Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fact-Checking KSL's Davis County Election Story

KSL did a story on the final election results in Davis County.  You can read the story here, if you want to.  But, there is a major issue with something stated in the story.  Oh, and Davis County gets excited about low numbers.

First, the excitement:

Davis County officials say mail-in ballots brought in more voters than expected in an off-year election and cranked up voter engagement to exciting levels.

"We think that the voters this election were more informed and more engaged than they have ever been in any other election," Brian McKenzie, Davis County election manager, said Tuesday.

"Cranked up to exciting levels!"  I hope it's all the way up to 11!

The nearly 48 percent voter turnout fell below that in the last off-year election, but McKenzie still calls it a success.

How exciting!  Less than half of the people registered to vote in Davis County turned out!  They cranked it up to 5!

But, here comes the part that needs fact checking:

Final results also revealed that 77 percent of Davis County voters cast a straight Republican Party ticket

That would mean that of the nearly 65,000 people who showed up to vote, 50,000 of them voted straight party.

Why, then, do the official numbers from Davis County show the number to be significantly less?  Like, say 17,984?

Because KSL doesn't know how to read the results.  See, 77% of the Davis County voters who chose to vote straight party voted Republican.  It was actually 27.5%.

Real news outlets would have people who understand these things report on election results.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Bob's Totally Made-up, Probably BS Election Predictions 2014

So, here we are.  It's another Election Day.  It's the midterm election, which is kinda like Halloween: That thing that people overlook, but you really need to have happen before you can get into the Holiday Season.  I mean the REAL elections.

With that, here are my totally made up, probably BS election predictions for 2014.

The big race locally features Doug Owens versus Mia Love to replace Jim Matheson, who retired this year to work on his 2016 Senate 2016 Gubernatorial spending more time with his family, which is also what he does during the National Democratic Conventions.  In 2012, I said Mia Love would win by 2 points, and she lost by less than 750 votes.  This year, you're going to have to read this entire post to see my prediction.

The Republicans will control the Senate with 52 seats.

The Utah Democratic Party will lose on seat in the Utah House, and will come up with a net gain of zero in the Senate (Win in district 12, lose in district 4).  The Democrats will declare victory in their own "mission accomplished" moment, sans codpiece.

All three amendments will pass, ZAP will be renewed, and Sean Reyes will still be the Attorney General for Hire.  The only surprise will be the third party candidates in the AG race getting 10% of the vote.

Oh, and by 750 votes, we will get to see what the 2015 version of Representative Love will be like.

I won't be blogging election night (That has been a failure in the past), but follow me on Twitter and Facebook for my infrequent postings.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mia Love's Non-denial Denial

In this TV ad, Mia Love claims that the rumors about her education plan are false.

You know the plan.  The one that would get rid on the Department of Education?  Well, that was her plan in 2012, even though she claims it wasn't ever her plan (which means she's either lying in 2012 or 2014).

However, she is allowed to change her plan.  This plan issues the "truth" about her plan, but doesn't actually present anything about her plan (other than saying the rumors are false).It does, present some problems that would very easily be fixed by eliminating the Department of Education.

Mia Love has no plan, other than not the plan she had in 2012, because that was never the plan.

Sounds like Mitt Romney, version 2012.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mayor Love's Current Department of Education Plan Doesn't Add Up

Mia Love's current education plan includes bringing the Department of Education's salaries in line with Utah teacher's salaries.  It said so on a TV ad I saw tonight.  It says so on her web site.  She even said so to the Salt Lake Tribune, as captured in this video:

It sounds nice, doesn't it?  However, the reality is going to be difficult.  First, let's look at how much an employee at DoEd makes.  According to Politifact, the average DoEd salary is somewhere in the neighborhood of $103,000.  How does that compare to the average Utah Teacher Salary?  According to the Daily Herald, the average Utah Teacher salary comes in at just under $50,000.

However, a dollar in Utah gets you further than a dollar in Washing DC, where those DoEd workers live.  According to this Cost of Living Calculator for CNN Money, Someone making $50,000 in Salt Lake City Would have to make $73,578 to have the same level of living in Washington DC.

And, I won't even touch worrying about education requirements or anything else at this point.  Nor will I talk about the logistics of cutting someone's salary by half or even a quarter.

