A Swarm Intelligence Weighs in on the Wisconsin Recount

The 2016 presidential election continues to be controversial with Green Party candidate Jill Stein raising money for a vote recount in the “blue wall” states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, starting with Wisconsin. The recount, which will cost an estimated $3.5 million, is expected to start this week.

Recounts don’t usually change election results, and many in the media, including FiveThirtyEight, are doubtful that the effort will reveal any irregularities or a different result. This, in spite of reports of outdated voting machines and allegations of irregularites and hacks.

With that in mind, researchers at Unanimous AI decided to ask a Swarm Intelligence its opinion on the impact of the recount. These researchers posed a series of questions to a group of 45 American citizens of mixed age and gender working together as a “Swarm.” UNU is a Swarm Intelligence platform that lets people think together as a closed-loop system, using swarming algorithms to converge on optimized answers. In other words, they influence each other’s decision-making process by the strength of their convictions and the time it takes them to weigh in.

First the Swarm was asked about whether there was good reason for a recount:


Although some felt the recount is “Important for Democracy,” the group was ultimately skeptical. They converged rather easily on an opinion that the recount is “Just a Political Stunt.” Considering how vocal the outpouring of anti-Trump sentiment has been since the election, it is rather stunning that the public seemingly has no interest in a recount.

So the next question was whether the recount will reveal any irregularities in Wisconsin:


The Swarm predicted a less-than-20-percent chance. A subsequent drilldown question was asked, revealing that the swarm predicts a 0% chance that voter fraud via hacking would be uncovered in the recount. Again, somewhat stunning.

However, Jill Stein’s recount effort was not the only one subject to skepticism. Here’s how the Swarm reacted to this Donald Trump tweet.


Donald Trump’s claim of massive voter fraud was also dismissed rather handily by the Swarm (92%) as “Baseless Bluster.” In other words, this swarm was skeptical of both Trump and Stein, showing themselves to be non only non-partisan, but perhaps even fed up with the entire discussion.

So given the skepticism about both Stein’s recount effort and Trump’s fraud claims, researchers next asked the Swarm the obvious question:


Here the Swarm easily confirmed its belief that Clinton won the popular vote, again showing skepticism of Trump’s voter fraud claim and showing confidence in most reports.

Lastly, researchers asked the Swarm Intelligence whether it’s time to abolish the Electoral College:


The Swarm showed very strong sentiment toward the Popular Vote being the more fair way to determine the President. Keeping in mind that this Swarm did NOT show favortism to either party in previous questions, it can be assumed that this is not a partisan opinion, but rather the honest opinion of the Swarm. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Swarms tend to choose answers that are optimized for the entire group.

The debate over the relevance of the Electoral College has been gaining momentum in the wake of the 2016 election, as Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular election is, at this time, the largest ever for a candidate who did not win the Presidency. That this is the second time since 2000 that a Democrat has won the popular vote but been denied the Oval Office is not lost on the left, and petitions to abolish it are garnering hundreds of thousands of signatures. The Swarm’s sentiment seems to support this position.

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