Jim Maule's post on statistical ties
Jeffrey T. Renz
jeff at SELWAY.UMT.EDU
Mon Nov 27 16:41:55 PST 2000
We had mentioned statistical ties about a week ago. I think that we
shouldn't lose sight of what we are trying to accomplish in an
election: a peaceful transfer of power.
The discussion about statistical ties assumes that there is a "true"
winner and that, because of measurement errors inherent in any counting
system, mechanical or human, we cannot "know" who won in Fla. when the
difference is .0001 of the votes cast. Put differently, to obtain an
accurate count, an error could not be made more than one time in 10,000
The answer to Jim Maule's question is not, "What is the best
method?" The answer is "What is the most acceptable method." In an
earlier post on the subject of statistical ties, I suggested that such
remedies as splitting the electoral votes wouldn't improve the process.
Instead of the battle taking place at the win-lose divide, which we have
seen during the past two weeks, the battle would take place at the
In my view any reasonable method would be acceptable. The present
method (in Florida) is to conduct one mechanical and (if deemed
necessary in a given county) one hand recount. The post-recount result
is the final one. There is nothing unreasonable about employing that
rule, even though it may not discern the "true" winner of the election.
It is only important that we agree on the rule before the election as
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