Trust but Verify in Elections

Fritz Scheuren
Vice-President for Statistics
National Opinion Research Center
University of Chicago

7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The complexity of US Elections is mind boggling, even setting aside considerations of intentional tampering. The interest of the lay public is in having the outcome they want and having it be accepted. Of course, in a world of winners and losers, the best that can be hoped for is that the outcome is seen as fair, or that, in "statistical speak," the margin of error is smaller than the margin of difference.

Even in a well run election operation, like that in Marion County, there are many challenges to fairness that could call into question whether the quality was good enough to have the candidates accept the outcome. The 2008 election will be no different in this respect and will have special challenges, notably an expected very high turnout by many first time voters.

So what to look for? And how to make a personal difference -- maybe even this time? Come and let's learn from each other.

Here is an audio recording of this science cafe in mp3 format. (Note: The last 20 minutes of this cafe were not recorded.)