Post-Election Audits

Military Justice, the NSA, and Independent Election Audits

Recently there were highly publicized hearings in Washington, D.C. on the subject of rape of sexual harassment in the U.S. Military and the military’s failure to make progress in reducing incidents and induce individuals to actually report crimes. One aspect of that is the fact that commanding officers have the responsibility/authority to reduce charges or even pardon the alleged or convicted perpetrators.

Ironic: U.S. calls for increased election integrity … in Venezuela

This is about as ironic as it gets. First the United States has no mechanism for a full recount or audit of its national elections. Second, the call officially comes from John Kerry who overruled his friends, advisers, and supporters to throw in the towel early on the day after the Nov 2004 election, in spite of massive charges of fraud in Ohio – allegations, since largely justified.

Bills Approved Earlier by the GAE Committee

As promised, comments on earlier bills passed through the Government Administration and Elections Committee.

ACLU Forum on Electoral Dysfunction

On Wednesday night I participated on a panel in Waterford, CT on Electoral Dysfunction, sponsored by the ACLU, Common Cause and the LWV. It was a very good discussion with a variety of views from the panel, a wide range of excellent questions, and unsurpassed moderation. In the near future we may have video available. I promised to provide more information here on the topics covered.

Testimony against six bills and for one

All of these bills are well intended. In fact, I would support most of the concepts, yet in only a single case could I support one of these bills , based on huge gaps between the good intent and the actual details present and missing in those bills.

Nov 2012 Post-Election Audit Report – Flawed From The Start

Coalition Finds Continuing Problems with Election Audit and A New Flaw

Post-Election Audit Flawed from the Start by Highly Inaccurate List
of Election Districts

The report concluded, the official audit results do not inspire confidence because of the:

  • Lack of integrity in the random district selection.
  • Lack of consistency, reliability, and transparency in the conduct of the audit.
  • Discrepancies between machine counts and hand counts reported to the Secretary of the State by municipalities and the lack of standards for determining need for further investigation of discrepancies.
  • Weaknesses in the ballot chain-of-custody.

Coalition spokesperson Luther Weeks noted, “We found significant, unexplained errors, for municipalities across the state, in the list of districts in the random drawing. This random audit was highly flawed from the start because the drawing was highly flawed.”

Cheryl Dunson, President, League of Women Voters of Connecticut, stated,, “Two years ago, the Legislature passed a law, at the Secretary of the State’s request, which was intended to fix inaccuracies in the drawing. For whatever reason, errors in the drawing have dramatically increased.

Weeks added, “Some officials follow the audit procedures and do effective work. This year one town investigated discrepancies and found errors to correct in their election procedures – that is one value of performing the audits as intended.”

Without adherence to procedures, accurate random drawings, a reliable chain-of-custody, and transparent public follow-up, when discrepancies are reported, if there was ever a significant fraud or error it would not be recognized and corrected.
<More Details>

Aug 2012 Primary Audit Observation Report

Coalition finds 31% of Official Audit Reports Lack Critical Data

Municipalities failed to report data critical to audit evaluation. Increasing numbers choose paper only elections, avoiding scanners and audits.

The report highlighted concerns with two increasing trends:

  • An increase in missing and incomplete official reports. There are 16 of 52 (31%) reports with errors making it impossible to determine if machines had functioned properly. What basis is there to trust audits, with this significant level of error in reporting?
  • Up up to 19 towns avoided optical scanners and audits by conducting paper only elections. Such voting is not audited, not transparent, and error prone based on past observations of hand counts.

We conclude, based on our observations and analysis of official audit reports submitted to the Secretary of the State, that the August post-election audits still do not inspire confidence.
<Full Report (.pdf)> <Press Release> <Review detail data and municipal reports>

75 Districts randomly selected for Nov post-election audit

Selected Districts

 

On Monday the Secretary of the state randomly selected 75 districts for post-election audit. I assisted by actually selecting the districts from slips of paper in a raffle barrel. You might find the Secretary’s list easier to read in the press release. <Press Release>

What We Worry? What Could Go Wrong On Election Day?

America’s elections are run entirely on the honor system. What could possibly go wrong?

Caltech/MIT: What has changed, what hasn’t, & what needs improvement

The Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project has released a thorough, comprehensive, and insightful new report timed to the 2012 election. We find little to quibble with in the report. We agree with all of its recommendations.Several items with which we fully endorse were covered in this report which sometimes are missing from the discussion or often underemphasised.

The report itself is 52 pages, followed by 32 pages of opinions of others, including election officials, advocates, and vendors, some of whom disagree with some aspects of the report. Every page is worth reading. The report is not technical. It covers a wide range of issues, background, and recommendations.

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