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Study shows possible ballot bias

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 6:06 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - A new study from a professor at Sam Houston State University reveals that there may be bias on our ballot.

The study, entitled “Testing for Bias in Order Assignment," was conducted by Darren Grant, an economist at SHSU.

The study examined where candidates' names were listed on each of Texas' 254 counties. The order of the candidates' names is supposed to be random. But Grant says that’s not always the case.

“There is evidence that some counties, just a few not most, but some counties are not randomizing ballot order,” Grant explains.

Grant explains random selection as this:

Imagine there are three candidates: candidate “a,” candidate “b," and candidate “c." If ballot order is truly random, then the likelihood of candidate “a” being at the top of any given county’s ballot should be the same as candidates “b” and “c," which is approximately 33.33%. But an examination of all of Texas' counties showed small that the theoretical outcome did not match reality.

So does that mean county election officials are bending, and in some cases breaking, the rules?

“Unfortunately, it does," Grant says.

He says his study of the 2018 Democratic senatorial primary and the 2020 Republican presidential primary revealed that certain candidates appeared at the top of the ballot more frequently than expected.

Grant explains that these inconsistencies are small and in all likelihood don’t significantly affect an election. But he says it could.

Watch the full interview in the player above.

See Grant’s full study here.

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