Re: Independent audits of Verified Paper Trail

From: Kathy Dopp <kathy_dot_dopp_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Jun 26 2006 - 22:58:51 CDT

> Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 21:29:31 -0500
> From: Jerry Lobdill <>
> Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] Independent audits of Verified Paper Trail
> elections
> Suppose 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.

Jerry, This is not the law that I would recommend operating under. Here is
a better, more generic proposal that addresses your concerns:

However, there needs to be a 1% minimum, that we may've forgotten to

Also, I would include, as Alan said to me, a requirement that the number of
discrepancies found, must indicate that the amount of vote miscount is less
than the margin, or expanded audit or full recount is required.

> indicated margin. As the actual margin decreases, an audit of X% of
> the voting stations has a decreasing confidence level

The confidence level is determined by the the number of machines (in your
scenario) that are considered to be affected by vote miscounts, 'not' the
margin. i.e. not the amount of total inaccuracy, but the number of minimum
machine counts that may be inaccurate. (I'm having trouble making myself
clear, obviously - but suffice it to say that it would "not" be necessary,
do-able, or wise, to base a formula on the official vote count margins as
you suggest doing.) If you study what we've written on this issue, I think
it will become clear to you.

We have provided a spreadsheet audit calculator whose URL is mentioned in
the footnotes to this mathematical explanation of randomly selected vote
count audits:

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

I believe that the core problem is ensuring vote count accuracy, not
ensuring credibility.

Also, if you take the time to read our proposal, you would see that it
provides plenty of transparency. Please take the time to study the two
papers above.

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

I disagree with this also, because both systems are extremely vulnerable.
The difference is that computerized counts extends the reach of one person
to tamper with more votes. The ideal system would have a 100% hand count
plus a 100% machine count and reconcile them. However, independent audits
are a close second.

You have not been following all the evidence of vote tampering in the recent
2000 and 2004 elections, if you are unaware of all the paper ballot
tampering, paper ballot substitution, paper ballot destruction, and paper
ballot ignoring that goes on. One thing I've learned is that there are
many more ways to tamper with vote counts than there are voting systems and
the wisdom of the OVC system is its co-existance of both paper and
electronic technologies to prevent, detect, and correct more types of
potential tampering than any other system.

Kathy Dopp

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Received on Fri Jun 30 23:17:12 2006

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