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Statistics, Politics and Policy

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Right on Time: An Electoral Audit for the Publication of Vote Results

Leonardo Antenangeli / Francisco CantúORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5189-8207
Published Online: 2019-11-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/spp-2019-0001


The publication of electoral results in real time is a common practice in contemporary democracies. However, delays in the reporting of electoral outcomes often stir up skepticism and suspicion in the vote-counting process. This issue urges us to construct a systematic test to distinguish delays attributable to manipulation to those resulting from a limited administrative capacity. This paper proposes a method to assess the potential sorting of the electoral results given the moment at which polling stations publish their vote totals. To do so, we model the time span for a polling station to report its electoral results, to identify those observations whose reported times are poorly explained by the model, and to assess a potential bias in the candidates’ vote trends. We illustrate this method by analyzing the 2006 Presidential Election in Mexico, a contest that aroused suspicion from opposition parties and public opinion alike regarding how the electoral results were reported. The results suggest that polling stations’ time logs mostly respond to their specific geographic, logistic, and sociodemographic features. Moreover, those observations that took longer than expected to report their returns had no systematic effect on the electoral outcome. The proposed method can be used as an additional post-election audit to help officials and party representatives evaluate the integrity of an election.


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About the article

Published Online: 2019-11-21

Published in Print: 2019-12-18

Citation Information: Statistics, Politics and Policy, Volume 10, Issue 2, Pages 137–186, ISSN (Online) 2151-7509, ISSN (Print) 2194-6299, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/spp-2019-0001.

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