In the interest of fairness, I wrote to Martin Merzer, the primary author of the Herald analysis, asking for comment. The below is my letter to him, his response, and my response to that….|
Dear Mr. Merzer:
Attached is a (not quite final edit version) critique of the methodology used by the Herald and its partners in its overvote analysis.
A number of on-line journalism sites have expressed an interest in the piece, based upon its first draft. I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond to it, and I will be happy to see to it that your response is included on sites where it is published. Please note, however, that it may well be published on-line prior to your responses, inasmuch as you have, to date, refused to respond to two previous inquiries regarding your articles on this subject.
First of all, we're having trouble sending email back to you - it comes back as undeliverable. Second of all, you're already posted this. Third of all, if this gets through, here is our response, which I hope you include in its entirety, including the websites:
We stand by our methodology, our ballot reviews and our reporting. Anyone interested in examining our calculations in depth can find supplemental material on these websites -- material that was printed in The Miami Herald on Friday, May 11.
Similar material concerning our previous reports can be found at www.miami.com/herald/special/news/flacount
Dear Mr. Merzer:
first off, please allow me to apologize if mail was bounced back to you. apparently, at some point on sunday evening (until about 8:00 Am monday) the "snip" email server was having problems.
Re: the substance of your response, in fact it was the web sites that you cited that i used as the basis for my critique.
Inasmuch as your overvote analysis acts as an indictment of the methodology in your undervote analysis (forcing you, in the undervote analysis, to add 400+ undervotes from Orange County and eliminating over 1000 undervotes in Broward County) I would suggest that your overwhelming confidence in the overvote survey methodology may be misplaced somewhat.
It is clear that your approach missed the votes recovered in Volusia County in the manual count as a result of 320 ballots NOT counted by machine in the "machine recount".
It is clear that your approach missed ballots that other people found in Gadsden County.
It is clear that your approach DID NOT find seven ballots with fully legal votes that the supervisor of elections there PERSONALLY EXAMINED and that were in the pool of overvotes you supposedly 'examined'. (and don't take my work for them being legal votes. Read the Orlando Sentinel accounts on these votes. Or you can take the word of the lawyer for the Florida Association of County Supervisors of Elections. Or do what I did, and call up a Florida law school (I used university of florida), ask for the leading expert there on Florida election law, then ask him or HER about the status of these votes. Or you can just read my piece cited in the previously attached article that lays out the relevant statutes and codes, and read them for yourself, and draw your own conclusions.)
It is clear that your approach mislabled as "machine counted" votes that were FIRST counted by hand, then duplicated based on a "voter intent" standard.
In other words, it is clear that there are serious problems with your numbers---or at the VERY least, serious problems with the way in which you explained how those numbers were arrived at.
In any case, by addressing the issues I raise, you can clear up ambiguities in your report, or acknowledge errors made, thereby enhancing the Herald's (and your own) reputation for integrity. Conversely, your unwillingness to address the specific issues raised in my critique will merely serve to raise further questions about the integrity and impartiality of the Herald's overvote analysis.