Wednesday, November 14, 2018

PolitiFact misses obvious evidence in Broward recount fact check

On Nov. 13, 2018 PolitiFact's "PunditFact" brand issued a "Pants on Fire" rating to conservative Ken Blackwell for claiming Democrats and their allies were manufacturing voters in the Florida election recount.


The problem?

PolitiFact somehow overlooked obvious evidence reported in the mainstream media. The Tampa Bay Times, former owner of PolitiFact before it was transferred to the nonprofit Poynter Institute, published a version of the story:
Broward's elections supervisor accidentally mixed more than a dozen rejected ballots with nearly 200 valid ones, a circumstance that is unlikely to help Brenda Snipes push back against Republican allegations of incompetence.

The mistake — for which no one had a solution Friday night — was discovered after Snipes agreed to present 205 provisional ballots to the Broward County canvassing board for inspection. She had initially intended to handle the ballots administratively, but agreed to present them to the canvassing board after Republican attorneys objected.
The Times story says counting the 205 provisional ballots resulted in at least 20 illegal votes ending up in Broward County's vote totals.

The Times published its story on Nov. 10, 2018.

PolitiFact/PunditFact published its fact check on Nov. 13, 2018 (2:24 p.m. time stamp). The fact check contains no mention at all that Broward County included invalid votes in its vote totals.

Instead, PolitiFact reporter John Kruzel gives us the breezy assurance that neither he nor the state found evidence supporting Blackwell's charge.
Our ruling

Blackwell said, "Democrats and their allies (...) are manufacturing voters."

We found no evidence, nor has the state, to support this claim. Blackwell provided no evidence to support his statement.

We rate this Pants on Fire.
Inconceivable, you say?



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4 comments:

  1. I’m not sure I would call it manufactured unless the mixing of votes was intentional.

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  2. We don't necessarily disagree.

    We object to PolitiFact omitting any mention of the invalid votes included in Broward County's totals. We don't take a position on what the fact check ought to do with that information, though (other than including it).

    That said, we don't see how the Miami Herald can objectively report that the mixing up of the ballots was "accidental." It seems to us more appropriate to simply note that the Broward County Canvassing Board described it that way. When it is not known whether the mixing of the ballots was intentional the case offers evidence short of proof that Broward manufactured voters. We distinguish between evidence and proof.

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  3. I think this doesn't affect their headline which remains accurate - "NO EVIDENCE". This isn't evidence they were manufacturing voters. It's evidence somebody made a mistake. If you had actual evidence that they were "manufacturing voters" then you're welcome to present it. I see no particular reason for Politifact to mention it but if they had it would go something like this: "There were a few votes which were counted in error when they shouldn't have been but there's no evidence that this represented manufactured voters".

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    Replies
    1. darrelip wrote:

      **This isn't evidence they were manufacturing voters. It's evidence somebody made a mistake.**

      How do you know it was a mistake? Because the Miami Herald reported it that way? How did the Miami Herald know it was a mistake? Because the Canvassing Board said so?

      **If you had actual evidence that they were "manufacturing voters" then you're welcome to present it.**

      We have evidence PolitiFact did not report the strongest evidence the canvassing board manufactured voters. What more do we need?

      **I see no particular reason for Politifact to mention it but if they had it would go something like this: "There were a few votes which were counted in error when they shouldn't have been but there's no evidence that this represented manufactured voters".**

      I suppose we could assume the votes were mixed in accidentally based on the self-reporting of the canvassing board.

      But is that fact-checking?

      Delete