The Virtues of Parallel Vote Tabulations
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The Virtues of Parallel Vote Tabulations
Larry Garber and Glenn Cowan

Larry Garber and Glenn Cowan are, respectively, senior associate for electoral processes and senior advisor at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), a Washington-based political development organization. Individually or together, they have observed, advised, or organized all the parallel vote tabulation operations described in this essay. An earlier version of their essay was published by the Institute for Asian Democracy.

Notes

1. In most parallel vote tabulations, confidence levels of 95 percent are used. This means that, in 95 percent of the cases, the results would be as projected by the sample. The margin of error accounts for deviations from the projected result that can be expected at given confidence levels. By using large and stratified samples, the margin of error can be reduced to a quite small number, often less than plus or minus one percentage point.

2. See generally, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Reforming the Philippine Electoral Process: Developments 1986-1988 (Washington, D.C., 1989; reissued 1991), and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and National Republican Institute for International Affairs, A Path to Democratic Renewal: A Report on the February 7 Presidential Election in the Philippines (Washington, D.C., 1986).

3. See generally, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Chile's Transition to Democracy: The 1988 Presidential Plebiscite (Washington, D.C., 1989).

4. See generally, National Republican Institute for International Affairs and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, The May 7, 1989 Panamanian Elections (Washington, D.C., 1989).

5. For a text of the OAS Resolution adopted on 17 May 1989, see ibid., 123-24.

6. National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and National Republican Institute for International Affairs, The June 1990 Elections in Bulgaria (Washington, D.C., 1990).

7. National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and International Republican Institute, The October 13, 1991 Legislative and Municipal Elections in Bulgaria (Washington, D.C., 1991).

8. See generally, Note by the Secretary General, Electoral Assistance to Haiti, UN Document A/45/870/ADD.1, 11-17 (February 1991); Council of Freely-Elected Heads of Government and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, The 1990 General Elections In Haiti (Washington, D.C., 1991), 59-61.

9. See generally, Carter Center of Emory University and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, The October 31 National Elections In Zambia (Washington, D.C., 1992), 66-69.

10. National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, The October 1990 Elections in Pakistan (Washington, D.C., 1991), 107.

11. The necessary information would include a list of all polling sites and their locations, the number of registered voters per polling site, and the number of registered voters in each district or constituency. In the context of a first election, the difficulty in obtaining such basic information should not be underestimated. National election commissions in several countries have been unable to relate with precision the authorized number of polling sites or the total number of registered voters prior to election day. [End Page 107]

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