Bolivia election fraud fraud update

Last November there was a disputed presidential election in Bolivia. The Organization of American States wrote, “Given all the irregularities observed, it is impossible to guarantee the integrity of the data and certify the accuracy of the result. . . . In all likelihood, given more time to process documentation, even more irregularities would surface.”

But an outside team looked at the data and didn’t find evidence of fraud; rather, they found that the OAS report had problems.

I took a look and, without trying to judge the integrity of the election as a whole (I know nothing about Bolivia other than seeing this movie many years ago), I agreed that the OAS report was flawed: as I put it, one of their analyses was “a joke, maybe suitable for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences but I wouldn’t expect to see it any serious report.”

Since then, more analyses have come out.

Election fraud expert Walter Mebane wrote that “fraudulent votes in the election were not decisive for the result.”

And today John Williams points us to this news report that states, “a study by independent researchers, using data obtained by The New York Times from the Bolivian electoral authorities, has found that the Organization of American States’ statistical analysis was itself flawed.”

The new report is by Nicolás Idrobo, Dorothy Kronick, Francisco Rodríguez, and here’s the abstract:

Surprising trends in late-counted votes can spark conflict. In Bolivia, electoral ob- servers recently sounded alarms about trends in late-counted votes—with dramatic political consequences. We revisit the quantitative evidence, finding that (a) an apparent jump in the incumbent’s vote share was actually an artifact of the analysts’ error; (b) analysis of within-precinct variation mistakenly ignored a strong secular trend; and (c) nearly identical patterns appear in data from the previous election, which was not contested. In short, we examine the patterns that the observers deemed “inexplicable,” finding that we can explain them without invoking fraud.

So, more evidence that the OAS was jumping the gun in its conclusions.

P.S. regarding the title: I haven’t actually seen evidence of election fraud fraud (i.e. fraud in the claim of fraud). My guess is that they were convinced going into the election that the election wasn’t fair, and then they interpreted all the evidence with that in mind. Not literally fraud—but remember Clarke’s law.