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More on “What’s a Valid Signature” on an Oregon Initiative Petition


In my previous post, What is a “Valid Signature” on an Oregon Initiative Petition?, I linked to a document titled, APPENDIX 1 (165-014-0030): Sampling to validate state petitions. It’s a doozy of a document so you might want to take a look at it.

It’s not as painful or as long as the Wikileaks documents, but still, you might want to make some coffee and take a comfortable seat before proceeding.

It begins, auspiciously, as follows, which is reminder to keep your kids in school as long as possible and make sure they take plenty of math and statistics classes. And for anyone who thinks a “civil service” job is a walk in the park, that is not always the case. Someone(s) had to write this guideline/directive:

“… For describing the verification methods, it is convenient to list some general notation for counts from a petition and sample.

N = number of signatures submitted (petition size)
M = number of distinct valid signatures (number of electors that submit valid signatures)
Y = number of valid signatures
D = number of duplicates of valid signatures
R = required number of distinct valid signatures Sample:
n = number of signatures selected in sample (sample size)
y = number of valid signatures in sample
2 e = number of electors with two valid signatures in sample
3 e = number of electors with three valid signatures in sample….”

It gets worse (and I don’t have mathematical notation, so bear with me here and look at the original). Keep in mind that we are barely into page 2 of an 11 page description of the mathematics of sampling. Go ahead, live dangerously, and read it.

In general, ek , will represent the number of electors with k (k =1,2,3,4,L) valid signatures in the sample.

The total number of distinct valid signatures in the petition is given by M = Y − D , (Equation 1) where the subtraction eliminates the duplicates of valid signatures. A statistical estimate for the number of distinct valid signatures can be obtained by substituting estimates for the numbers of valid signatures and duplicates of valid signatures in Equation 1. The task is to determine, from statistical estimates, whether the total number of distinct valid signatures in the petition attains the required number, M ≥ R…” (Link to full document.)


Ballotpedia is doing an almost thankless job (but we thank them!) of keeping track of ballot initiatives in Oregon and beyond, so pay them a visit. And don’t miss their Signature Recovery Lawsuit pages. Whew. That’s a lot of tracking and writing they are doing.

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