Re: What is voter anonymity?

From: Steve Chessin <steve_dot_chessin_at_sun_dot_com>
Date: Wed May 05 2004 - 16:25:30 CDT

>From voting-project@gnosis.cx Wed May 5 12:31:40 2004
>To: voting-project@lists.sonic.net
>From: David Mertz <voting-project@gnosis.cx>
>Subject: [voting-project] What is voter anonymity?
>Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 15:31:10 -0400

>For example (to put it so Californians understand it :-)): Does the
>public have a right to know how strong the correlation was between
>votes for Prop 187 and votes for Gov. Pete Wilson? How about the number
>of voters who voted for both of those, and also for Sen. Barbara Boxer?
>Does this let us draw conclusions about Wilson voters that ought to be
>confidential?
>
>Or put otherwise, do/should CLASSES of voters, defined by one
>collection of votes, have anonymity rights in relation to their other
>votes?

>From ekennedyx@yahoo.com Wed May 5 12:53:45 2004
>Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 12:52:10 -0700 (PDT)
>From: "Edmund R. Kennedy" <ekennedyx@yahoo.com>
>Subject: Re: [voting-project] What is voter anonymity?
>To: voting-project@lists.sonic.net
>
>Hello David:
>
> Hum-mm. Such voter preference correlations are
>usually derived from exit polls done by private
>interests such as newspapers.

Such information is also available (in California, at least) at the
precinct level, since the statement of vote publishes precinct-level
totals for each candidate and ballot measure. This is routinely used
by political scientists to analyze voting patterns. See, for example,
http://www.sfusualsuspects.com/DeLeon%20Files/dec_2000_runoff.htm
(which aggregates it by district, but the raw data is at the precinct
level).

See also
http://www.sfusualsuspects.com/DeLeon%20Files/Nov%202002%20Analysis.htm
and
http://www.sfusualsuspects.com/DeLeon%20Files/most%20+%20least%20progressive%20districts.htm

Note that state laws govern how much raw data is or is not available to
the public. In California, the ballots are sealed after they are
counted and are not generally available to the public (they can be
unsealed for recount purposes). In some states, they may be. You just
have to allow for whatever the state law is.

(While you can debate the pros and cons of these policies here, I would
suggest that it's a distraction from the purpose of this list.)

--Steve
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:17 2004

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