Press Release Bolivia Latin America and the Caribbean Organization of American States World

New Report Debunks Claims that Bolivia’s Equivalent of the US Electoral “Blue Shift” Must Be Fraudulent

November 10, 2022

Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460Mail_Outline

Statistical Analysis Shows “That Their Approaches to Fraud Detection Are Faulty”

Washington, DC — On the third anniversary of Bolivia’s 2019 coup d’etat, a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) finds that more claims of fraud in Bolivia’s 2019 elections were based on flawed analysis. The report, “Nickels Before Dimes: Misleading Design in Escobari and Hoover’s ‘Natural Experiment’” by economist David Rosnick and researcher Aileen Wu, shows that these claims placed undue emphasis on results that came in early from areas that favored opposition candidate Carlos Mesa and marked as fraudulent the results that were reported later from areas that historically have favored the now former president Evo Morales and his MAS party.

“There have been various reports since Bolivia’s 2019 elections that have attempted to show evidence of results-altering fraud,” Rosnick said. “Some of these, such as the latest analysis by Diego Escobari and Gary Hoover, cast suspicion on Bolivia’s equivalent of the ‘blue shift’ in the United States, when later-reporting areas have shifted election results to a Democratic victory. We saw this happen in various recent US elections, including Joe Biden’s win in 2020. It is a well-known phenomenon among political analysts and journalists, and — contrary to what some may believe — it happens in Bolivia’s elections also.”

“When applied to simple fraud-free [. . .] election data, [Escobari and Hoover’s] methods fail, reliably detecting fraud where none exists,” the CEPR report states. “The natural conclusions are that their approaches to fraud detection are faulty and that their claims to have measured fraud in the 2019 Bolivian elections are not supported.”

To date, no study has been published in a peer-reviewed journal that supports the Bolivia election fraud narrative. In contrast, a 2020 research paper by Nicolás Idrobo, Dorothy Kronick, and Francisco Rodríguez rejecting claims of election results-altering fraud has just been published by The Journal of Politics, which is peer-reviewed. This paper was also the subject of a New York Times article released in June 2020 which stated that the Organization of American States (OAS) did not have evidence to support its assertions, first made the day after the elections, that cast doubt on the veracity of the election results.

CEPR immediately questioned whether the OAS had evidence to support its statement. The OAS later produced a deeply flawed audit of the electoral process, which was used to justify the ousting of Evo Morales on November 10, 2019. Rosnick coauthored an 80-plus page analysis examining flaws in the OAS “Final Report” of its audit, showing that the authors of the audit report misrepresented data and evidence in an apparent attempt to support OAS claims.

The OAS’s claims have also been debunked by researchers at MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab (and their post at the Washington Post site), 133 economists and statisticians, a study by a University of Michigan statistician, and several other reports published by CEPR. Members of Congress had sought answers from the OAS regarding how it arrived at its conclusions, but never received a response.

Rosnick notes the importance of setting the record straight, as extremist movements and political figures have recently been challenging election results and election integrity without evidence:

“From the US to Brazil and beyond, electoral democracy is under attack from political candidates and their supporters who assail the reliability of the electoral system ahead of elections, as Carlos Mesa did in Bolivia, and then who cry ‘fraud’ when they don’t win those elections, as Mesa also did, and as did Trump in the US. Facts matter, and when, even years later, those talking about the ‘big lie’ are unable to provide evidence that fraud affected the election’s outcome, then it’s time to stop taking such claims seriously.”


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