Skewers Pew Research report
I woke up this morning to a flurry of activity on my social media news feeds regarding new “evidence” from the people at Pew Research of massive voter fraud uncovered by Lou Dobbs of Faux News. Imagine that. So, I took to the Interwebz to research this.
Now, keep in mind, I get a lot of items on my feeds from the tin foil hat brigade, and most of it I ignore because it’s just too preposterous to even consider wasting my time with. Like the reports from Infowars about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama being demons, smelling like sulfur and rotting meat. Please…
But Lou Dobbs is maybe one rung up the ladder from the usual gaggle of RNC hand puppets that populate Faux News, so I figured I would check it out, fully expecting to find that the information was either twisted, misconstrued, or complete crap. I was not disappointed.
When I investigate these claims, the first thing I do is put the headline – which is usually identical from site to site – directly and verbatim, into the search box. The first indication that the stories are bogus is that none of the national news outlets have picked up the story. Not just cable news, but the journalism sites like the Associated Press, United Press, or Reuters. When an agency or organization that has legitimacy, such as Pew Research, is cited, and the only outlets who are reporting it are charter members of the extreme right wing conspiracy theory sites, that’s a pretty good indication that the information can be printed out and used for either starting fires on a cold night, or backup toilet paper.
So, the video in question that is being posted regarding this alleged voter fraud has several problems.
Here’s the crux of the argument, from Pew Research:
Research commissioned by the Pew Center on the States highlights the extent of the challenge:
- Approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.
- More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters.
- Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state
The title of the report is “Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient Evidence That America’s Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade.” This, of course, has been totally misunderstood due to either garden variety or willful ignorance to mean that this is obviously fraud.
But these people never actually read these reports…
The short of it is actually very simple. People move, and their registrations are not updated – sometimes for years. People die, and have the nerve not to remove themselves from the rolls after they have passed away. People get married and change their name, and don’t update their records. And there are many people like this. In the millions, actually. This doesn’t mean that they are committing voter fraud, or are going to attempt to vote more than once, or are planning to come back from the dead to cast a ballot.
Donald Trump is the protagonist for this election cycle, spewing forth this type of garbage:
CBS News reported on Trump’s accusations, made during a rally in Wisconsin, that there will be “widespread voter fraud,” that “people that have died 10 years ago are still voting,” and that “illegal immigrants are voting.” Trump also claimed that “one in eight voter registrations is no longer valid” and voiced concerns that people with “inaccurate voter registrations will be voting for someone else next month.” Trump emphasized the potential for noncitizen voter fraud, citing Obama winning “more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 sample,” and questioned “how legitimate all of these elections are.”
And his supporters are lapping it up…
Fact is that voter impersonation is virtually non-existent. Actual incidents of in-person voter fraud are extremely rare. Fear mongering using voter fraud are nothing more than an invention to excite the base. As well, there have been only 31 credible allegations of in-person voter fraud out of an excess of one billion votes cast in almost all elections over the past fifteen years. A systemic voting problem doesn’t exist. Much of the time these claims of voter fraud are merely people voting in a jurisdiction where they’re no longer registered, or their registration has not been updated, or they have mistakenly attempted to vote in a primary that they are not supposed to be voting in.
The Center for Political Communication at The University of Delaware published a study that stated the way white people react to questions regarding voter fraud were effected when they were shown a picture of black people at voting booths. They were more apt to answer in favor of stricter voting laws.
Research faculty members David C. Wilson and Paul Brewer stated,
“Our findings suggest that public opinion about voter ID laws can be racialized by simply showing images of African American people. The resulting increase in support for the laws happens independently of — even after controlling for– political ideology and negative attitudes about African Americans.”
Trump is destined to lose this election. But his loss will be at the hands of voters, not because of some far-flung, batshit crazy conspiracy. Purposely misleading voters about the information contained in the Pew Research paper is deplorable. The entirety of the research merely points out that there are inefficiencies within the state registrars, and a vast, vast, vast majority are circumstantial, and there have been no votes cast by dead people.
The Trump campaign‘s penchant for skewering numbers and statistics is well documented. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover this. A rudimentary understanding of how search engines work is all that is needed.
Or, you can continue to listen to the tin foil hat brigade – or just their leader Mr. Trump – and believe everything that they are saying without question, without research, without even bothering to find out if what they are saying has an iota of truth to it. Trump is a reality television star. He is the pro-wrestler of this election. He is a fake, a fraud, a liar, a manipulator, and, as has been so aptly stated by the editors of the Huffington Post:
“Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”
If you want to, you can read the Pew Research report that Lou Dobbs was referring to here. I won’t repost his video, because it’s complete crap and I don’t want to give him any new hits: