[EM] Professor Avi Rubin and American Idol election methods

Chris Backert cbackert at gmail.com
Fri Mar 9 15:45:32 PST 2007

Professor and noted electronic voting security expert Avi Rubin recently
recent American Idol "election" events. He was discussing some of the
technical merits of a vote-by-phone system at the possibility of fraud while
attempting how to understand how what he deemed a very unlikely outcome
could have occurred.

Trying to let go of the idea that this discussion includes American Idol,
has anyone on list ever reviewed the form of election method used here? As
far as I understand votes are in no way limited to one per person. I'm not
sure what election method this would fall under (nearly unlimited votes,
single-winner, forced rounds...)

There are some technical limitations involved as well, so there is some sort
of a cap on how many votes you can cast. (such as how many times you can
dial in the voting period) These constraints aren't evenly applied to the
electorate either. Rural areas with less robust telecommunications networks
are less capable of supporting the call volume.

Professor Rubin seems to be working under the assumption that voters are
voting with the sincere attempt of supporting whomever is the most talented.
Even setting aside the strategic voting (particularly since there are
mandatory election rounds), how would you explain to Professor Rubin
(someone quite knowledgeable in many areas of elections) the different
aspects involved in voter preference and how they affection election

Feel free to respond on list, off list, or on Professor Rubin's blog:

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