Simple Math is Far From Normal in Russia

Russians voted yesterday to elect Vladimir Putin to a 6 year term as president. Apparently, they also voted down one of the most basic mathematical theories: most complex social phenomenon, e.g. elections, follow a normal distribution – they look like bell.

Official results with 6M votes via @tvrain

Take a look at this graph based on official counts of 6 million votes showing voting precincts by participation rate and vote percentage. Notice, how Putin’s opponents in red and blue follow a normal distribution pattern of a bell curve. Also, notice how Putin’s numbers seem to increase with participation – no bell curve there.

15 Million Votes via @tvrain

Same story with 15 million votes.

The basic conclusion here is that the more people voted in a given precinct, the higher Putin’s vote percentage. Why would that be? Well, consider a tactic called “carousel voting“, where a number of people are paid to get on a bus which takes them from polling station to polling station, where they vote again and again. That certainly drives up participation at those stations. Want to guess who they voted for each time?

Russian ingenuity knows no bounds. It is exemplified by great entrepreneurs like Sergey Brin of Google and Phil Libin of Evernote. Thinking “outside the box” was developed out of necessity during the Communist times and is now firmly part of the culture. In this case, it helped Mr. Putin get re-elected, and in the process reminded us that Normal Distribution is only a theory rather then a mathematical law. The Prince of Mathematicians would be quite impressed.

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