Robyn "Blumñata" Blumner, hard left editorialist for the Tampa Bay Times, enters the fray with "Odd time to purge voter rolls." Because one wouldn't want to have the purest voter roll just before an important election, right? Rather, you want to purify the rolls immediately after a big election. Or at least at some point far enough away from the election so the purge has time to unpurge.
So much for the silly title and on to the silly content.
Our jumping off point is the new Florida effort to purge voter rolls of non-citizens. Up, up and away:
The process raises uncomfortable comparisons to the Jeb Bush-era error-ridden felon list. That purge list was used to prevent thousands of legitimate voters from casting ballots in the 2000 presidential election — an election decided by 537 votes.The list prevented thousands of legitimate voters from casting ballots in 2000? That's news to me.
Fact check time.
The executive summary of an investigation of the 2000 election by the couU.S. Commission on Civil Rights was apparently not the source of Blumner's claim. One would think that the direct disenfranchisement of thousands of legitimate voters would serve as exhibit A in such a report, presuming the Commission detected the problem, though an early draft of the report obtained by the Washington Post included the following:
Perhaps the most dramatic undercount in this election was the nonexistent ballots of the countless unknown eligible voters, who were wrongfully purged from the voter registration rolls, turned away from the polls, and by various other means prevented from exercising the franchise. While statistical data, reinforced by credible anecdotal evidence, point to widespread disenfranchisement and denial of voting rights, it is impossible to determine the extent of the disenfranchisement or to provide an adequate remedy to the persons whose voices were silenced in this historic election by a pattern and practice of injustice, ineptitude and inefficiency.
Hunting in the USCCR data for confirmation of the disenfranchised thousands Blumner alleges turned up nothing. Agenda journalist Greg Palast named no such number of lost votes. Lost potential votes, yes--but Blumner uses no such qualifying language.
Don't buy Blumner's number unless it comes with reliable backing. And good luck ever finding any.
More from Blumñata:
Detzner claims that 180,000 registered Florida voters may not be citizens after their names and other data were "matched" to foreign nationals in an outdated state motorist database. These voters could easily have been naturalized in the years since obtaining or renewing a driver's license or state I.D.Obviously if the members of the set of 180,000 naturalized at some point then they count as citizens. However, if they didn't naturalize then they don't count as citizens and it remains true that "180,000 registered voters may not be citizens" until some determination takes place. Blumner's gratuitously playing up the obvious and admitted lack of certainty regarding the number among the 180,000 who qualify as citizens.
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Already some of the 2,700 noncitizens on the verified purge list are proving to be citizens. Which leads to the question of whether this is a pure effort to clean up the voter rolls or is there an element of suppressing minority votes?Fact check.
What is the "verified purge list"? Supposedly a list from the state that includes only confirmed non-citizens?
Blumner's own paper gives us the answer:
As a result, some citizens could appear to be non-citizens now because the DHSMV computer system doesn't automatically update when someone becomes a citizen, said Chris Cate, a spokesman with the Florida Division of Elections.Is Blumner trying to mislead readers or what? The state knows that legitimate voters could occur on the list. That's exactly why they send the list to local election workers. The local workers are charged with trying to verify citizenship. The best time to do that is in advance of a coming election while allowing enough time to correct as many individual snags as possible.
"We're not just looking at the matches from highway safety," Cate said. "We're doing a secondary assessment here before we send the names to supervisors of elections. You have to consider that a person's last contact with highway safety can be more than four years ago. Someone could have become a citizen in that time. So you can't presume someone's not an eligible voter."
Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer, a Republican who is a straight shooter on election matters, says that some of the records Detzner is using are too old to be reliable. Without a confirmation on citizenship one way or another from the voter, Sawyer says, he won't automatically drop anyone off the rolls. But not every local elections supervisor will be this careful.> Likely de-obfuscation of Blumner's paraphrasing: Sawyer's stating the obvious again that persons with older driver's licenses are more likely to have achieved citizenship in the interim. Presenting the same information twice doubles the amount of evidence. De-obfuscation No. 2: Sawyer's not acting to remove people from the rolls until he receives confirmation because he's limited from acting because of federal restrictions on his and four other Florida counties. The information again comes from Blumner's own paper. And she forgets to mention this?
Florida's noncitizen purge follows those in Colorado and New Mexico. Funny that this is being done by immigrant-heavy swing states with Republican secretaries of state. Both Colorado and New Mexico made a media splash with dire claims that noncitizens were registered and likely voting in large numbers. But a closer look by the nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice found that those states had drawn indefensible conclusions about noncitizen voting and had refused to release evidence that backed up their claims. The allegations of voter fraud, the center suggests, were smoke and mirrors and couldn't be trusted.Members of the Democratic Party should feel outrage at Blumner's implication that Democrat secretaries of state would resist making it more difficult for non-citizens--who tend to vote Democrat--to vote.
The Brennan Center for Justice evaluation, by the way, has a little hypocrisy problem:
A careful review of the reports and information released (they have not released the complete set of data and methodology used to arrive at their conclusions) shows some serious problems with the methods used based upon the information they did disclose resulting in questionable conclusions.A definitive finding of "serious problems" depends on a full evaluation of the methodology, at least in a case like this. None of the supposed problems lacks for a potential solution. So the evaluation suffers a problem similar to that of which it accuses Colorado and New Mexico.
It should come as no big surprise. The evaluation was written by Senior Counsel in the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, Keesha Gaskins. Lawyers too often don't care about the legitimacy of their arguments. They're often swayed by the desire to convince the audience by any means, including by the use of a host of formal and informal fallacies. Not that we should dismiss Gaskins' arguments because of that lawyerly tendency. Each argument stands or falls on its own.
Case in point (Blumner's a former lawyer):
The same can be said for all the dead people voting in South Carolina. That state's attorney general, Republican Alan Wilson, claimed recently that more than 900 votes had been cast by dead people. But after the South Carolina Election Commission looked into the claim, it didn't hold up. There was no evidence that anyone had fraudulently voted in the name of someone dead.Apparently a confession from the illegal voter is a necessary proof.
Seriously, an investigation of the 207 potential votes by dead people ended up ruling out voter fraud, on reasonable grounds, in all but 10 cases. In lawyer world that's "no evidence that anyone had fraudulently voted in the name of someone dead." The investigation did not encompass another 696 suspicious votes from earlier elections. See what I mean about lawyers? No evidence isn't the same as no proof.
This is part of a pattern. Republicans actively gin up voter fraud claims to justify turning voting into an obstacle course to dissuade Democratic-leaning constituencies.Blumner's hilarious. News reports indicate that the information about potential votes by dead people was uncovered after South Carolina started implementing a voter ID law. Some pattern.