ConCalls: 3% Reduction in Voting

I think it’s rather clever how these researchers, Tom Cornwall & Anke Kessler, realized that the individual polling stations within a riding could be used to determine the effect of robocalls and fraudulent live-calls targeted at non-Conservative voters! The various neighbourhoods tend to vote in a particular manner, possibly related to income, religion, or other consistent factors. By comparing polls within ridings with mostly constant variables, it’s easier to expose the voter suppression campaign’s effectiveness. Conservative voters in the riding would have had fewer robocalls misdirecting them, so their turnout comparison ratio to the polls in 2008 would be more identical than the non-Conservative leaning polls.

The data support this presumption: the average winning margin for districts with no robocall allegations was 10,903 votes or 22.8 percentage points. Ridings where allegations of impropriety have emerged, in contrast, had a margin of victory that was almost 28% lower: 8,719 votes or 16.3 percentage points.
Identifying a causal effect of demobilisation efforts on turnout

For this reason, we employ a slightly different strategy: instead of using between-district variation to identify the effect of alleged misconduct, we use within district variation at the level of the polling station. This allows us to control for district-level effects such changes in candidate quality, district level time trends, local TV ad buys, etc. On average, an electoral district has roughly 250 polling stations, which display a considerable within-district variation in turnout and voting patterns: while some polling stations voted predominantly Conservative, others leaned mostly towards opposition parties. Moreover, the latter experienced a drop in voter turnout from the 2008 to the 2011 election, whereas turnout at the former rose between the 2008 and the 2011 election, relative to the district average. Our identifying strategy is then the following: Assume the instigator of the robocalls randomly called all non-Conservative voters in the 27 treated electoral districts. If the calls had the intended effect, then polls with a higher-fraction of non-Conservative voters should experience a larger drop in turnout than comparable stations in non-robocalled districts. Expressed differently, the difference between how Conservative voters and non-Conservative voters turned out at the polls should be more pronounced in those ridings that were allegedly targeted by calls directed to suppress the (presumably non-Conservative) vote, controlling for poll level turnout in the previous election.

“To reduce this level of statistical detail for researchers in the future, expect there to be a single polling place per riding (or just no vote totals reported) in the future,” I add sarcastically.


11 responses to “ConCalls: 3% Reduction in Voting

  1. I feel its critical that Canadians understand that electoral fraud, via live calls, robo calls, polling station interruptions, illegal votes or electoral ‘grooming’ may have .. OK .. likely allowed, The Harper Government to attain a majority. So, that would be a grievous error to be redressed .. ? Non ? Much like the related situation in a Toronto riding where the result was declared by the courts to be null and void.

    Thank you for the link to the study by Tom Cornwall and Anke Kessler .. more and more we need to realize how political parties have become as slick as Las Vegas bookies at parsing the finest points of statistics and eventualities.

    ‘Baseless smears’ is now engraved in a very shallow yet incredibly rich lexicon of rhetoric from the disciples of Stephen Harper. ‘Accounting error’ was a good one from the Honorable Mr Mackay. Foreign funded radicals escaped the lips of one Joe Oliver, and scare bear John Baird is now assaulting Kevin Page verbally for ‘overstepping his mandate’.. and let’s not even go where fearless Mr Woodworth wants to tread on the origins of life itself. (I thought Darwin sorted this stuff out ?)

    What would our week be like without the musical parade/stampede of clowns ? Del Mastro investigated & humiliated, career in tatters by the hand of his own cousin it would seem and Election Canada forgot to notify him ! Peter Kent attempting to defend his party’s environmental ‘goals’ in Rio.. Vic Toews retreating from attempts to listen in on departures level conversation in airports and border crossings (I’m sorry Vic.. was that an election promise ?)

    What was that old TV show .. with Colonel Klink … Ah .. Hogan’s Heroes

    Are we trying to escape Canada.. or reclaim it… … …. Eh !

  2. The USA listens to people returning from Tijuana, as one example of those mics in use in the world.

    I’m pretty sure Toews campaigned on calling everyone a child pornography supporter if they didn’t support warrant-less searches of the Internet history, right? It’d be great if we could CTRL+Shift+Del Toews from our political Browser History.

    Maybe Mozilla should design the #TellVicEverything button into their next C-30 compatible browser?

  3. Antonia Zerbisias posted:
    For Immediate Release

    June 22, 2012
    Election legal challenges going to federal court on Monday

    WHAT: The Federal Court will consider preliminary motions related to the legal challenges filed by nine applicants seeking to have federal election results overturned in seven ridings. The hearing will consider only the preliminary motions filed by the Conservative Party of Canada, not including the scurrilous attack against the Council of Canadians alleging “champerty and maintenance.”

    WHEN: 9am, Monday, June 25.

