DEVIATION FROM THE BENFORD’S LAW DOES NOT PROVE ELECTION FRAUD

Disinformation No.

#197

Date:

10.11.2020

Source:

reporter.mk

Time to read:

3 мин.

Original title: (Video) Law proving election fraud, how statisticians analyzed US election results

The Reporter portal published an article on November 10th titled: (Video) A law that proves election fraud, how statisticians analyzed the election results in the United States. The article contains a statistical analysis made by certain experts, through which it was alleged that ballot fraud was committed during the US presidential election. Benford’s law was used in the study. The law is used to identify fake financial records and other illegal activities. The portal did not cite the source of the text, but it is very likely that it was taken over by the Serbian portal Kurir.rs, which published the same text with an identical title, on November 9th.

Other portals that published this news are: mexpress.mk, info.mk.

This disinformation was exposed in detail by the fact-finding investigator Reuters.

Benford’s law states that in the sum of numbers of sufficiently larger size that appear naturally, the first digits of these numbers (example “1” in “15”) are not evenly distributed. Lower first digit measurements occur more frequently: 1 is the first digit in almost 30 percent of the time while 9 starts less than 5 percent of the numbers. No one knows exactly why, but in most of the data, which can range from rainfall to population in cities, the numbers follow Benford’s distribution law. Deviation from Benford’s law data is examined in areas such as finance to find out if something is wrong, such as fraud, error, or misstatement.

Several posts were posted on the social network Facebook, which directly allude to the fact that there was fraud in the election process. Some of those posts were marked by Facebook as “Partly False Information” (here and here).

Walter Mebane, a professor in the Department of Political Science and the Department of Statistics at the University of Michigan, published a paper on November 10th titled “Inappropriate Applications of Benford Legislation to Some Data from the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election.” A look at those sources, using the first digit of the counting data from Fulton County, Georgia, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chicago, Illinois, says nothing about possible fraud before investigating the reasons behind it. announcement. Among other things, he writes that: It is widely understood that the first digits of the counting of votes in the districts are not useful for an attempt to diagnose election fraud.

Dr Jennifer Golbeck, a professor at the University of Maryland College of Information Technology who specializes in Benford  law, posted a tweet stating that the allegations in the social media posts were false, citing the above article.

Conclusion:

The extent to which Benford’s law can be used as an indicator of electoral fraud has been debated by academics, but the application of the rule of thumb to the local population is problematic and the apparent deviation from the law cannot be the only indicator used to prove election fraud, experts say.

At first glance, such narratives seem to take sides with a political party, but in fact it is an anti-US narrative. Such disinformation is intended to misrepresent the United States and its institutions.

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