Were 2006 Election Audits “Good News”?

If the auditors were employed by or under the control of the SOS[Secretary of the state], such factors might include the perception that “good news” should be the primary object in the audit report. (emboldening added)
– Candice Hoke, Testimony to U.S. House, March 20, 2007

We have very good news to report today, because it is now clear that the optical scan machines performed very well on Election Day and without any problems. Any changes in vote totals found in these audits were due to ballots being marked incorrectly by the voter, not to any problems with the optical scan machines. (emboldening added)
-Secretary of the State, Susan Bysicwicz, Press Release, Dec 7, 2006

Consider the results of the audits conducted after the November 2006 Connecticut election:

Secretary Bysiewicz states, “Any changes in vote totals found in these audits were due to ballots being marked incorrectly by the voter, not to any problems with the optical scan machines” in the excerpt referenced above. However, in 28 of the 550 recounts from 17 districts, there were differences of 10 votes or more between the machine counts and the hand counts. In 19 out of these 28 recounts, the machines recorded a higher vote count than the hand counts. Think about that. How can the differences be caused by incorrectly marked ballots if the machine counts are higher than the hand counts? The differences discovered in Wethersfield District 10 between the machine counts and the hand counts of 105, 82 and 73 are particularly troubling. In all three of these recounts, the machine count was higher than the hand count.

Despite these differences, Secretary Bysiewicz has only “very good news to report”. Connecticut needs an independent audit board to expand the audits and investigate when there are differences between the machine and hand counts. If audits uncover potential problems that are not examined any further, the overall system will be flawed.

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