September 14, 2021
The report from the 2020 Maricopa County election canvass conducted by Liz Harris of the Voter Integrity Project and sponsored by Arizona Senate Republicans, which we brought to you last week, has drawn "fact"-checkers like a picnic draws ants, so let’s take a look.
Keep in mind that, as we pointed out in our original commentary, this two-month effort was NOT part of the official audit currently going on in Maricopa County. The huge, official one has no set deadline and keeps stretching into the future because, according to auditors, they haven’t been getting cooperation from either state officials or Dominion Voting Systems, who have withheld materials the auditors say they need. That’s something we know is true.
So, we just have to cool our heels, as the official report will take as long as it takes. In the meantime, the Voter Integrity Project did their own canvass of just mail-in votes. Something else we know is true: the sudden and widespread implementation of mail-in balloting, in itself, doesn’t prove cheating but sure does make it easier. And, the easier it is to cheat and the more difficult it is to detect, the more likely there is to BE cheating. The key question is, “How MUCH cheating?”
One story we linked to, from THE GATEWAY PUNDIT, had a headline we made clear was theirs, not ours, as it out-and-out said that “Election steal is now confirmed.” We advised readers to look at the story and come to their own conclusions, which I assume they did.
One thing we credited these canvassers with was transparency. It’s possible to go back and see their methodology. It was made clear that, unlike the enormous official audit, this was another one of those attempts to extrapolate from a limited sample. For example, from the 330 registered voters –- 34 percent of their total sample –- who claimed they had voted but whose votes couldn't be unaccounted for, they came up with an estimate, county-wide, of 173,104 votes that were cast but not counted.
Opinion writer Laurie Roberts at the ARIZONA REPUBLIC predictably made fun of the canvass for its process of statistical sampling and the “conspiracy crowd” that was “abuzz with excitement” about it.
As for “ghost” voting --- mail-in ballots cast by people that residents said they didn’t know or had moved away --- the same extrapolating was done. Canvassers looking at a sample of voters ended up talking with 164 people who told them this had happened. They extrapolated from that number to get their rough estimate of 96,389 “ghost” votes counted county-wide.
Even so, Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem is premature in saying the statewide election should be decertified. He’s running for secretary of state and wants to show how proactive he is, but we’re not there yet. Quite possibly we will be after the full audit is complete, but not now. They can’t decertify with only rough estimates based on statistical samples. Still, this does give us a pretty good idea of what probably happened.
“Our questions were really simple,” Harris said. What method did you use to vote? Did you receive extra ballots? What did you do with those extra ballots? How many registered voters are supposed to be here, and how many actually voted? Not once do we ask who the person voted for.”
See her interviewed by Steve Bannon here.
The canvassers did run into trouble identifying a couple of properties as vacant lots. One of these appears to be a mistake; there’s actually a house with a pool at that address. The other, which was unfortunately used in a cover photo for the report –- inviting ridicule –- is something we’re checking into. There’s data from 2019 showing that it was a mobile home park and from 2021 showing it to be vacant lot, under construction. So, was anyone at that address actually registered to vote at the time of the 2020 election? We’re not sure; it’s possible. But the issue with that one property is just a small part of the big picture this canvass paints, the one that “debunkers” desperately want to turn your attention from.
As Bannon says of Liz during the interview, “She never states here that this is definitive or final. But this is why you need a full canvass to be part of a full forensic audit.”
Exactly. But that doesn’t matter to agenda-driven “fact”-checkers determined to discredit any challenge to the 2020 election. They’re jumping all over this as if it WERE intended to be a definitive accounting. That’s what Lead Stories does --- they criticize Harris for using only “rough reckoning,” when, of course, that’s all it’s intended to be and, given realistic budget restraints, all it really CAN be.
“Has an Arizona Republican’s door-knocking campaign and back-of-the-envelope estimate proved there were “173,104 lost votes and 96,389 ‘ghost’ votes in Maricopa County’s 2020 election,” asks Dean Miller. “No, that’s not true.” The problem with his critique is that Harris doesn’t claim her canvass IS proof of those exact counts.
Lead Stories also points out that there are problems when people are just asked for their responses, because they don’t always answer accurately. And that is right; people might not want to tell the truth, or they might not remember correctly. This is the same problem pollsters have. But, again, Harris’ report is not intended to provide a perfect, definitive vote count, just an idea of how bad the problems were with all those mail-in ballots in 2020. In a state with a tiny margin of “victory” of just over 10,000 votes, these problems essentially render the real election outcome unknown. For this reason, the report proposes banning mail-in voting.
Harris did tweet that those who “knew the election was stolen” and had been ridiculed as conspiracy theorists should feel vindicated, and it would have been better for her to hold off on that until the official audit is done. Similarly, GATEWAY PUNDIT should not have oversold this as they did. As bad as the results look, it’s not time to decertify the Arizona election at this point, which is not to say that we won’t get there.
But to the “fact”-checkers: You dissected Harris’ study so you could say she didn’t “prove” those numbers when she wasn’t even claiming to –- and, of course, so you could get in some digs at the right. We think, though, that your main goal here was to pull focus from the real take-away, which is that there are massive problems with mail-in ballots and even more reasons to suspect the Biden win in razor-close Arizona.