A Hollow Victory for Election Transparency

Election Integrity Supporters Show Up in Full Force

Sedgwick County Courthouse
Courthouse in Sedgwick County, KS Photo credit: Ichabod / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Statistician and election activist Beth Clarkson, who was recently profiled on WhoWhatWhy, suffered a setback in her effort to investigate irregular voting patterns in her Kansas home district.

In a motion-to-dismiss hearing, a judge affirmed Clarkson’s right to go to trial to argue for a recount, but he denied her request to view paper voting tapes that she says are essential to the process.

“If we’re not going to look at those paper records, then we’re just doing theater. We’re not doing an audit,” she told WhoWhatWhy.

Clarkson, who has been involved in election activism since 2012, is trying to conduct a recount in order to certify that votes cast in Sedgwick County’s 2014 elections are indeed accurate.

Throughout the years, she has discovered numerous statistical anomalies in voting results that she believes may point to election fraud. The strange patterns specifically involve an abnormally high amount of votes for Republican candidates in larger versus small precincts.

The records at the center of Clarkson’s lawsuit are known as Real Time Audit Logs (RTALs), or paper rolls printed by voting machines that show all the votes cast on that particular device. Judge Tim Lahey ruled that the issue of access to these records was already settled in a previous lawsuit initiated by Clarkson, which she lost while representing herself.

Without the RTALs, the recount can only be conducted with electronic materials, which Clarkson says are insufficient. Only the physical paper records can provide the raw results. Electronic data is vulnerable to hacking and manipulation. Instead of going to trial next month, she plans to exercise her option to appeal the decision.

Supporters Show Up in Unprecedented Numbers

Despite the disappointing ruling, Clarkson’s supporters showed up in force at the hearing. The courtroom was packed with a crowd of over 100.

“I had asked people who’ve been following my case if they could make it to the courthouse to show up and express their interest,” she said. “We had a tremendous turnout. It was standing room only. All the chairs were filled. And I heard that there were people who were outside in the halls who couldn’t actually get into the courtroom.”

Lahey told The Wichita Eagle that in his combined 26 years on the bench, he has never had so many spectators in attendance for this type of hearing.

Clarkson said she felt overwhelmed by how many people came out to support her cause and also how the issue has become so meaningful to so many people.

“I felt so really alone. Nobody paid any attention to this,” she said describing how she felt during her first days of examining the integrity of her local elections. “I’m really grateful and encouraged that so many other people share my concerns now.”

Without a reliable audit, Clarkson stressed that there is no way of knowing whether elections in Sedgwick County can be trusted.

“I can’t have faith in the accuracy of whatever they announce. It’s just a really bad feeling.”


Related front page panorama photo credit:  Beth Clarkson (bethclarkson.com)

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6 responses to “A Hollow Victory for Election Transparency”

  1. (Comment by reader @ThWormHasTurned) I did many a research project & personality assessments on him in grad school… Evidence points to yes…

  2. (Comment by @TransparentKS) Not a setback. Be prepared when everyone asks for paper ballots.

  3. PecosinRat says:

    I’ve seen some detailed articles of Ms. Clarkson’s analysis demonstrating the very clear possibility that elections have been stolen. However, I have a couple of questions. First, did she find multiple elections that demonstrated the tell-tale more-voters-for-a-candidate-in-larger-precincts characteristic? Did all the candidates with this characteristic win?

    • archer says:

      There was an article written about the Ron Paul elections that was too detailed to recount here. The article was well-researched and had graphs from many previous elections. What the author was trying to convey was that after about 70 or 80% of the votes were counted, a big drop near the end of the counting is a statistically significant anomaly, strongly indicative of fraud. All else equal – and certainly in all the elections he checked, a candidate’s numbers don’t just bottom out near the end.

    • PecosinRat says:

      I believe a description of the statistical analysis being used by Dr. Clarkson can be found on the Net in a paper, titled “2008/2012 Election Anomalies”, by James Johnson and Francois Choquette. The report lays out the basic approach (I believe) Dr. Clarkson is using in Kansas to pull back the curtain on the invisible electronic vote collecting and vote counting process that is now part of most of the country’s election machinery. Unfortunately, their presentation has some conclusions that give the appearance of a partisan bias. And, the analysis, like all statistics, is not “proof” of a crime in the same way that having the hacking code, the hacker, and a video of him loading it into a voting machines surreptitiously would be evidence. It certainly can be sufficient evidence to suggest that the risks of un-observable electronic voting and vote-counting long-dismissed by election authorities are much higher than have been admitted by anyone in the public sphere.