April 27, 2004

Punch Card Errors and the Schwartzman Effect

Readers who remember this post about errors in the California recall election may wish to look at this working paper, Do Punch Cards Promote Voter Error? Evidence from the California Recall Election by Thomas S. Dee of Swarthmore College. Here is the abstract:

    Conventional evaluations of voting systems have focused on the prevalence of ballots for which no vote can be recorded (i.e., “residual” votes). However, recorded votes that were mistakenly cast are another potentially important - but less easily measured - source of error. In this study, I present evidence that a relatively small but non-trivial number of voters in the recent California recall election mistakenly voted for the four candidates positioned next to the two major candidates on the ballot. I then examine whether the prevalence of these errors was influenced by the type of voting technology used (i.e., punch card, optical scan, touch screen). The results of this analysis are consistent with conventional studies of residual votes and indicate that punch card systems significantly increased the prevalence of these voter errors (i.e., by at least a third).

Posted by Rick Hasen at April 27, 2004 02:53 PM