[E-voting] Any statisticians subscribed? Looking for a tipping point.

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at eircom.net
Thu Sep 8 16:12:40 IST 2005


Brian,

Interesting questions.  You make a very good point.  You are right that 
a relatively small number of skillfully "skewed" votes can affect the 
election results.

What is more serious is--
What if you get 70% turnout that gives the honest opinion of 10% of the 
electorate?  I am exaggerating to make a point, but this is the risk we 
face when we give up our right to /directly/ monitor counting of all the 
votes.

Once you introduce a system that uses centralised computers to /count/ 
the vote, you can swing the whole election in undetectable ways.  It 
becomes irrelevant that not all voters might have used a vulnerble 
/voting/ method, if a vulnerable /counting/ method is used.

This only serves to emphasize the point that you make below.

Catherine

Brian O'Byrne wrote:

>At the risk of being branded a heretic:
>
>When writing that previous message I prepared the paragraph:
>I suggest to you that 40% turnout that gives the honest opinion of 40% 
>of the electorate is more useful than 70% turnout that gives the 
>honest opinion of 40% of the electorate.
>
>Now as stated, that rings obviously true, however what if you play 
>with the numbers a bit:
>I suggest to you that 40% turnout that gives the honest opinion of 39% 
>of the electorate is more useful than 70% turnout that gives the 
>honest opinion of 60% of the electorate.
>
>If that so obviously true?
>
>Is there a value in increasing turnout at the cost of validity?
>Lets say that at any election there is a proportion of the electorate 
>that will always vote. Because the system is well designed a high 
>proportion of those votes will be accurate reflections of the voter 
>intent, meaning the proportion of 'good' votes is high.
>
>Now add another voting channel with a lower integrity. Some of the 
>people who always vote use this new channel, but many new voters also 
>use it. The overall proportion of 'good' votes reduces but the number 
>of votes increases.
>
>Assume first that the 'bad' votes are randomly distributed. Does the 
>reduction in accuracy affect the result?
>
>Now assume the 'bad' votes are skewed. How much of a skew is required 
>to affect the result? What is the relationship between the integrity 
>of the vote, the skew in the 'bad' votes and the result?
>
>Brian.
>  
>




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