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Mebane, WR Jr (2006)

Election Forensics: The Second-digit Benford’s Law Test and Recent American Presidential Elections

pp 161-181 in: Alvarez, RM, Hall, TE and Hyde, SD (eds.), Election Fraud: Detecting and Deterring Electoral Manipulation. Brookings Press, Washington DC.

ISSN/ISBN: 9780815701606 DOI: Not available at this time.

Abstract: While the technology to conduct elections continues to be imperfect, it is useful to investigate methods for detecting problems that may occur. A method that seems to have many good properties is to test whether the second digits of reported vote counts occur with the frequencies specified by Benford’s Law. I illustrate use of this test by applying it to precinct-level votes reported in recent American presidential elections. The test is significant for votes reported from some notorious places. But the test is not sensitive to distortions we know significantly affected many votes. In particular, the test does not indicate problems for Florida in 2000. Regarding Ohio in 2004, the test does not overturn previous judgments that manipulation of reported vote totals did not determine the election outcome, but it does suggest there were significant problems in the state. The test is worth taking seriously as a statistical test for election fraud.

@inbook{, title={Election Forensics: The Second-digit Benford's Law Test and Recent American Presidential Elections}, author={Mebane Jr, Walter R}, booktitle={Election Fraud: Detecting and Deterring Electoral Manipulation. }, year={2006}, publisher={Brookings Press, Washington DC}, pages={161-181}, ISBN={9780815701606}, }

Reference Type: Book Chapter

Subject Area(s): Voting Fraud