Limiting our demands in fear of a fight with illegitimate authority

From: Jerry Lobdill <lobdillj_at_charter_dot_net>
Date: Sun Dec 17 2006 - 18:10:37 CST


I have had several days of real life and am just now returning to the
computer. I have too much email to deal with now, and I have to be
frugal in my response to you. I am also posting this to the lists,
because it concerns everybody. I have not responded to everything
you've written in your last email. There is one key issue that
seriously divides us, however, and that is what I am going deal with.
Let me pull out the remarks I'm going to deal with:

You said:

>But it might be difficult to determine, without serious
>investigation, whether a given miscounted precinct was a victim of
>error or of fraud.

>While it is certainly technically defensible -- in terms of
>maximizing the likelihood of discovering fraud -- to hand-recount an
>entire county if a single precinct exhibits a miscount, such a
>recount can involve a great deal of effort. This possibility will,
>in turn, motivate some officials to oppose such an audit proposal,
>or to shortcut its execution should it actually become
>law. <snip> Under your plan, you'd be faced with hand-recounting
>over 5,000 other precincts. That's a big, expensive, time-consuming
>job, and it's not clear that it's justified.
><snip>...but you might not find enough miscounted precincts to use
>their apparent bias (or lack of bias) to determine, without a full
>investigation, whether they really resulted from errors or from fraud.
>So, under your plan, we would recount 4562 precincts to find, on
>average, only 10 miscounted ones. Given that we assumed that an
>attacker would have to flip 50 precincts to flip the election, and
>that P(50 miscounted precincts: the first one plus 49 more) is
>~3x10^-18, this seems to be a waste of time in terms of detecting
>election-flipping fraud. It's still useful in investigative terms,
>and, given unlimited resources, I'd sure like to do it, but we don't
>have that.
><snip> You could end up auditing all the precincts, and yes, that's
>the equivalent, in all but name, of a full recount. But I approach
>the process incrementally, re-evaluating at each round of audits
>whether it's worth spawning another round (the current round found
>at least one miscounted precinct) or not (the current round found no
>miscounted precincts, thus giving us P=0.99 that there aren't enough
>remaining miscounted precincts to flip the election).
Your position is that legislators are going to balk and claim that an
audit that tests a hypothesis and prescribes appropriate automatic
mandatory sequelae for potential outcomes might sometimes result in a
recount that verifies the previously announced results (horrors!),
and this would be unacceptable because it is a "big, expensive, time
consuming job, and it's not clear that it's justified." You have
repeated this theme over and over in different words, and it is clear
that you are primarily focused on eliminating any chance whatever of
calling a full recount on the basis of a false alarm-- at the risk of
permitting fraudulent elections.

I have heard this argument several times before--usually from lawyers
who seem to have friends in the state house or Congress and presume
that they have a pipeline to power and a sense that their power is
deserved. It is an argument that comes up in every discussion group
on the subject of elections. In fact, this argument is a critical
one for us on the EI Legislation List to debate and make a decision
about before we do anything else, IMO.

Your argument starts from a position of professed knowledge of what
your legislator colleagues and election authorities will resist, and
you resist presenting anything that you believe they will
resist. Those of us on the other side start from a position of
professed knowledge of what is needed to get illegitimate authority
out of the election process and produce election integrity, and we
proceed to propose election systems that will do that. If we both
remain adherent to our positions then we cannot work
together. And...this is not an issue that admits compromise. We
either get illegitimate authority out of power or we don't.

So we need to back up and settle this issue before we talk about
details of any proposed measure.

Let's be clear. You have not indicated anywhere that you are willing
to present whatever legislation the public may demand that is
generally accepted as getting the authorities out of control of
elections. None of your objections to my audit proposal have
produced an alternative that strips discretionary, subjective power
from the hands of those whose hegemony brought us the stolen
elections of 2000, 2004, and very likely, 2006.

If those on your side were offering something of value it would
include mandatory hand recounts if certain specified results
occur. But it offers nothing of the sort. It continues to give
illegitimate authority the discretionary power to order recount,
certification, or additional auditing. There is never an
accompanying analysis to indicate what this discretionary power does
to the statistical power of the audit. And this fact is evidence that
in the minds of those who share your view, statistical power doesn't
trump authority.

Those who stand with me say that statistical power trumps authority,
and any legislator or other public official who dares to claim
authority to maintain the status quo must be removed from office. We
have had it with illegitimate authority, and we're not going to take
it any more.

So, we may well be at an impasse. Those who agree with me will never
permit a lawyer with your convictions to draw up legislation for us,
and you seem unwilling to do what makes sense.

This is the sticky wicket, Ron.

I'm asking others to weigh in on this issue now, because we must get
past this.

Jerry Lobdill


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Received on Sun Dec 31 23:17:15 2006

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