Report: CT Nov 08 Election – Large Differences From Optical Scanner Totals

Read the press release, full report and excerpts at CTElectionAudit.org

Summary, from the Press Release and Report:

Connecticut’s November 2008 Post-Election Audits Report
Large Differences From Optical Scanner Totals

Coalition Calls On Legislature To Act

The Coalition noted large differences between reported results by electronic voting equipment and the hand count of ballots by election officials across Connecticut. In some cases as many as twenty-four (24) fewer ballots were counted by hand than recorded by optical scanners. For individual candidate races, vote counts between hand counts and scanner tapes varied by as much as three-hundred-sixty-six (366) votes in one race or as much as 46% in another. Most officials attributed the widespread differences to the inability to count votes accurately by hand.

In this report, 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 because of the continued lack of
• standards,
• detailed guidance for counting procedures, and
• consistency, reliability, and transparency in the conduct of the audit.

We also note continuing failures to follow audit and chain-of-custody procedures.

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.

Several audit supervisors attributed discrepancies between machine counts and hand counts to human limitations; other supervisors attributed these to inaccurate scanners. We find no reason to attribute all errors to either humans or machines.

Coalition spokesperson Luther Weeks noted, “Given the variation in the counting procedures used, there is no way to distinguish when officials or machines counted accurately or inaccurately. When differences are dismissed as human counting errors, it is unlikely that an audit would identify an election error or fraud should that occur.”

Cheryl Dunson, League of Women Voters of Connecticut’s Vice President of Public Issues, stated, “We have reorganized our recommendations to the Secretary of the State and the Legislature. Along with improvements to laws, and audit procedures, we recommend that an Independent Audit Board be established.”

Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director, Connecticut Common Cause said, “Gaps in ballot chain-of-custody, election accounting, and the post-election audits must be addressed to assure integrity and provide confidence to the voters of Connecticut”

Tom Swan, Executive Director, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, said “This is our fourth report showing similar weaknesses in the post-election audits. After these reports and five public hearings around the state, it is time for the Legislature to act.”

Read the press release, full report and excerpts at CTElectionAudit.org

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One response to “Report: CT Nov 08 Election – Large Differences From Optical Scanner Totals”

  1. Luther Weeks

    One Year Ago

    Christine Stuart of CT News Junkie reported on the Nov 07 Post-Election Audit Press Conference

    http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/state_capitol/postelection_audit_results_rel.php

    An audit of the November 2007 election, in which voters statewide used optical scan machines to cast their ballots, found that on average the machine count tends to be one vote higher than the hand count, according to a report released Wednesday by the University of Connecticut Voter Technology Research Center.

    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 and 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. In Waterbury, the audit report shows an overcount of 74 votes, but upon further analysis by UConn, researchers discovered there was only a two vote discrepancy. Dr. Shvartsman said that in this instance, local election officials just did not carefully record the results on the audit form. He said he will be working with the Secretary of State to come up with a better way to record the audit results.

    And so did CTVotersCount and the Coaltion:

    On the press conference: http://www.ctvoterscount.org/?p=141
    On the memory card report: http://www.ctvoterscount.org/?p=140
    On the Audits: http://www.ctelectionaudit.org/?p=11

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