Re: Audits are Hand-Counts - a New Audit Proposal

From: Jerry Lobdill <lobdillj_at_charter_dot_net>
Date: Thu Jan 25 2007 - 06:25:37 CST

Based on what I hear we might all just be wasting our time and energy
at this point anyway. The Holt effort seems to be a closed group
working as secretly as they can and assiduously avoiding input.

There have always been two points of view about Holt's bill. One
point of view is that we've got to accept whatever they offer,
because what we want "ain't gonna happen", and the other is that when
you pass a bill that doesn't solve the problem, the new law becomes
an impediment to further consideration and reform. Examples of this
effect are not difficult to find. A current one is public financing
of presidential elections. The flaws in that law have been obvious
from the get-go, and now they are causing the law to be viewed as a
failed idea. But we don't see any stories about correcting the
problems this law doesn't solve. We only see stories saying that the
end of public financing is near.

The yahoo group, election_integrity_and_reform, is a group that was
started in July 2006 with the stated purpose of promoting passage of
the Holt bill as it stood then (and in whatever final form it takes)
without regard to what is in the bill. The arguments against trying
to influence the content of the bill were vehement from the
beginning. The thought was that there has been too much dithering,
and they want a bill passed--any bill that purports to address the
threat of electronic voting NOW, ASAP. Stop yammering and vote on
it!. That's been their standard mantra. Whenever amendments have been
proposed by list members, they have been met with the argument that
"it ain't gonna happen", and any bill is better than none. The fact
that once a bill is passed it becomes an albatross that prevents
further reform is summarily rejected by the list owner.

I oppose the tiered approach to audit design because it fails to
provide the available confidence level for reasons that have no
merit. The reason that the method that Kathy, Howard Stanislevic, and
I have been offering in only slightly different forms is not even
being considered any longer is that the membership of the Holt
advisory group contains people who do not want the kind of impediment
to election fraud that this method offers. They lie about their
reasons for rejecting it, saying it is too complicated to write into
law and implement. We know that is a false claim, because several
examples of legal language specifying the proper method exist.

The tiered approach is by no means a simpler method than we have been
proposing. It is a less stringent, less reliable method based loosely
on the same principles we have been promoting. In essence, it is a
method analogous to graphical integration wherein more or less
narrow vertical rectangular strips are fitted under the curve to be
integrated. The errors come in when the width of the rectangles is
too large to constitute a good enough approximation of the area under
the curve. By increasing the number of rectangles, thus decreasing
the errors, one can eventually approach the accuracy of the correct method.

But in the case of audit design (an analogous, but different
situation since we're not integrating under a curve), a three tiered
approach guarantees only confidence levels ranging from 51% to 72%,
and the penalty paid in complexity of process is the inclusion of
unexplained tables that prescribe the number of precincts to audit
based on margin and number of precincts in the race. This trades a
simple application of Rivest's formula and a simple process involving
sorting an Excel spreadsheet of precinct return data and summing
values of total precinct vote count in the ordered table for an
unexplained approximation of this process requiring the use of tables
that are no more easily understood that the correct, simple process.

Kathy has shown that a four tiered version of this process is more
accurate that the three tiered process. This improvement in accuracy,
of course, doesn't need to be proven. It is exactly what is expected.
Howard Stanislevic has developed a 100 tier approach that is even
more accurate that the four tiered approach--again, an obvious result
analogous to graphical integration.

Kathy is selling her tiered approach by noting that (in the case of
the three tiered approach) that it provides at least a
50% probability of detecting an election altering miscount. What a
concession! We accept a complicated process with prescribed tables
promising at least 50% accuracy for a simpler process with a 99%
accuracy!! This is progress? This is good sense?

I apologize if this explanation seems too polemic for those here who
demand decorum above all else, but this is as close to language
appropriate for high tea conversation as I can manage on this issue.
Let me just say that I intend no personal attack by anything I have
said here in this message. I simply disagree with the concessions
Kathy is now willing to make in order to get
something--anything--into this flawed bill. I believe it will doom us
to live with the flawed prescription for at least a decade. Can we
afford another decade of election fraud?

By rejecting this tiered approach with a single voice I believe we
will buy ourselves an opportunity to return to the battlefield much
sooner than if we cave in to this political power play by the dark
side of the Holt Advisory Group.

Jerry Lobdill


At 04:32 AM 1/24/2007, ElectionIntegrity group wrote:
>Kathy \ Jerry,
>I hardly think that
>"Why is it that you want to postpone the opportunity to have fair
>elections when we have the opportunity to have fair elections now?"
>is a fair characterization of the Jerry's comments.
>Maybe you could rephrase to say:
>"Why is it that you want to postpone the opportunity to have fair
>elections when we have the opportunity to have almost fair elections
>It is a completely legitimate opinion to believe that it should be done
>the most accurate way possible or not at all.
>To be fair, I don't agree with calling a tiered audit "ridiculous
>nonsense" either. There is something to be said for any improvement and
>there are other factors involved besides accuracy (such as
>Either way, you both would benefit from understanding the motivations
>and merits of each other's plans. They are absolutely competing
>concepts, but there is no reason the debate cannot be cordial.

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