Re: Voting System Standards

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Wed Aug 27 2003 - 08:28:54 CDT

On Sunday 27 July 2003 04:47 pm, Alan Dechert wrote:

> For example, suppose in a two way race candidate A got 505,000
> votes and candidate B got 495,000 according to the electronic
> record. Let's say, for now, that if we compute a 99.999
> percent confidence level, we can safely announce candidate A
> as the winner (with 99.999, we'll be wrong once in 100,000
> contests). The outcome could only be wrong if 5,000 votes
> turn out to be taken away from A or added to B. This is a
> fraction of .005 of the million votes cast. If we enter .005
> in the LOT FRACTION DEFECTIVE cell along with 1,000,000 in the
> "Election Size" field and play with the required sample size,
> we can find a number that will give us the 99.999 Confidence
> Level we want. A few tries and I get .99999 with 2,300
> samples. So with this in mind, we know if we can collect a
> random sample of 2,300 ballots and check them against the
> electronic record (and the match), we are 99.999 percent
> certain that Candidate A won.

The role of statistical samples in election procedures is a
matter of law, so while we can recommend deferring the declaration
of a winner until an audit of the appropriate sized random sample
of ballots has been conducted, we can't impose such a procedure
without convincing legislators of its validity.

The problems that the US Census Bureau has had with convincing
legislators to allow sampling for census purposes are almost
certainly going to crop up in the voting arena too unless we're
very careful!
                                Doug Jones
                                jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:17 2003

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