From: Jerry Lobdill <lobdillj_at_charter_dot_net>

Date: Tue Jul 04 2006 - 18:09:40 CDT

Date: Tue Jul 04 2006 - 18:09:40 CDT

More about my concerns re mandatory vote count audits.

I'm afraid I didn't communicate my concerns very well in my post on

June 26. So let me try again.

I'll use different examples this time.

In a county-wide race for County Chair in the Democratic primary

there were 13500 total votes cast. One candidate got 5940 votes and

the other got 7560 votes after votes of all kinds were tallied. There

were a total of 634 precincts in the county. One JP district in the

county contains 63 precincts. This district is historically notorious

for mail ballot fraud. There were 1650 mail-in votes from this JP

district. In addition, there were electronic ballot scanners used in

each precinct on voting day. The DRE vote was limited mostly to early

voting, and there were no VVPBs for these votes.

The vote margin, calculated from the foregoing data is 1620

votes. The average number of votes cast per precinct is 21, a

depressingly small turnout, but this was a mid-term primary election.

(These data are real, by the way). The total number of registered

voters in the county is about 890,000 and the number of registered

voters per precinct varies from less than 100 to more than 3000.

Observations:

1. The mail ballots in this case are very much more likely to be

corrupted than any other votes.

2. The number of mail ballots from the JP district precincts exceeds

the vote margin in this race (for County Chair).

3. There are probably many ways in which 1620 votes could have been stolen.

4. If there was an attack on the E-scanner boxes it seems reasonable

that not all boxes would be involved and that those boxes involved

would be those where the most votes would be expected to be cast.

Now, in the absence of a law prescribing specific audit rules I would

not elect to do a random audit using the hypergeometric function with

all 634 precincts considered equally probable targets for tampering.

I would not compute the number of precinct vote counts assuming 64

precinct vote counts (10%) corrupted and a 0.95 minimum probability

that the random audit finds at least 1 corrupted precinct.

I would first select all 63 precincts in the suspect JP district for

audit. I would audit the 1650 mail ballots in the suspect JP

district precincts. If that audit proved mail fraud, that would

likely be (I would think) sufficient evidence to trigger a complete

audit of the race. (Proof positive would definitely be discovered if

there was fraud.) But no presently proposed law provides guidance

for such cases as this.

Suppose instead that we had used the rules that the Utah proposed law

suggests to conduct a mandatory audit of this race. We would use the

hypergeometric function with 634 total precincts, assume that 64

precincts are corrupted, and find the number of precincts to select

at random so that we have 0.95 or greater probability of finding one

corrupt precinct. That would yield a calculation of 28 precincts to

provide a 0.953 probability of finding one corrupt precinct.

So then how would we randomize the selection? We could use a lottery

or bingo style machine, and select 28 balls. That's arguably the best

way to make the selection. But we have ignored our best information

about the probable geographic distribution of corrupt precincts and

we have included, as assumed equally probable corrupt precincts, many

precincts that in fact, common sense tells us are unlikely prospects

for corruption. So our population from which we select 64 precincts

is known NOT to be a population of 634 precincts all of which have

equal probability of corruption. This makes our law into an arbitrary

process in which we delude ourselves that we are conducting a proper

statistical test for corrupted vote counts when we, in fact, do not

know what the probability is of finding at least one corrupt precinct

when we follow the process.

Another potential problem: The 12th Congressional District of Texas

encompasses parts of four counties. This is not an unusual situation.

When the mandatory vote count audits are tied independently to

counties, there is no audit coordination between counties for races

like this. Should the discovery of tampering in the 12th

Congressional District race in one county trigger a full recount of

the race in all its counties? The proposed law is silent on this.

Happy Independence Day!

Jerry Lobdill

.

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Received on Mon Jul 31 23:17:03 2006

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