Steven Rosenfeld: Let’s start by telling people about your involvement with election integrity and tracking exit polls.
Jonathan Simon: I’ve been working in this field which we call election forensics for about 15 years, since the 2000 election. Certainly things kicked in with the 2004 election and the exit polls there. I was actually the person who downloaded the exit polls that were left up on the CNN website which then made it possible to compare the unadjusted exit polls—and we can explain that in a bit—but comparing the exit polls with the vote counts and show through all those disparities that there was reason to suspect possibly manipulation of the vote counts.
It has deep roots and basically looking at every election since has found varying, but at the same time, fairly pervasive patterns of what we call the “red shift” and where the exit polls are to the west of the vote counts. We track that, we record it and we attempt to analyze it and get some sort of handle on what has caused it as a phenomenon. Then we look at all sorts of forensic data, accumulative vote share, tables and hand counts where we can find them. I’ve always been particularly conscientious about trying to take whatever baseline we’re using and validate that baseline, so that if we have an exit poll for instance, we try to make sure something that has been skewed by over-sampling one party or over-sampling people of color or something to that effect and validate it by that.