Greenwich Registrar and Deputy Secretary Mara Discuss Today’s Audit

Acorn-online, ‘Short and sweet’: Voting results to be audited, <read>

Deputy Secretary of the State Leslie Mara told the Post the goal of the audits is to confirm that the counts registered by the optical scanner voting machines match a hand recount of the ballots.

“We have to make sure these machines are working properly and reliably and counting the votes,” Ms. Mara said.

In the cases where the audit discovers a discrepancy between the machine count and the hand recount, it is not necessarily evidence of fraud. In fact, Ms. Mara said there have been no major cases of that discovered and, generally, there is an innocent explanation for what happened.

“We’ve been fortunate,” Ms. Mara said. “Perhaps we will see a one-vote discrepancy or maybe something like someone forgot to count an envelope of ballots and those are discrepancies that are easily explained. We know that the districts are careful in the first place and are getting accurate counts. Sometimes there is human error despite the best of intentions and these audits get to the bottom of that.”

The process is expected to be a simple one that will be completed rather quickly. Sharon Vecchiola, the town’s Democratic registrar of voters, told the Post on Tuesday that the hand recount will be “short and sweet” and likely will only take an hour to do. Not only was turnout low for the primary, with only 67 votes in District 4, 148 in District 5 and 83 in District 10 needing to be counted, but hand recounts are nothing new.

In fact Ms. Vecchiola said the town has been audited every single year since the optical scan voting machines have been used starting in 2006. The town even had two last year, for the presidential election and the primary for the Democratic nomination for the District 4 congressional race where Cos Cob resident Jim Himes defeated former Greenwich resident Lee Whitnum and went on to win the seat from longtime incumbent Republican Christopher Shays.

We would prefer audits that were intended to do  more than just check the machines, that they also were intend to verify the election results as well.  As stated in the Principles and Best Practices:

Post-election audits must be completed prior to finalizing official election results and must either verify the outcome or, through a 100% recount, correct the outcome.

And by the League of Women Voters Audit Recommendations:

The audit process should begin as soon as possible after the initial tallies recorded by the voting system are reported. The audit should be completed prior to declaration of the final official results, and the audit should confirm the outcome or lead to a recount that determines the outcome.

Not every count has gone well in the past.  As the Coalition Report of the November 2008 Audit stated:

We conclude, based on our observations and analysis of audit reports submitted to the Secretary of the State that the November post-election audits still do not inspire confidence…Among our greatest concerns are the discrepancies between machine counts and hand-counts reported to the Secretary of the State by several municipalities. In many cases, these discrepancies are not thoroughly and reasonably explained. We believe that the ad-hoc counting procedures used by many municipalities were not sufficient to count ballots accurately and efficiently

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