Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Voter fraud and shark attacks, recycled

With a recently recycled news item on illegal voting in Florida, it's a fine time to revisit PolitiFact Florida's fraudulent fact check from 2012 of an ACLU attorney who claimed voter fraud is less common than shark attack.
"There are probably a larger number of shark attacks in Florida than there are cases of voter fraud," he said.

We couldn’t resist diving in: Are there more shark attacks than cases of voter fraud in Florida?
The challenging aspect of the fact check comes from figuring out how many cases of voter fraud occurred in Florida.  PolitiFact Florida stacked the deck by defining "case" as "deemed legally sufficient for an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement."  It's April 1, but we're not kidding.

Florida doesn't make it easy to ferret out fraud.  Somebody has to notice something and report it, then law enforcement has to decide whether the report warrants an investigation.  Florida's "motor voter" law permits voter registration without verification of citizenship.  Which brings us to the aforementioned news item:

Pierrotti's report actually aired in 2012.  We're guessing some news recycling site posted something about it without including a date and created renewed buzz in the blogosphere.

Still, it's a good excuse to review one of PolitiFact's past sins.  The number of voter fraud investigations doesn't give us the number of cases of voter fraud.  It gives us the number of investigations.  PolitiFact Florida never checked the number of cases, and gave the ACLU attorney a Truth-O-Mulligan on the "burden of proof" criterion PolitiFact uses fallaciously and inconsistently.

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