Back in 2009 I founded by first startup, a political polling via text message company, while a freshman in college.
We eventually gained some steam and were able to get an introduction to this asshole named John McLaughlin, one of the Republican Party’s “top pollsters”. He offered to buy out our company for the GOP (which we refused). As a silly freshman does in 2009, I decided to add him on Facebook back then.
Fast forward to today and he’s literally Donald Trump’s go-to pollster. I’m one degree from him, and have seen him change over the last 10 years from “polling to get data” to “polling as propaganda.” The propaganda that comes out of his facebook is usually laughable.
But now it has become sinister.
Nowadays we have the entire GOP political apparatus claiming there was widespread voter fraud, shaking the faith Americans have in democracy itself. After Trump’s loss in the election and his subsequent claims of fraud, Republican’s belief in US elections has dropped to under 15%.
Why is that? They’re all over Facebook. They’re eating up the trash that John McLaughlin and his GOP cronies serve up on a daily basis. When I log in to Facebook, guess what I see?
On his twitter, the post has 45 retweets alone. It’s spreading.
1.8 million ghost voters! Sounds scary!
That’s a big number, and of course, as an American, I am genuinely desiring of a legitimate election. So despite Trump losing every single voter fraud court case thus far, I wanted to check in on this 1.8 million ghost voter story.
The story is from “The Washington Times,” which is pulling the Judicial Watch “study”.
When you then click into the study, you got to the Judicial Watch’s press release. Yet another link then brings you to the study.
Here it is. You can see the study in its entirety. It’s literally just a spreadsheet!
County by county, Judicial Watch shows where the voter registrations are higher than the number of potential voters. Eek! And that thus there were “ghost voters” — voters who don’t exist. Fraudulent ballots.
They then add up all these overages to get a total number of 1.8 million voters.
But the entire analysis is comically fragile.
Weakness #1: CVAP already has quite a lot of error.
The CVAP (Census Voting Age Population) estimate for 2018 is based on the old census’ population estimate of the area, and then projects how may people in that population should be voting eligible.
The estimate is controversial because it’s often inaccurate.
Conservatively, the CVAP already has a +-5% error rate.
Weakness #2: Populations in decline → voters who haven’t changed their locations.
For the top 3 counties (Lowdes, Macon, Wilcox), let’s dig in further. Here are their populations:
Notice anything? They are all going through population declines at roughly 5.2% per 5 years!
When people move away, they can stay registered to vote in an old location, thus further inflating the ratio’s error.
This alone can add another ~5% of error.
Now, you may think — but Lowdes is at 129%! Even with 10% what about the other 19% who voted?
And this is where it all just goes from weak calculations to intentional propaganda.
Weakness #3: The entire study says nothing about voting. In fact, the math works out!**
The study measures registered voters over an estimate of total potential voters.
It says nothing about the actual votes.
If we actually wanted to find evidence of ghost voters, we’d want to see that the # of votes was higher than the overall voting population.
For Lowndes you have a voting population estimate of 7,890, given the CVAP.
How many votes were there in Lowndes? Let’s look at Bloomberg.
There were 6,830 votes, giving an estimated voter turnout of 86%.
Now, that does sound high! But it isn’t over 100%, and all of the sudden the entire claim of “ghost voters” falls apart. The evidence just isn’t there.
Want to know the best part?
Now let’s look how these counties break down racially, using Alabama’s own census data.
Lowndes is 74% Black.
Macon is 83% Black.
Wilcox is 70% Black.
What happened this year? Black voters came out and made their voice heard. And the GOP just can’t believe that — after all, Trump is “the best President for Blacks in the history of the United States”.
So instead what does the GOP do? They lie. They mislead. They spread propaganda, and power-hungry assholes like John McLaughlin do their bidding. They don’t even care to do the research anymore when a “top pollster” decides to share a single spreadsheet with weak analysis and the most politicized, anti-American message possible: mass voter fraud — “illegal votes” — without real evidence.
As Americans, this should concern all of us.
Radicalized Trump supporters believe these things without doing research, because it appears as though a “Real News Source” like the Washington Times, with “Judicial Watch” did the work.
- What is “The Washington Times”? Although you can’t tell on the website, it’s a conservative “news outlet” founded by Sun Myung Moon, who claimed to be a messiah. Seriously.
- What is Judicial Watch? Turns out it’s a conservative activist group, known for strategically promoting conspiracy theories. Take a look yourself.
We must be vigilant in the days ahead as propaganda spreads like wildfire across Facebook. We need a peaceful transition power now more than ever, and it’s up to us (unfortunately) to call out the propaganda in the social sphere as the courts halt it in the judiciary.