Friday, November 11, 2011

Fun With Math - Voting Stats

As I read about the election day results, the percentage turnout caught my eye.  As I usually do, I wondered why we pin so much faith in the calculated turnout percentage of registered voters.  There is usually mention of how low it is relative to the importance of the election - whichever election one might be talking about just after that election day.  And, to a point I agree.

However, the list of registered voters is very difficult too purge.  If any of us were to view the list for our neighborhood, we likely would pick out names of deceased or moved voters.

Here's a little math for your Friday. 

First - how many eligible voters in Marion County would you guess are registered to vote?  Pick a percentage - any percentage.  From those on my block, I'd guess a high percentage would be 50%.

The election board website gives us the results from this election.  It notes a total of 604,641 registered voters and 181,171 ballots cast for a turnout of just under 30%.

But, the 2010 census counts a Marion County total population of 903,393 with 25% under the age of 18.  A little math gives us an eligible voting population in our county of 676,641. 

Now if 604,641 people were registered to vote, out of an eligible voting population of 676,641, that would calculate out to a staggering registration rate of 89% !

If my anecdotal 50% rate from my block were to hold upon inspection throughout the county, that would indicate that 44% of the registered voter list is erroneous.  This would further lead to the calculated conclusion that just over half of the registered voters turned out to vote in the latest election; or 54%.

So, with all that hand waving and number crunching, what we have is a clear conclusion that we simply must find a way to either purge the voter registration list of dead and moved voters, or, begin to note that the voter turnout isn't anywhere near as low as it appears when a bad voter list is used as part of the calculation.


Paul K. Ogden said...

The problem is we have people registered more than one place and we have dead people registered. They have reduced the bloated rolls somewhat but they're still very bloated.

The trouble is Motor Voter law makes it very difficult to purge. Also registration is a major political football. If Republicans try to purge non-voters they are accused of voter suppression.

But a purge every four years if someone doesn't vote isn't unreasonable. (I could even go with six years.) If someone doesn't vote one time in the 12 elections held during a four year period, they are almost certainly dead or have moved.

One thing that is not well advertised is that the system isn't good for catching duplicate voters. They're not allowed to use the one number that would make it much easier to catch duplicates - social security numbers.

Nicolas Martin said...

It is more useful to focus on the destructive effects of voting. Americans who have voted, for candidates at all levels of government, have done immeasurable harm to the country. Democracy is the farce that keeps on giving.

A good example is Hong Kong. While it was under remarkably libertarian British rule, it had no democracy. However, it did have more freedom than almost anywhere else in the world (certainly more than Britain), and, in historical terms, it rapidly became one of the richest places. Before the end of British rule and the introduction of democracy, Hong Kong had surpassed Britain in per capita income. What have the people of Hong Kong gained from voting? Nothing but strife and vanity.

Freedom and prosperity come in spite of democracy, not because of it. As James Madison put it, "democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention," and so has America become. Not to mention a machine of endless war.

Anonymous said...

Hate to rain on your parade, but marxism is no better.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there another number on the driver's license that would be useful? It is a completely R problem right now as their legislature can enact all kinds of useful things and likely get D support for a lot of them. Reduction in precincts would be useful. Purging used to be a common practice to hold down costs for everyone.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Paul - six years makes some sense. Also, as anon 6:13 notes, most people have driver's licenses or BMV issued state IDs. Its not perfect, but would go a long way to purge those who switched their registration to elsewhere in the State.