– by Ryan Hill, Oklahoma Liberty and Integrity Group
After the 2020 election I had many questions that would not be answered by the major media outlets. Lots of us asked questions, but officials gave dismissive explanations or refused to consider what was put before them.
Nevertheless the public persisted, and throughout that November and December a few states held hearings, some of which I watched or listened to from start to finish. Testimonies from one state to another shared many similarities, giving me insight into how massive numbers of votes could be swung nationwide using a variety of methods.
Recall the challenges in Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and to a lesser extent in Nevada, Minnesota, even Virginia. There are probably others. Witnesses testified to seeing things like sequential absentee ballots that should have been in a random order from mailing, poll workers and watchers not being allowed to observe the count, specifically Republican observers being treated more harshly, such as over COVID protocols in place at the time, and more.
With how widespread this appeared to be, I wanted to find out what was going on in my own state. Although Oklahoma is considered a “solid red” state, across the nation once-safe Republican territories may be up for grabs in the near future, like Georgia was in 2020, sending its electors to a Democrat for the first time since 1992. States like Texas, considered red since 1980, are seeing shifts in voting, too.
So I decided to use my background in IT analytics, where I’ve worked with many large number sets, to break down the results from Nov 3. While I’d hoped to find nothing of interest, it’s become clear to me we have many of the same issues with elections as other states. And in order to properly address them – to have clean elections – people must know about them.
Getting Into The Numbers
Before going over the specific points, first let’s understand how our elections happen in Oklahoma. We do use paper ballots – we also use machines. We utilize 2 forms of “absentee” or early voting: mail in, and early in-person. Absentee ballots must be requested, and only up until the 3rd Monday before an election. They must be returned to the county election office by the voter, with very few exceptions, either in the mail by the end of the day of an election, or returned by hand until the day before. On Election Day, the absentee ballots are opened and tabulated. They are the first numbers reported after close of polls, at the same time as early in-person voting, followed by day-of votes from individual precincts, reported in batches.
With that in mind, here are the main problems I’ve found with the NUMBERS in Oklahoma’s 2020 election:
- Results curve is way too smooth, shows no scatter and appears computer-simulated
- Mail in performance ratio unnaturally favors Democrats – a county average of 26%
- High level of uniformity down-ticket & beyond partisan races
- Odd passage of unpopular questions or proposals
In addition, there are reports of procedural violations, and changes made to accommodate COVID practices that all add up to one thing: WE NEED AN AUDIT. Now let’s go into each class of problem, to see why the assurances that everything is OK aren’t settling the matter.
In any election analysis, you want to break down the final results into demographics to better understand where the vote came from. A winning candidate might do this to learn where their support base lives. A losing candidate may want to know where they need to boost performance to run again. In our case, we want to see if there are any anomalies in the data, or any indicators that something is amiss.
A county-level view of the state can be obtained from reports provided by the Oklahoma State Election Board, showing county and precinct vote totals for each candidate and every race.
By sorting this data for November 2020, a smooth curve is formed for either presidential candidate, from the county with the highest percentage (or ratio) of votes to the least. Because the contest was essentially between Biden and Trump their curves are nearly mirror images of each other. Shown here is Trump’s vote ratio:
Notice a few features of this curve. The reddest counties are toward the left, and bluest or most purple to the right. The curve itself is very smooth, and the generated polynomial line (in red) on top of it closely matches the actual ratio in each county. Only toward the left & right edges does it start to vary somewhat. Then see how the slope of the curve is steeper on the ends, as well. I wrote in more detail about this on my website.
So what does it mean? If you plot the results from any election, wouldn’t there be a curve? Yes, of course some curve would be formed, but how would it look? Would it be able to “hug” a mathematical expression so closely, or would there be more variation?
Here are a few fictitious examples to show how the results curve could appear differently:
If an election is polarized, you might see very few counties in the middle range (top graph), or theoretically, results might stack up evenly across the counties (middle), or candidates might have a sort of vote ceiling and never exceed it (bottom). More possibilities exist, and as time goes on I hope to be able to provide historical election examples that will supplement this point.
