Friday, May 25, 2018
Politics

Florida's early-vote 'expert' unconvincing Steve Bousquet: Florida's early-vote 'expert' unconvincing

The state of Florida is having trouble convincing a federal court that its reduction in early voting days does not discriminate against African-Americans.

One reason is that the state's professional witness was so utterly unconvincing. The judges said so themselves.

A panel of three federal judges ruled Aug. 16 that reducing early voting days would be discriminatory in five counties under U.S. voting rights oversight: Hillsborough, Monroe, Collier, Hardee and Hendry.

The basic question was whether the state's decision to reduce early voting from 14 days to eight has the effect of "denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color" in those counties.

To argue its case, the state turned to M.V. (Trey) Hood III, an associate professor of political science at the University of Georgia.

A native of Waco, Texas, Hood earned his Ph.D. at Texas Tech and since 1999 has been at UGA, where he teaches classes in American government, Southern politics and legislative politics.

In his own deposition, he acknowledged he's no expert at early voting.

Hood analyzed early voting in the past seven statewide Florida elections and concluded that black voters would not be disenfranchised by fewer early voting days.

In his analysis, he gave little weight to the 2008 Florida election won by Barack Obama, calling it an "outlier."

Hood also argued that white voters would be most affected by the reduction in early voting days because more whites vote early.

The judges called that an example of Hood's "methodological flaws."

In analyzing early turnout data, Hood at times included Hispanics with blacks. Another methodological mess, the judges said: The issue is not how many people in each race vote early, but the rate at which they vote early.

• • •

What the judges found was that in four of the past five statewide elections, the proportion of blacks who voted early far exceeded that of whites. In 2008, 54 percent of African-Americans who cast ballots voted at early voting sites, twice the rate of whites.

In the game-within-a-game debate between experts and statistics over the effects of changes to early voting in Florida, the panel of three federal judges found that Dr. Hood was no match for the other side's expert, Dr. Paul Gronke.

Gronke, a political scientist, runs the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in Portland, Ore. He was hired by the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, League of Women Voters and National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic voter advocacy group.

Leaning heavily on Gronke's analysis, the judges concluded that, yes, the effect of early-voting changes would be harmful to blacks, but they suggested a possible remedy: The five affected counties should offer early voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for eight days from Oct. 27 through Nov. 3, including one Sunday, Oct. 28.

The state is now trying to win the judges' approval of that 96-hour early voting schedule. But one county, Monroe, insists on 12 early voting days of eight hours each.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18