Saturday, October 22, 2011

Type I error, Type II error, and voting

No matter how our registration laws are set up, we will make errors: either people who are eligible to vote will be prevented from doing so, or people who are not eligible to vote will be allowed to do so.  Type I error falsely rejects a null hypothesis, while Type II error falsely fails to reject a null hypothesis.

If the null is that people who should be eligible to vote should be allowed to vote, then the new voter registration laws  being propagated around the country will produce more Type I error.  Two points here--I suspect that the new laws will create a lot more Type I error than precent Type II error.  Also, to me, Type I error is more serious than Type II error--preventing eligible voters from voting is a more egregious error than  allowing ineligible voters to vote.