Replicating the Kansas Vote Fraud Study

A Wichita State University statistician, Beth Clarkson, has been in the news lately regarding a study she conducted on voting results in several states, and specifically her challenge in her home county to release election records to sort out whether voter fraud took place in the 2014 election. In a nutshell, she replicated an earlier paper by Choquette and Johnson that looked at the 2008 and 2012 elections; the authors sorted precincts in a county or state by the number of votes cast in each precinct, then plotted a “cumulative precinct vote tally”, displaying the change in the vote share for a particular candidate starting with the least populous precincts, and adding in the more populous ones to the running average moving rightward in the charts.

The strange effect that Choquette, Johnson, and Clarkson find is that there is an upward trend in these charts after a certain point in precincts that used certain types of electronic voting equipment, which they take as an indication of vote fraud. While Dr. Clarkson doesn’t specify the exact method of fraud she suspects, Choquette and Johnson theorize that “vote-flipping” is occurring – in more populated precincts, where it is easier to hide and more efficient, votes are changed from one candidate to the preferred candidate of the fraudster, leaving the total number of votes cast the same.

In this post, I’m going to replicate the 2014 Kansas Senate race results Dr. Clarkson presents, as this has become the newsworthy case given Clarkson’s challenge in her home county, and provide a couple comparisons to explain why this trend occurs.

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