Monday, November 10, 2008

Worth reading... #mnrecount 

...on the recount is Nate Silver. Key observation:
If, for instance, 25,000 votes or about 0.9 percent of the total are reclassified during the recount, than Franken's odds of winning are only about 7 percent. If only 0.5 percent of the total vote is reclassified, then his odds of winning are not much more than 2 percent.
Silver argues for why more of the misclassified votes should go to Franken than Coleman (he assumes in the above that misclassified votes are equally likely to be Franken and Coleman.) Maybe so, maybe not. But the thing to remember is that .9% would mean that nearly every ballot that had no Senate vote recorded had some way of knowing voter intent. (Plus you'd have to add machine error, a rate which is very, very small. In 2006 a Supreme Court primary recount found only 0.02% of ballots uncounted. That only changed 7 votes out of over 400,000.) He notes:
In Minnesota, the vast majority of counties have such precinct scanning systems, but they may be applied inconsistently -- it appears that in most precincts, for instance, the machines were programmed to alert the voter to an overvote, but not to an undervote. If a precinct scan check is not applied, or the poll worker is too busy or distracted to alert the voter, error rates using optical scanning systems be at least twice as high.
That is my experience, since I usually do not vote the judicial races when there is no challenger to the incumbent (or when I have no knowledge of any of the candidates.) I've never had the machine flag an undervote. I have seen it flag the overvote.

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