Liberty County in Florida has 320 registered Republicans and 3,597 registered Democrats, and 158 voters registered to other parties or "No Party".
On November 2nd, 2004, Liberty country delivered 1,927 votes for Bush, 1,070 votes for Kerry, and 24 for other candidates.
Yes those numbers are correct, straight from official postings of the Florida Secretary of State's office as of yesterday.
A county with only 320 Republicans gave Bush 1,927 votes. That is 6 times more votes for Bush than there are registered Republicans (602% to be exact).
For that to happen, based on the voter turnout rate of 74% in Liberty county, about 1600 Democrats had to switch sides to vote for Bush. That's 60% of all the Democrats who voted there.
Sorry, that strikes me as impossible. Exit polls in Florida showed 11% of Democrats voting for Bush, nowhere near 60%.
Was this a temporary madness limited to isolated people in one small county? It doesn't look like it. Here are the numbers from a few other Florida counties:
Baker County: Registered REP: 3,126 Bush Votes: 7,738 248%
Calhoun County: Registered REP: 993 Bush Votes: 3,780 381%
Franklin County: Registered REP: 1,212 Bush Votes: 3,472 286%
Gadsden County: Registered REP: 3,012 Bush Votes: 6,253 208%
Hamilton County: Registered REP: 1,140 Bush Votes: 2,792 245%
Holmes County: Registered REP: 2,344 Bush Votes: 6,410 273%
Lafayette County: Registered REP: 570 Bush Votes: 2,460 432%
Liberty County: Registered REP: 320 Bush Votes: 1,927 602%
Jackson County: Registered REP: 5,962 Bush Votes: 12,115 203%
There are many more counties with similar results. Kathy Dopp provides more detailed analyses of similar numbers on this page.
In all of these counties the majority of the registered voters are Democrats, and they all use optical scan voting machines from ES&S, Diebold, or Sequoia.
Florida law only provides for a recount when the difference in votes is less than one half on one percent. However it does say that "if there is an obvious error" on the returns from a county a recount of that county's ballots shall be ordered. A recount may also be ordered if "the unofficial returns may contain a counting error in which the vote tabulation system failed to count votes that were properly marked...".
It seems to me like the wild variations shown above could be "obvious errors" or a failure by machines to count the votes correctly. It seems to me that the canvassing boards in these counties should be calling for recounts themselves.
Does anyone know of a way recounts can be forced in these Florida counties?
Tin-foil hat time: The press called Florida for Bush quite early on election night, and the conventional wisdom is that the margin in Florida is too large for anyone to talk about recounts. However 1.6 million absentee ballots still need to be counted in Florida. Exposing patterns of pro-Republican vote changing--which is one explanation for the wide variations seen above--could make all the difference.
All the focus in Florida has been on the touchscreen e-voting systems in the big cities like Miami. What better way to inflate the Republican vote than to stuff the ballot boxes in smaller counties where very few watchdogs are in place?
Kerry has conceded, but there are still ballots out there to be counted (in Iowa and New Mexico and Ohio too [LINK]), and there are plenty of dirty tricks [LINK] that still need to be investigated. It might not be over yet.