Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The South Carolina Primary and Voting Machine Fraud

"South Carolina sure knows how to pick 'em. Alvin Greene is a broke, unemployed guy who is facing a felony obscenity charge. He made no campaign appearances and raised no money, but he is the brand new Democratic Senate nominee from South Carolina. Tom Schaller at FiveThirtyEight.com does a detailed analysis of how a guy like this wins a primary race, and many of the signs point to voting machine fraud. There seem to have been irregularities on all sides. 'Dr. Mebane performed second-digit Benford's law tests on the precinct returns from the Senate race. ... If votes are added or subtracted from a candidate's total, possibly due to error or fraud, Mebane's test will detect a deviation from this distribution. Results... showed that Rawl's Election Day vote totals depart from the expected distribution at 90% confidence. In other words, the observed vote pattern for Rawl could be expected to occur only about 10% of the time by chance. ... An unusual, non-random pattern in the precinct-level results suggests tampering, or at least machine malfunction, perhaps at the highest level. And Mebane is perhaps the leading expert on this very subject. Along with the anomalies between absentee ballot v. election day ballots..., something smells here.' Techdirt.com points out that South Carolina uses ES&S voting machines, which have had strings of problems before; and they have no audit trail."

This is a pretty big story, and you've probably already heard about it.  However, it is an interesting story.  While it is quite possible that he won simply because his name was first on the ballad, he is still an interesting person.
The day after the primary election, the media reported that Greene was facing felony obscenity charges stemming from a November 2009 arrest for allegedly showing a pornographic picture on Internet site to an 18-year-old female University of South Carolina student and then allegedly said to her "Let's go to your room" in a computer lab.
Two points I have been unable to clarify.  First, what this porn was.  Second, if this is the federal obscenity law.   From what I've read it seems it was ordinary porn, and it is the federal law.  If that is true it is pretty strange.  The federal obscenity law is more or less a unconstitutional law that is rarely and randomly applied to very extreme porn.  Obscene has a legal definition that is different from merely offensive.  It is very unlikely he would be convicted of this law if it was just normal porn.  I have to guess there would be some sort of state law that applied to showing porn to random people (sexual harassment?) but maybe not.
Some commentators have raised questions about whether Greene paid the $10,440 filing fee out of his own funds, as required by law. Greene claims that he paid the filing fee by saving two years of his service pay. However, according to court records, Greene is currently being represented by a public defender in his obscenity case. South Carolina law requires defendants who want to be represented by the public defender's office to file an "affidavit of indigency" in order to prove they cannot afford to hire a lawyer. On this affidavit, the applicant must disclose all income and assets, including checking accounts.
This is also interesting.  And why the hell does it cost $10k to run for the Senate?

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