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Spreadsheet Error in Austrian Party Leadership Vote

Jun 5, 2023 10:24:00 AM

The incorrect candidate was appointed in a leadership vote due to a spreadsheet error.

Error Type: Poor data management

Reported on: June 2023

What happened?

Austria's main center-left opposition party the Social Democrat Party (SPO) reversed the result of its leadership election, announcing that a spreadsheet error had led to the wrong candidate being declared the winner.

Hans Peter Doskozil was announced as party leader two days ago only to have his victory stripped away from him and given to Andreas Babler.

Speaking at a  press conference on Monday, Babler promised a full recount of votes to ensure the credibility of his victory.

What caused the error?

There is not a lot of information available on the cause other than it was the result of "an error that occurred when votes were put into a spreadsheet" Michaela Grubesa (head of the Social Democrat's electoral commission).

It has also been discribed as "a misreading of a Microsoft Excel file".

It certainly feels like it was a user error when they were handling the data in the spreadsheet rather than any kind of modelling error.

How could the error have been avoided?

There is a very (very very) valid question of whether Excel should be used for managing electoral voting data. I'll go furtther than that - why on Earth would you? Surely there are electoral systems to do this properly?


Read the article published by the Financial Times HERE.

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