Rob Richie traces the ever-evolving TTV report. It begins:
Yesterday I helped my colleague Andrea Levien expose on the FairVote blog that True the Vote — an organization that purports to be dedicated to reducing voter fraud and has been the subject of much controversy for its methods — had cooked numbers on voter turnout in a February 27th report that featured its findings on the effect on voter turnout of voter ID laws and other election changes allegedly meant to reduce voter fraud.
True the Vote in its original report concluded that these new laws not have an adverse impact on turnout and may have led to increased turnout. They began the report with highlighted statistics, including two relating to turnout:
- 6.2 percent: The average increase of voter turnout in states with “strict” voter ID laws.
- 72 percent: The rate of voter turnout in Georgia, home of the strictest voter ID law — up from 62 percent in 2008
But these statistics were absolutely wrong. If you go to the report now as of noon on Friday, March 1st (important to clarify, as the report has been edited twice today and may be again), you won’t find any reference to turnout. You also won’t see any apology or explanation for the deletions, despite those findings being trumpeted on such websites such as Breitbart’s Big Government, which on February 27 published an article reporting that:
“True the Vote’s report demonstrated that in almost every state with some form of photo ID requirement, voter turnout improved from 2008.”Georgia is known to have the ‘strictest’ photo requirement in the nation,” Engelbrecht continued. “In two consecutive general election cycles the state has seen increases in voter turnout. This is more evidence that voter confidence and turnout rise together, thanks to photo voter ID.”
In fact, the report’s authors made a huge methodological mistake. They compared turnout of eligible voters in 2008 to turnout of registered voters in 2012. Because many people are not registered to vote, turnout of registered voters is almost always higher than turnout of eligible voters. (The only exception would be if a state has more registered voters than eligible voters, as in fact can happen in some states like Alaska due to our antiquated approach to voter registration.)
Correcting this error in fact reverses True the Vote’s findings. All but one of the states with new voter ID laws experienced a decline in voter turnout, and most experienced a decline greater than the national turnout decline from 2008 to 2012.