The authors of a controversial blog and Washington Post article last month that maintained non-citizens' votes have swayed elections
say in a new article that critics' attempts to disprove them have actually strengthened their arguments.
"As our colleagues have colorfully suggested, our post 'contributed to the circus' rather than made sense of it, and they question whether we intended 'to provide fuel to the conspiracy theorists' who suspect widespread voter fraud," write the study's authors, Jesse Richman and David Earnest, in Sunday's edition of The Washington Post
"We trust that our colleagues do not mean to suggest that authors should self-censor findings that speak to contentious debates."
In in the initial article, published first in the journal Electoral Studies
, Richman and Earnest warned that, while many non-citizens don't register or vote, so many do that it could change the outcome of some of the neck-and-neck Senate races as Republicans and Democrats fight to gain control over the chamber.
While some experts believe that there are not many non-citizens who would risk jail, fines and even deportation for voting, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law
said in a recent report, the Electoral Studies article used surveys from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study
to provide samples of those who would vote.
But arguments have surfaced over whether survey respondents may have mistakenly reported that they were not citizens, or registered to vote, or even voted in elections.
"In anticipation of the objection that the CCES subsample was not representative of non-citizens in the United States, our article includes an appendix that evaluates the validity of non-citizen self-reports," write Richman and Earnest.
In one of the responses, also published in The Post, writer Michael Tesler questioned the use of the subsample
, saying that the "assumption that non-citizens, who volunteered to take online surveys administered in English about American politics, would somehow be representative of the entire non-citizen population seems tenuous at best."
Tesler wrote that about 81 percent of self-reported non-citizens in 2012 also said they were not citizens in 2010, but Earnest and Richman pointed out that the respondents would have had to make the same mistake both years.
Such non-citizens could face consequences for registering and voting, point out Earnest and Richman, and could reduce those reporting that they voted.
Yet two more critics, John Ahlquist and Scott Gehlbach
, in their own Post article, claim that Richman and Earnest do not enumerate the people who don't have validated registration statuses, but the two authors said Sunday they do.
Yet two more writers, James McCann and Michael Jones-Correa
, complained that the presence of three non-green-card holding non-citizens who report making contributions casts doubt on the initial findings.
"The problem with this argument is that, even among citizens, there is only a weak association between contributions and voting," write Earnest and Richman. "Data show citizens are six times more likely to report a vote than a contribution."
In conclusion, they said, the CCES "was not designed to measure non-citizen electoral participation, with appropriate re-weighting — as we did in our article — analyses of non-citizens are valid because the panels from which the actual respondents were drawn contained non-citizens, and non-citizens and citizens with the same characteristics appear to have had an equal probability of being sampled."
Richman and Earnest are associate professors of political science and international studies at Old Dominion University. Richman is the director of the ODU Social Science Research Center, and Earnest is an associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Arts and Letters.
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