Spurious Claims of Voter Fraud

Because of the absolute blizzard of misinformation and flat out lies being currently spread, it is essential to share the facts with regard to Trump's dangerous, authoritarian, and undemocratic claims of voter fraud. I have done my best to provide my followers with accurate, factual, and up to date information, based on data and evidence during this entire process. It is disappointing that I even have to address this issue, but I apparently do. 

I grew up hearing spurious claims about "dead people voting" etc. I heard these claims my entire life, and I often believed them, without actually looking into the evidence for them. We need to understand what constitutes good evidence, and the ways in which claims like these should be tested. The fact that things like this are said on talk radio, is not proof that they are accurate and reliable. Since then, I have actually taken an interest in voting, polling, statistics, and the data science behind it. In all that work, I have found that the evidence for these claims, beyond simple claims and hearsay, is practically non-existent. It always was. 

After intense claims of voter fraud in 2016, Trump initiated an investigation and task force to look into all those claims, the so called "Voter Integrity Commission". Pence was in charge of this commission/task force. It concluded with no concrete evidence having been found or presented to the American public. https://apnews.com/article/f5f6a73b2af546ee97816bb35e82c18d The burden of proof continues to be on those claiming fraud, and our courts of law are the places where such evidence should be weighed and evaluated. 

As Lyle Schofield, a dedicated (and frankly extreme) Republican and Trump supporter wrote: "if [Trump] understood world history and geopolitical reality he is playing right into Russia, China, and Iran's hands by creating distrust in our form of government and the outcome of the election." https://www.facebook.com/lyle.schofield.7/posts/3586941988015270 Even he sees it. 

Romney recently responded to Trump's claims by pointing out that Trump "has a relatively relaxed relationship with the truth." https://twitter.com/CNNPolitics/status/1325448775595339779?s=04 

The American people are well aware of the fact that Trump often says whatever he wants, and thinks that if he says it often enough, people will think it's true. Only 39% of those who voted said that they thought that Trump was "honest and trustworthy". https://www.npr.org/2020/11/03/929478378/understanding-the-2020-electorate-ap-votecast-survey

Republicans USED to care about these geopolitical issues. The collateral damage to our democratic institutions and international standing may be irreparable.  

For this reason, there should be a high bar of evidence for such claims... A bar that Trump and his team are clearly not crossing.

The Court Battles, Evidence of Fraud: 

Litigation regarding which votes should be counted, and how they should be counted, is common in elections like this. That part at least is somewhat normal, even if the rhetoric around it this year is not. This litigation leaves a paper trail of actual, reliable, confirmed evidence. 

The best way to assess the strength of the claims of fraud is to simply look at the results and arguments on his ongoing court battles. Unlike at a press conference, in court you have to have (and present) factual evidence. Press conferences, social media, network news anchors, are all irrelevant. Simply read the court filings, and follow the rulings of the various judges. Remember, the courts are largely packed with Republican judges, they are NOT somehow biased against Trump. Even if you believe that the media is biased against Trump, the courts are not. 

He has every opportunity to get a fair hearing there. And yet, none of these cases are actually going well for Trump.

Even more telling, most of the cases don't even allege what they are falsely claiming in their press conference, because in a court of law, you can't simply make things up like you can in a press conference... you need actual evidence, and they apparently have none. If they did, they would be presenting it to the courts. And they are not. 

Here is a useful summary of the current state of the various court cases, both those that are finished, and those still in play: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-election-irregularities-claims/2020/11/08/8f704e6c-2141-11eb-ba21-f2f001f0554b_story.html 

As Chris Christie (Republican) has repeatedly said, Trump should now provide concrete and court worthy EVIDENCE for voter fraud, or move on. "That's why, to me, I think it was so important early on to say to the president: If your basis for not conceding is that there was voter fraud, then show us. Show us, because if you can't show us we can't do this. We can't back you blindly without evidence." https://nj1015.com/christie-on-trump-provide-proof-of-election-fraud-or-just-move-on/

Republicans like Christie understand the incredible damage that will come to our democracy if Trump eventually concedes that the election was "stolen" rather than that he simply lost. 

If there is actual, concrete, and actionable evidence of fraud, it should be heard by the courts, and the vote counts corrected appropriately. But so far, none has been found. If any is found, I will be the first to call for the correction of the vote counts. 

The Red/Blue Mirage, Evidence for Fraud? 

Another very VERY essential point is that the most intuitive argument for fraud being put forward is that Trump was INCREDIBLY far ahead, and then fell behind as the slower mail in votes were counted. 

Here I can say something relatively concrete, because we are back in my area of expertise (polling, uncertainty quantification, and data analysis). 

Before the election began, I pointed out that this year we should expect wild swings depending on when each state counted the different TYPES of votes. I reminded people of this on November 3rt, ad 8:33pm Mountain:

"Reminder, we expect a late red shift in Arizona, but a blue shift in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania... The difference has to do with whether mail-in votes are counted and reported first... or after..." https://www.facebook.com/jlcarroll/posts/10160290376544018

We knew this going in. For example, Ohio looked VERY good for Biden, but then swung hard towards Trump. Why? Because Ohio counted the mail in ballots first BEFORE election night even began.

Pennsylvania wanted to do the same, but they were blocked from doing this, and could not begin processing mail in ballots until election night. The result was that in person votes were reported FIRST, while mail in votes were counted second. 

Here's what the AP Votecast "alternative" to exit polls shows about mail in voting:

https://www.npr.org/2020/11/03/929478378/understanding-the-2020-electorate-ap-votecast-survey 

The reliability of exit polling this year, given the errors in the pre-election polls, and (more significantly for exit polls) the amount of mail in voting this year, is another topic of discussion that I hope to write about soon. 

But for now, it's enough to say that our best guess is that Biden won mail in voting by 36 points, more in other regions. This is not surprising given that one candidate discouraged his followers from voting by mail, and given that the COVID-19 outbreak has been politicized such that one party is more concerned about it than the other. 

I KNEW this late shift in counts was a likely thing, and I did my best to warn everyone before the election began. And yet, even I was confused about it twice during election night, once when I started to think that Biden had a shot at Ohio, and again when I started to think that Trump was more likely than Biden to win Pennsylvania. In both cases, I KNEW the late shift red in Ohio, and blue in Pennsylvania was coming, but I questioned whether it would be enough.  During the course of the election, I NEVER thought that Trump was the inevitable winner, but I did think he was up.

In contrast, fiveThirtyEight's conditional probability model (taking the called states into account) kept telling me that Biden was a large favorite to win Michigan and Wisconsin, and that Pennsylvania would be close. I should have trusted it more. It's also true that there were election experts who were looking at which types of votes were still out in Pennsylvania, and where those votes were from, who were telling me at the time that Biden was actually up in Pennsylvania the entire time, even when I was saying that Trump was likely a small favorite. This was simply a matter of lacking information on my part. In retrospect, I can look at the raw data, and see that a Biden victory in Pennsylvania was almost assured from very early on on election night. Trump was NEVER actually ahead there, given which votes were in, where they came from, and what kind they were.

The point of all of this is to say that there is no evidence of voter fraud in a late blue, or red shift in these states. It was expected, we understand the mechanism, and it is not at all surprising, or nefarious.

The math simply doesn't support that claim, so if there is actual evidence of fraud, it will need to come from another source... But as I said above, so far, the court battles haven't provided it. 

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Spurious Claims of Voter Fraud

Because of the absolute blizzard of misinformation and flat out lies being currently spread, it is essential to share the facts with regard ...