However, if Mayor Love wants to look at some expensive salaries, one need look no further than right here in Utah  (all of these salaries include benefits):

The Assistant City Manager in Saratoga Springs makes $118,000.  He is the 6th-highest paid person on Saratoga Spring's payroll. (source)

The State Superintendent for public schools is costing the state of Utah $250,000 (or over 2 DoEd employees or 5 Utah teachers) (source)

UTA's Rail Service General manager is costing us $511,000 (or 5 DoEd employees or 10 Utah Teachers). (source)

And, let's remember that, should she win next week, Mayor Love's salary will be $174,000.  Significantly higher than that of a typical DoEd staffer.  And over 3 times the salary of a Utah teacher.

Maybe we should bring Congressional salaries in line with Utah teacher's salaries.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

State Director of Elections Misinforms About Election Law

Even a great reporter can have a story get off course when misinformed by those they interview.  Especially when those they interview are supposedly experts in their field.  Even Robert Gehrke at the Salt Lake Tribune is not immune.  I don't blame him, since the expert he interviewed is Mark Thomas, the state director of elections.

He should know the law.  But he totally missed on this one.

The story goes like this:  Back in June, it appeared on election night that Jim Dyer beat incumbent Jim Withers by one vote in the GOP primary for the Millard County Commission.  However, when the day of the final canvas came, there were several absentee ballots that had been misplaced, and the final tally had Withers up by 5 votes.  Mr Dyer challenged seven ballots, but the county commission, acting as the board of canvassers, rejected the arguments and accepted the results.

Dyer sued in court, and Fourth District Judge Claudia Laycock found enough evidence of illegal votes to cast doubt on the outcome of the election.  Because she could not determine who received the highest number of votes, she threw out the outcome of the election and ordered the county clerk to hold a new primary election.  However, there is some doubt about whether one could be held in time, and I agree.  However, where things move on from here is murky.  Here's what Mr Thomas at the state elections office had to say:

The way I read the statute is it says the office becomes vacant. So we’re still trying to read the opinion and provide some guidance to the county."

Thomas said it appears the law would call for someone to be appointed to fill the vacancy. That appointed commissioner would serve until the next election in 2016.

However, that's not entirely true. The office does not become vacant, because the ruling only affects the 2014 election, not when Withers was elected. The office is still held by Withers until January 1, 2015, when it will be filled by the winner of November's general election.  Since there is no longer a Republican Nominee (since the Republican primary was voided), and no other candidate filed to ruin, there are currently no candidates on the ballot.  However, there is a way to win without having your name on the ballot: a write-in candidacy.  potential write-in candidates have until September 5th to register.

If I were a party's chairman, I would be doing some heavy candidate recruitment right about now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

John Oliver Takes On Utah GOP Chairman's Industry

Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans owns Checkline, a payday lending company.  Keep that in mind when you watch this segment from John Oliver's Last Week Tonight:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Chris Stout for Salt Lake County Auditor

This year's June 24 primary elections seem somewhat unsexy.  And the least sexy of the races is the race for Salt Lake County Auditor.

But enough about the candidate's looks.  This isn't a Presidential election.

The race is against Jeff Hatch, who held the seat for one term before losing in 2010 to the now-incumbent (who lost in the Republican Convention), and Christopher Stout, who has previously run for US Senate and State Treasurer.  My vote is for Christopher Stout, and here's why:

I first met Chris in 2010 when he was running for US Senate.  He got into the race because he didn't see evidence of any other candidate running, despite the fact that Sam Granato had announced he was running six month prior (but hadn't yet done much of anything in his campaign).  I found a candidate who stood on principles of doing the right thing and having the utmost integrity.  Running as the underdog, with the Party Machine behind his opponent, he never stood a chance at Convention, but this didn't stop him from putting forth a great effort.

I want an auditor who will find places where the government is not spending my tax dollars efficiently.  I want an auditor who doesn't feel indebted to other county officeholders for their endorsement.  I want Chris Stout for County Auditor.

Further, look at just about any overpass and canal fence line in the county, and you will see a Jeff Hatch sign.  Guess what?  All I see is a waste of campaign dollars, and someone with a disregard of local and federal laws.  That is not who I want for an Auditor.  Look at Jeff Hatch's campaign disclosure.  He had to file an amended disclosure.  That raises a red flag for someone who wants to handle the accounting for the county.  The amended parts of the return account for 76% of the contributions received and 66% of the expenditures for the period since April 1.  Do you want an auditor that can't get a simple financial disclosure completed correctly on time?  I don't.

-Bob Aagard

For more unsexy races, check out this list of 10 races to watch from Utah Politico Hub