This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
An Epic Debunking of an “Elections Expert” (and Her Legacy Media Ally)
Stu Cvrk 6/18/2021 5:01 AM
Election audits, election audits. Trump supporters are all a-dither because a LOT of states are either in the process of reexamining election irregularities and/or are responding to the demands of their citizens to investigate the numerous allegations of election fraud in 2020. This nearly 5000-word update Friday summarized election-related stories in 11 states that made the news over the past week.
But what is the Democrat-media complex doing since the results from the first significant audit in Arizona are just around the corner? Their narrative consists of multiple prongs: (1) disparaging the auditors and the few nationally-known Republicans who support audits, (2) insisting the 2020 election was “the most secure ever,” (3) claiming that even if there was any fraud, that fraud was insufficient to change the election results, (4) using every legal challenge possible to stop/prevent audits, (5) dragging out their big guns like Barack Obama to mislead and attack pro-audit Republicans, (6) lining up the politicized DoJ Civil Rights Division to intervene in Arizona behind the smokescreen of “protecting voting rights,” and (7) relying on their “election experts” to literally lie about the various in-process and/or soon-to-be initiated audits. Think that last one is a bit too direct and “not nice”? Then read on….
Before exposing one of the “election experts” making the rounds in the legacy media these days as the knave and fool that she is, here is just one key statistic from independent analysis of the elections that the Democrat-media complex NEVER addresses: the four million negative votes nationwide, as depicted in a table in Chapter 9 of an independent report that analyzed MITRE’s flawed election analysis:
The source of the table above is Edison Research election reporting. Edison reports the actual vote totals from counties across the US in real time.
Negative votes are found when the total sum for either presidential candidate decreases as the votes are reported by the counties Negative votes should only occur when election officials discover that votes were entered into the system erroneously, such as a county entering the same results twice or perhaps a data entry error inflating a candidate’s vote count. Any negative votes should thus be relatively small numbers.
Note: in a “secure election,” vote tabulation updates should continually increase throughout the counting process, and NEVER decrease, except for the aforementioned minor negative vote changes due to errors. However, that is not what happened in many states. Take Pennsylvania as but one example. Negative votes occurred there on election night. There was a massive subtraction across the board on 4 November at 02:14:32 GMT (or 3 November at 9:15 PM EST): -196K Biden, -42K Trump, and -1K Third Party Candidate. Subtractions continued on for weeks. The last significant negative vote in PA was on 25 November at 0:25:20 GMT (or 24 November at 7:25 PM EST): -30K Biden, -2.6K Trump, -.4K Third Party Candidate. Interestingly, the Edison Research stream for Pennsylvania ended on 4 December, but Wisconsin had an update on 8 March! Needless to say, this is all highly irregular.
The team that completed the negative vote analysis found that negative votes existed in every state but two, and in massive numbers — 5% of ALL updates were negative. Furthermore, the corrected errors resulting in negative votes had peculiar patterns warranting further investigation, such as only being removed from Trump after 3:00 AM EST on 4 November, or the sum of the negative votes over the election being exactly equal to the margin between Biden and Trump. What does that say about the Democrat-media claim #2 that the 2020 election was “the most secure ever”? Answer: it literally shouts “full forensic audit needed everywhere” when a minimum of 4 million negative votes cannot be properly accounted for!
One more item that the Democrat-media complex has completely ignored in the “most secure election ever” narrative relates to the vote spikes in the middle of Election Day night that delivered victory to The Hologram. From that same independent report:
[O]ur team found a vote spike in Edison data that advantaged Biden by 135,290 votes [in Michigan] that occurred at 6:31 AM EST on November 4, 2020. This vote spike was never corrected and is nearly the margin of difference in the 2020 Michigan election. In addition, our team found eight other (8) spikes of over 100,000 votes in the key battleground states. None of those spikes were corrected – or logically explained – and clearly impact the outcomes in those states.
The issue with the vote spikes is not the total number per se, but the margins between Biden and Trump in most of the spikes and when they occurred. In Georgia and Michigan, the spikes occurred after the infamous State Farm Arena incident and the infamous TCF Center delivery truck incident in Detroit. In Arizona, as was previously detailed here, the first two vote dumps made just one hour after the polls closed on Election Day night were from Maricopa County and exceeded the total vote count for Maricopa over the entire election in 2020.
