Summary: Can Single Dimpled Chads Reflect Voter Intent?
Lee Altenberg, Ph.D.
Information and Computer Sciences, University of Hawai`i at Manoa,
Honolulu, HI U.S.A. Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone 808-875-0745, fax: 808-875-0348
November 25, 2000
It was reported on CNN that the Canvassing Board of Palm Beach County was
counting dimpled chads as votes only when there were more than one dimpled chad on
a ballot. The reasoning behind this seems intuitive: if all the other votes on the ballot
were clearly perforated, then a single dimpled chad must not be an intended vote, but
is more likely caused by a voter's decision not to finally make that vote.
Intuitively this might seem to make sense, and this has been argued by people
objecting to the counting of dimpled chads. However, this reasoning is flawed. If on
rare occasion a voter casting a vote accidentally dimples a chad instead of perforating it,
then the vast majority of ballots that have dimpled chads will have exactly one dimpled
chad, with the other votes on the ballot being clear perforations. Therefore, to restrict
the count of dimpled chads only to those ballots that bear multiple dimpled chads will
exclude the vast majority of intended votes that accidentally left only a dimple. This is
explained mathematically below.
Analysis of Dimpled Chad Distributions