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Mebane, WR Jr (2006)

Election Forensics: Vote Counts and Benford’s Law

Proceedings of the Summer Meeting of the Political Methodology Society, UC-Davis, July, pp. 20-22.

ISSN/ISBN: Not available at this time. DOI: Not available at this time.

Abstract: How can we be sure that the declared election winner actually got the most votes? Was the election stolen? This paper considers a statistical method based on the pattern of digits in vote counts (the second-digit Benford's Law, or 2BL) that may be useful for detecting fraud or other anomalies. The method seems to be useful for vote counts at the precinct level but not for counts at the level of individual voting machines, at least not when the way voters are assigned to machines induces a pattern I call "roughly equal division with leftovers" (REDWL). I demonstrate two mechanisms that can cause precinct vote counts in general to satisfy 2BL. I use simulations to illustrate that the 2BL test can be very sensitive when vote counts are subjected to various kinds of manipulation. I use data from the 2004 election in Florida and the 2006 election in Mexico to illustrate use of the 2BL tests.

@inproceedings{, title={Election forensics: Vote counts and Benford’s law}, author={Mebane Jr, Walter R}, booktitle={Summer Meeting of the Political Methodology Society, UC-Davis, July}, pages={20--22}, year={2006} }

Reference Type: Conference Paper

Subject Area(s): Voting Fraud