Be sure to keep the 4 million negative votes and the 8 vote spikes of greater than 100,000 in mind while reading the rest of this article.
On to debunking the lies of Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute and the former Direction of Elections for the City and County of Denver, Colorado. She is a leftwing activist supporting mail-in balloting, having put her activism to work in helping turn Colorado blue through mail-in balloting and ballot harvesting. As a reward for her successful activism, she was nominated by the Hologram to serve on the Board of Governors for the US Postal Service and was confirmed by the Senate on 13 May.
McReynolds has been making the rounds in Democrat-friendly media to disparage the need for election audits and the auditing processes themselves. In this MSNBC interview, she claims that “disinformation” – not actual fraud – is the “biggest election security issue that we face.”
She would have us believe that there are no issues whatsoever with mail-in balloting simply because a number of states have expanded the practice over the past few years while attributing the “lies and conspiracies” about mail-in voter fraud to President Trump. It is an assertion without proof – a Democrat specialty. Much of that interview is about “improving the voting experience” with absolutely nothing mentioned about the vote counting experience, which is what really matters. Who cares if voters “enjoy” their voting experience if they cannot be certain that their votes are properly counted and certified? She cavalierly makes claims of “election security disinformation,” but has she EVER examined any of the direct evidence of election fraud such as the above analysis of that MITRE election report (or any of the reports, studies, and analyses posted here)? I highly doubt it because those destroy her claims.
McReynolds was also the “election expert” quoted by leftwing journalist Stephen Fowler in a recent article about election security in 2020. Fowler has made a habit of writing pieces for Georgia Public Broadcasting (an NPR/PBS affiliate) that repeat the Democrat-media election narratives. He is the prototypical election fraud denier who completely believes government statements that there were no irregularities in the 2020 election, and from his articles, it is clear that he has no idea what a real full forensic audit is, either. Fowler quoting McReynolds is a perfect storm of Democrat election fraud denial.
Retired senior DoD analyst Ray Blehar, who is registered as a non-affiliated (independent) voter, skewered a 7 June Fowler-McReynolds piece entitled, “Here’s How Georgia Could Conduct A Forensic Audit Of November’s Election.” Here is his masterful paragraph-by-paragraph rebuttal. Be sure to examine the information at Blehar’s various links throughout his commentary below:
From the article: In Arizona, the state Senate successfully sued to get access to Maricopa County's 2.1 million ballots, even after two post-election audits were conducted by a Republican-controlled board that confirmed Biden's victory. A partisan third-party group has been "auditing" the votes in recent weeks.
Blehar: There were not two post-election audits in Arizona nor were the audits controlled by the board of supervisors in Maricopa County. First, there was a hand recount of ballots based on sampling, but not in every county. This was overseen by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. There was also a review conducted by two teams of auditors who were not certified by the US Election Assistance Commission when they were hired by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (MCBOS). That audit reviewed only a few voting machines to determine if they counted ballots correctly, that they were not connected to the internet, and were not infected with malware or hacked. However, according to election experts, vote shifting malware can go undetected.
Detecting vote shifting malware starts with analysis of the election results to determine if there are questionable variations, such as large deviations from expected results based on projections from voter registration trends, polling projections, large variations in results by voting method, and numerous other indicators. Note that some of these issues were present in 2016 and 2020. To determine if the variations were caused by malware, the paper ballots should be closely examined, and recounted, as well as examination conducted of the voting systems (voting machines and related devices). This is similar to the process taking place in Maricopa County, Arizona. Note this 2016 reminder from Edward Snowden:
From the article: Former Department of Homeland Security official Matt Masterson told NPR that Arizona's review is "performance art," a "clown show," and definitely "a waste of taxpayer money" that threatens confidence in democracy and is not an actual audit. A conservative radio host in Phoenix and ardent Trump supporter has begun making similar remarks, backing away from his previous support of the audit and now summing it up as "the sideshow at the state fair."
