Washington, D.C.- Fourteen economists and other academics have written an open letter to the media calling for the reporting of “overwhelming statistical evidence” that shows that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro won the April 14 elections as verified by Venezuela’s electoral authorities. The economists, who include James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas and Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts, point to a statistical analysis of the initial audit of 53 percent of votes as irrefutable proof that Maduro won the election, but the media’s failure to report this fact could mean that “many if not most Americans believe that the election was stolen or that the result is somehow in question.”
The letter cites three “uncontested facts” about Venezuela’s electoral process and the audit: the existence of both electronic records and paper receipts of voters’ choices; the completion of the initial audit of 53 percent of votes on election night in the presence of [tens of thousands] of witnesses; and the fact that this audit found no discrepancies between the electronic vote tally and paper receipts. The letter notes that this allows for a simple statistical analysis of the audit, which shows that “theprobability of getting the audit result of April 14, if in fact opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski had received a majority of the votes, is far less than one in 25 thousand trillion.”
The full letter follows:
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June 7, 2013
An Open Letter to the Media:
As economists and statisticians who have used and taught statistics and probability theory, we want to call attention to the clear statistical evidence regarding the results of Venezuela’s presidential election on April 14th, which leaves no room for doubt about the result.
According to what we understand to be uncontested facts, as presented by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Venezuela’s election process has the following characteristics:
1) The voting is done by machine, with a paper receipt which the voter then places in a sealed box, allowing for a complete paper record of the machine count.
2) Immediately after the polls close, 53% (20,825) of the machines are chosen at random, the paper receipts are counted, and the two tallies are compared. This is done in the presence of witnesses from all sides.
3) When this “hot audit” was done on the night of April 14, this process yielded no discrepancies between the machine count and the paper count for the 53% percent of machines sampled. (An additional 1 percent of voting machines were audited the following day, making an initial audit total of 54 percent of machines.)
So far as we know, these facts are accepted by all parties, including the Venezuelan opposition and the United States Department of State. Yet the State Department has called the outcome of the election into question, and refused to recognize the results. It has demanded that the remainder of the voting machines be audited as well, calling instead for a “100 percent audit or recount of the results” as “an important, prudent, and necessary step.”
The point we wish to stress is this: on the agreement that these are the facts, what is the probability that we would get the April 14 audit result if in fact there were enough discrepancies in the remaining machines to reverse the result? This is a simple question that any economics or statistics professor can answer.
The probability of getting the audit result of April 14, if in fact opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski had received a majority of the votes, is far less than one in 25 thousand trillion. (See the full calculation here.)
It does not make sense to ignore this overwhelming statistical evidence, as the Obama administration, and almost all major U.S. media outlets, have done. As a result of this omission, many if not most Americans believe that the election was stolen or that the result is somehow in question. This is simply not believable in the face of the actual evidence.
James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations and Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin
John Schmitt, Senior Economist, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Robert Pollin, Department of Economics and Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Ronald Chilcote, University of California, Riverside
James G. Devine, Professor of Economics, Loyola Marymount University [for identification only]
Michael Meeropol, Visiting Professor Of Economics, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York
Vicente Navarro, Professor of Health and Public Policy at the Johns Hopkins University
Alejandro Álvarez, Senior Professor, Economic Faculty- UNAM (Mexico)
Julio Huato, Associate Economics Professor, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, New York
Robley E. George, Director, Center for the Study of Democratic Societies
Mayo Toruño, Professor and Chair, Economics Department, California State University, San Bernardino
David Barkin, Profesor de Economía, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco (Mexico)
Roberto Veneziani, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Gerald Epstein, Professor of Economics and Co-Director, PERI, University of Massachusetts, Amherst