NEDA is going down a primrose path...

From: Jerry Lobdill <lobdillj_at_charter_dot_net>
Date: Wed Aug 02 2006 - 15:39:19 CDT

Since Ms. Dopp posted the message below I worked with her briefly in
support of the effort she had going (alluded to below) to solve the
probability equation in closed form. The effort to find a closed
form solution failed, but I wrote a new spreadsheet that expresses
the probability in terms of gamma functions. This formulation
eliminates the need to use integers for sample sizes when goal
seeking to find the sample size that provides a 0.95 probability of
finding at least one corrupt precinct in the sample.

Unfortunately, I was unable to work successfully with her to produce
a product based on this work because we could not resolve our
differences on two other issues. The first issue was whether her
solution assumes that all precincts in the county have equal numbers
of votes. The second issue was the method of deciding what precincts
should be included or excluded from the population when setting up
the equation.

I am now working on my own to produce a methodology for conducting
mandatory audits of elections. I will post my writeups on this
problem here and hope that there will be some members who will be
able to take the time to read and discuss this work.

Meanwhile if any of you would like me to send you a copy of my work
directly, please send me a request at

Jerry Lobdill

Kathy Dopp wrote on 17 July, 2006:

>Hello Everyone,
>It is a Good Day in our great democracy. :-)
>We now have a new scientific method to ensure that election outcomes
>in every race are honest and accurate!
>The National Election Data Archive (NEDA)'s paper on vote count audits
>has been updated and will be updated again soon:
>and NEDA's Spreadsheet AuditCalculator.xls for
>Determining Audit Percentages that would Detect Outcome-Altering Vote
>Miscounts has been updated:
>CHANGES TO AuditCalculator.xls:
>1. Added an Estimator to help determine more quickly, the number of
>vote counts to audit. This will assist users with the currently
>trial-and-error process for determining the exact number of vote
>counts that should be audited to be sure to detect any miscounts that
>alter outcomes.
>(I used the estimated function that the Brennan Center recommended but
>I adjusted the calculation to take into account "Candidate Margins" so
>that the audit will detect the amount of corruption that would alter
>outcomes - not just some arbitrary amount of corruption. When I took
>a closer look at the Brennan Center appendix G, I noticed that the
>Brennan Center made errors in calculating just a couple of the
>probabilities and that, contrary to my first glance, they used a
>different function than the function that NEDA recommended for
>calculating audits over a year ago. The Brennan Center method
>conservatively over-estimates the number of counts that need to be
>audited to detect an assumed rate of corruption, especially in small
>counties with fewer total counts to audit. The reason the Brennan
>Center used an estimation is that it provides an easier equation to
>solve so that election officials can have an easy way to calculate the
>number of machines to parallel test or audit, given the desired
>probability for detecting an assumed rate of corruption. However, I
>am sure that taxpayers and election officials alike will appreciate a
>more exact calculation of audit percentages required to detect
>outcome-altering vote miscounts.)
>I've asked one of NEDA's most brilliant volunteer mathematicians,
>Frank Stenger, to see if he can solve the exact probability equation
>so that we can provide a more exact, easier method for independent
>auditors to calculate the correct audit percentages that would detect
>any outcome-altering vote miscounts, but the equation looks very
>difficult, if not impossible, to solve exactly. We may need instead
>to provide an (open source) computer program to do the calculations
>more exactly and easily.
>2. Corrected the maxium rate of vote switching that is used to
>calculate the minimum number of counts that must be corrupted to alter
>election outcomes. Now it matches the Brennan Center's threat
>evaluation assumption of 15% (not the 30% I mistakenly thought
>earlier). To be more conservative, people may want to raise this
>constant from the 15% to something higher, or wait to see what future
>data shows.
>3. Fixed some of the spreadsheet formulas to avoid errors or nonsense
>in a few special cases.
>4. Added instructions for how to use the Audit_Calculator. xls
>spreadsheet to obtain the exact number of vote counts to audit to
>obtain any desired probability of detecting outcome-altering vote
>If you play with the Audit_Calculator.xls spreadsheet you will notice:
>1. Audit percentages must be higher when the margins between
>candidates is smaller.
>2. Audit percentages must be higher for counties with fewer vote
>counts to audit than for large counties with many voting machines.
>(The actual number of vote counts that need to be audited are more
>similar across diverse counties than are the audit percentages.)
>3. A 1% or 2% audit is entirely inadequate when margins between
>candidates become at all close (say under 10%). This new method
>should replace those audit statutes.
>4. This method can replace existing state election laws that require
>100% hand-recounts only for close races because the hand-count
>percentage automatically adjusts to the margins between candidates,
>whatever they are.
>All American patriots agree that vote miscounts should never put the
>wrong candidate into office. Therefore, this new method for
>calculating the number of vote counts to audit in any election and
>race is the correct way to audit all elections and should be adopted
>nationwide, replacing systems of 1% state-wide audits such as
>California and a few other states currently use.
>To clarify my earlier email, another audit method using weaker
>statistical procedures, however, will be needed to audit some poorly
>designed central count optical scan systems that process mail-in,
>overseas, absentee, and military ballots but provide no method for
>breaking counts down by precincts. Good central count optical scan
>systems like those of Washington State and Oregon can certainly follow
>these new procedures recommended now by NEDA and use NEDA's
>AuditCalculator.xls spreadsheet.
>I am so very excited that America now has a new method for correctly
>I have come to understand in the last week, as a result of doing these
>mathematical calculations, that a simple 1% or 2% or even 5% audit
>procedure is entirely inadequate to meet the needs of ensuring U.S.
>election integrity. Audit percentages must be determined by the
>requirement to ensure that only correctly elected candidates are sworn
>into office following every U.S. election in every race.
>You can quote me on that!

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Received on Thu Aug 31 23:17:03 2006

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