"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." --Bishop Desmond Tutu

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ACORN by the numbers

I work for a company that is, more than any other I've worked for, data driven. We talk about and use data for making sound business decisions. One of the techniques we've used extensively is 6-Sigma. So what if we took the methodology of 6-Sigma and applied it to the ACORN question to figure out how much of a problem this really represents.

The first thing we want to do is calculate the DPMO (Defects Per Million Opportunities). To do that, we will define an Opportunity as one registration card. A defect is a card that cannot be processed due to some fraudulent issue with the card (duplicate, fake name, dead person, etc.).

For our data, we'll use information from Cleveland where ACORN led a very successful voter registration drive. There are other places where one can get data, but they're all in the same ballpark from a DPMO stand point.

Let's run the numbers, shall we?
  • Total number of cards: 65,000
  • Total number of defects: 80
  • DPMO: 1231
  • Sigma: 4.6
  • Yield: 99.998%
By any measure, for this kind of a manual process, getting it 99.998% right constitutes a big success. So the next time some wingnut tries to tell you that ACORN is stealing the election, explain the math to them and remind them that instead, they might consider that their party is loosing the election.

1 comment:

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