Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > General Discussions > Other Talk
Reload this Page >

Punch-Card Voting in Ohio

Other Talk "Otterville" plus Religion/Politics

Punch-Card Voting in Ohio

Old 08-24-04, 10:46 AM
  #1  
Moderator
Thread Starter
 
wendersfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Nuova Repubblica di SalÚ
Posts: 32,956
Received 5 Likes on 4 Posts
Punch-Card Voting in Ohio

Could Punch-Card Voting Skew Elections in Ohio?
No: Sampling of Entire State Refutes Selective Error-Data


By John R. Lott Jr.
Posted: Tuesday, August 17, 2004

There is a corrosive perception that the voting system in parts of the United States systematically prevents people from voting and that this particularly discriminates against blacks. Litigation over punch-card voting machines tried unsuccessfully to derail the 2003 election in California to recall the governor, and now the American Civil Liberties Union has brought a similar lawsuit in Ohio.

The ACLU is not alone: As many as 18 percent of blacks nationally and 20 percent of 18- to 24-year olds claim they donít believe their votes are counted accurately. Thus, this is a hard issue to ignore.

Since the 2000 Florida presidential election, the question has been how elections officials can prevent nonvoted, or so-called spoiled, ballots. These occur when voters either mark too many candidates (overvoting) in a race or do not vote for any candidate (undervoting).

Much of the debate centers on whether these nonvotes are intentional or the result of problems using punch-card machines.

Over the past three presidential elections in Ohio, punch cards have produced higher rates of nonvoted ballots than other voting machines do. Votomatic punch cards used in 69 of Ohioís 88 counties averaged a 2.4 percent nonvoted ballot rate. By comparison, electronic machines had a 1.1 percent rate, levers 1.5 percent and optical scans 2 percent.

The focus on the presidential race is understandable, given the experience in Florida, but it is also quite misleading. In races for Congress and state legislature, Votomatic machines actually do much better than electronic and lever machines and perform similarly to optical scans.

This result is natural, because voters simply donít know or care as much about other races as they do who wins the presidency. Interestingly, the drop-off in voting for other races is much less for punch cards than for other types of voting machines. For example, compared with the 1.3 percent difference between voting systems in presidential races, the nonvoted ballot rate for Ohio Senate races for Votomatic machines is almost 10 percent, while the rates for electronic and lever machines is 18 percent.

Even after accounting for factors that could affect nonvoted ballot rates, such as income and education and the number of candidates in a race, switching from Votomatic punch cards to electronic or lever machines would result in about 200 more nonvoted ballots in the average Ohio ward of 1,696 voters.

This pattern has held true for decades. Even an expert hired by the ACLU, professor Herb Asher at Ohio State University, also found that punch-card machines overall had much lower rates of nonvoted ballots than other machines during the 1978 election. Once this was clear, the ACLU did not call him to testify during the trial in July.

Why punch cards do so well down the ballot is simple. The more effort or time it takes to vote, the fewer races voters vote in. For example, recent research points to problems with the electronic machines regarding "the willingness of voters to navigate through multiple ballot screens before casting a vote (and) delays caused by the use of the review feature when coupled with extended ballots." Whatever their faults, punch cards are relatively quick and simple to use.

Most important for the ACLUís case, my research found that Votomatic machines were the only ones that consistently had lower nonvoted ballot rates for blacks than for whites. The Datavote punch-card machines that were used by only one county in 2000 and optical scans used by 11 counties were the worst for blacks, with electronic and lever machines varying, depending upon which race one examined.

Yet, even then, the race of voters only explains a small 0.4 percent to 3 percent of the variation in nonvoted ballot rates, itself an already small number.

With all the debate over voting machines, one would think that they must be too complicated for many people to figure out. But neither education nor income is related to nonvoted ballot rates. For education, the nonvoted ballot rate is high for those with less than a ninth-grade education, low for those with some high school, high for highschool graduates, low for college graduates and generally higher again for those with post-graduate degrees. Instead of deep conspiracy theories, some voters were probably more conflicted over whom to vote for and decided not to support anyone in some races.

My data, as well as Asherís, examine the entire state, not just a few counties, as all the experts the ACLU used did. Nor has the ACLU ever explained exactly why it thinks that blacks have a more difficult time using punch cards.

The ACLUís lawsuit seems designed to maximize confusion, not just in Ohio but across the nation. If it wins, then any close election at least could be challenged in the press.

But whatever short-term political gains, the unfounded claims of selective disenfranchisement risk poisoning the political debate for years to come.

John R. Lott Jr., a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served as a statistical expert for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and USA Today in their evaluations of the 2000 election in Florida.
Old 08-24-04, 10:54 AM
  #2  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: MI
Posts: 25,061
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No, no, there HAS to be a conspiracy. After all, Bush won!
Old 08-24-04, 10:56 AM
  #3  
Moderator
Thread Starter
 
wendersfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Nuova Repubblica di SalÚ
Posts: 32,956
Received 5 Likes on 4 Posts
Originally posted by OldDude
No, no, there HAS to be a conspiracy. After all, Bush won!
See, I always thought Bush won because he got more electoral votes. How stupid of me.
Old 08-24-04, 11:00 AM
  #4  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Working in the "evil" pharmaceutical industry booga booga
Posts: 7,991
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Punch cards are racist? Next thing you'll be telling me is that they put black olives in cans instead of jars to keep them down too.
Old 08-24-04, 12:14 PM
  #5  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: MI
Posts: 25,061
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally posted by wendersfan
See, I always thought Bush won because he got more electoral votes. How stupid of me.
It was purely sarcasm. I posted the results of another similar study a few weeks ago. The media and certain groups have an amazing ability to demonize certain voting methods, based on opinion, even when carefully done studies fail (dismally) to support their opinions. The result in my study, like yours, were that punch card were among the most reliable voting methods, and better than what the media et al are pushing.
Old 08-24-04, 01:44 PM
  #6  
Moderator
Thread Starter
 
wendersfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Nuova Repubblica di SalÚ
Posts: 32,956
Received 5 Likes on 4 Posts
Originally posted by OldDude
It was purely sarcasm.
I know. I was just going along in that disengenuous way I have.

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.