Exit Poll Versus Reported Vote Count
By Theodore de Macedo Soares
Election results from the computerized vote counts of the 2020 California Democratic Party presidential primary differed significantly from the results projected by the exit poll conducted by Edison Research and published by CNN at poll’s closing. According to the exit poll Sanders won big in CA (by 15%). The unobservable computer counts cut his lead by half (to 7.3%). In the total delegate count to date, substituting the estimated California and Texas exit poll delegate apportionments for the apportionments derived from the computer counts, results in candidate Sanders currently leading candidate Biden by 42 delegates instead of trailing by 45. The possibility exists that massive voter suppression is currently occurring during the extended unfinished count of California ballots.
The combined discrepancies between the exit poll and the vote count for candidates Sanders and Biden currently totals 7.7%; more than double the 3.1% margin of error for the exit poll difference between the two. Warren’s and Biden’s discrepancies totals 5.6%, double the 2.5% margin of error. All margin of errors calculated at 95% confidence interval (CI). See table note 5. Values greater than the margin of error are considered statistically significant. The discrepancies in favor of Biden in California as in many of the other states to date, substantially exceed the margin of error at 99% (CI).
The discrepancies between the exit poll and the vote count for candidates Sanders and Bloomberg totals 6.7%; more than double the 2.6% margin of error for the exit poll difference between the two. Warren’s and Bloomberg’s discrepancies totals 4.6%, about double the 2.1% margin of error. To date, California computers totaled 250,600 less votes for Sanders and Warren than projected by the exit polls and 236,700 more votes for Biden and Bloomberg.
The discrepancies between the exit polls’ projections of each candidate’s vote share and the vote shares derived from unobservable computer counts have a considerable impact on the apportionment of delegates to each candidate. The apportionment of delegates is, after all, the main reason for these state primaries.
The current (3/9/2020) apportionment of California delegates, in accordance with the computer counts, stands at 185 for Sanders and 143 for Biden. (These numbers will change in the following days). The estimate derived from the exit polls calculates to 207 delegates for Sanders and 122 for Biden. In Texas, computer counts resulted in 90 delegates for Sanders and 102 for Biden. Sanders’ Texas’ exit poll estimates at 121 delegates for Sanders and 71 for Biden. Substituting California and Texas exit polls’ estimated delegate count for the computer derived counts results in Sanders leading the current delegate count by 543 to 501 for Biden. See endnote for detailed procedures.[i]
A week after Super Tuesday’s elections, the California vote count stands at 89% completed according to the NYT and 70% according to CNN. California’s website for the Secretary of State (SOS) provides a link to a PDF estimate of 3 million votes remaining uncounted between March 4-6. Almost all are mail-in ballots and provisional votes. The SOS website states: “In processing vote-by-mail ballots [and provisional ballots], elections officials must confirm each voter’s registration status, verify each voter’s signature on the vote-by-mail envelope, and ensure each person did not vote elsewhere in the same election before the ballot can be counted.” At the end of this examination and final count, the main question that the SOS must answer is how many of these votes were not counted—100,000, 200,000, half a million or much less?
By all accounts so called “voter fraud,” when a voter votes more than once in an election, is exceedingly rare. Anecdotally, I recall reading news of only one prosecution for such fraud. The second question that the SOS must answer is how many mail-in and provisional voters they positively identified as having voted twice in this election?
The third question that must be answered is how many votes were not counted because of some variation between the signature on the ballot and the voter registration form. As there is, to my knowledge, literally no evidence that “voter fraud” exists beyond single numbers in the U.S. the answers to these questions will determine if the office of California’s Secretary of State is participating in massive voter suppression.
The United States remains one of the
few major democracies in the world that continue to allow computerized vote
counting—not observable by the public—to determine the results of its
Countries such as Germany,[iii]
Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and many other countries
protect the integrity and trust of their elections with publicly observable
hand-counting of paper ballots.[vi]
 Exit poll (EP) downloaded from CNN’s website by TDMS on election night, March 3, 2020 at 11:00 PM ET. Candidates’ exit poll percentage/proportion derived from the gender category. Number of EP respondents: 2,350. As this first published exit poll was subsequently adjusted towards conformity with the final computerized vote count, the currently published exit poll differs from the exit poll used here and available through the link below.
