then noticed that a pen and a pencil were provided at each voting station. Another delegate/voter who came over to talk with us heard the first gentleman's comment and, with a look of dismay, realized that she, too, had used a pencil to vote. She said, "I can't believe I was so stupid!" The Tarrant Party Republican Party Chair, Stephanie Klick, had told one of Ron Paul's supporters that permanent ink pens would be used for marking the ballots.

No public or media observers of the counting were allowed

director Karen Renick last week had communicated to the Texas GOP a comprehensive list of recommendations on how to assure that the hand-counted paper ballot Straw Poll election could be executed with the highest security and transparency possible. Due to the last-minute nature of these e-mail exchanges with Texas GOP Party Communications Director Hans Klingler, we do not know if he ever received or read these recommendations before going to Fort Worth to oversee the Straw Poll. (This e-mail exchange, including Karen's specific suggestions, will be posted on our website soon.)

In addition, there were many vulnerabilities in the "chain of custody" of the official ballots from the point at which the election ended until votes were being counted. Counters were allowed to bring in and keep by their side purses and bags. Media and citizen observers were not allowed in the room where counting took place. Those who were interested had to satisfy themselves with quick glances through small windows in the doors of the counting room. While each counter had an onlooker, it appeared that there were only three overall observers watching the count.

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