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Further Dissemination of the Lie

April 15th, 2014
On April 4, I blogged on misleading reports about North Carolina stats on “voter fraud.”
[A]fter months have gone by, the same people will have seen many other reports of the same nature, with the same results, and bullshit piled on to bullshit will come across as even more convincing. Because few people dismiss total bullshit completely, and when they see variations of the same bullshit enough times, they begin to believe that at least some (probably most) has got to be true.
Indeed, PolitiFact reports on exactly that trend:
The pursuit of voter fraud is a running theme among Republicans and the latest numbers out of North Carolina made the conservative websites pop with alarming headlines. “Oh My: Audit Finds Evidence of Widespread Voter Fraud in North Carolina,” wrote Townhall.com. The National Review had “N.C. State Board Finds More than 35K Incidents of ‘Double Voting’ in 2012.”
Fox “News” contributor Dick Morris ramped it up:
“It's most important data I've read in a year,” Morris said on Fox News’ Hannity. “The elections commissioner there, Kim Strach, did a study of those who voted in North Carolina who also voted in another state in 2012 and she found 35,500 people voted in North Carolina and voted in some other state. ”And only 27 states pool that data. Texas, California, New York and Florida did not pool their data. So you're talking about probably over a million people that voted twice in this election. This is the first concrete evidence we've ever had of massive voter fraud. We’ve talked about it ad nauseam. This proves it.“ [emphasis mine]
See? Now it's a million false votes. (Undoubtedly all for Obama!) And as Morris said, it's now proven! Concretely! Where does Morris get that number? Well, more specifically than the obvious ”straight from his ass,“ what he did was to take the 35,500 (35,570 actually) number and extrapolate that to the entire population of the United States. Which brings him roughly to the 1 million number, meaning that 1 of every 126 votes cast is fraudulent. Most Fox viewers will doubtlessly conclude that this is rock-solid proof that Obama actually lost in 2012, not reflecting even on the fact that Obama won by 5 million votes. Still, a million votes is a lot! Shouldn't we be worried about this alarming concrete proof Morris has pointed out? The problem is that the 35,570 number is even more bogus than a Florida felon purge list. It only counts matching first, last names, and birth dates only. Meaning that John Alex Smith born on January 1 voting in North Carolina and John Brett Smith born on January 1 voting in Alaska are counted here as voter fraud. It may even count votes in more than one election by the same paired-name voters as separate cases of fraud. Worse, Morris' 1 million number counts the supposed vote happening both in North Carolina and Alaska as two separate cases of fraud. This list is, essentially, meaningless, as proved by the accompanying statistic that when Social Security numbers are added to the comparison, the 35,570 number dwindles to a paltry 765. Still, maybe you could argue that 765 extrapolated into the whole population is 10,971 cases of voter fraud (21,943 divided by 2 because we're assuming 2 votes per one act of fraud). Unfortunately, this is still bogus. In any election, there are innumerable cases of clerical error. For example, you go to the polls to vote, and the worker at the station crosses your name off the list. However, he did not cross off your name, but the name just below it—the name of your neighbor who moved three years ago, who is also voting in another state this year. Or, more likely, the worker confused you with your brother who also moved out of state to go to college. Out of 126,000,000 votes cast in 2012, you would only need this kind of error to happen once every 11,500 votes to get the number reported in the North Carolina list. In other words, almost all of the cases reported will turn out to be exactly this kind of error, and the actual cases of fraud will sink to single- or low-double-digits. Not, however, in the minds of people who saw the story on Fox, then read about it in The National Review, and then heard Morris talk about it, and saw their local, state, and Congressional representatives mention it in emails, and then maybe noticed stories on WND and a half dozen blogs. These people will see the story, be inclined to believe it, and simply assume it is true. Golly! A million fraudulent votes! And they will never see the follow-up story about how the list of 765 names got whittled down to almost nothing, because it won't be covered on Fox, or, sadly, on almost any other news service either. It just won't be a sexy story. This is how you disseminate lies in the modern age.

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  1. Troy
    April 17th, 2014 at 23:12 | #1

    The important thing is that people do not vote, or, if they do, they are motivated by social issues: keeping prayer in schools, criminalizing abortion, preventing gay people from legally partnering, gun rights, protecting the state of Israel, that sort of thing.

    We live in very stupid times. If the GOP can peel off 5% of the electorate with each of these hot-button issues, they’re halfway to 50%.

    Congress basically went on strike in 2011.

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=xCu

    shows federal spending went from $2T to $3.1T under Bush, up 50%.

    Totally flat since the GOP took the House.

    (red is ARRA spending for comparison)

    Meanwhile it’s paradise times for the 1%.

    https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CP

    after-tax corporate profits

    The left is slowly getting the message out, but it’s an uphill battle. Without Krugman, there’d be no pushback at all. And he’s not much of a propagandistic force compared to what the right deploys on talk radio, Fox, and media in general.

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