Re: Tampabay: Voting mystery stirs call for paper trail

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Tue Oct 05 2004 - 08:58:00 CDT

On Oct 4, 2004, at 10:58 PM, Charlie Strauss wrote:

> has anyone, perhaps doug jones investigated this one?

Top-of the ballot undervotes are really suspicious, but the ones
reported in the cited article,

> http://www.sptimes.com/2004/10/04/Tampabay/Voting_mystery_stirs_.shtml

are at the bottom of the ticket. I usually undervote on offices
where I've never heard of any of the candidates. I routinely
undervote on judicial retention races, for example, so that anyone
who has strong feelings about the judge in question will be given
weight.

That said, differences between the undervote rates for comparable
offices at the bottom of the ballot from one county to the next
could be explained several ways:

1) A hot local race. The race for sheriff is usually no contest,
   the incumbent versus someone nobody's heard of. Good reason to
   undervote. This year, though, it's a hotly contested open seat.

2) Something fishy in the user interface design of the voting system
   that encourages voters to abandon their ballot early. While I
   get annoyed with voting interfaces that force me to read all the
   candidate names in all the races, even though I just want to vote
   and run, I'd also not want the system to make it too easy to vote
   and run. This is a human factors problem, in Ben Bederson's
   bailywick.

3) A dishonest voting system that selectively tosses out votes for
   some candidate. I find this unlikely, but I can't rule it out
   entirely.

                        Doug Jones
                        jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Mon Nov 1 15:28:42 2004

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