Saturday, November 22, 2008

Recount Fun

Minnesota Public Radio shares some of the challenged ballots in the current Minnesota Senate recount (background from PowerLine). I guess it's not surprising that in such a high-stakes game both sides would be making pretty ridiculous challenges. Not surprising, but not particularly encouraging. Can we possibly come up with a voting system that doesn't leave us in this position?


Shane said...

The following 4 rules, which MUST be followed, are very difficult to satisfy simultaneously.

1. Only eligible voters may vote.
2. Voters who have already voted cannot vote again, even at another polling station.
3. Votes cannot be attributed to any specific individual.
4. The voter must be able to have confidence that his/her vote was entered correctly.
5. The tally must be accurate.
6. The tally must be resistant to fraud by either a voter or a campaign worker, or a reasonably small combination of voters and campaign workers working together.
7. The rules of counting votes must be made publicly available and understood by poll workers (and preferably by all voters)

Given that votes must be anonymous, it then becomes difficult to deal with ambiguity or vagueness.

So the answer is no, we will never have a system whose confidence interval is within the margin of victory every time. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to get the confidence interval as small as possible, but close elections with so many votes will always suffer from this problem.

Shane said...

Rule number 8:
Proofread your comments on blogs or you will look like an idiot.

Elephantschild said...

I'm kind of horrified, although I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, that there are quite so many people unable to fill in a little oval with a black pen. For example, #6.