12/04/2008

New Op-ed at Fox News: Minnesota finding 171 votes

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

There has already been a lot of controversy in the Minnesota Senate recount, but the finding of 171 new ballots in Ramsey county has generated real concern. The Star Tribune wrote that "Ramsey County's recount problem caught many by surprise." The Star Tribune noted the new ballots were one of two pieces of good news "boosting the prospects of DFLer Al Franken" when the vote recount was looking grim for him.

Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign said it was "skeptical about [the ballots'] sudden appearance."

All the previously uncounted ballots were discovered in Maplewood Precinct 6. Of the 171 votes, 91 went to Franken, 54 to Coleman and 26 to other candidates. The new votes increased the total votes for the Senate candidates in the precinct by over 12 percent. The percentage of votes Franken got from these new votes in this precinct were statistically significantly different than the lower percentage that he obtained from the ballots that were first counted in that precinct.

When Karen Guilfoile, Maplewood’s director of city services, was asked about whether she was surprised that such a large percentage of the ballots could be over looked she told FOX News that "We are still trying to figure out what happened. We are going back and trying to figure out exactly what went wrong. Fortunately, we have a paper trail." One possible explanation is that a ballot counter that kept jamming was replaced, but the ballots were apparently not run through again after the counter had been replaced. . . .

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3 Comments:

Blogger MCP said...

Thank you for posting this to Fox. As an informed voter, I'm having a hard time finding other sites that post this type of information. I hope that Coleman will take this to the US Supreme Court if Franken somehow wins. This is the very same situation that Al Gore was in where he could only have the votes counted a certain way to win. This is not an election if you have to fight legal battles to change the outcome to your favor.

12/04/2008 1:14 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

According to the official results:
Maplewood precinct No. 6 original results:
Coleman 542 39.19%
Franken 628 45.41%
Other: 213 15.39%

Recounted results:
Coleman 596 38.11%
Franken 719 45.97%
Other 249 15.92%

How can you say the changes are statisticly significant?

12/05/2008 1:20 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Andy:

You have to compare the original results with just the new ballots. You can't mix them together and then compare them to the original results. Most of the ballots are the original ones so of course that makes the difference small. Do you understand? Have you ever taken a statistics class and been asked to the compare the means of two distributions?

12/05/2008 7:52 PM  

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