Post-Election Audits

Deputy Scott Bates Selects 36 Districts for Audit

On Thursday Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates selected 36 districts for the post-primary audit.<press release with selected districts>

Departing from past practice, the Official Audit Procedures, and the law as it has always been interpreted, the Deputy selected three statewide races from each party to be audited in their respective primaries and then selected only one party primary to be audited in each district. The Official Audit Procedures, and the law indicate that 5% of the districts in each primary be audited with a minimum of 20% of the races randomly selected by the municipal clerk from all races on each ballot.

Three days at the Fairfax Risk Limiting Audit Prototype

Last Wednesday through Friday I attended and observed the City of Fairfax, VA Risk Limiting Audit Prototype.  I was most impressed by the level of participation and cooperation of the State, County, and Local Officials. Was it partially because they are all appointed? I can’t be sure.

Here is a news story that explains it at a very high level. No doubt other reports and the official City of Fairfax report will go into more depth: First new Va. election results audit held in Fairfax city <read>

Any doubt I was there? Check out the photo of the group watching a presentation. I am last row, last on the right.

Five pieces of testimony on six bills

On Thursday the GAE Committee held testimony on most election bills this year. (There was one last week and a couple more will be on Monday). For once, I was able to support more bills than I opposed!

Opposition and support by the Secretary of the State and Registrars was mixed. In addition to supporting and opposing various bills, I offered several suggestions for improvement. And one suggestion for radical improvement.

Citizen Audit Report: After 10 Years, Serious Flaws Continue

Citizens Audit Report:
After 10 years, 18 post-election audits, and 800 local audit counting sessions, serious flaws continue

From the Press Release:

Post-election vote audits of the November 2017 elections continue to fail to meet basic audit standards. They again undermine confidence in the accuracy of our elections, concludes the non-partisan Connecticut Citizen Election Audit.

Among the group’s concerns:

  • 41% of reports required to be submitted to the Secretary of the State by registrars were incomplete or were not submitted. The Secretary’s Office failed to follow up on those reports.
  • Weaknesses in ballot chain-of-custody and security.
  • Continued use of flawed electronic audit procedures that are not publicly verifiable.

On the bright side, developments related to the electronic audit point the way to improvement:

  • The Secretary of the State’s Office and UConn Voter Center solicited feedback on improving the electronic audits.
  • Write-in counting issues and failure to separate ballots as required were clearly identified by the electronic audit and observed by the Secretary of the State’s Office.

Luther Weeks, Executive Director of the Citizen Audit said, “We are frustrated with so little improvement after 18 statewide audits over 10 years. Citizens deserve better. Yet, if the Secretary of the State’s Office follows up on these problems and pursues publicly verifiable electronic audits, progress can be achieved in the near term.”

<Press Release .pdf> <Full Report pdf> <Detail data/municipal reports>

Colorado Completes Nation’s first Risk Limiting Audit

Now it’s in the history books: Colorado has become the first state to complete a “risk-limiting audit” designed to catch mistakes when ballots are tabulated…

“Colorado is a national leader in exploring innovative solutions for accessible, secure and auditable elections,” [Matt} Masterson [Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission] said. “Colorado’s risk-limiting audit provided great insights into how to conduct more efficient and effective post-election audits. The EAC is eager to share some of the lessons learned with election officials across America.”

34 Districts Selected for Audit at Wethersfield High School

This morning Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill selected 34 district for audit with the help of students at Wethersfield High School:

A Year After, Our Elections Aren’t Much More Secure

From Buzzfeed’s Cyber Security Correspondent, Kevin Collier:  A Year After Trump’s Victory, Our Elections Aren’t Much More Secure

But the focus on how Facebook and Twitter were used to sow division in the US electorate has diverted attention from one of the weakest spots in the system: … a simple cyberattack can be effective against weak infrastructure and unprepared IT workers. Whether that can be fixed by 2018 or even 2020 is an open question…

“We’re not doing very well,” Alex Halderman, a renowned election security expert, told BuzzFeed News. “Most of the problems that existed in 2016 are as bad or worse now, and in fact unless there is some action at a national policy level, I don’t expect things will change very much before the 2018 election.”

Signup TODAY! for the November 2017 Audit Observation

November Audit Signup Is Now Open <Signup>

The Purpose of the Citizen Audit is to increase integrity and confidence in elections, for the benefit of the voters of Connecticut. We provide independent audits, audit observations, and reports focusing on the integrity of elections and election administration. <More about the Citizen Audit>

Voters
Want
To Know:

 

 

 

You can Help Provide Answers!
Volunteer one day as a Post-Election Audit Observer.

The Connecticut Citizen Election Audit coordinates volunteers, like you, to observe the state’s post-election audit of voting machines. Non-partisan volunteers go “behind the scenes” with a checklist of best practices and interview questions. They gather information which is compiled into reports submitted to the public, election officials, and the Legislature.

  • Who can volunteer? Anyone. You, for example!
  • Where? Throughout the State of Connecticut.
  • When? Generally within the 2nd to 3th weeks following an election.
  • How? <Learn More> <Sign Up>

Why Volunteer?
For good Government, to preserve our right to a free and accurate vote!

See the Results of Our Efforts In the Audit Reports Below:

Just a step in the right direction: Merrill meets with Homeland Security

“Yesterday, along with representatives from the state’s information technology and public safety departments, I met with regional officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security to discuss how we can work together to ensure that Connecticut elections are safe from outside interference or manipulation. We had a productive meeting and I look forward to working together in the months and years to come to protect our elections, the bedrock of our democracy.” – Denise Merrill, Connecticut Secretary of the State

We applaud this step in the right direction.  Last year as leader of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Merrill opposed the designation of elections as critical infrastructure, leading in expressing the concern for a Federal take-over of elections. We were critical of that stand then and remain so.

In our opinion this is just a step. There are several aspects to election security/integrity that should be addressed,. This  step may assist in those that are under direct control of the of the the State, yet less so those under local control.

Rhode Island poised to lead New England in Post-Election Audits

Press Release:  Rhode Island Takes Important Step to Secure Elections with Post-Election Audits – Adopts New Procedure to Check Election Results as Threats Increase

“Post-election audits are the best safeguard to making sure that votes are being counted as cast,” said Representative Edith Ajello (D-Providence), the House sponsor. “My community saw a simple administrative error almost turn into an incorrect election result,” added Senate sponsor, Senator James Sheehan (D-North Kingstown), “and this legislation will help assure voters that a system is in place to catch and correct future problems.”

The audits will begin as soon as September 2018. Rhode Island becomes the 32nd state to require post-election audits, and only the second state to require risk-limiting audits.