Well That Didn’t Take Long — New Hampshire Losers Allege Voter Fraud

It hasn’t even been two days since the polls closed in New Hampshire, and the allegations of voter fraud have already started:

AUSTIN – The results weren’t even in when the blogosphere started to hum with a theory that sharply divided Democrats online: Barack Obama lost to Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Hampshire because the vote was rigged.

“Something stinks in New Hampshire,” a commenter posted on the popular liberal site Americablog.com.

Curious about the “wildly inaccurate” polls that put Mr. Obama in a double-digit lead going into Tuesday’s primary, blogger Brad Friedman, a Los Angeles-based election-fraud watchdog, questioned the results as soon as they arrived, and all day Wednesday.

“Other folks that I’ve spoken to, who follow this sort of thing, share my concern at this hour,” he wrote on bradblog.com. “If I was Barack Obama, I’d certainly not have conceded this election this quickly. I’m not quite sure what he was thinking.”

And it was just the left wing bloggers who were crying vote fraud, the Ron Paul crowd has taken up the call as well:

It wasn’t just on the Democratic side: Supporters of Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Paul were pointing to discrepancies in at least one town, where dozens of votes cast were initially counted as zero – before an elections official corrected the error. Mr. Paul’s campaign did not return calls seeking comment.

Given the way elections, and their aftermath, have gone in this country since Bush v. Gore, it’s not entirely surprising that we would see something like this, though it’s a little surprising that it started almost as soon as the polls closed.

What’s really going on, of course, is that people simply aren’t willing to accept that the people of New Hampshire voted in a way different from what they would like. In the Obama case, I noted yesterday that there are several entirely reasonable explanations for the discrepancies between the last-minute polls and the results. Before concluding that Obama was the victim of a Clinton-esque conspiracy, perhaps his supporters should consider the fact that their candidate just plain old lost on Tuesday.

The same goes for the Ron Paul supporters making the same allegations. Apparently, there was one town where 31 votes were cast for Ron Paul but were not properly transcribed on to the official tally sheet that is used by the state. That error was correct and was obviously the result of a human error, something that has happened in elections since the beginning of the Republic. But the Paul-ites have latched onto this isolated incident and have bought into the looney left’s story of a Diebold-run conspiracy.

But, you know, facts are stubborn things, and, as this post over at Daily Kos points out, there was no vote rigging in New Hampshire:

Many folks immediately suspect that any election results they found surprising—and whether they know enough about local and statewide voting patterns to be surprised is always a good question—are most easily explained by malfeasance by the Diebold corporation or exploitation of its machines. There are many problems for these folks who look for the most exotic (and maybe reassuring) explanation for an election result they don’t like, but in this case, let’s start out with a fairly basic one: voters in every town in New Hampshire cast their vote on a paper ballot, and in more than half of the towns in New Hampshire, the paper ballots are counted by hand.

Fewer than half the towns in New Hampshire tabulate votes with optical scanners. More than half the votes cast are counted by optical scanners, as most of the bigger cities and towns—including Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth, Concord, Claremont, Hanover, Keene and Plymouth—use the scanners. But more municipalities count by hand. And as someone relatively well-versed in the voting patterns of New Hampshire, let me tell you there appear to be no discrepancies in the Clinton/Obama/Edwards votes between the towns that tabulate votes by scanning and those that count by hand. Obama won many of the larger towns—Keene, Hanover, Concord, Portsmouth, Lebanon, Plymouth, Durham. Clinton won others—Manchester, Nashua, Berlin, Gorham, Claremont.

The writer doesn’t address the Republican race, but the evidence would be the same. Don’t blame Diebold for the fact that your candidate didn’t do as well as you might have liked.

The Kos diarist makes this final point:

[T]here’s tremendous arrogance and/or ignorance at play when people assume that Hillary Clinton’s victory in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary is or might be explained by election fraud.

And the same thing can be said about Ron Paul’s loss. The election in New Hampshire is over, it’s time to move on. Whether it’s Barack Obama or Ron Paul, you do your candidate no favor by rambling on about non-existent conspiracies.

Update: I neglected to link to it earlier, but you can find my examination of what really happened in the Obama/Hillary race here.

Update 1/11/08: Apparently, this entire fiasco has led to some unjustifiable harassment of the town clerk of Sutton, New Hampshire.