Prosecute the torture.

November 16, 2014

Jack Kelly Sunday

(Looks like that sonovabich Ed Heath got here before me.  Fine.  I'll just acknowledge that and then go all passive-aggressive and continue like he didn't write what he wrote before I wrote this blog post.  See?  It's a win-win for everybody!!)

In today's Post-Gazette, columnist Jack Kelly writes about "Vote Fraud" and of course, fails to do enough homework to make the column align with reality.  The P-G, again of course, fails to adequately fact-check him.  The result is a another embarrassing Jack Kelly column on the pages of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

We've seen this happen too many times.  Too too many times.

But let's begin at the beginning:
If you Google “vote fraud,” you’ll find that most of the stories are about Democrats committing it, or denying it exists.

Fourteen percent of non-citizens in the United States in 2008 were registered to vote and about 6 percent voted indicates data collected by Harvard’s Cooperative Congressional Election Study, according to a study by Jesse Richman and David Earnest, professors at Old Dominion University.
This is where Ed started.

Did you know there are issues with the Richman/Earnest study?  Our story begins with this piece at the Washington Post.  It's from before the election (October 24) and it begins with this:
Could control of the Senate in 2014 be decided by illegal votes cast by non-citizens? Some argue that incidents of voting by non-citizens are so rare as to be inconsequential, with efforts to block fraud a screen for an agenda to prevent poor and minority voters from exercising the franchise, while others define such incidents as a threat to democracy itself. Both sides depend more heavily on anecdotes than data.

In a forthcoming article in the journal Electoral Studies, we bring real data from big social science survey datasets to bear on the question of whether, to what extent, and for whom non-citizens vote in U.S. elections. Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races.
Yea, we saw how all those illegals tipped the balance of power in the Senate to the party that just doesn't like them very much.  But what about that study?

Well on those same Washington Post webpages just three days later, there was this:
A recent Monkey Cage piece by political scientists Jesse Richman and David Earnest, which suggested that non-citizen voting could decide the 2014 Election, received considerable media attention over the weekend. In particular, columns such as’s “Study: Voting by Non-Citizens Tips Balance for Democrats” and the National Review’s “Jaw-Dropping Study Claims Large Numbers of Non-Citizens Vote in U.S” cited results from the authors’ forthcoming Electoral Studies article to confirm conservatives’ worst fears about voter fraud in the United States.

A number of academics and commentators have already expressed skepticism about the paper’s assumptions and conclusions, though. In a series of tweets, New York Times columnist Nate Cohn focused his criticism on Richman et al’s use of Cooperative Congressional Election Study data to make inferences about the non-citizen voting population. That critique has some merit, too. The 2008 and 2010 CCES surveyed large opt-in Internet samples constructed by the polling firm YouGov to be nationally representative of the adult citizen population. Consequently, the assumption that non-citizens, who volunteered to take online surveys administered in English about American politics, would somehow be representative of the entire non-citizen population seems tenuous at best.
That was October 27.  Didn't Jack know about any of this stuff?  For example this info (from the "skepticism" link in the second paragraph) from the Early Voting Information Center:
I discussed the Electoral Studies article that the Monkey Cage posting is based on at Early, and expressed concerns then that the article made a number of very heroic assumptions to be able to claim that non-citizens were voting in significant numbers, and even more heroic assumptions to assume that these votes “created the filibuster proof majority in 2008,” as the authors claim.
Then there's this fact-checking piece at the Reno Gazette-Journal which rates it a 4 out of 10:
This is a great example of how science works. Someone does a study and it sparks conversation and likely more research. Even if the Richman-Earnest study fails to withstand academic scrutiny, that doesn't mean they're bad people or this study was bad. In fact, it very well could be an extremely valuable step in leading to future research that better informs policies on voter ID laws, voter fraud and the inclusion of noncitizens in the voting process (some countries allow legal nonresidents to vote).

Regardless, at this point in time, it's a lone study on a controversial subject with data that even the authors admit is not ideal. It's fodder for discussion but not for fears of election fraud.
So the authors of the study Jack's relying on admit the data's "not ideal"??

Yeppers.  In fact they agree with the 4 out of 10 score:
Science is a process of finding, validation, replication and rebuttal. We are at the very beginning of the process. Colleagues have raised reasonable questions about the data we used--problems that we acknowledge in both the study and the Monkey Cage. It will take some time and additional research to increase confidence in our findings."
This was October 30 - two and a half weeks ago.

And yet Jack Kelly's using it as "settled science" in order to prove that there's voter fraud.

Didn't he know that there were questions about the study he was using?  If he did, then how does he explain using it anyway?  And if he didn't then why the heck not??

And as always: Doesn't anyone fact-check Jack Kelly at the P-G?

If they are, they're doing a lousy job.  If they're not, then WHY THE HECK NOT?


spork_incident said...

Doesn't anyone fact-check Jack Kelly at the P-G?

"Fact-check"?! They don't even copy edit him:

"the Democrat charge…Democrat vote fraud…Democrat voters think"

How someone with such a poor grasp of the English language could be employed as a writer is beyond me.


EdHeath said...

I, for one, appreciate the sonnovabich line.

That Richman/Earnest study is so preliminary, it is almost as if Jack is daring the PG to fire him so he can go work for Trib.

Heir to the Throne said...

"Doesn't anyone fact-check Jack Kelly at the P-G?"

Jack Kelly column is a opinion piece. So he gets the same pass that Enron adviser Paul Krugman get.

EdHeath said...

HTTT, do you think Paul Krugman publishes his column only for the Post-Gazette?

Oh, that's right, conservatives don't care about facts.

Heir to the Throne said...

No doubt you will be outraged at this bit of "election fraud".
"Looks like the NRCC was on the ball this cycle.

Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, CNN has learned, a practice that raises questions about whether they violated campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.

Translation: they probably didn’t, which CNN will concede later. Moving on…

…The groups behind the operation had a sense of humor about what they were doing. One Twitter account was named after Bruno Gianelli, a fictional character in The West Wing who pressed his colleagues to use ethically questionable “soft money” to fund campaigns.

A typical tweet read: “CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52–>49/476-10s.” The source said posts like that — which would look like gibberish to most people — represented polling data for various House races.

Classic Purloined Letter technique. If the Democrats had known what accounts to look at, they could have gotten the GOP’s coveted internal polling – the real stuff; the stuff that the parties guard like a dragon guards its hoard – and then used that data to wreak great evil. But they did not, no doubt to their public fury and private shame. It’s unfortunately a trick that can be done only once; but then, the best shenanigans always are.

As for the ethics involved… look at the title. When it comes to the First Amendment and free speech: what part of Congress shall make no law is unclear? I mean, I understand that some fetishists out there have this elaborate mythology set up, complete with the convenient devil figure Dark Campaign Money*. But then, there are fetishists out there who are into clown porn; I don’t really feel obligated to take them too seriously, either. The bottom line is: out in the real world, as long as the government remains this giant behemoth that can seemingly-randomly crush any one individual person, group, organization, or demographic designation without even meaning to do so, people are going to want to get as much influence as possible over where the behemoth falls down.

That means that people take elections seriously; and so will be interested in supporting candidates who will advance said people’s favored policies. And one of the best ways to support a candidate is to give him or her money, because the money pays for the microphone that gets out the message. This is why ‘campaign finance reform**’ is so concerned with money; money is speech.

And guess what? Congress shall make no law."

Ol' Froth said...

That's not election fraud. Its not even the same thing as election fraud or voter fraud. It is an allegation that Republicans MAY have violated campaign financing laws.