by Simon Fish
Montgomery County’s anomalous election result is suggestive of fraud, but also just puzzling, no matter how it is viewed.
To simplify the reader’s understanding, we describe one possible version of the fraud that would explain the many otherwise very strange facts presented elsewhere. Lest we be misinterpreted here, we are not asserting that these events happened literally as described in the narrative below. However, when one sees a large number of unusual facts, it is important to think about the set of scenarios that might explain all of them.
Thinking about a particular narrative is especially useful to clarify what kinds of evidence one might expect to see if fraud were to have occurred – it tells you where to look next for other weird things that might point in the same direction.
We are trying to reconstruct a sequence of events using only publicly available vote count information, so the reader should bear in mind that there is uncertainty about the exact actions taken internally around the suspicious vote updates. But some variant of the story below seems quite plausible. Indeed, the facts in the previous document corroborate almost every aspect of the story below. To simplify the comparison, we’ve included references to each numbered fact throughout the narrative for reference. But since the main analysis is highly statistical, and mostly good at showing what didn’t happen in terms of innocent reasons, it is helpful to describe what the fraud might have looked like, if it were to have occurred.
A possible narrative of fraud.
Suppose, hypothetically, someone was planning to commit electoral fraud in Montgomery County, PA, in favor of the Democrats.
By 5:43am Wednesday morning after election night, Trump is ahead by 618,840 votes, with counting still proceeding. So far, Montgomery County, PA had reported 148,100 mail votes (running 24.4% Trump, and 74.9% Biden) and 388,018 votes total (running 40.8% Trump, 58.2% Biden) (Raw data, Fact 6). Montgomery County has the third highest expected number of votes of all counties in Pennsylvania (Raw data), so they’re one of the few places in a position to be large enough to possibly affect the outcome via fraud. Pennsylvania was always going to be close, and so the fraud perpetrators wanted to keep as many uncounted ballots as possible in reserve, so that if needed they could produce fraudulent ballots and run up the statewide total for Biden. But crucially, the perpetrator didn’t know in advance exactly just how many ballots would be needed to win the election. So they kept a fair amount back, holding 23% of precincts still in reserve. (Raw data) The amount of mail ballots they had counted by Wednesday morning relative to Edison forecasts is relatively low in the data.
On Tuesday night, the county had held a press conference pre-announcing an approximate number of absentee ballots they’d already collected, but somehow not counted. Some people wondered if it might look weird for a county to hold a press conference on election night rather than just count the votes, but ostentatious displays of transparency make great cover, even if just by unrelated groups taking advantage of them.
Over the course of Wednesday, counting goes on. But for some reason, and this possibility is somewhat open to interpretation, somebody screws up and enters each new update into the “in-person category.” It’s hard to know quite why this happens, but you can imagine different variations at this point. In one, it’s just a pure screw-up – someone doesn’t know how the scheme works, and enters the wrong vote type in a database, then has to correct it later. In a different variant, it could be pre-planned – a great cover story if you need to make extra changes on Wednesday night is “these obvious mail ballots, which were pre-announced, have to be changed to the correct category.” In any case, there isn’t a single update made to mail-in ballots over the day on Wednesday (Raw data).
Wednesday night arrives, and organizers of the fraud realize they now have not one, not two, but three problems with their fraud scheme.
Firstly, statewide, Trump is still up by 164,414 ballots. They need to get more votes from somewhere, or he’s likely to win Pennsylvania and maybe the White House. Commit fraud for the winning side, and they’ve got a good chance of getting by. Commit fraud for the losing side, and they risk winding up in jail. As one of the three biggest counties in Pennsylvania, they’ve got to play a big part.
Second, one way or another, they’re going to have to correct the ballots that were classified as “in-person.” The county had pre-announced details of how many mail ballots were still to be counted, so it would look very strange if this number were to radically change. In general, in-person ballots have a clearer paper trail than mail ballots. So if they’re going to have a chance of not getting caught, they need to do it with mail ballots. In-person ballots are delivered by voters to the actual polling booths around the county, but mail ballots throughout the county have all been sent to a single postal address (Fact 4). This gives them not only one place to control everything, but one single place where they can hide the evidence by mixing up genuine and fraudulent ballots afterwards. Furthermore, the decision to only add totals to in-person votes has left them with a series of updates that look very strange. (Fact 7, Fact 8).
Third, in their effort to produce a smooth glide to the finish, they’ve already spent most of the precincts. They’re now up to 492,027 total votes that have already been announced, or 97.6% of the Edison estimated total (Raw data). They can’t push the total number of votes too high, or it’s going to raise too many eyebrows – high turnout smells like election fraud. They can use mail ballots for the rest, but with just 12,210 estimated votes left before hitting the Edison expected turnout, they run the risk of not having enough.
So between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, they decide to do several things at once.
Firstly, they bring in a large number of fraudulent mail ballots from a distribution that’s cranked as far as they feel they can push the limit towards Biden – 95.4% Biden. (Fact 2) In addition, because they also want to make sure that Trump is as low as possible, in this batch they also decide to increase the share of votes for the Libertarian candidate (Fact 3) (because, let’s face it, they can’t report a batch with 99.9% Biden without it looking like an election for Saddam Hussein). Adding votes for Jorgensen isn’t quite as good as adding votes for Biden, but it serves one crucial purpose – it lets the Biden percentage come down to slightly more reasonable levels without adding extra votes for Trump, which is the absolute last thing they want (because they’re desperately trying to crank up the statewide margin, and every Trump vote undoes that effect).
They know this distribution looks very suspicious. They know that doing this runs the risk of looking very strange relative to the normal way mail ballot counts work (Fact 7). Their best hope is to somehow combine these new ballots with the other mail votes, so that when everything is mixed up, it’s impossible to see which vote came from where.
But since they’re also constrained on total votes, and they’ve already announced the in-person votes, they have to go back and actually re-classify some of the existing in-person votes as being mail votes (Fact 1). Because they’ve added both too many in-person votes total and too many in-person votes for Biden specifically, they decide to delete from the “in-person” a very large pile of Biden votes (since a fair number of these were fraudulent already, and now these can be better disguised with the mail ballots), and a smaller batch of other candidates (so it doesn’t look like only one candidate is changing) (Fact 5). They figure, incorrectly, that this gives them a good defense, that there was a combination of legitimate new mail ballots, plus some group of incorrectly classified in-person ballots. In all likelihood, nobody is going to notice, and if someone asks questions, they can just blame it on a faulty machine or something. Lots of stuff is changing at once, and it’s going to be hard to disprove the officials’ version of events. How could anyone irrefutably prove fraud?
They report all this at 9:09am Thursday November 5th. Nothing happens, and after November 10th, some new mail ballots continue to trickle in through ordinary means. They end up just counting those as normal – better to just have one fudge than lots of them (Fact 9, Fact 10).
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