Federal judges in both Michigan and Georgia on Monday morning dismissed election conspiracy attorney Sidney Powell’s so-called “Kraken” lawsuits in their respective states. Powell’s cases asked various courts to invalidate or decertify election results. Her cases have been littered with clear factual and legal blunders, state officials have naturally moved to dismiss them, and courts have thus far rejected her plaintiffs’ claims. Still, the theories Powell presented alleging election fraud and malfeasance will surely remain etched in the public psyche despite her team’s widespread and stinging losses.
Lawyers for the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed hundreds of pages of documents over the weekend in support of the State of Georgia’s motion to dismiss the case Powell filed with a team of lawyers on behalf of a group of Republican plaintiffs. Though the judge tossed the matter based on the technical rationales of standing, laches, and venue, those hundreds of pages of documents bashed substantial quantities of alleged evidence behind Powell’s claims.
The party and the committees (legally, the “intervenors”) reminded U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. that Powell’s lawsuit did little more than to blend accusations of “multi-national conspiracy,” “ballot stuffing,” and “a hidden software algorithm” which resulted—Powell claimed—in Georgia “illegally processing tens of thousands of absentee ballots.” Powell’s so-called “expert” declarations and reports, the intervenors argued, were actually written by people who were “wildly unqualified.” The intervenors laid out their summary as such:
For example, a former Trump staffer who has publicly stated that he is working hand in glove with the Trump campaign to get the election overturned and delivered to the President purports to offer a statistical analysis of election data despite having had no relevant training, skill, or experience. Others’ grounding in their claimed areas of expertise is equally suspect. The analyses they offer rely on patently incomplete or faulty data. Over and over, the reports fail to disclose the methods employed by their authors, error rates, or even how underlying data was obtained. Where their methodology is discernable [sic], Plaintiffs’ “experts” regularly use methods that are not at all standard or trusted in the relevant field, and draw conclusions that are nothing more than speculation.
Legally speaking, the intervenors used the Daubert trilogy of cases to smack down the alleged qualifications of Powell’s “experts.” Under that line of cases, a federal judge is the gatekeeper of scientific or expert testimony. The factors a judge must examine in determining whether to admit or to disallow such expert testimony are:
(1) whether the theory or technique in question can be (and has been) tested;
(2) whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication;
(3) its known or potential error rate;
(4) the existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation;
(5) whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community.
The intervenors said it was Sidney Powell’s team’s legal duty to bear the burden of proving her “experts” met that standard, and, they argued, she failed.
The intervenors took take aim at nine Powell witnesses.
Ayyadurai was a proponent of a “high Republican, low Trump” theory of what he called “election fraud.” He said it was “highly improbable” that “President Trump received near zero Black votes” in certain areas.
Ayyadurai “appears to claim, in essence, that split-ticket voting among white Republicans is evidence of fraud,” said a counter-report by intervenor expert Jonathan Rodden. There are innocent explanations, Rodden’s counter-report indicates, as to the patterns Ayyadurai spotted. The most obvious is that a number of Republicans simply abandoned Trump to vote for Biden. Indeed, Rodden offered statistical analyses from a number of jurisdictions, including Savannah, Ga., to make this point.
“[I]n metro areas around Georgia and the United States,” he wrote, “white metro-area voters who typically vote for Republican candidates continued to do so in down-ballot races, but a number of them voted for the Democratic candidate in the presidential race. It is quite unclear what this pattern of split-ticket voting could possibly have to do with election fraud.”
The intervenors argued that Ayyadurai “provide[d] no indications about his data sources,” “does not explain how he measures his variables,” and that Ayyadurai’s “claims about race and ethnicity are, frankly, inscrutable, and thus difficult to evaluate with data analysis.”
Furthermore, Ayyadurai “does not possess relevant education, experience or background to offer opinions on these topics and, even if he did, he fails to disclose his methodology,” the intervenors argued. “Though Ayyadurai has degrees in engineering and computer science, applied mechanics, and systems biology, he does not explain how these credentials qualify him to offer the opinions at issue.”