    LOCATION: The Supreme Court building in Ottawa


    The Council of Canadians is supporting the applications by the nine electors in seven ridings, which allege that the electors received a fraudulent call advising them of a change in their polling location, that these calls were made to other electors in their ridings, and that they lowered the voter turnout to a degree that affected the 2011 election result.

    Several affidavits have been filed in support of these applications, including one from Frank Graves of EKOS Research, whose firm surveyed voters and concluded that there were a large number of fraudulent calls in each of the seven ridings and that they were targeted at supporters of the NDP, Liberals and Greens. EKOS estimates that roughly 1.5% of the total eligible voters in the seven ridings were successfully dissuaded from voting as a direct result of these calls.

    The response of the Conservative Party of Canada has been to file numerous procedural motions, including an allegation that the applications are untimely and without merit. The most recent motion cites an arcane legal doctrine of “champerty and maintenance,” meant to prevent frivolous litigation from outside parties with no interest in a case. Conservative Party lawyers have filed a scurrilous attack on the Council of Canadians that is more than 700+ pages in length. The applicants have responded firmly to these efforts of the Conservative Party of Canada to stop the proceedings before a judge can look at the powerful evidence filed in support of their claims.

    Further information on the ongoing legal challenges to defend democratic rights is available at

    DEMOCRACY 24-7

  4. I’m hoping with my whole being that there is a judge not bought by Harper, a judge who is aware of the Cons bull-shite and cares about what they are doing to our great Country,,there has to be someone with enough power to stop this and see that if this is to be found for the Cons then we no longer have the hope that is needed to get rid of this monster. there must be someone who does not want to see their grandchildren live in a Country where our water is no longer able safe to drink that our fish are poisoned.. I could go on and on, but it would take to long! we need to stand as one ……Democracy as we know it will be a thing of the past a story to tell our grandchildren about the good old days where we once lived free.

  5. An excerpt from the ‘study’… “The first limitation is that since we have no data on which voters were targeted, we have to rely on media reports of robocalls.”. Seriously?? The media???

    By ascribing change in voting patterns to ‘robocalls’ and negating all other factors, the authors of the study were astounded to find ‘robocalls’ responsible for the change in voting patterns all other factors having no influence.

    Bouyed by the study’s results, the Clowncil of Canadians intend to commission more studies showing how ‘robocalls’ have been responsible for every change in the Canadian electorate demographic since Confederation in 1867.

    • I’m still waiting for this idiot to explain how the DSF broke the law and how contributions to Canadian charities from the USA are illegal.

      Who cares what this nut-bar says about anything else?

  6. I’m not sure its a totally legit study, is there really enough info to base it on? But the more of these the better. The evidence is out there that fraud was committed during the election and that fraud changed the results.

    Its been more of a worry to me lately about media bias. Following the Del Mastro investigation, its only been two journalists, McGregor and Maher from the post/citizen and a bit of CBC investigation. Here in T.O. the Star, Sun and Globe have kept it out of the papers. Rumours are here that a year or two ago a story appeared online on the Globe from a politics reporter that Harpers’ wife was not sleeping with the bully, but instead was sleeping with a lady in the security detail. That story disappeared within 20 minutes and the reporter was fired, according to rumours (I’m having that confirmed now with a friend who works there).

    We need a Murdoch type investigation here.

    • Yes, there is plenty of data. That’s what is so great about this technique.

      I know Redjefff quibbles about the validity of using math in research, but ratios are very trivial to pull out of this sort of data. The ratio is different by the same amount in robocalled ridings, and we know there were robocalls made thanks to recordings, confessions, and EC testimony in Parliament. Unless our illustrious troll can suggest an alternate factor suppressing the non-Con vote in the robocalled ridings’, there’s not much he can say that doesn’t require him to reject the validity of math. He’s already rejected evidence in court docs, as reported by the media.

      Even if there is another variable at work in only robocalled ridings, that variable would most certainly be a crime, because it points to a campaign of voter suppression in limited areas.

      • 2+2=4, 4+4=8, 8+8=16, Greenlibdipps are fabricating the numbers on ‘robocall’.

        Thus the liberal arts mathematical proof of no voter suppression whatsoever. There is no way possible to “reject the validity of math” and thus the analysis is undisputable. To scoff at the mathematical calculations is akin to renouncing math itself.

        Do liberal artiste Greenlibdipps repudiate proven math?

      • I know you can access all the voting numbers through Elections Canada’s website, saskboy. What I’d love to see as well are the full reports from EC on where those reports came from, to be able to accurately table them against ridings.

        I’ll take another look at the report and see what I can make of it, when I get some time.

        We’ll never know the true number of calls unless the conservatives were dumb enough to keep records. I would expect all that long deleted now, so we’ll never see the real number of calls made. That also means that until the scapegoat is found the whole party is tainted by fraud, certainly nobody in the party has come out and said ‘this is wrong and I’ll help stop it’, and because of that you have to think they are all in the know.

  7. Pingback: By-election Monday; Plan to Fix Democracy | Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff

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