Government 413/613: Election Forensics

Spring 2007, Wednesday 2:30-4:25 (WE B02)

Walter R. Mebane, Jr.
217 White Hall
office hours: Mon 2-4 or other times by appointment
Course web page:

Course Requirements

This is a research seminar. I expect you to participate actively in seminar discussions. Each week (through April 11) you are expected to submit a short paper that discusses research implications of the week's reading. Your paper should provide the basis for comments you will make during the seminar meeting. The short papers are due the day before class, meaning Tuesday at 4:30pm.

Your principal work for the seminar is to write a research paper on some topic relevant to the themes, analytical tools and data considered in the course. A proposal for the paper is due by March 28. The proposal should be in the vicinity of 5-10 pages in length, state the question and hypotheses to be addressed, describe the data and the analytical plan and connect the paper to relevant literature. The paper is due in my office on May 14.

Assignment Due Dates
due date description
weekly short paper
March 28 proposal
May 14 research paper

Reading Availability

I ordered the following books for the course at the campus store. Articles in refereed journals are available either through J-Stor or online e-journals. All URLs are live in the online version of this syllabus, linked to the course webpage. This especially matters for the DU items.

Fortier, John C. Absentee and Early Voting. American Enterprise Institute

Gumbel, Andrew. 2005. Steal This Vote. Nation Books.

Hayduk, Ronald. Gatekeepers to the Franchise. Northern Illinois University Press

Miller, Mark Crispin. 2005. Fooled Again Basic Books.

Rubin, Aviel. Brave New Ballot. Morgan Road Books

Saltman, Roy The History and Politics of Voting Technology. Palgrave Macmillan.

Reading schedule

  1. A Standards Model and Political History Overview (Jan 31)

    Campbell, Tracy. 2005. Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, An American Political Tradition, 1742-2004. Carroll & Graf.

  2. Election Adminstration (Feb 7)

    Joseph Harris. 1934. Election Administration in the United States. Brookings.

  3. Voting Technology (Feb 14)

    Saltman, Roy G. 1988. ``Accuracy, Integrity, and Security in Computerized Vote-Tallying.'' NBS Special Publication 500-158.

    Mercuri, Rebecca. 2002. ``A Better Ballot Box?'' IEEE Spectrum

    Mercuri, Rebecca. 2005. ``Electronic Voting'' [skim and dip at will]

    Bev Harris. Black Box Voting.

  4. Threat Analysis (Feb 21 [snowed out])
  5. Threat Analysis (Feb 28)

    If you had to guess how the tabulation fraud was pulled off on Nov. 2.. thread 203x337686

  6. Sarasota 2006 (Feb Mar 7)

    Feldman, Ariel J., J. Alex Halderman, and Edward W. Felten. 2006. ``Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine.'' MS.

  7. Florida 2000: Overdispersion, Outliers and Overvotes (Mar 14)

    Herron, Michael C., and Jasjeet S. Sekhon. 2003. ``Overvoting and Representation: An Examination of Overvoted Presidential Ballots in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.'' Electoral Studies 22 (1):21-47.

    Tomz, Michael, and Robert P. Van Houweling. 2003. ``How Does Voting Equipment Affect the Racial Gap in Voided Ballots?'' American Journal of Political Science 47 (1): 46-60.

    Mebane, Walter R., Jr., and Jasjeet S. Sekhon. 2004. ``Robust Estimation and Outlier Detection for Overdispersed Multinomial Models of Count Data'' American Journal of Political Science 48 (Apr.): 392-411.

  8. Fraud in 2004? (Mar 28)

    Democratic National Committee. 2005. Democracy At Risk: The 2004 Election in Ohio. Sections I-V.

    Ten Good Reasons to Believe that the 2004 Presidential Election Was Stolen thread 132x2052179

    Ohio Election Fraud (Formerly ``Fairness'') [review some items]

    Ray Beckerman. Ohio Election 2004 [review some items]

  9. Benford's Law Tests (Apr 4)

    Cindy Durtschi, William Hillison and Carl Pacini. 2004. ``The Effective Use of Benford's Law to Assist in Detecting Fraud in Accounting Data.'' Journal of Forensic Accounting 5:17-34.

    Hill, Theodore P. 1995. ``A Statistical Derivation of the Significant-digit Law.'' Statistical Science 10 (4): 354-363.

    Janvresse, Élise, and Thierry de la Rue. 2004. ``From Uniform Distributions to Benford's Law.'' Journal of Applied Probability 41: 1203-1210.

  10. Fraud, Recounts and Election Monitoring (Apr 11)

  11. Voting Machine Allegations and Tests (Apr 18)

    Benjamini, Yoav, and Yosef Hochberg. 1995. ``Controlling the False Discovery Rate: A Practical and Powerful Approach to Multiple Testing.'' Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B 57 (1): 289-300.

  12. Exit Polls and Other Surveys (Apr 25)

  13. Research Presentations (May 2)

Walter Mebane 2007-03-19