“Ayyadurai is an engineer with training in mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering,” but he is not trained in election statistics, the intervenors noted. “[I]t appears this is the first time in his entire career that he has even contemplated . . . issues” involving alleged election malfeasance. And, they argued, his conclusions should be swiftly thrown out of court under the Daubert standard and other relevant law governing expert testimony.
Russell James Ramsland, Jr.
Ramsland, a former Republican congressional candidate, is by now widely known for botching a critical difference between Michigan and Minnesota data because of apparent confusion over the postal abbreviations for those states. (For the record, Minnesota is MN; Michigan is MI.) Anyway — Ramsland claimed some 123,725 votes were “statistically invalid” in Georgia because, among other reasons, Dominion voting machines had “an abnormally high average of over-achievement by candidate Biden.” He also claimed his data showed that “96,600 votes were illegally counted in the Georgia general election.”
However, Ramsland’s analysis of the Georgia election “appears to be parroting analyses from other unidentified individuals who claim to possess expertise that he does not,” the intervenors argued. That is fatal, they said, to the legal admissibility of his claims.
“Ramsland is a businessman who lacks the qualifications necessary to offer expert opinion testimony on the impact, if any, on the 2020 presidential election from the use of certain voting machines,” the intervenors said.
They noted that Ramsland “candidly admitted his lack of relevant knowledge, education and experience” and that he admitted relying on “[his current employer’s] experts and resources” to make inferences and to draw conclusions — rather than doing so on his own. The intervenors skewered Ramsland’s attempt to eschew his own purported authority: “Ramsland does not disclose . . . who these unidentified ‘experts’ are, which of them were utilized, the sources of data they relied upon, the manner in which they performed whatever work they might have done and in what way Ramsland, in turn, relied on that work to prepare his own report,” they said. Moreover:
Even if Ramsland were qualified (and he assuredly is not), his report is inadmissible because it utterly fails to disclose the data or methodology he (or others) used . . . . Indeed, the report can be searched in vain for Ramsland’s data sources, the statistical analyses conducted, margins of error, or virtually anything that might suggest serious scholarly or expert analysis.
The intervenors told the judge that Ramsland admitted his own model did only a “good job” predicting Biden’s margin in “most counties.”
“How accurate is a ‘good job’? How many counties is ‘most counties’?” the intervenors asked before answering their own question. “This isn’t even close to an appropriate or reliable statistical analysis.”
Braynard offered opinions about alleged errors in Georgia’s absentee ballot process. He claimed some residents of other states voted in Georgia and that some people voted in more than once state. His opinions were based on a survey he conducted. Again, the intervenors:
Braynard has a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Fine Arts in “Writing.” He has worked for, among others, the Republican National Committee and Donald J. Trump for President. Braynard does not identify any education or experience in political science, statistics, or survey design, nor does he list any publications, research projects, or speaking engagements on those or any other subjects. He has not offered any expert testimony in court or deposition in the last four years, if ever. While he has worked in the data analysis field, including in analysis of voter data, nothing in his resume indicates education, experience, or knowledge in survey design or statistical methods in social sciences. Because he lacks the requisite education, training, experience, knowledge, and skill to offer his opinions, his report should be excluded.
Here’s why that alleged bias and alleged lack of proper experience is important, according to the intervenors (who raised this issue of William Briggs’ use of Braynard’s data):
Braynard’s survey had an unacceptably low response rate. Braynard was only able to reach 0.4% of the individuals he sought to interview. Put another way, 99.6% of the individuals targeted by the survey did not respond. This is not an acceptable response rate.
In other words, his data can’t support his conclusions, which (in part) suggested that state records were totally wrong about who requested absentee ballots.
A rebuttal report by Stephen Ansolabehere indicates that Braynard failed to present his estimates along with a “measure of statistical precision or uncertainty which is standard in the field.” The rebuttal also found that “errors in recordkeeping readily account for each of the claims made in Braynard’s report.” In other words, Braynard didn’t keep his own numbers straight, the intervenors alleged.
“Braynard is not qualified and his report does not utilize generally accepted methodology,” the intervenors argued in summary fashion.