Blehar: Neither Matt Masterson nor radio host Mike Broomhead provide any facts to support their positions about the legitimacy of the ongoing Arizona audits. Broomhead's opposition to the audit is solely based on his position that it is dividing the Republican Party. Masterson, in an NPR interview, cited no specific issues with the audit process. Instead, Masterson, who was formerly employed by DHS's election security division, almost certainly opposes the Maricopa audit because HIS OFFICE said the 2020 election was the safest and most secure ever. Cutting to the chase, Masterson remarks are self-serving, as he has a direct conflict of interest. It is very likely that he fears that the Arizona audit will prove he (and the Election Systems Companies) made their fateful statement about how secure the election was without reviewing any data or machines after the election.
From the article: Now, prominent Republicans in Georgia, ranging from newly reelected party chairman David Shafer to both gubernatorial primary candidates seeking to unseat Gov. Brian Kemp, are calling for Georgia's ballots to go down a similar "forensic audit" path after the 5 million presidential votes were already counted three times, including an audit, before the results were certified.
Blehar: Again, Fowler exaggerated what transpired in Georgia after the November election. There were not three recounts nor was there any "audit" of the votes. First, Philip Stark, the inventor of the Risk Limiting Audit (RLA), made it clear that Georgia's election was so disorganized (due to ballot chain of custody and other issues) that it was unable to perform an RLA. Next, perhaps Fowler was confused because Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger referred to the full hand recount using three different terms: audit, recount, and canvass. To be clear, Georgia did a hand recount of all 5 million ballots – once. However, election experts were also horrified by recount procedure. Noted election expert Harri Hursti reported that he had observed dozens of changes to the software used to manage the recount. Hursti also added that no one approved the software or the changes. Richard DeMillo, a computer science professor from Georgia Tech and an observer of the recount, noted that different counties were using different procedures for the recount. Finally, citizen observers noted that the recount had startling anomalies, such as 500 ballots in a row being counted for Joe Biden. What is the probability of that happening?
From the article: Many of the lingering claims about Georgia's elections come from a dramatic rise in mail-in absentee ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic, leading to some genuine questions about a relatively unfamiliar part of the elections process. But much of the narrative around alleged voter fraud has been driven by baseless accusations of wrongdoing — and seemingly willful misrepresentations of steps officials take to keep ballots secure. An ongoing lawsuit in Fulton County seeks to unseal more than 145,000 absentee ballots only and inspect them for evidence of counterfeit or fraudulent ballots, but that is currently on hold after all of the defendants in the case filed motions to dismiss.
Blehar: The "lingering claims" are, in reality, legal attempts to determine if the ballots pulled from under the tables in State Farm Arena, and then counted with no observers present, were legitimate ballots. The lawsuit is definitely not because of any confusion over the absentee voting process, but based on the surveillance video from State Farm Arena. Attempts by Georgia election officials Gabriel Sterling and Frances Watson to explain away the late-night surreptitious vote count as legal and legitimate are simply not credible.
From the article: But based on a GPB News analysis of Georgia election rules and practices, extensive reporting on Georgia's new election system and interviews with elections experts, there is no way to "forensically audit" absentee ballots or votes printed out by ballot-marking devices, and numerous safeguards are in place to verify only legal votes are counted. Additionally, any "audit" done at this point could not alter the outcome or any election results, unlike pre-certification post-election audits many states conduct.
Blehar: GPB’s analysis of election rules and voting systems, the opinions of anonymous experts stating there was no way to "forensically audit" absentee ballots, and that there are "safeguards in place to verify only legal votes were counted” are nothing more than partisan misinformation that maintains the status quo. Whichever candidate wins uses these arguments to stop recounts and/or examination of the ballots (e.g., Trump’s legal team challenged the Jill Stein recounts in 2016).
From the article: The term "forensic audit" is traditionally used in the financial world to uncover embezzlement or other financial crimes by combing through minute details of accounts. These issues are traced to individual transactions or people — but that is not possible with elections. The right to a secret ballot means after a voter's eligibility is confirmed (either in person or with signatures and identification for mail-in ballots), officials can no longer tie a ballot back to a specific person. This is by design.
