Re: Independent audits of Verified Paper Trail elections

From: Jerry Lobdill <lobdillj_at_charter_dot_net>
Date: Mon Jun 26 2006 - 21:29:31 CDT

Suppose an election is conducted with DREs that have been modified to
add a printer that produces a hard copy of the ballot of each voter
and permits the voter to see the printed ballot before it is dropped
into a sealed ballot box. The election is conducted under a law that
prescribes a random hand count audit of a certain percentage (X%) of
voting stations (DREs with printer/ballot box). The law says that if
the random audit results are not within Y% of the electronically
tabulated total results then a complete hand count of all votes is required.

Suppose that the actual (correct) election results were just slightly
in favor of the other candidate (Sort of like the 2000 election).
Now, suppose a clever manipulator has altered the results of the
electronic tabulation enough to cause his desired candidate to win by
several percentage points.

If X and Y are predetermined constants written into the law (not
functions of the margin indicated by the electronic tabulation) then
the confidence level of the audit will be a variable depending on the
indicated margin. As the actual margin decreases, an audit of X% of
the voting stations has a decreasing confidence level

This would suggest that the law ought to be written so that X is the
variable, selected to provide a constant statistical confidence level.

Another problem with the idea of random audits is that this is a
makeshift solution to a credibility issue that requires an
understanding of probability and statistics to feel good about. This
does not satisfy a requirement for transparency very well. DREs and
central tabulation using electronic means as they currently exist
constitute a voting system that is many times more vulnerable to
tampering than the hand counted paper ballot system, and random
audits do not alter this fact. This, to me, makes current systems,
even with added paper ballot printers for voter verification an
unacceptable choice given the importance of public confidence that
our elections are honest.

Jerry Lobdill

At 02:00 PM 6/26/2006, you wrote:
> >> This resolution puts the US League of Women Voters in the very
> forefront of
> >> the effort to fix American democracy because, unlike some other prominent
> >> nation-wide "election integrity" groups, the US League of Women Voters
> >> recognizes that:
> >>
> >> 1. voter-verified paper ballots are insufficient in themselves
> unless some
> >> of them are hand-counted in audits that check the machine counts, and
> >>
> >> 2. the paper ballot should be the official record (not the electronic
> >> ballot).
> >>
> >> I hope that other election integrity groups such as VerifiedVoting and
> >> CommonCause which have endorsed voter-verifiable paper ballots
> (VVPBs) but
> >> neglected to sufficiently point out that VVPBs, without being counted in
> >> independent audits, are no more than a false assurance to
> voters and leave
> >> the risk for malfeasance and error high, will now follow the
> example of the
> >> US League of Women Voters.
> >>
> >> Without independent audits, any voting system is wide-open to error and
> > > tampering.

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Received on Fri Jun 30 23:17:11 2006

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