CLARIFICATION: Official Post-Election Audit Report

Editor’s Note: CTVotersCount welcomes responsible contrary opinions. Even more so, we appreciate factual corrections to information published here.

Last month we posted and criticized the Official Post-Election Audit Report for the November 2010 election, created by the University of Connecticut. We said the audit was “Flawed by lack of transparency, incomplete data, and assumed accuracy”. Upon returning from California we were surprised and pleased to open the following letter from Deputy Secretary of the State, James Spallone, clarifying/correcting some of the impressions left by the report.

Based on the clarifications we now understand that we were under the misimpression that the Secretary of the State’s Office had conduced unannounced, non-transparent recounts of some of the data originally reported by registrars of voters. According to Mr. Spallone such counts did not occur. Secret counts would not be illegal, yet would tend to reduce public confidence in the integrity of the audits and in our democracy. On the other hand, not conducting investigations of significant differences does not inspire confidence or lead to integrity.

We remain concerned with the differences between machine counts and hand counts reported by several registrars of voters. We also continue to be concerned, that such differences are attributed to hand counting errors, without investigation. As we have said in the past “if all differences are attributed to hand counting errors, then if there ever were a machine error or fraud it would not be recognized by the audit”.

We appreciate the clarification and will continue to encourage the investigation of significant differences, announced, and subject to public observation, along with improved auditing procedures, training of officials, and improvements in the audit law without increasing costs.

The audit remains, in our opinion, “Flawed by lack of investigation, incomplete data, and assumed accuracy”.

Addendum:

Perhaps a small yet critical point, we interpret the situation differently. The Deputy Secretary says: “Information gathering and follow-up, however, is not part of the official audit process.” It may not be part of the unenforceable ‘process’ developed by the Secretary of the State’s Office, but we interpret it legally as part of the Audit. The audit law requires the report from UConn, so anything that contributes to the report would, in our opinion, be part of the audit. For instance, past investigations included in the report, and in this case discussions between the SOTS Office and registrars or UConn leading to the dropping of some data from the report etc.

Susan Bysiewicz, former Secretary of the State, claimed that the audit was ‘Independent’ because UConn completed the audit report, rather than her office. We agree with her that the report (and obviously therefore anything included in it) is part of the audit. We disagree that UConn is ‘independent’ legally since their budget for elections depends on the Secretary of the State, and is not ‘independent’ in practice since the Secretary’s Office reviews and contributes interpretations to the report.

Once again, the law does not require investigations to be public – the issue is that transparency would be one of the requirements for credibility of the report and trust in democracy.

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