Friday, November 12, 2004

Unanswered Election Questions

I have been thinking about this for a little while, and I have a whole different way of thinking and set of questions to be answered then what I have read in papers.

On the question of whether the Ohio votes weren't accurate: who cares? When Gore lost in 2000 I was upset because he had won the popular vote. I really don't like the electoral college. So I think when Bush won the popular vote by 3.5 million votes that he is the president. Had Kerry won the popular vote and lost electoral vote by 150,000 votes in Ohio, then I would be concerned about vote tampering. The fact that if 70,000 Ohioans had changed their votes that Bush could have lost the election while winning the popular vote 51% to 48% is more concerning to me.

There has been a lot of talk about how how about the problem of electronic voting machines not having paper trails. But, if you have a paper trail and the paper and electronic results differ, which one would you believe is more accurate? Why, or under what scenarios would you trust one over the other? I think the better question is what potential fraud strategies would paper trails deter, and do paper trails add more potential fraud strategies then they remove? I have yet to see any analysis of that question.

I think that we give up on the idealist vision that elections should be 100% accurate. Instead we should move to margin of error ala polls. The election result is 49% +-3%. We should aim to get our voting machines/system to an accuracy of 1% but we should base the error margin on type of voting system and previous results. If the voting ends up in the error of margin then there should be a coin toss. Or maybe set it up like College Basketball with a possession arrow. Do it alphabetically. Idaho went to Bush, so Indiana now goes to Kerry. :)

Ever notice how all the pundits on TV start by saying "well the exit polls may not be that accurate" and then go on to tell you why Americans voted the way they did based on the exit polls? Or they say, the exit polls might not be the best way to tell final outcome, but you can trust them for answering why people voted the way they did. But if the polls oversampled Kerry voters, wouldn't the results also over represent Kerry voter's ideas? Shouldn't they at least give you an error margin on the results? 22% of Americans voted on moral values +-10%. Supposedly 17% of voters in 2000 and 04 were 18-29. But if 2000 was 17+-3% and 2004 was 17%+-3%, then they actually could have been 14%-20% which is a major increase.

2004 Results:
Bush: 59.7 mil (+9.2 mil)
Kerry: 56.3 mil (+5.3 mil)
Other: 1.2 mil (-2.7 mil)
Total: 117.2

2000 Results:
Bush: 50.5 mil
Gore: 51.0 mil
Other: 3.9 mil
Total: 105.4

The question I still don't understand is where did all of these new Bush voters come from? 12 million more voters or 11% increase from last year. (Side point - Why the hell were the voting lines so long if the increase was only 11%? Sure seems like the wait increased more than 11%, but maybe that was just in a couple of counties where the increase was greater). If you look at this result from the exit poll (standard +-3% disclaimer :)) you see a couple of things:

Bush Kerry
Did Not Vote (17%) 45% 54%
Gore (37%) 10% 90%
Bush (43%) 91% 9%
Other (3%) 21% 71%

(By total vote) Bush Kerry
Did Not Vote (17%) 7.7% 9.2%
Gore (37%) 3.7% 33.3%
Bush (43%) 39.0% 3.9%
Other (3%) .6% 2.1%
51.0 48.5

(By mil people) Bush Kerry
Did Not Vote (17%) 9.0 10.8
Gore (37%) 4.3 39.0
Bush (43%) 45.6 4.6
Other (3%) .7 2.5
59.6 56.9

While there were 12 million extra voters, based on this data there was actually 20 mil new voters - 7.9 mil didn't voters (voted in 2000 not 2004). Of the didn't voters, 7.7 mil voted for Gore and .3 mil for Bush! What happened to all the Gore voters? 15% of people who voted for Gore in 2000 didn't vote! While 99.5% of 2000 Bush voters voted again in 2004.

Maybe the Gore voters died? About 3.8 million people die a year * 4 years = 15.2 million Americans * 50% voting rate = 7.2 million voters died since last time. But I wouldn't think they would all be Gore guys.

Maybe the Gore voters stayed home? But why? Were there disgruntled Gore supporters that wouldn't vote for Kerry? Haven't heard about them. Maybe the exit polls are off, but Bush's new voters had to come from somewhere. This seems to be a very important question to answer in explaining how Kerry has lost and I haven't read any analysis of it anywhere.

Another interesting question is if all 100% of eligible voters voted, who would have won? I think that the will of all eligible (or maybe you just look at registered) voters might be a more important question of who the American people support than just looking at the 60% that did vote. I wonder if the pollsters did any polls on registered voters vs. likely voters. And why the hell didn't the 40% get off their lazy behinds to vote this year? Maybe they didn't like either candidate? Haven't seen any analysis of eligible voters who didn't vote and who they are, who they would have voted for, and why they didn't vote. This is also important to understanding how Kerry lost.

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