 Candidates’ percentage/proportion of the total computer-generated vote counts derived from reported counts (94% reporting) updated on March 6, 2020 and published by The New York Times. Total number of voters: 3,290,429
 The difference between the exit poll proportion and reported vote proportion for each candidate (subtracting values in column two from the values in column three). A positive value indicates the candidate did better and received a greater share of the total reported count than projected by the exit poll. For example, candidate Biden, reported percentage/proportion of the total vote increased by 4.5% compared to his exit poll share.
 This column shows the percentage increase or decrease from the candidate’s exit poll projection (difference in column four divided by exit poll proportion in column two). Shown only for candidates with 4% or more share in the exit poll.
 This column presents a distinct Margin of Error (MOE) of the exit poll (EP) for the differences between candidate Biden and each of the other candidate’s EP results. The exit poll MOE, for example, between Biden and Sanders is 4.0% and the MOE between Biden and Warren is 3.9%. For simplicity MOE not shown for candidates with less than 4% share in the EP. MOE calculated at 95% CI according to multinomial formula in: Franklin, C. The ‘Margin of Error’ for Differences in Polls. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. October 2002, revised February 2007. Available at: https://abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit/MOEFranklin.pdf
 The disparities between the exit poll and the reported computer-generated vote counts comparing Biden and each of the other candidates (subtracting each candidate’s difference between exit poll and computer count from Biden’s difference of 4.5%.). Disparities for candidates Sanders and Warren are double their respective MOE. For example, candidate Biden’s unverified computerized vote count exceeded his EP projected vote proportion by 4.5% while Sander’s computerized count understated his EP projected vote proportion by 3.7% for at total discrepancy of 8.2%. This 8.2% disparity, greatly exceeding the statistical 4.0% margin of error based on their exit poll proportions, is significant as it cannot be attributed to the MOE.
[i] Delegates are usually apportioned by a mix: delegates from the proportions of votes at the congressional district level and the proportions at the state level. Examination of the data indicated this fact not significant in estimating delegate apportionment using exit poll vote shares. As only two candidates received 100% of delegates in CA, their
computer vote proportions of 33.8% for Sanders to 26.5% for Biden were transformed to total 100%, keeping their vote proportion ratios they became 56% Sanders, 44% Biden. Sanders’ assigned 185 delegates was divided by his 56% share to determine number of delegates per percentage of vote share—3.30 delegates per percentage point. The same approach with Biden’s assigned 143 delegates resulted in 3.25 delegates per percentage point. As these numbers were virtually identical, varying by less than 0.05, the mix of delegate sources had no significant effect.
The exit poll shares (38% for Sanders and 23% for Biden) were transformed to total 100% keeping their exit poll ratios: 63% Sanders, 37% Biden). These transformed shares were then multiplied by the votes per share times 100 to arrive at 207 delegates for Sanders and 122 for Biden (totaling 329 delegates, and due to rounding almost exactly equaling the 328 total delegates assigned by the vote count). Similar calculations were performed for the Texas primary. This detailed procedure should be enough to duplicate by others and an Excel worksheet is available upon request.
[ii] Fittingly, according to a recent Gallup World Poll, only 40% of Americans say they are confident in the honesty of U.S. elections. Finland and Norway with 89% of their citizens expressing confidence in the honesty of their elections along with the citizens of 25 other countries have greater confidence in their elections than do Americans.
[iii] In 2009 the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled that every important aspect of an election must be observable by the public and thus “meet the constitutional requirements of the principle of the public nature of elections.” No amount of machine testing, security requirements, and licensing procedures can compensate for the constitutional requirement that “the essential steps of the electoral procedure being examined by the citizens.” And “trust in the regularity of the election
only [be realized] by the citizens themselves being able to reliably retrace the voting.”
The court also noted that while vote fraud with hand-counted ballots would be easy to detect, “programming errors in the software or deliberate electoral fraud committed by manipulating the software of electronic voting machines can be recognized only with difficulty.”
[iv] During the 2007 presidential election, eighty-three municipalities (France has 36,569 municipalities) were allowed to use voting machines. Due to security concerns and the inability of voters to determine if their votes are counted correctly a moratorium, that remains today, prevents additional municipalities from introducing voting machines. In the 2012 elections only 64 municipalities continued their use. The French government desires a total ban on their use.
[vi] The United States’ long ballots–containing federal, state, and local races–are commonly cited as being unwieldy for hand-counting. The use of Sweden’s method of providing different colored paper ballots for federal, state, and local races that are then sorted prior to hand-counting addresses this objection and allows for at least the hand-counting of federal elections with only three races per ballot.
California 2020 Democratic Party Primary Exit Poll. Published by CNN at poll’s closing on election night.
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