At the risk of being lost down a rabbit hole and subject to endless trolling, I just have to weigh in on the so-called evidence of vote fraud that was contained in Roy Moore’s court filing, in which he tried to get a delay in having the vote certified. (The reason I decided to plow ahead is that Moore’s filing points out an interesting pattern in the precinct returns — it’s just that it’s not evidence of vote fraud.) There are a lot of claims made in Moore’s filing, and I don’t pretend to have time to take them all on. The one that has the look of seriousness is based on some number crunching by Philip Evans, an electrical engineer from South Carolina who has taken a look at the precinct-level election returns from Jefferson County (Birmingham) and declared them to be impossibly skewed — or, as Mr. Evans puts it, based on analyzing more than one hundred elections, “never has there been the level of statistical proof on the scale of Jefferson County” that the results were fabricated.
What’s this proof? It’s nothing more than calculating the percentage of voters in a precinct who voted for Moore and then calculating the percentage of voters in a precinct who voted “Republican” for the straight ticket line. (Recall, that it was possible to vote for Moore in Alabama “without voting for Moore,” by simply voting Republican on the straight-ticket line. Such a vote would mean a vote for every Republican on the ballot — which in this case was simply Roy Moore.)
… To conclude, I’m the last person in the world to say you shouldn’t mine through election data looking for evidence of erroneous election returns, either due to fraud or human error. But, finding what appears to be anomalies is just the beginning. The next step is that the person suspecting fraud owes it to everyone to consider alternative explanations. In the case of the 2017 Alabama special election, what appears to be anomalous is easily explained in terms of well-known campaign dynamics — and may not be as anomalous as it first appears. Finally, any charge of fraud (or human error) needs a mechanism to hang the story on. There was just no plausible mechanism proposed in Alabama. (The implied mechanisms were so out-there that they don’t deserve to be mentioned.)
Doug Jones won in a fair fight. If the Republicans want to win the seat back, they’ll have to get it back in a fair fight.