William M. Briggs
Sidney Powell, et al., used Briggs’ work to allege that “between 31,559 and 38,886 total” Georgia votes were “lost” when that number of mail-in ballots “were never counted.” She and her team argued that the discrepancy “exceeds the margin” by which Trump lost the election and is therefore significant.
The intervenors rubbished that theory. Briggs based his conclusions “entirely” on survey work conducted by Braynard. Briggs’ work is therefore also “unreliable,” the intervenors argued, “because, among other reasons, it rests entirely on faulty data collected by a fatally flawed survey” (as discussed above). Also, Briggs’ conclusions “fail to account for a variety of unremarkable reasons for the existence of . . . so-called ‘troublesome’ ballots.” Among the “unremarkable” reasons “for why returned absentee ballots might not be recorded or counted” include “late arriving ballots, missing or mismatched signature rejections, or spoiled or voided ballots,” the intervenors said.
What else was “fatally flawed” with Briggs’ analysis? The Braynard survey which examined absentee ballot data, Ansolabehere’s report indicates, allowed people to continue to answering questions after earlier questions were supposed to screen them out of giving a response. In other words, the survey posed questions to the wrong people and, therefore, is inaccurate. The screw-up, the intervenors argued, “is of sufficient magnitude to alter the results significantly.”
Plus, the intervenors argued, Powell and her team took logical leaps with what Briggs actually said:
Briggs does not opine regarding the exact nature of the “errors” or how any error would or even could have impacted the outcome of the election. Plaintiffs claim that “[t]ens of thousands of votes counted toward Vice President Biden’s final tally were the product of illegality, and physical and computer-based fraud leading to ‘outright ballot stuffing.’” Briggs’ report, however, does not speak to these issues and is therefore not helpful to the Court.
Watkins, the former administrator of 8chan who subsequently administered 8kun, joined Powell’s team to — in his words — “alert the public and let the world know the truth about actual voting tabulation software designed . . . to facilitate digital ballot stuffing.”
The intervenors deftly noted that that Watkins’ declaration is just that — a declaration. Watkins referred to himself as an “expert” in “network and information security,” but Powell did not. The intervenors said whatever experience Watkins has “does not qualify him to offer testimony regarding purported vulnerabilities in voting systems.”
“[I]t is not clear whether Watkins has ever used or even examined the software at issue or whether he has any experience in election administration,” the intervenors said. “Watkins’ opinions are not helpful. His declaration appears to consist entirely of unsupported speculation regarding purported vulnerabilities in election software based on a review of publicly available documents including user manuals.” The intervenors cited case law cautioning against speculation and invited the court to review such public documents itself.
“Watkins is not qualified and his report rests entirely on speculation,” the intervenors said.
Benjamin A. Overholt
Overholt alleged that more ballots in Georgia were rejected in 2016 (0.28%) than were rejected in 2020 (0.15%). Therefore, he extrapolates that “somewhere around 1,600 additional ballots should have been rejected for signature issues” this year. He also asserts that between “7,900 and 17,500 ballots should have been rejected” this year for other reasons.
The intervenors replied that this apples-to-oranges comparison cannot stand:
As with many of the other proffered experts, Overholt provides only a cursory explanation of his credentials and his report is riddled with errors. Overholt states that he has a Ph.D. in Applied Statistics and Research Methods, he is an “active federal civil servant” and has spent time reviewing “election results” for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. He does not further describe his education, experience or other credentials or how his prior work is similar or relates to, if at all, the work he performed for this matter. He does not appear to have any experience with Georgia elections or analyzing Georgia election data.
Plus, another intervenor expert, Kenneth R. Mayer, presented a counter-report which resulted in the following rebuttal (some internal punctuation omitted):
Overholt’s report contains inaccurate definitions of crucial terms (such as what a ‘spoiled’ ballot is)[,] makes completely unsubstantiated claims based on pure speculation and personal opinion, and reaches unsupported and incorrect inferences about what the data show. For example, among other issues, Overholt’s claim that there are 500,000 missing votes, is completely wrong. There are, in fact, no missing votes, Overholt used the absentee voter request file for his analysis which is not a record of all individuals who voted in the 2020 election but instead is a record of all absentee ballot requests. This failure to understand the data being analyzed is a serious error and is one of many examples demonstrating the unreliability of Overholt’s report.
