Post-Election Audits

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

Essex students assist Secretary in random drawing


Yesterday we observed the random drawing of 68 districts and alternate districts for the post-election audit. Just as last time, it was an effective and educational event for all those present and participating. After each district was drawn they were marked on an map of the State. See the <press release> for more details and a list of the districts chosen.

September Primary Post-Election Audit Drawing

Yesterday, Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, conducted a random drawing of 15 districts for post-election audit of the September 2015 primary. There were 143 districts in the primary, yielding 15 as 10%. Several of the districts were exempt from selection (but not from determining the 10%) based on close vote recanvasses.

Statistician battles government to determine whether vote count is flawed

“Paper receipts are the obvious answer,Florida gave recounts a bad name. But there is something much worse than a recount: the utter inability to recount votes, and reconstruct voters’ true intent, in light of a serious computer error.”

Actually slightly worse and even more suspicious might be having paper ballots and being barred from using them to verify elections.

Too Reliable Computers: A threat to life and to democracy!

Most people are aware of the risks of unreliable computers, yet tend to be oblivious to the distinct risk of too reliable computers.  If computers were as unreliable as people, we would not be at risk of excess trust and overconfidence.

One particular anecdote from lasts night’s Newshour highlights the risks of computers that are too reliable, yet not perfect.  When it comes to medicine (or robotic weapons) too reliable computers can cause harm, including death.  When it comes elections too reliable computers can kill democracy.

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