Now look at how the national 50-state + DC curve formed for the same 2020 election, as uncovered by Draza Smith, side-by-side with ours.
What are the chances they would look this similar?
While entering the individual county vote numbers for Trump and Biden, I also added in the other candidates for President, plus the statewide Senate races and state questions, along with each county’s House districts. This way I could compare multiple simultaneous contests with roughly the same number of voters each. (Exceptions being the House races.)
As I worked through the first dozen counties, it became painfully obvious there was a strong tendency for mail in votes to favor Biden and other Democrats. Proportional to their overall percentage, that is. So in “County A” Trump might have won the contest on Election Day 55-45%, yet with mail ins it would be 50-50, or even 45-55% (meaning in Biden’s favor).
When all our 77 counties are combined, each and every one of them swung towards the Democrat side of the ticket. Cleveland County went 29.68% in their favor, Oklahoma was 24.03%, Tulsa 30.48%, and Logan 30.64%, just to name a few. Even Cimarron County, with one of the lowest differences, comes in at 7.7%. Looking at the table, I was perplexed to find how unbelievably close the numbers were in the middle of the range – often within 0.1% of each other and sometimes .01% from one county to the next.
Wendi, my colleague with Oklahoma Liberty & Integrity, and I reviewed this in table format, then I added the graph, and with our eyes wide we saw yet another smooth curve.
Ironically, I hadn’t worked on the total vote ratio curve yet, otherwise I might have been even more aghast. But this was the first visual confirmation to me of what many people have suspected – something strange is going on with our mail in voting.
It can’t be repeated enough that if a natural, organic voter turnout resulted in one party or candidate doing better in a mail campaign, you would expect to see that turnout concentrated to the areas where that candidate or party spent the most effort. On the flip side, we should also see counties where their opponent does well, or better, such as in areas where there was less effort or the opponent targeted different places for a mail campaign.
Instead, we see that across all 77 counties, Joe Biden outperformed Trump at mail in votes, relative to both of their election day performance. Again, this doesn’t mean Biden “won” the county on Election Day or with mail ins. He won some if you only include the mail, and Trump won every county with only Election Day votes, as well as overall. My comparison just means Biden and other Democrats did better on the mail in side, by the percent shown in the graph above. This averages out to 26.01%.
You could convince me a campaign got 5 or 10% better on average, maybe 20% in a county or two. But 26% across one of the reddest states in the United States, where both houses and our governorship are controlled by Republicans, as well as all current US Representatives and Senators? Where do all these votes come from? Regardless of the answer, it’s happening against a headwind of voter registration trends like Keshel and probably others have related.
Now with everything you’ve seen, and to drill in the point that the “opponent” candidate should outperform in at least some counties with mail in votes, here is the same presidential divergence graph, but this time including 2016 overlaid with 2020.
In 2016, there were 7 counties Trump exceeded Clinton’s performance in mail in voting. This proves it can happen, and has happened. Further, how did two elections, separated by 4 years, with two different Democrat candidates on the ticket, wind up with nearly the same performance curve each time? Could this possibly be from organic turnout, in a world where campaigns hope for sunny weather and that people remember to vote?
The Uniform Ticket
While exploring down-ticket races I started to notice the number of votes for certain candidates were very close in many counties. For example, a lot of people vote straight party ticket. Yet not everyone, and not every contest is a partisan one. There are also state questions, judges, and other elections of a non-partisan nature that can’t be chosen by selecting a party ticket. Additionally, some people only vote “top-of-ticket” and leave the rest of, or portions of their ballot blank. Only the votes that are cast count – or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Let me give you an example from Osage County with the Presidential contest, plus the Senate, US Congress district 3, and a state question.
On the one side of this ticket, candidates vote totals are within 7% of each other. But on the other side of the ticket, the numbers are far less uniform. It’s over 13% in Osage County, and commonly ranging upwards of 20 to 30% across the state.
This only happened in the absentee mail in vote. The early in-person vote (a form of absentee according to Oklahoma statue), and Election Day vote have higher variance. The mail votes appear almost to have been copies of each other.
