RLA Working Group holds its first meeting.

This spring there was a bill to initiate a Risk Limit Auditing Working Group. I testified in favor of the concept and suggested several changes to the bill. A similar bill was passed near the end of the session. Last week the group began its work. Here is a video of the meeting:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhH4JVYcaso

Here is the bill passed by the General Assembly: https://cga.ct.gov/2021/ACT/PA/PDF/2021PA-00002-R00SB-01202SS1-PA.PDF (The RLA section is on page 156.)

The meeting lasted about an hour, primarily consisting of an introduction to RLAs by Alexander Russell from UConn.  Assisted by Ben Fuller also from UConn.  Also in the group was Brian Macdonald, a statistician from Yale.

I am only familiar with the Chair Gabe Rosenburg, Alex Russel, and one of the registrars of voters in the group. There was no published agenda or list of members. The members were listed by the Chair at the beginning of the meeting. I could be wrong, yet as far as I know none of the members of the group have any experience observing or participating in RLAs. A far cry from RIs plan which included experienced experts from around the country and took much more time and effort that seems to be possible for this Connecticut team (RI Study Report)

Russell’s slides were a reasonable introduction to RLAs. I found three things curious:

  • He listed three types of RLAs. One was full hand counts usually not listed and omitted from the list was the usually included Batch Comparison Audit.
  • He indicated that creating a ballot manifest requires a complete hand count of the number of ballots. That is usually not required, although very accurate it would be quite a task to hand could all the ballots in every town for a state-wide RLA.
  • His plan seems to be to rescan each ballot with the UConn Audit Station would additionally involve stickering each ballot with a QR Code. Once again usually not required, although very accurate quite a task stickering all the ballots in every town for a state-wide RLA.

With their next meeting to be scheduled for early October, they have a lot to accomplish.

Here is my testimony from last year, my concerns and suggestions still stand: (My Testimony)

Summary Recommendations:

  • Consider doing what CO, VA, RI and perhaps what every other state that has
    prototyped or implemented RLAs have done: Convene a team of election officials, and
    volunteer national experts to help plan a prototype, bring tested software (typically available
    at no cost) to the table to provide tested statistical calculations and public verifiability. And
    then report on the results and recommend methods and changes necessary in the law.
    Such a group could report to the Task Force such as the Rhode Island RLA Group reported
    to the RI Board of Elections.
  • Do not limit the prototype to 5 to 10 largely redundant municipal RLAs
  • Move the prototype(s) to the 1st half of 2022. That will give sufficient time to plan the
    prototype(s). It will provide more access to statistical experts and those with experience with
    RLAs to participate.
  •  Move the reporting deadline to Jan 2023 to provide more time to absorb the lessons of the
    prototype, to consider all the issues necessary to implement actual RLAs, and to detail the
    changes necessary in the law.

See my detailed testimony for reasoning behind these recommendations.

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