By the numbers

Just how accurate is our Best of Northern Nevada readers’ poll? We do our best.

All of these envelopes appeared to come from the same source. How many had incorrect, false or incomplete contact information? Quite a few.

All of these envelopes appeared to come from the same source. How many had incorrect, false or incomplete contact information? Quite a few.

Photo By David Robert

The ballots are in. The votes are tallied. The winners have been announced. The annual Best of Northern Nevada 2005 is officially complete. Phew.

All your questions have been answered—except for the question I receive more than any question about our little contest: Just how honest is the “Best of Northern Nevada” poll?

Well, I’ll tell you. It’s as honest as we can make it, and, to be truthful, it’s as honest as participants want it to be—because every year, businesses and individuals try their best to tip the scale in their own favor. We recognize that, and we do our best to lessen the impacts of ballot-box stuffers. Still, there are those businesses with sufficient money, employees and customers to send in dozens upon dozens of stamped envelopes. We assume, to some extent, that they are competing with businesses with similar resources.

Our rules are set up essentially with two ideas in mind: encourage participation, obtain accurate results.

For paper ballots, we discourage ballot-box stuffing by limiting the number of ballots that can come in one envelope to five and by removing the most incompetent of cheaters’ ballots.

One way we do that is by eliminating ballots that would tend to invalidate one or more categories. The example I generally use comes from a few years ago, when one tattoo parlor tried to get another tattoo parlor voted “Best Gay Hangout.” This year, the biggest category of ballots to get discarded was non-downtown casinos putting themselves in as “Best non-casino thing to do downtown.” We also eliminate ballots that falsely, incompletely or incorrectly filled out contact information. (Want to get your ballot thrown out? Put N/A for a contact phone number.)

For Internet ballots, we eliminated e-mail addresses that didn’t reply to our verification e-mail and multiple ballots from the same person (same name, address, etc., but different e-mail addresses). We also limited the number of ballots that could come from one IP address to five.

This year, our paper ballots were tallied by the Nevada Dance Club from the University of Nevada, Reno. Participating counters included Christina Napier, Brandi Templin, Kristine Soriano, Katie Ferencik, Courtney Bhame, Rebecca Wallstrum, Jessica Shane, Naomi Buser, Meagan Lippmann, Ellen Van Dyk, Jessica Hallford, Emi Horiai, Jenna Anastay and Kristin Christiansen. Our thanks to the entire crew.

Anyway, here are the numbers for those who like to keep track:Total paper ballots and online submissions: 1,701

Total paper ballots: 837

Total paper ballots counted: 650

Total paper ballots eliminated for suspicion of ballot-box stuffing: 173

Total paper ballots received after deadline 14

Total online ballots 864

Total online ballots counted 632

Total online ballots eliminated for failure to verify e-mail address: 193

Total online ballots eliminated for multiple-ballot submission: 12