Using Analytics To Identify Voter Fraud

Posted by M ws On Thursday, May 16, 2013 0 comments
The following article by Murtaza Haider (PhD),Associate Dean of research and graduate programs at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto was originally published HERE. I am sharing it because I believe the Pakistani experience sounds exceptionally familiar!


As the vote count subsides, allegations of electoral fraud rise. Almost all major political parties in Pakistan have hurled allegations of voter fraud in the May 11 elections.  Some activists have taken to the streets. They should, however, head to a computer lab to analyze precinct counts for voter fraud.

Statisticians have devised algorithms to identify certain types of voter fraud, such as ballot stuffing and manipulated counts. Other types of electoral fraud, such as harassment of candidates, voters, and poling staff do not necessarily require any statistical proof since such overt acts could be identified without the use of analytics.

Millions of Pakistanis have voted in the May 11 elections to show their support for the democratic process. Democracy, however, is not confined to casting votes. Dispute resolution through peaceful means is also a hallmark of the democratic process. Pakistanis may want to learn from others who have relied on scientific method, courts and the rule of law to resolve electoral disputes.

Recall the American presidential elections in 2000 in which President George W. Bush was declared victorious against the Democratic candidate, Al Gore.  The election was decided arbitrarily by the US Supreme Court that halted the vote recount in Florida and upheld the decision by Florida’s Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, who declared Mr. Bush as the winner in Florida. The victory in Florida delivered Mr. Bush the presidency of the United States.

However, Mr. Gore was found to be the real winner of the US Presidential elections after the recount was completed months later. By that time, Mr. Gore had already conceded and Mr. Bush had begun his first tenure as the American president.

The important lesson to learn from the American example is that while Mr. Gore and Democrats believed that they were denied victory by the US Supreme Court, who decided to uphold a decision made by a partisan State official, Ms. Harris, the American people did not resort to destruction and violence. They accepted the Court’s decision even when most were not convinced by the verdict. Mr. Gore emerged as a statesman, winning a Nobel Prize for his efforts to protect the environment. Ms. Harris’s political career was later stalled by political scandals.

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