What price convenience? Another confirmation that the Holy Grail of voting is not found in conventional wisdom

When you vote in November, consider: What price convenience? What cost convenience? What individual effort is Democracy worth?

To listen to elected officials and many activists, the Holy Grail of Elections, would seem to be Turnout. Given the emphasis you would think that almost nothing else matters: Integrity, candidate access, campaign finance, media bias, or costs – when focusing on turnout, it seems everything else is forgotten. A report from Ohio, confirms earlier studies that early voting does not increase turnout,

American Voting Experience: A Laudable Report

It seems we have several surprisingly refreshing Government reports in recent weeks, two on reigning in NSA spying, and now an excellent report on improving election administration, the election experience, and a contribution to realizing the ideals of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
Many will find a lot to like in the report. Some parts might be taken out of context as it often points out the benefits, costs, and risks of various solutions. Some will use the report to justify doing anything, such as their favored solution, to a problem. That said, we will likely be referencing many areas in the report going forward

Scientists to Evaluate Internet Voting, Will Legislators Listen?

This promises to be an important project. The powerful team all but guarantees a significant, trusted result. Yet, what is critical is that officials and legislators fully understand the result and undertake any Internet voting following any detailed requirements developed by the study. Our own educated prediction is that reasonably safe Internet voting is likely to be judged possible, yet unlikely to be feasible. There are significant security challenges, especially if voting were to be performed from voters’ computers, without requiring sophisticated verification techniques on the part of voters, and expensive security provisions by officials.

What do voters most want to know from election webs and brochures?

?How do I register? How do I vote absentee? How do I vote? The answer might surprise you.

Overseas Vote Foundation, Voting Research Newsletter

Some important and fascinating information in the latest issue of the Voting Research Newsletter. In general there is some good news with regard to improvements over time in return rates of military ballots, yet several types of relevant data not collected or reported for specific states and for all states. Closer to home, Connecticut is one of the many states missing data.

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.
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Risk Limiting Audits: Why and How

A recent, paper by the Risk Limiting Audit Working Group, endorsed by The American Statistical Association, articulates and outlines various types of post-election audits, their requirements, and relative advantages.

We cannot help but think that our Coalition audit reports contributed to statements in the section entitled: Trustworthy audits: the virtue lies in the details:

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.

UConn Memory Card Report: More garbage in, some good information out

Once again, we applaud Dr. Alexander Shvartsman and his team for developing the technology to perform these innovative tests, the diligence to perform the tedious tests, and the fortitude to report the facts. Compliance by officials leaves much to be desired:

Prior to the primary 110 out of 598 districts sent cards, that is 18.5% compliance
After the primary 105 out of 598 districts sent cards, that is 17.6% compliance,
however, only 49 of those cards were used in the election, a compliance rate of 8.2%

Official Audit Report – provides no confidence in officials and machines

Once again, the report is “Flawed by a lack of transparency, incomplete data, and assumed accuracy”