Immediately after the publication of the surprising results from the New Hampshire primary, observers noted a so-called “Diebold effect”. Hillary Clinton polled a higher percentage of votes (roughly 5% higher) in precincts that tabulated their votes electronically than in precincts that used paper ballots. The most obvious explanation for the difference that other demographic variables of these precincts and their voters could explain the difference. After analysis of some major demographic variables, CU cognitive neuroscience grad student Chris Chatham writes:
I got a copy of the vote counts, and thanks to Brian London at BlackBoxVoting, the demographic information from each town (most notably, the % holding bachelor's degrees, the median household income, and the total town population). Now, Mike LaBonte at BlackBoxVoting has provided estimates of the [square?] mileage for each district, allowing for the calculation of population density.
To my complete (and continuing) amazement, the "diebold effect" on Hillary's votes remains after controlling for any and all of those demographic variables, with a p-value of <.001: that is, there are less than 1:1000 odds for this difference occurring through chance alone, and that's after adjusting for variability in Hillary's votes due to education, income, total population, and population density.
While this "diebold effect" varies in magnitude depending on the exact covariates used, it seems to center around an additional 5.2% of votes going for Clinton from Diebold machines. The same analysis shows a Diebold disadvantage for Obama of about -4.2%, significant with a p<.001, using the same covariates.
The campaign of Democrat Dennis Kucinich has funded a recount of the New Hampshire vote, but observers ask exactly what the recount will prove. Whether paper or electronic, if poll results have been tampered with, then a recount will likely not uncover the tampering but instead merely duplicate the tampered result because it consists of a recount of tampered ballots.
Most of the questions that will be raised about the results of today's recount (see below for time and place) will have to do with chain of custody issues. For the recount to be reliable, a chain of custody must be established for all of the ballots involved. This means that each ballot must have been either under lock and key or under the watchful eye of a known and trusted list of state officials for every moment of its post-election life. If any point a group of ballots were left unattended, or if it's impossible to list exactly who could've had access to them, then establishing a secure chain of custody for those ballots will be impossible.
In the absence of a secure chain of custody, it's possible that someone could have replaced some of the ballots with counterfeits, or that they could have tried to alter them in some way. That's why establishing such a chain of custody is important—at least, it's important in theory.
What will almost certainly happen in practice is that no one will be able to establish a secure chain of custody for every ballot cast in New Hampshire, but that won't stop the press from reporting the results of the recount as if they're 100 percent reliable. And they may well be reliable; in fact, they probably are. But absent a secure chain of custody, no one can know for sure.
The processes of running elections are left to the 50 states, who each (of course) manage them in their own way with various degrees of ineptitude.
However I’ve heard no one argue that the personal ethics of the Clintons would forbid their participation in ballot tampering. Given their history, such an argument would be unpersuasive if made.
BTW the Boston Globe has made no mention of the Diebold effect. The Globe has only published 2 small AP stories on the NH recount (here and here). These stories contain no mention of the reason why a recount was requested. The Kucinich campaign said specifically that it wants a recount because of “unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots.”"Move on" I suppose.