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The squeaky wheel gets 1/10%

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  • Allen Rice
    With the help of State Senator Simitian s office. ... From: Secretary of State, Constituent Affairs To: amrcheck@yahoo.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 31, 2011
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      With the help of State Senator Simitian's office.



      ----- Forwarded Message ----
      From: "Secretary of State, Constituent Affairs" <Constituent.Affairs@...>
      To: amrcheck@...
      Sent: Mon, January 31, 2011 2:46:00 PM
      Subject: Re: Biased Reporting in the Statement of Vote for the 11/2/10 General
      Election


       
      Dear Mr. Rice:

      >Thank you for contacting our office with your concern about the way the
      >percentage of vote is reported in the official Statement of Vote, pointingout
      >what appears to be a practice established years ago that has, unfortunately,
      >been carried through a number of different administrations.

      >The process you describe – rounding up when a number is 5 or above and rounding
      >down when a number is 4 or below – is the process this office follows in its
      >reports of registration and all other documents.  It will also be the process
      >the office will follow in all future Statements of Vote (SOV) and Supplements to
      >the Statement of Vote (SSOV), beginning with the SSOV that will be published in
      >April, 2011. 

      >Thank you again for bringing this error to our attention.

      >We hope this information is helpful.  If you have questions about this
      >or another matter related to the Secretary of State's office, please contact us
      >again.

      >Sincerely,

      >Legislative and Constituent Affairs
      >Secretary of State 
      >


      >From:Allen Rice [mailto:amrcheck@...]
      >Sent: Friday, January 14, 2011 9:44 AM
      >To: Secretary of State Bowen; Goldberg, Evan; Winger, Nicole; O'Donoghue,
      >Debbie; Finley, Lowell; Lean, Jana
      >Cc: Allen Rice
      >Subject: Re: Biased Reporting in the Statement of Vote for the 11/2/10 General
      >Election
      >Madame Secretary, et al,

      >This is a followup to the note I sent almost 2 weeks ago now, regarding
      >manipulated and biased reporting of vote percentages in the official Statement
      >of Vote.  Despite sending a copy to 7 individuals up and down your chain of
      >command, I have so far received no reply whatever.

      >Presuming that you guys actually consider yourselves public _servants_ rather
      >than rulers,  some sort of response is long overdue.  If that is not a
      >motivator, then perhaps just the basic rules of etiquette could be called upon?

      >Kindly respond.   Even a tactfully phrased "drop dead" will do. Actually, I
      >don't much care about the tact at this point.

      >Sincerely,

      >Allen M. Rice


      >
      ________________________________

      >From:Allen Rice <amrcheck@...>
      >To: secretary.bowen@...; evan.goldberg@...;
      >nicole.winger@...; debbie.odonoghue@...; lowell.finley@...;
      >jana.lean@...
      >Sent: Mon, January 3, 2011 8:44:32 AM
      >Subject: Biased Reporting in the Statement of Vote for the 11/2/10 General
      >Election
      >
      >
      >
      >January 3, 2011

      >Madame Secretary of State,

      >I write to take exception to the manner in which your Elections Division has
      >manipulated and biased the percent-of-vote results of the November 2, 2010
      >General Election, as published in the official Statement of Vote (SOV) currently
      >available online at
      >http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/sov/2010-general/complete-sov.pdf .  The
      >Division appears to have invented its own statistical methods, with the result
      >being consistently to the detriment of the smaller political parties.

      >As a demonstration that this is so, consider the results you have published for
      >the Assembly races in Districts 53 and 77.

      >In the District 53 race, 4 candidates ran, and got votes as follows, per the
      >SOV:

      >DEM  73,344   REP  62,770   GRN  6526   LIB  3446

      >The total vote is 146,086, giving each Party the following percent of the vote,
      >shown here to 5 decimal places:

      >DEM  50.20604   REP  42.96784   GRN  4.46723   LIB  2.35888

      >Rounding the above to the one decimal place of precision you use in your report,
      >following the procedure known to every middle-schooler, the results for each
      >party should be:

      >DEM  50.2   REP  43.0   GRN  4.5   LIB  2.4

      >Your published figures are

      >DEM  50.3   REP  43.0   GRN  4.4   LIB  2.3

      >The DEM number is too high, and GRN and LIB are too low.

      >Why?  I suspect that someone in the Elections Division noticed that the properly
      >rounded percentages sum to 100.1, rather than 100.  Rather than insert the
      >simple text “Percentages may sum to more than 100, due to rounding”, which is
      >the practice in every competently written financial report, that person
      >apparently invented the following “elegant” process to make the results “look
      >right”:

      >Compute the percentages as before, but after doing so, throw away all digits to
      >the right of the first decimal place.  This gives

      >DEM  50.2   REP  42.9   GRN  4.4   LIB  2.3

      >The total of these figures is 99.8, which is also not 100, but hey, no problem. 
      >The total is easily brought up by simply adding .1 to the totals for the one or
      >two biggest vote getters.  This makes the DEM total 50.3 and the REP total 43.0.
      >Voila!  We have your published figures.

      >I have spot-checked 30 or so places in the SOV, and this process seems to have
      >been used everywhere.  Following it, one can, for any given race, confidently
      >predict the (frequently false) percentages published in the SOV.

      >AD 77 is an especially egregious example.

      >There were 3 candidates in that race, scoring votes as follows:

      >DEM  43,674   REP  82,909   LIB  6,228

      >Against the total vote of 132,811, this gives each party the following
      >percentages, again to 5 places:

      >DEM  32.88432   REP  62.42631   LIB  4.68937

      >Following the standard rounding procedure gives:

      >DEM  32.9   REP  62.4   LIB  4.7

      >In this case, note that the total is already 100.0; there is no need for
      >manipulation.  But the SOV does it anyway.

      >Begin by throwing away the annoying digits past the first decimal place:

      >DEM  32.8  REP  62.4  LIB  4.6

      >The sum is 99.8, but this is easily fixed by adding .1 to the REP percent and .1
      >to the DEM percent.  This gives

      >DEM  32.9   REP  62.5   LIB  4.6

      >And this is what you have published in the SOV.  REP is too high, LIB is too
      >low.

      >These examples demonstrate my claim of “manipulation”.

      >As for “bias”, that is the direct consequence of using this method.  Because the
      >additions are always made to the one or two highest vote getters, and these are
      >always the Democrats and Republicans, the smaller parties can NEVER benefit from
      >it.  The result overall is that the vote for the smaller parties is unfairly
      >understated, and the vote for the larger parties is overstated.

      >You have an errata document for the SOV upcoming.  Preferably, these
      >manufactured results in the SOV will be corrected as of the date the errata is
      >published.  If not, then I trust that, in the errata, you will either admit to
      >your generic error in calculation or provide some justification for supposing
      >your rounding process is superior to the one universally used.

      >Sincerely,
      >Allen M. Rice

      >Cc: Chairs of all qualified political parties in California
      >    State Senator Joseph Simitian
      >    Assemblyman Jim Beall
      >    Representative Zoe Loefgren
      >    Editor, San Jose Mercury News
      >    Editor, San Jose Metro
      >    Editor, Watsonville Register-Pajaronian
      >    Editor, Santa Cruz Sentinel
      >    Editor, San Francisco Bay Guardian
      >    Various e-lists, Yahoo Groups, and Personal Correspondents






      >
      ________________________________

      >P Save the Earth, one page at a time. Please consider the environment before
      >printing this email.
      >
      ________________________________


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