Including a state question or other non-partisan race added the element of ballots that went beyond party ticket selection. Like I stated above, Oklahomans can select straight party voting, but this won’t include state questions, municipal questions, judicial retentions, or certain other non-partisan races.
Our largest counties hold more offices, and in the case of 2020 also more items on the ballot. In Oklahoma County the Democrat-side mail in ticket had a variance of 22.6%, while the Republican side varied by 71.9%. In Tulsa County it was 18.9% and 49.7%. Tulsa’s variance overall, including mail and in person votes, was 49.7% and 54.7%, which the higher levels of variance seen – and expected – elsewhere.
Now let me ask this ridiculous question: do people who vote by mail all get together on a conference call and decide how to vote? Is there a secret menu on my neighborhood app I don’t know about? Or is this yet another cause for concern in our deep red state which we all love and hope has honest elections?
In case anyone thinks the concern is unwarranted, take a listen to how analysis in Arizona uncovered 17,000 or more duplicate signatures in part of their legislative audit of Maricopa County. The questions are valid, and shared by many citizens.
Looking past the previous points, some of the individual results of this election are equally perplexing.
Let’s start with SQ 805, which deserves to have its own discussion at length. 805 was a proposal to remove prior felony convictions from Judges’ consideration when sentencing, and to modify existing sentences to conform with the new limits if it passed. It confused some voters, failing overall at only 39% in the grand total, and was horribly unpopular at the ballot box on the day of the election. Yet it was a vote-by-mail rockstar, joining the Democrat candidates in its enjoyment of a mail in vote boost all across the state. Without commenting as to the question’s merit, it clearly drew bipartisan opposition, except in the mail.
All nine of Oklahoma City’s municipal questions passed handsomely, despite being added to the ballot at the last minute and stuffed into an already-full presidential cycle. They fall within the county’s 22.6% presidential mail in divergence figure that favored the Democrat ticket, and even on election day received unquenchable support. The lowest passing percent was 62, and highest was 79.
The same uniformity in not-partisan races can be observed in Tulsa County’s results for all district Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, and Court of Civil Appeals retention races. It’s as if voters are blindly checking the “Yes” box. But once more this can’t be the case, because in the same county where nine court retentions AND SQ 805 had 34-41k “Yes” votes (by mail) apiece, SQ814 only had 28,214 in favor, and 30,146 against. Of the just-mentioned contests, SQ814 was the only one not to see a mail-in majority in Tulsa County.
Another odd feature in the data from 2020 is found in races with Independent candidates. For some reason, they seem to be immune from the mail in uniformity. In Cleveland County, for one, the Sheriff’s race was between a Republican and an Independent, Amason vs. Owings. While Biden and SQ805 pulled in more than 20,000 votes each, with Abby Broyles and Mary Brannon not far behind at 19,747 and 17,870 respectively, Owings (I) only brought in 11,257 mail votes.
If you combine all mail votes for each race in Cleveland County, the Sheriff’s race has more than 8,000 fewer votes than the Presidential. A dropoff is to be expected, but even still, SQ805 wound up with around 3,200 more votes than the Sheriff’s race. Contrast this to other counties with Sheriff’s races, like neighboring Oklahoma County to the north, where a Republican ran against a Democrat, and they actually saw more mail in votes than Trump and Biden!
The Independent candidate trend shows up elsewhere, too, such as in smaller Adair County, where the Independent won and even overshot all the other races in terms of mail in votes.
Everything covered here has to do with numbers and data alone, coupled with my knowledge as a resident in Oklahoma. When shown in context and properly understood, it should be clear to just about any honest citizen that we need a serious examination of our elections system.
Despite being repeatedly told by our State Election Board that no electronic interference was seen, nothing is connected to the internet, and there’s nothing to worry about, a good number of us are quite concerned.
By talking to members of the public for the last year about this topic, some of the stories I’ve heard would make you think we live in Arizona or Pennsylvania ourselves. Next I’ll cover these other reports, showing how they add to the puzzle. And Wendi will show some connections between entities here at home and big-time funders of political upheaval.