NEDA Releases New Vote Count Audit Calculator Spreadsheet

From: Kathy Dopp <kathy_dot_dopp_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Sun Jul 16 2006 - 06:43:58 CDT

Progress occurred in "best practices for vote count audit procedures"
after reading the parallel testing appendix on pp. 124-126 of the
Brennan Center Report yesterday.

( I also glanced at the Brennan Center appendix on vote count audits
and noticed that the Brennan Center Task Force recommends using the
same math formula to determine number of election counts to audit that
NEDA has been recommending for over a year - which is perfect.)

I discovered the following better Idea for vote count audits thanks,
in part, to the Brennan Center's "parallel testing..." appendix ideas
and thanks, in part, to earlier discussions which took place on the
Open Voting Consortium email list.


The safest approach to performing vote count audits will be to
calculate the minimum percentage of precinct or machine counts that
would need to be corrupted to alter the outcome of any race in an
election, after learning the margin between candidates in any county
or township. In other words, the exact number of precincts to audit
can only be safely calculated when the election margins are known.

It is important to conduct audits even if the election margins are not
close and even if candidates do not request an audit or recount. This
method will eliminate the need of counties/townships/parishes from
conducting a 100% recount in the case of close election margins, but
will mean that exactly the correct amount of vote counts are selected
for auditing to detect any possible outcome-altering vote miscounts
with a desired probability.

100% of the voter-verifiable paper records of a sufficient number of
randomly selected electronic counts to give a high probability of
detecting at least one corrupt precinct, given the minimum level of
outcome-altering miscount exists, would be hand-counted.

This method does not apply to central count optical-scan voting
systems that are unable to break vote counts into precinct-level
counts. In that case, a statistical sampling of ballots must be
compared with Election Day counts.

Whenever precinct or machine vote totals are available, an actual,
rather than a statistical, audit should be performed.

The National Election Data Archive is releasing today a free
spreadsheet "AuditCalculator.xls" with some of these calculations in
it, See

Caveat, I have not yet begun to derive the single formula to make the
process easier for election officials and activists, than playing
around with a spreadsheet will be. If someone else gets to this
mathematical job before I do, please share your results and write them
up with NEDA.

NEDA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, "really" could use funding to much more
quickly complete a joint research paper with both mathematicians and
computer scientists to finish determining and writing best practices
for vote count audit procedures; and needs about $2,000/month to hire
a committed programmer.

Please support NEDA's efforts by making a donation at

I would like to compile all the excellent vote count audit methodology
that has been recently developed by various groups, including NEDA,
into one paper including ideas from NEDA's earlier papers, NEDA's
recently discovered and as yet unpublished discoveries, the Brennan
report's audit ideas, and those from other sources. However, I've got
a mountain of paperwork to finish, must prepare and give talks at
several upcoming conferences and conventions, and must mail
introductory funding request letters first. NEDA needs funding for,
or a volunteer to act as, a NEDA executive assistant, ASAP. A
part-time executive assistant could be found for $1,000/month. If
every person who receives this email would donate $10/month, it would
be enough to hire the desparately needed programmer and executive
assistant. Patriotic persons are willing to work for very little to
fight for American democracy, but we need funds.

In the meantime, this spreadsheet calculator will help activists and
election officials determine how many vote counts to audit. To use
the spreadsheet, just change the inputs at the top of the "#precincts"
worksheet (including the number of total machine/precinct counts in
your county/township/parish) until you obtain the probability you
want. in the
updated "AuditCalculator.xls" spreadsheet.

You can determine the number of vote counts (machine or precinct) to
audit in your own county to ensure with high probability, detecting
any out-come altering vote miscounts.

The third worksheet in the spreadsheet, "#precincts", is the one that
uses the new concept, based on the assumption that at most 30% of
votes would be likely to be switched from one candidate to another on
any one voting machine (a reasonable assumption by the Brennan Center
task force), and then calculating the minimum number of vote counts
that would need to be corrupt to alter the outcome of an election in a
race with a particular margin; and then using that minimum number of
corrupt counts and a desired probability to determine the number of
precincts/machines to audit.

The math derivations to make it into one simple formula for election
officials to quickly calculate how many precincts/machines to audit
can be figured out in the future - in a day or a week of

This calculation will give a high confidence level that any miscount
that could alter an election is detected in an audit.

Feel free to pass this spreadsheet's URL along to other statisticians
or mathematicians who are interested in vote count audit procedures.

Note: The papers in the directory are outdated
now, but the worksheet "#precincts" in the updated
"AuditCalculator.xls" spreadsheet can be used (by playing with the
inputs at the top) until I, or someone else, derives the exact formula
to determine the exact number of precincts to audit to obtain a
desired probability for detecting any outcome-altering vote miscounts
in any election.

Best Regards and a heartfelt "Thank You" to all of NEDA's Supporters.
Your support is much needed and much appreciated and almost (but not
quite) covered the costs of my trip this prior week to the National
Association of Election Director's Conference in Santa Fe, NM where I
was able to raise important questions and learn new information.

Thank you for all your efforts. We all share the goal of accurate vote counts.

Kathy Dopp
National Election Data Archive
Dedicated to Accurately Counting Elections
Subscribe to announcements by emailing
Please donate or volunteer at
"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body
and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day," wrote
Thomas Jefferson in 1816
P.S. NEDA's compendium of attempts to dismiss vote fraud was updated yesterday.
P.P.S  I hope to find time to write a report of my impressions of what
occurred at the NASS/NASED July, 2006 conference of state election
officials and the US Election Assistance Commissioners.  NEDA very
much needs a volunteer in Park City, UT or funds to hire a part-time
executive assistant so to catch up with some of the work in time for
the upcoming November election.
OVC-discuss mailing list
= The content of this message, with the exception of any external 
= quotations under fair use, are released to the Public Domain    
Received on Mon Jul 31 23:17:05 2006

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Jul 31 2006 - 23:17:09 CDT