To sum up, “Overholt discloses no relevant qualifications and his report contains serious errors,” the intervenors said.
Eric Quinnell and S. Stanley Young
Quinnell issued two reports to Sidney Powell’s team. He wrote the first by himself; Young joined the second.
The first report laments Biden’s electoral gains. “Specifically, for every one additional voter for [Trump] over the full total from the 2016 General Election in Fulton County, [Biden] gained 4.2 additional voters” in 2020. He also identified approximately 32,347 votes which he deemed to be “statistically anomalous.”
The second report raised other “unexplainable statistical anomalies” but “offer[ed] neither allegations nor hypotheses as to WHY the data set exists in this unnatural state.” It alleges that voting data for Joe Biden is corrupted, “fails basic quality and sanity checks mathematically,” and “is therefore professionally untrustworthy until a sufficient root cause or explanation of these calculations are found.”
“Quinnell’s methodologies are nonsensical, and his data analysis is flawed and meaningless,” the intervenors said, citing Rodden’s rebuttal report. They continued with this:
Quinnell’s novel opinion is that election results should display a normal distribution—a bell curve—and any departure from this indicates nefarious activity, such as voter fraud. As Dr. Rodden explains, academically accepted literature dating back decades (as well as common sense) confirms that partisan preferences are not uniformly distributed. More frequently—and simply digesting the news over the course of the last few decades would confirm—relevant social groups (such as young people, racial minorities, or college graduates) are clustered and it is typical to see skewed voting distributions.
The second report, the intervenors said, “utilizes unofficial data that may not reflect the running total of votes” and is “riddled with numerous unexplained, unsubstantiated, and questionable assumptions built into their data and analysis.” Among the errors in the report, the intervenors say, its failure to account for the “many precincts in Fulton County that are small and/or have very few absentee votes for Trump.” (Fulton County, Ga., is a narrow county which slices through most of Atlanta and some, but not all, of its suburbs to the north, the south, and to the southwest.).
In short, the intervenors called Quinnell and Young “not qualified” and “unreliable.”
One witness known only as “Spyder.”
Sidney Powell’s team described “Spyder” (also spelled “Spider” and also relevant in the Arizona Kraken) as a military operative who provided statements “at great risk” due to an “established pattern of witness and attorney harassment and coercion.” “Spyder” claims to be a military intelligence analyst with “extensive experience as a white hat hacker used by some of the top election specialists in the world.” Spyder says:
In my professional opinion, this affidavit presents unambiguous evidence that Dominion Voter Systems and Edison Research have been accessible and were certainly compromised by rogue actors, such as Iran and China. By using servers and employees connected with rogue actors and hostile foreign influences combined with numerous easily discoverable leaked credentials, these organizations neglectfully allowed foreign adversaries to access data and intentionally provided access to their infrastructure in order to monitor and manipulate elections, including the most recent one in 2020. This represents a complete failure of their duty to provide basic cyber security. This is not a technological issue, but rather a governance and basic security issue: if it is not corrected, future elections in the United States and beyond will not be secure and citizens will not have confidence in the results.
The intervenors’ assessment is as follows:
Spyder does not disclose whether s/he has any experience with election administration or the companies, software and machines used by states to conduct elections. Because Spyder is not named, it is impossible to verify or even research what Spyder’s credentials may be. On the record before the Court, Spyder cannot qualify as an expert given his/her lack of relevant education, training, experience, knowledge, and skill.
Spyder’s declaration should also be disregarded because it relies on nothing more than speculation and s/he uses no discernable [sic] methodology in reaching his/her conclusions.
In other words — again — Spyder doesn’t meet the legal standard for admissible evidence.
Powell’s case contained many other affidavits and exhibits, but these were the primary experts debunked by the intervenors.
Read the intervenors’ motion to exclude testimony and all concomitant documents below:
[Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images]
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