Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Never mind voter fraud - how about government fraud?

Yesterday I pointed out a particularly good argument in favor of requiring voter ID at US elections. It was well timed, because last Friday the Justice Department informed South Carolina that it would block that state's Voter ID law. MSNBC reported:

The Justice Department said the requirement could harm the right to vote of tens of thousands of people, noting that just over a third of the state's minorities who are registered voters did not have a driver's license needed to cast a ballot.

"The state's data demonstrate that non-white voters are both significantly burdened" by the law and "disproportionately unlikely to possess the most common types of photo identification" needed, Thomas Perez, head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said in a letter to the state.

The state can appeal the decision at the Justice Department or in federal court.

There's more at the link.

Yesterday Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog pointed out that the Justice Department's case was based upon mathematics so flawed that it amounted to chicanery. Here's an excerpt.

The Obama Department of Justice has used a mathematical trick in order to make its legal and public-relations case against South Carolina’s voter ID provisions. Officials of the DOJ intentionally created a false perception of the disparity between black and white voters in order to strike down the law that would haveve required photo ID or other proof for voters. Meanwhile, the media helped Eric Holder’s Department of Justice spin their intentionally misleading numbers to the general public.

This entire scam – there’s no better word for it – is based an interesting but totally irrelevant math quirk; when numbers are small, the difference between them is larger.

An Easy Math Trick

To understand the math behind this, let’s start simply and look at two very small numbers – 1 and 2.

If you had one dollar and I had two dollars, I have one dollar more than you. However, if I wanted to try to impress someone, just telling them that I was a dollar wealthier probably wouldn’t work. In an effort to sound more impressive, I could find a way to pump myself up by claiming that I had twice as much money as you. It’s true, of course – 2 is twice as much as 1 — but just knowing that I had twice as much money as someone else doesn’t really paint the whole picture.

If I want to get extra-fancy, I could also say “I have 100% more money than that person.” This is saying the same (misleading) thing as “I have twice as much” in a slightly different way.

. . .

Here’s the quirky part — as numbers get bigger, this difference decreases. Now imagine that you have $100 and I have $101. I still only have one dollar more than you but because the numbers are larger, I can’t pull my ‘twice as much money’ claim trick. In fact, I only have 1% more money than you.

. . .

Now, in both of these examples, the simpler way to express our financial differences is to say “I have a dollar more than you” or by spelling it all out, such as “I have two dollars and you have one dollar.” The whole bit about ‘twice as much money’ or ‘100% more’ is just a way to obfuscate the truth that I only have one more dollar and it works only when the numbers are low.

Thus ends the math lesson.

This intentional obfuscation is exactly what the Federal Government and the Holder Justice Department did to the people of South Carolina. They used this same mathematical quirk to hide the truth about the actual statistics and the media dutifully repeated the ‘Holder Math’. Unfortunately, the state of South Carolina was also bamboozled by this simple math game and failed to expose what the Obama DOJ was up to.

. . .

The number that matters is that there’s a 1.6% real difference, based on the data used – or to spell it out, 10% of black voters without DMV-ID versus 8.4% of white voters. The 20% figure had to be manufactured for some reason and the obvious assumption is that the DOJ is trying to hide the fact that the real difference is so small. They know public opinion is against them so they used a semi-clever trick to fool the state of South Carolina.

This intentional gaming of the statistics by a legal branch of the Federal government should be deeply troubling.

Again, more at the link, including a detailed exposition of how the Justice Department 'cooked the books' to make its case.

I can only hope that South Carolina will appeal this ridiculous decision through the courts, and prevail on the grounds of mathematics and logic, rather than allow mendacious and - let's not mince words - fraudulent arguments to derail its efforts to minimize voting fraud. I also hope Congress will investigate how and why such misleading arguments were relied upon by the Justice Department to make its case (such as it is). Heads need to roll.



Anonymous said...

Don't people need ID to get food stamps and welfare and unemployment support? It is difficult to function in society these days without picture ID of some sort.


idungeoncrawl said...

On the other hand, anonymity isn't a necessary component of welfare. I'm not sure exactly where I fall on the ID for voting idea, but my current inclination is to lean towards no. I know that voter fraud is certainly an issue, but I'm not sure that small scale repeat voting (the only thing this would stop) is large enough of an issue to warrant requiring people to have ID to engage in their civic duty and right.

Further, it seems to me that implementing such a requirement would give more ammo to those pushing for a national ID.

Lastly, I close with a lesson from my father. The only thing an ID proves is that the person in front of you had their picture taken and placed on the card in your hand. If 16 year olds can get convincing fake IDs, the people interested in voter fraud certainly can.