Press Conference: Bysiewicz “Tried To Rest Lingering Skepticism”

Christine Stuart has an accurate report of yesterday’s Press Conference and the post-election audit discussion: <read>

Asked why the machines tend to over count by one vote, Dr. Alex Shvartsman, director of the voter research center, said he didn’t know. “That’s a very good question,” he said, adding that the center would continue to look into the results.

But Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz was quick to step in an answer the same question for Dr. Shvartsman as she tried to put to rest any lingering skepticism about the results. She said that the machine overcounts may have happened in races with multiple candidates when voters unintentionally marked an additional bubbles on the sheet.

For example, a voter may have wanted to vote for three of five candidates, but accidentally made a mark in a fourth bubble, Bysiewicz said. In such a case, the machine counts the vote, but a poll worker conducting a hand recount may not count the additional vote because to them it appeared to be an inadvertent mark or smudge, she said.

Another issue was that 175 audit reports submitted to the University of Connecticut were “incomplete, unuseable, or obviously incorrect.” About 70 percent of the 958 reports submitted by 70 polling places were complete. The center decided to use about 783 of the reports to complete their audit.

The audit found that 66.4 percent show a discrepancy of 0 to 1 vote between the machine counts and hand counts; 89.4 percent show a discrepancy of 5 votes or fewer; and 31 records, or 4 percent, show a discrepancy of 10 or more votes.

Bysiewicz said overcounts happened in races where candidates were cross-endorsed by two parties.

Lingering “Skepticism”:

  • The machines do not “tend to overcount by one vote”. They tend to count very accurately in most cases. That “one” is an average that can be misleading. I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for a reporter to ask what the top counting errors were. The Coalition report and Dr. Shvartsman’s had about the same numbers, his overcounts were: 72, 54, 28, 26, 26, 22, 16, 14, 14 In our report we did not include the 72 because it was an obvious counting error.
  • Checking after the press conference, the analysis by the Secretary of the State’s office is not yet complete – they have not checked all 31 races to see how many were candidates listed on more than one line – the overcount of 72 votes was due to misclassifing votes of a candidate listed on two lines and was offset by an undercount of 74 votes on another line. (that is why we did not list it as a discrepancy in the Coalition report)
  • Finally, even if all of the 31 highest overcounts were candidates listed on more than one line, it is not in itself an indication that they were all due to human counting errors – some could be due to election programming errors – without further research the cause would all be speculation.

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