Call your office, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner…

Update:

I’ve had a very productive conversation with the Florida Division of Elections regarding my earlier post, below.

Statutorily (Section 98.0981, F.S.), Florida counties are not required to compile and upload their complete voter history for the March 31, 2016 PPP until April 28, 2016. As such, the complete PPP individual-level voter histories that the counties provide to the FVRS will not be reflected until the April 30, 2016 statewide voter extract. Of course, most of the counties did voluntarily report their PPP data to the FVRS in time to be captured in the March 31, 2016 voter history file.  A handful of counties, though,  voluntarily uploaded only partial voter histories for the PPP, which I document below.

The month-long delay by some counties (even though permitted statutorily) in uploading their voter histories seems to be somewhat problematic.  It can lead to an asynchronized archiving of official voting state data.

For example, in counties where SOEs immediately report individuals’ vote histories in their counties, a contemporaneous snapshot of turnout is possible.  On the other hand, in counties where SOEs legally delay their reporting, it is possible that the vote histories of registered voters who turned out might be mis-assigned. If a registered voter who cast a ballot in one county in the PPP moves to another county and re-registers in that county, the PPP vote history that is uploaded to the FVRS by the voter’s previous county will appear to have been cast in the voter’s new county, not the actual county in which the PPP was cast.

I’ll have more to say on the issue later.

But I want to reemphasize that my post last night was intended to be a cautionary tale to those who utilize these data, not an indictment of the FDOS of the SOEs or Secretary Detzner.

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There are some problems with the March 31, 2016 statewide Voter History File not syncing with the official vote totals. Nothing serious, I hope. But nothing new, either…

I was going to start cranking out a simple analysis of who turned out to vote in the March 15, 2016 Presidential Preference Primary, but it looks like some county Supervisors of Elections did not successfully upload their official results, which were due to the Division no later than noon on Sunday, March 27, 2016.

According to an announcement issued by the Florida Division of Elections, voter turnout in the 2016 Presidential Preference Primary (as of 3/27/2016) was 46.23%.  The Division reports that 4,089,516 votes were cast (out of the total number of active registered Republicans and Democrats (8,845,892) as of the registration deadline).

This official vote is slightly different from the FDOE’s “2016 Presidential Preference Primary March 15, 2016, Official Election Results” website, which reports that the total votes cast was 4,164,001.  There’s no explanation from FDOE why the totals are not the same, but I can certainly understand why they may differ. Really, why quibble over a couple (OK, several) thousand votes cast in Florida?

What is more disconcerting, however, is that these two totals are far greater than what is recorded in the March 31, 2016 Voter History File.  The Voter History File reports the method of voting of all those who who cast ballots in the election.  A quick sum finds only 3,408,945 ballots appear to have been cast by individual voters.

What accounts for the 755,056 missing from in Voter History File (if we compare it to the “Official Election Results” website)?

A quick analysis reveals that several counties have not properly uploaded their individual vote histories to the statewide Florida Voter History File, maintained by the Bureau of Voter Registration Services (BVRS).

Here’s a quick and dirty scatter-plot of the total votes cast in the PPP 2016, with the Voter History File on Y-Axis and the “Official Election Results” on the X-Axis.

2016PPP

As is pretty clear, 7 counties have failed to synchronize their own individual-level records with the BVRS’s statewide Voter History File: Collier, Sarasota, Polk, Brevard, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, and Broward.The discrepancies are not small.  Brevard, Broward, Hillsborough,  and Polk counties report precisely zero (0) votes were cast on Election Day. Other counties, too, failed to sync their own records with the BVRS’s Vote History File, but they’re too small to see on the scatter-plot. These additional counties with zero (0) votes cast include Desoto, Franklin, Glades, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Layfayette, and Taylor. Other counties, too, have obvious problems: Collier reports one (1) Election Day vote was cast; Palm Beach reports 126 votes were cast on Election Day; Sarasota, 48 cast on Election Day.

Clearly, there’s a syncing issue with these counties.

Data uploaded by the counties and synced with the BVRS database by many other counties looks pretty clean. In Miami-Dade County, for example, the totals only differ by 5,674 votes (compared to the 134,045 missing individual-level votes in neighboring Broward). Orange county’s total is only off by 2,338 votes cast. Hamilton County’s total votes cast are spot-on: 2,451 and 2,451. Pasco County, whose SOE Brian Corley heads the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections (FSASE), recorded 103,987 votes cast in the Voter History File, and 103,722 on the Official Election Results webpage, a difference of only 265 votes cast.

To be sure, this is not the first time I’ve discovered these kinds of discrepancies with the official vote tally and what is reported in the BVRS’s voter files.  For an article (see footnote 8) on early voting patterns in Florida that I wrote with Michael Herron (as well as several other articles), we found major discrepancies in the December 31, 2012 Vote History File. After discussing the issue with the counties that had syncing problems, it was finally corrected in the March 31, 2013 file.

