Apr 20, 2007
Bernard L. (from France) submitted this bubble chart for consideration. It accompanied an NYT article claiming the absence of evidence of election fraud. (Of course, as is well-known, absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. Here, I'm purely interested in data presentation.)
As a seasoned consultant, Bernard asked if a Marimekko chart would be superior.
This is one ambitious chart. Ignoring the bubbles (which are more nuisance than anything), we are asked to interpret data at three different levels of aggregation in one go.
First, there were 95 cases classified into five indictment types. Second, these cases resulted in either convictions or acquittals/dismissals. Third, among the cases ending in convictions (the highlighted area), we were shown the occupations of those convicted.
By flattening three levels into one table, some key information is obscured. For example, how many cases resulted in conviction? The reader has to compute either 95-25 or 26+31+10+3. What percent of civil rights violation convictions were committed by party/campaign workers? It's not 2/3 = 67% (bottom row) but rather 2/2 = 100%.
The following junkart brings out the logic that is embedded in the complicated bubble-table. While there is a lot on the page, the text labels plus the flow directions allow readers to absorb the data one level at a time.
I have not attempted the Marimekko as I am not a fan of such charts. You're welcome to try.
Source: "In 5-Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud", New York Times, April 2007.
PS. I will be working through the backlog of reader submissions. Thanks for your patience. Keep them coming!
Remark (Apr 25 2007): Thanks to readers for keeping me honest (see comments below). The conviction rates shown previously were indeed the inverse. I have now fixed them.
..of course, the real problem here is that there is such a thing as election fraud, but that I have seen no (0, literally) evidence that the current DoJ is pursuing it. All the great chart design in the world will never obscure the failure of the data going into it to be meaningful.
Posted by: wcw | Apr 23, 2007 at 06:50 PM
Is it me, or did you mix up the conviction rate with the acquittal rate? I would have thought that 80% of vote buying indictments resultes in conviction.
I was also wondering about the data: could anybody but a voter be indicted on "multiple voting" or "voting by ineligible", or if somebody else facilitates it that would fall into another category?
Posted by: Aniko | Apr 24, 2007 at 11:05 AM
I had the same thought, Aniko. Of the five types of indictments (really seven; the first is a combination of three very different offenses), only registration fraud could be committed by both the voter and someone other than the voter. The convicted party is really just a subcategory of indictment type (or vice-versa).
Posted by: Doug | Apr 24, 2007 at 01:28 PM
Aniko: thanks for pointing out the error. I have now fixed it.
Doug: Good call. Indeed, that's why in the bottom table, I blanked out some of the entries; they were just not relevant.
Posted by: Kaiser | Apr 25, 2007 at 12:24 AM