Re: OVC-discuss Digest, Vol 20, Issue 34

From: Jerry Lobdill <lobdillj_at_charter_dot_net>
Date: Wed Jun 28 2006 - 11:53:01 CDT


Thanks for your response and the references. I printed out and read
both of them.

I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but I think a few
comments are in order.

First, I didn't mean to recommend any particular law, only to give a
possible scenario to illustrate a point about the importance of
examining the implications of any law and the assumptions it implies.

Second, I understand your objection to my credibility concerns, and I
do agree that ensuring count accuracy is vital. Still, I think there
is a credibility problem. Else how explain the dismal percentage of
eligible voters who cast votes? I think that it will probably take
more than the assurance of a committee of Ph. D.s in mathematics and
statistics and election officials that the vote count will be
accurate to convince people that their vote will count.

Third, your references have illustrated how difficult it is to be
sure the selection procedures don't bias the results. As always, the
devil is in the details. :-)

Your references prescribe that the vote count of a random selection
of precincts will be audited. This assumes that all precincts have
equal probability of having discrepancies. It may well be that this
is not a good assumption, especially if some precincts (or voting
stations if precincts are being combined in the election) have many
more votes cast than others (and thus present a more valuable target
for tampering) or if certain precincts have known tendencies to have
tampering while others do not. Also, certain races may have a higher
probability of being tampered with than others, and the distribution
of votes among precincts or voting stations for these races may be
different from other races.

Also, given that the central tabulation level presents a more
valuable target for tampering than individual voting stations might
it not be possible to tamper at that level? If that were done then
auditing the voting station results might well not detect the
tampering. (I looked at Tarrant County, TX Democratic Party primary
vote data for the March, 2006 election in making these observations.)

I'm impressed with the extensive amount of thought that has gone into
the generic law you referenced and the statistical analysis provided.
I hadn't seen this material before.


Jerry Lobdill

At 10:50 AM 6/27/2006, you wrote:
> > 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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