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Archive for Friday, December 1, 2000

A tie-breaker?

December 1, 2000

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To the editor:

As has been ably pointed out by statisticians, the endless recounts of Florida ballots are pointless. The results of the Florida vote are already known with stunning mathematical clarity: IT'S A TIE. This possible outcome should have been anticipated even before voters went to the polls. Elections just like opinion polls have a built-in margin of error beyond which there is no statistical certainty.

Voters must accept the fact that we may NEVER have a clear result of the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida. The cause for this lack of exact knowledge is akin to the consequence of one of the strangest but most fundamental principles of quantum mechanics, the Uncertainty Principle, proposed by Werner Heisenburg in 1927. The more one attempts to measure something with exactitude, the more it changes as a result of the measuring criteria and the process itself.

Every count or measurement, no matter how accurate, will always have a statistically significant margin of error. The Florida Election Commission should have determined, in advance, an acceptable margin of error beyond which election results could not be certified. This margin of error would have been far greater than the existing 537-vote difference. State election laws must provide for a course of action in the event of a tie. Absent this, the only solution is to vote again until a statistically certifiable outcome is achieved.

John Hoopes,

Lawrence

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