York Misstates the Facts

Writing in The National Review, Byron York has penned an article entitled “The Loser Who Won’t Concede” in which he dismisses the massive undervote of more than 18,000 ballots in Florida’s 13th Congressional District during the November election [CNN ran a segment about it yesterday.] 

The People For the American Way Foundation has been very active in seeking a remedy for this disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, and thus knows a bit more about it than York seems to. For instance, York claims:

[T]here was no evidence anything had gone wrong with the machines. As the wrangling went on, a group of three political scientists — James Honaker and Jeffrey Lewis of UCLA and Michael Herron of Dartmouth — began to look into the matter. They found no evidence of machine malfunction, either, and instead argued that the problem was most likely a confusing ballot design in Sarasota County’s machines.

This is actually not the case. In the report that Herron et al. published, they explicitly state that “we cannot directly address engineering issues here” and “we cannot definitively rule out the possibility that there was some voting machine malfunction in the sense that Sarasota County’s touchscreen machines failed to record and tabulate actual screen touches … because this paper presents a statistical analysis of vote patterns and not a physical examination of voting machines, we cannot completely rule out voting machine malfunction as a source of the Sarasota undervote.” 

Herron et al. stated that they believed that the ballot format design was to blame, but York’s writing is irresponsible in suggesting that they “found no evidence” of machine malfunction.  For one thing, Herron is not a computer scientist and didn’t examine the machines for error since he was engaged in a purely statistical analysis of the undervotes.  Indeed, when he testified recently as an expert for the voting machine vendor (Election Systems and Software) at an evidentiary hearing in the Florida lawsuits brought by voters and one of the candidates to contest the election, he specifically acknowledged that he had no expertise in the computer software programming for the voting machines used in Sarasota County.

Despite York’s assertion that there was “no evidence of machine malfunction,” PFAWF found many potentially disenfranchised voters who claim otherwise.  

With the 110th Congress now in session and the “winner” of the 13th Congressional District race being provisionally sworn-in, it is imperative that a full investigation be conducted in order to ensure that voters of Florida’s 13th Congressional District are represented by the candidate they intended to elect.