I’m sure FDOE and the county SOEs will get to the bottom of this in due time. But until then, data-hounds should be very weary about using the statewide Vote History File for any analyses.

Which is good, as this data-hound has some papers to revise and final papers to grade!

Data sleuths decoded Florida’s redistricting conspiracy

Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times provides the inside story on how on we decode the Florida Legislature’s unconstitutional Congressional gerrymander.

Data sleuths decoded Florida’s redistricting conspiracy

Mary Ellen KlasMary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Saturday, September 5, 2015 10:00am

TALLAHASSEE — The legal team that uncovered the shadow redistricting process that invalidated Florida’s congressional and Senate districts didn’t rely just on maps and cloak-and-dagger emails to prove that legislators broke the law.

The best clues came in the form of data — millions of census blocks — delivered electronically and found in the files of political operatives who fought for two years to shield it.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in July that lawmakers were guilty of violating the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the Florida Constitution and ordered them to redraw the congressional map.

It was a landmark ruling that declared the entire process had been “tainted with improper political intent” — a verdict so broad that it prompted an admission from the state Senate that lawmakers had violated the Constitution when they drew the Senate redistricting plan in 2012. The Legislature has scheduled a special session in October to start over on that map.

But the breakthrough for the legal team — lawyers for the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, a coalition of Democrat-leaning voters and their redistricting experts — came just days before the May 19, 2014, trial on the congressional map was set to begin.

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The first place the challengers looked for clues was in the House’s batch of seven proposed congressional maps in November 2011.

Daniel Smith, an elections expert and University of Florida political science professor, was among the experts hired by the League of Women voters in 2012 to analyze the redistricting maps drawn by the Legislature for evidence that the process had been used to favor incumbents or political parties.

Moonlighting and working from home, Smith examined what made the House’s drafts different, looking for shifts that would tilt the 27 available congressional seats more Republican.

“The mapmakers in Tallahassee — either the state legislative staff or Republican operatives — were literally going down to the census block level and figuring out what the performance of a district was by moving people in or out of key districts,” he said. “Each map exposed the decisions by leadership.”

He found that to help U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Winter Haven, the maps moved Democrats out of his district and into Democrat U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s sprawling north-south district.

“Dan Webster’s residence was actually in Corrine Brown’s district but that was because there were so many Democrats in that census block and precinct that his house came with it,” Smith said. “The final map tipped the minority voters in Brown’s district for the first time over 50 percent plus.”

But the data showed that mapmakers went beyond saturating Brown’s district with black voters. “They also sought other Democratic-performing white census blocks to pack into that district,” he said. “It made sure those Democrats were not in the adjacent competitive district.”

As Smith compared 400,000 census blocks on each of nearly 100 maps, he found “a unique aggregation of census blocks” that didn’t exist in the 2002 congressional map used by lawmakers as their baseline. Yet these pieces existed “across different maps — from maps drawn prior to any public map, all the way to the final adopted map,” he said.

One map, titled “Perfect Pieces” by Reichelderfer, “contained the fundamental structure for subsequent maps introduced by the Florida House,” Smith wrote in his analysis.

Legislative lawyers tried to block Smith’s report from being entered into evidence at trial, and the plaintiffs never called Smith as a witness. But Smith said the conclusions were unavoidable: The similarity between Reichelderfer’s maps and the ones enacted by legislators “can’t be a coincidence. There has to be some grander coordination going on.”

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Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis said when he invalidated the congressional map in 2014 that the operatives “might have successfully concealed their scheme and their actions from the public had it not been for the (challengers’) determined efforts to uncover it in this case.”

For King, the head of a six-member law firm who had never before handled a redistricting lawsuit, the case was like “piecing together a puzzle.”

“It’s just like any other case except you’ve got maps,” King said. “The maps tell a story and you’ve got to interpret them.”

Contact Mary Ellen Klas at meklas@miamiherald.com. Follow @MaryEllenKlas.

Did Obama’s OFA data-driven ‘meetups’ originate with (George) Romney?

George Romney apparently used Big Data to contact likely Republican voters in New Hampshire in his unsuccessful bid for the 1968 GOP nomination.

This nugget is from Herb Alexander’s account of the 1968 presidential campaign:

The Romney campaign in New Hampshire received national attention in early 1968 because a special profile of New Hampshire voters was prepared in a computer headquarters in Hanover. Information was detailed about every Republican voter in the state, some 150,000 strong. This project lent itself to both strategic and operational needs. It permitted mailings to any or all elements of the list; individuals could be invited to Romney appearances in their areas, or to visit the “home headquarters” planned in every city an village in the state. Prepared by a campaign management firm, Campaign Consultants, Inc., the profile was documented in 121-page report accompanied by another volume of statistical tables two inches thick. These cost about $50,000. The same firm used the profile to direct the Romney media campaign in the primary.

Wondering what ever happened to the innovative architects of the Romney campaign, David Goldberg John Deardourff.