Blehar: In reality, it is complete nonsense. Each ballot is the equivalent of a financial transaction and an audit can determine if those transactions were properly counted. Moreover, statistical analysis of vote totals can reveal anomalies in the results, such as one candidate receiving far fewer or far more votes than other party associates in the same locality. This type of anomaly can be machine error and was among the reasons that Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested recounts in the 2016 election. While it is true that ballots cannot be tied to the individual voters, a full forensic audit uses voter registration data to determine if the voting totals make sense. In 2018, a Georgia Mud Creek precinct in Habersham County reported 670 ballots cast, but there were only 276 voters registered at the time.
From the article: [Amber McReynolds] said Republicans and other pro-Trump groups pushing for these so-called audits are asking for things that don't exist, and are furthering conspiracy theories that show a lack of understanding about the secure election processes used across the country. "Those asking for this are clearly responding to conspiracies and lies about the election process driven by one person that lost due to not achieving enough votes or having enough support," McReynolds said. "The legal attempts all failed due to a lack of evidence, so now these situations are attempting to create evidence that does not exist to simply continue the lie."
Blehar: McReynolds is simply repeating a false, media talking point that court cases about the 2020 election were dismissed due to lack of evidence. A review by independent analysts found that there were 87 cases filed regarding the 2020 election and that the courts dismissed the cases on legal technicalities -- without any review of the evidence. Moreover, of the 24 cases that were decided on the evidence (i.e., the merits), Trump and GOP litigants were successful in 17 cases -- or nearly 75%.
From the article: She likens attempts in Arizona, Georgia and elsewhere to "audit" votes to a team that lost a football game ignoring the referees, the rules and the other team in an isolated effort to change their score without actually scoring more points.
Blehar: It is the opposite. Audits are being conducted in states that changed the rules of the game without the consent of their respective legislatures and/or in cases where there are questions about the legitimacy of the votes that were included in the count.
From the article: There are actual audits and other safeguards in the election system that are designed to catch mistakes and anomalies and ensure that the outcomes are legitimate. In Denver, McReynolds created a "ballot life cycle" that shows all of the steps taken to prepare for the pre- and post-election process. When the rare cause of fraud does occur, like in New Jersey where a city council race was re-done after postal workers found suspicious ballots, the protocols enacted to catch fraudulent activity worked as designed.
Blehar: This trope is repeated by the Left all the time, however, very few states conducted anything resembling an audit before votes were certified. Most states conduct canvasses to determine if the counts are correct, but these are subject to human and machine error, as was the case in Antrim County, Michigan. The canvass in Antrim County failed to detect data entry errors that significantly changed the vote totals for the presidential candidates as they did not compare the poll tapes to the counts from the machines.
From the article: A relatively new addition to Georgia elections law, passed in 2019, is what's known as a risk-limiting audit, or RLA, which uses statistics to determine the minimum number of ballots you randomly need to manually examine to hit a certain confidence level that the correct person won the race. McReynolds said RLAs are the best form of a post-election audit, and while Georgia's full hand count audit is not how RLAs are typically conducted (even with tight margins, fewer than all ballots are pulled), the procedures in place on certified equipment overseen by professionals is a night-and-day difference from other "audits" currently underway or proposed.
Blehar: An RLA can verify that the results are accurate within a desired confidence level/confidence interval, however, all an RLA does is verify the count. An RLA does nothing in the way of determining if all votes cast were legal votes or whether votes were shifted by malware or computer hacking. [Remember, McReynolds is supposed to be an elections expert!]
From the article: But what about the possibility of someone inserting fake pre-filled ballots into the process and altering the counts, like when former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr said "it'd be very hard" to stop foreign countries from meddling in elections that way? McReynolds said that also comes from a misunderstanding about the election process. "With absentee ballots, there are multiple verification steps to send a ballot and then receive a voted ballot back," she said. "You cannot just produce 'counterfeit absentee ballots' without being caught in these steps."
Blehar: The implementation of voter drop boxes negates a step of the process and makes the system ripe for cheating through ballot harvesting and/or counterfeit ballots.
From the article: In Georgia, there are a number of safeguards in place. A counterfeit absentee ballot would somehow have to match the same paper style, have the same outer timing marks that help the scanner identify what choices to count for which race, have the same races and candidates as the precinct it is attempting to emulate, be matched to a voter with a tracking bar code, have the correct special envelope for ballots to be returned, match the voter's information and signature — and do all this without a voter knowing this was done in their name.
