Post-Election Audits

April Presidential Primary Audit – Does Not Make the Grade

Checks on State Voting Machines Do Not Make the Grade
Do Not Provide Confidence in Election System, Says Citizen Audit

From the Press Release:

Audits of the recent presidential primaries are so faulty that exact final vote tallies cannot be verified, says the non-partisan Connecticut Citizen Election Audit. Unless state and local election officials make changes, the same will be true for the November elections.

“State law requires audits to verify the accuracy of optical scanner voting machines as a check for errors and a deterrent to fraud. Local registrars gather officials to manually count paper ballots and compare their totals to the totals found by the scanners, explains Luther Weeks, Executive Director of Connecticut Citizen Election Audit.

Issues reported by the group were:

  • Incomplete or missing official reports of vote counts from town registrars;
  • The lack of action on the part of the Secretary of the State’s Office to check that all required reports are submitted and all submitted reports are completed fully;
  • Of 169 municipalities required to submit lists of polling places before the election, the Secretary of the State’s Office recorded only 68, with 101 missing;
  • Poor security procedures to prohibit ballot tampering;
  • Not following procedures intended to ensure “double checking” and “blind counting” rather than having scanner counts as targets while counting manually;

“The public, candidates, and the Secretary of the State should expect local election officials to organize proper audits and produce accurate, complete audit reports. The public and candidates should expect the Secretary of the State’s Office to take the lead in ensuring the audits are complete. Yet, due to a lack of attention to detail and follow-through the audits do not prove or disprove the accuracy of the reported primary results,” Weeks said.

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

Of Prisons, Water, and Elections

A story about prisons claimed that officials look at a prison as a jug of water.  Even with a small pinhole leak, the water will get out.  They look for the slightest weakness in the prison, assuming prisoners (with lots of time on their hands, collective wisdom, and little to lose in trying) will find any weakness, no matter how small, difficult, and time consuming.

That is how we should look at voting systems

Security Against Election Hacking

From Freedom to Tinker, Andrew Appel: Security against Election Hacking – Part 1: Software Independence <read>

We have heard a lot lately about the vulnerabilities of our elections to hacking.  Both cyberhacking and unsophisticated insider attacks. Andrew Appel describes some common sense approaches to detect and deter error and fraud in our elections, covering three major vulnerabilities:

  • Incorrect or unavailable poolbooks.
  • Voting machines
  • Accumulation of results across polling places and jurisdictions

Warning: 15 states without paper records, half without audits

A Computer World article reminds us how much more there is to go to achieve verifiable, evidence based elections:  A hackable election? 5 things to know about e-voting <read>

Voting results are “ripe for manipulation,” [Security Researcher Joe] Kiniry added.

Hacking an election would be more of a social and political challenge than a technical one, he said. “You’d have a medium-sized conspiracy in order to achieve such a goal.”

While most states have auditable voting systems, only about half the states conduct post-election audits, added Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting.

Let us not forget that even states, like Connecticut, with post-election audits have a long way to go in making the audits sufficient to assure that election results are correct or confidence that incorrect results would be reversed.

How not to audit, Chicago style vs. Connecticut style

This video has gone viral over the last week. It is a hearing of a public comment at the Chicago Board of Elections.

This would not normally, exactly, happen in Connecticut

EDITORIAL: General Assembly heading the wrong way on post-election audits


UPDATE: The bill passed the House unanimously, including several who responded to your emails with promises they would not vote to cut the audits.

The Connecticut Senate has passed S.B. 252.  If the House passes and the Governor signs the bill it will be another national embarrassment for Connecticut, doing the wrong thing at precisely the worst time.

We have voter-verified paper ballots. To be valuable and provide confidence they must be used for strong, publicly verified, post-election audits. You can help. Tell your legislators that you want stronger audits, not weaker audits. Tell them to oppose S.B. 252. Then consider volunteering one day after each election and primary to observe with the Citizen Audit.

ACTION ALERT: CT General Assembly Should Not Be Weakening Election Audits

Amid charges of voting integrity lapses around the country, the Connecticut General Assembly is on its way to weakening, our already weak post-election audits. The Senate has already passed substitute S.B. 252. Please call your State Representative and ask them not to make that same mistake. Find your rep and their contact info at: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp Tell them:

As a concerned constituent, I urge you to oppose S.B. 252. The committee bill weakens our post-election audits. In a time of public concern with the primary process in several states, we should be strengthening, not weakening our post-election audits.

Call Today. The bill could be called for voting in the House at almost any time!

Testimony on Four Bills

This year we testified on four bills before the legislature. We supported two bills, and for a change opposed none. For the two we neither supported nor opposed,, we proposed changes to the same sections of the law addressed by the bills.

Citizen Audit Cites Flaws in Official Election Audits

Again accuracy declined and write-in votes handled incorrectly
November 2015 Post-Election Audit Report

From the Press Release:

The Connecticut Citizen Election Audit has released its report on its observation of the November 2015 official post-election audits. The audits, required by state law, are intended to verify the accuracy of elections at the municipal level.

Citizen Audit spokesperson Luther Weeks stated, After 9 years of official audits, voters should expect accuracy. Yet the audits have gone from poor to worse.”

The group’s observers found that official audit results do not inspire confidence because of continued:

  • Discrepancies between machine counts and hand counts of votes reported to the Secretary of the State by municipal registrars of voters.
  • Lack of investigation of such discrepancies, and the lack of standards for triggering investigations.
  • Lack of consistency, reliability, and transparency in the conduct of the audit.
  • Weaknesses in ballot chain-of-custody and security.

The group’s report noted:

  • 28% of official audits cited “Human Error” in counting ballots and votes. Registrars of voters should be expected to take the necessary effort to count accurately.
  • Significant decreases in audit integrity, and accuracy.
  • In three towns audits detected districts where officials fed write-in ballots through scanners a second time on election night.
  • If the group’s recommendations from last year had been mandated and followed, all write-in ballots would have been counted accurately.

“Problems discovered counting write-ins two years in a row shows the value of the official audits. But the report also reveals the decline in official attention to the audits, demonstrating that independent citizen observation and reporting are essential to election integrity.” Weeks emphasized.

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

Brennan Center: Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

Whenever we open a report with multiple recommendations we start from a skeptical point of view. We expect to agree with some proposals and disagree with others.  A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice is the exception.  We agree with every recommendation:
Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda

It starts with the right criteria, it has a great agenda, strong supporting arguments, and ends with an appropriate call to action

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