11/29/2004

Vote swings in Florida in counties with and without e-voting

Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science: Vote swings in Florida in counties with and without e-voting

There are three obvious patterns in the figure:

1. The e-voting counties, especially the largest of them, were more Democrat-leaning.

2. For the optical scan counties, there was a consistent trend that the counties that favored Bush more in 2000, tended to move even more toward Bush in 2000.

3. For the e-voting counties, no such trend is apparent. In particular, the two large red circles on the left of the plot (Broward and Palm Beach) moved strongly toward the Republicans.

Next: looking at previous years, and commenting on the Hout et al. paper.

Looking at previous years

A natural question when looking at the above picture is: is this something new (possibly related to e-voting), or is it just a persistent pattern within these particular counties?

Interesting...the pattern we saw in 2004 did not seem to happen in previous elections. However, other years have their own idiosycratic features (see the 1996 plot).

Cheating?

Something unusual seems to have happened in Broward and Palm Beach counties in 2004. One possibility, as suggested by Hout et al., is cheating, possibly set up ahead of time (e.g., by loading extra votes into the machines before the election or by setting it up to switch or not count some votes). This explanation makes a certain amount of sense, in that, if someone wanted to cheat ahead of time, it would make sense to do it in Florida, and it would make sense to do it in the large-population counties where a 5%-or-so swing in votes could make a difference in the statewide total.

A glance at the first graph above makes it clear that the swings-toward-Bush-that-don't-fit-the-general-pattern-in-the-state are a feature just of Broward and Palm Beach counties--not of all the e-voting counties. If you remove the two big red circles from the left of the plot, there doesn't seem to be much going on.

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