Blehar: In Georgia, there is not only eye-witness confirmation of suspected counterfeit ballots but Georgia election officials stated that incredibly high numbers of ballots had to be adjudicated. Fulton County elections director Richard Barron stated his teams adjudicated 106,000 out of 113,130 ballots. Write-in ballots, misaligned ballots, double-marked ballots, and ballots with stray marks can end up in adjudication. The statistics in Fulton County clearly indicate a problem with ballots.
From the article: Plus, Georgia's voter history file and absentee voter file are public, so campaigns, researchers, journalists and elections officials would notice anomalies including more votes than voters, unusual duplicate requests and other things that could indicate fake ballots were somehow allowed through. The bottom line: It would be virtually impossible for someone to insert a counterfeit ballot into the election, let alone mass quantities to alter the outcome of the election.
Blehar: More nonsense. Analysts reviewed Georgia's voter files and determined there over 10,000 votes cast by dead people, 15,700 votes cast by people who did not reside at the address from where the absentee ballot was requested, 2,560 votes illegally cast by felons, and 66,247 votes cast by underage voters. Clearly, these illegal votes are of significant volumes to change the outcome of the Georgia presidential election.
From the article: McReynolds said people need to give more credit to their local elections officials who closely watch over all parts of the election process to ensure things run smoothly. … In the weeks after Georgia's November election, several election supervisors resigned or were fired after finding thousands of votes that were not included in their tallies (primarily in Republican-leaning counties), but were discovered before certification — as the process is designed to do. But especially after the 2020 election cycle that saw Georgia's votes counted three separate times — including once by hand — McReynolds said the numerous steps already taken by elections officials to ensure election integrity should be trusted and explained to counteract "conspiracies and lies" about the election.
Blehar: Local elections officials did not follow legal procedures that were in place to protect the integrity of the vote. It is a fact that observers in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan were barred from meaningful observation of the vote count and of the adjudication process. In addition, state election officials, like Raffensberger in Georgia and Kathy Boockvar in Pennsylvania, changed election procedures without approval of the state legislatures. A Michigan judge ruled that Benson violated election law.
From the article: If lawmakers were serious about election integrity, McReynolds said, they would learn how the systems work, and also expand their focus beyond large population centers that have more Democrats. "If these legislators or those pushing this actually felt there was something wrong in the election process," she said, "they would request to audit their own races or other counties."
Blehar: The Democrats’ stance on election fraud/election integrity is that it is not widespread, and that it is not in sufficient volume to change the outcome of the election. Therefore, to suggest expanding the focus to smaller populated areas would only serve their interests in maintaining the status quo. Fowler's other writings continuously refer to claims of election fraud as conspiracy theories. To date, there are over 5,000 affidavits swearing, under penalty of perjury, to election irregularities and/or illegal activities. This is 5,000 times more evidence than was present when Bob Mueller undertook a two-year investigation and spent $30 million on a genuine conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.
Conclusion: Whew! Now THAT was a blistering takedown! And zip, zero, nada from them on the negative votes or the vote spikes. Yet it is amazing that some people apparently slurp this swill with relish, believing everything that “election expert” Amber McReynolds says. Not me.
But why focus on McReynolds’s comments and that Fowler article? Why does what these two characters say matter? Because those same false arguments are being repeated by Attorney General Merrick Garland as the reason for doubling the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division’s “enforcement staff dedicated to protecting the right to vote in the next 30 days.” In short, false arguments – downright lies! – are being used to justify DoJ interference in constitutionally mandated state-run election processes. The Democrats are REALLY getting worried!
There will be an onslaught of McReynolds-like interviews in the legacy media in the coming days and weeks calling for shutting down all audits in all of the states. The rejoinder to hacks like her clamoring for an “end to audits” is simple: if 2020 was the most secure election in history, what is your precise problem with conducting full forensic audits to verify that fact in various states? The response will be dead silence.
Stu Cvrk retired as a Captain after serving 30 years in the US Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. Through education and experience, an oceanographer and systems analyst, Stu is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education, which serves as the key foundation for his political commentary.
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