Risk Limiting Audits: A Guide for Global Use

A recent report, Risk Limiting Audits: A Guide for Global Use is about the most comprehensive and balanced introduction to Risk Limiting Audits that I have seen. Its 38 pages will take an hour or two to read in detail, and well worth it.

I am a fan of Risk Limiting Audits, yet I am concerned that they are misunderstood in several dimensions:

  • RLAs are not a panacea:…

Study: The Price of Voting (Machines) – Valuable, Timely, and Facinating

Last week, I moderated a discussion featuring the authors of The Price of Voting, a study of what jurisdictions actually pay for voting machines.

The study is a great contribution to jurisdictions, including states like Connecticut, that are considering evaluating voting machines.

Five quick conclusions that I find relevant to Connecticut:

  1. If you are not getting about a 20% discount, you are paying too much…

S1 Tempers “For the People Act” Impact on Connecticut

As we pointed out earlier, H1, the House version of the “For The  People Act” would have a large impact on Connecticut’s elections.

Recently there was a new Managers’ Amendment in the Senate, S1 https://www.rules. senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Klobuchar%20Substitute%20S1.pdf

We have reviewed the new version and are pleased to report that there are many improvements that would ease its impact on Connecticut election officials, yet the impact remains significant.

Among the changes:

Testimony on two more election bills: RLAs and Internet Voting

H.B.6325 was a second bill similar to an earlier on that proposed a task force for Risk limiting Audits (RLAs). My detailed testimony only changed a little bit. For the previous bill, I only testified on paper. For this bill I spoke, especially giving my answer to a legislators question of another on another bill. I’m glad I had a few days contemplate an answer: “How would you explain RLAs to forth graders?”

That is a good question: Risk Limiting Audits are intended to confirm that elections are correctly counted and totaled or to correct incorrect results…

Testimony on two Elections Bills

 

Earlier this week we testified on two elections bills.

First a bill for a Task Force to provide a prototype and recommend state laws for Risk Limiting post-election Audits (RLAs). See our testimony and that of the inventor of RLAs, Philip Stark, and John Marion of RI. Phil and I disagree just a bit on our recommendations. I find November is just not the best time to do a prototype and then providing less that two months to make recommendations to the General Assembly is not enough time. Here is all thee testimony <read>

Then on a long bill with several election changes recommended by the Secretary of the State. We had comments on two sections: We asked that two officials empty drop boxes and sign logs listing their content. Also a reform we have been requesting for a long time – including central count absentee ballots and Election Day Registration ballots in post-election audits <testimony>

State Audit Working Group comments on H.R.1

This week the State Audit Working Group published a letter sent to Rep Sarbanes regarding the collective concerns with the bill.

Here are the details from the cover letter to Rep Sarbanes:

We write to request critical changes to H.R.1, along with suggested improvements. Without a few key changes, we believe the bill might degrade election integrity and miss opportunities for improvement, rather than meet its well-intended, laudable goals. Our comments are restricted to election administration and integrity issues pp78-407 of the bill.

Attached to this letter is a list of detailed comments. Here we summarize the most critical items:

  • Requirements for grants should be stronger, to help ensure effective Risk Limiting Audits (RLAs)

Testimony on Early Voting/Absentee Voting Constitutional Amendments

On Monday, the Government Administration and Elections Committee will hear testimony on bills to modify Connecticut’s Constitution for Early Voting and No-Excuse Voting. Meanwhile another Constitutional Amendment or change is advisable to pave the way for related and unrelated voting changes which Connecticut may desire or may be forced upon Connecticut by H.R.1. My testimony is below and <here in .pdf>

H.J.58, H.J.59 – Needed – A Further Critical Change to the CT Constitution

Chairs, members of the Committee, and Connecticut voters, my name is Luther Weeks, Executive Director of CTVotersCount, a computer scientist, and a Certified Moderator since 2008. I also lead one national group and participate in another that discuss, evaluate, and regularly propose changes to state and Federal election laws.

As you are contemplating amendments to the Connecticut Constitution for elections, we need to go just a bit farther than the changes now in H.J.59. Just a few more words would make a great difference going forward. The additional changes would remove deadlines for reporting state contest results that are now baked into our Constitution. These same deadlines would remain in effect, in law, yet easier to change in short order should that become necessary.

Why are these changes critical?

There are at least four reasons why these deadlines may need to change quickly in the near future. Not removing them as soon as possible in our Constitution would cause significant problems and limitations, while waiting for another years-long amendment process to change them…<more>

What’s the matter with H.R.1, Part 3

Last week in<Part 1> we covered our three greatest concerns with the election administration portions of H.R.1: U.S. House Resolution 1, “For the People Act of 2021” <read H.R.1> and then in <Part 2> we covered our minor concerns which alone would argue against the bill as currently written. In this final installment we will cover what is good about the election administration areas of the bill. (We have refrained from commenting on the rest of the bill which concerns campaign finance reform, gerrymandering, and other issues which we generally do not cover and lack expertise to comment on in detail, other that we are sure that they, like the entire bill, are well-intended).

What is good about election administration in H.R.1?…

What can be done to make election administration portions of H.R.1, more acceptable, short of eliminating all the areas of our concern?..

What’s the matter with H.R.1, Part 2

Yesterday in <Part 1> we covered our three greatest concerns with the election administration in H.R.1: U.S. House Resolution 1, “For the People Act of 2021”. Here we will cover the rest of our major concerns, these alone argue that the bill should not be passed without a number of major and minor changes…

In <Part 3> we address what is clearly good in the election administration portions of the bill and what might be changed to meet the well-intended goals without the, likely unintended, unnecessary detailed requirements and consequences.

What’s the matter with H.R.1, Part 1

H.R.1: U.S. House Resolution 1, “For the People Act of 2021”. It is a 790 page omnibus election reform bill supported largely by Democrats. There is a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.

It is endorsed by a huge number of good government groups. I wonder how many have read it in detail and understand its ramifications? Like many such bills it has some good provisions and some not so good provisions. I have read only those portions having to do with voting and election administration, about half the bill, pp78-407 – areas where I can claim a level of expertise. I have also spent hours with a team of experts reviewing those provisions in further detail.

Be careful what you endorse! All of this bill is well-intended, yet not all workable. 

In this 1st post I will concentrate on just three concerns that make it especially tough for states like Connecticut. Overall in its voting and election administration sections one could say it seems to be intended to make all states voting more like California and Colorado which encourage voters to vote by mail, while offering extensive early (in-person) voting, along with polling place voting.

First, overall its too much too quickly. Overall we estimate doubling to quadrupling election costs in our cities and towns...