Update: Audit Percentages To Detect Any Outcome-Altering Vote Miscounts

From: Kathy Dopp <kathy_dot_dopp_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Jul 17 2006 - 23:09:38 CDT

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:
http://electionarchive.org/ucvAnalysis/US/paper-audits/Paper_Audits.pdf

and NEDA's Spreadsheet AuditCalculator.xls for
Determining Audit Percentages that would Detect Outcome-Altering Vote
Miscounts has been updated:
http://electionarchive.org/ucvAnalysis/US/paper-audits/

----------------------------------
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
miscounts.

----------------------------------------

LESSONS LEARNED:

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.

-------------------------

WHY THIS NEW PROCEDURE SHOULD BE ADOPTED:

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
calculating AUDIT PERCENTAGES to ensure that NO VOTE MISCOUNTS WILL
ALTER ANY ELECTION RESULTS IN ANY RACE in the future!

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!

----------------------

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT:

Please support NEDA's efforts. We really need your help! Right now we
very much need funding to hire an office assistant and a computer
programmer, or a volunteer office assistant. NEDA also needs either
funding or volunteer attorneys to help craft open records request
letters that are specific to each state's open records laws in order
to obtain the detailed vote count data to uncover vote miscounts in
jurisdictions that conduct no independent audits, some of which use
inauditable voting systems. Please help us if you can.

http://ElectionArchive.org

Please excuse my excited babbling over this new discovery of a
mathematical method to ensure vote count integrity in every race in
every election. What an election nerd I am!

------------------------------------

THE FUTURE OF ELECTION INTEGRITY LEGISLATION

Now, if America requires independent audits of election outcomes like
every other major industry conducts, we can certainly convince any
competent independent auditors of elections to adopt this new method,
which will transparently achieve the stated goal of all election
officials - to ensure that no vote miscounts wrongly determine any
election outcome.

>From now on, all independent audit legislation should be written
generally to require:

"vote count audits should ensure that election outcomes are not
altered to a high degree of probability"

(say 95%), rather than specify any fixed small audit rate.

I believe that the current Holt HR550 proposed in the U.S. Congress
needs to be rewritten, to require that states conduct county-level
independent randomly-selected audits for all federal elections, not
the US Election Assistance Commission as currently, and that the goal
of the audit (no outcome-altering vote counts with perhaps a 1%
minimum audit in any case) be specified, so that it is clear that the
percentage of vote counts audited is determined by the goal we all
share of honest accurate election outcomes.

Please support our work. Thank you.

Best Regards,

-- 
----
Kathy Dopp
http://electionarchive.org
National Election Data Archive
Dedicated to Accurately Counting Elections
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Received on Mon Jul 31 23:17:05 2006

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