Re: TAR--audits. urgently need help to get law.

From: Jerry Lobdill <lobdillj_at_charter_dot_net>
Date: Wed Nov 22 2006 - 21:09:20 CST

I find this development very disappointing. I sent the following to
Mr. Strauss and received the response, "thanks for the comments." So
far as I can tell not a single one of my recommendations was adopted,
and there are no explanations.

Jerry Lobdill

On Nov 18, 2006, at 8:57 AM, Jerry Lobdill wrote:

>First, thoughts on how to include non-random samples without
>sacrificing probability of detection (Pd) of tampering--
>
>My recommended procedure is to (1) do the sampling using best
>practices for a Pd of 0.90 (I prefer 0.99.) given enough vote
>switching to swing the election within the state, (2) sort the
>precincts in the sample by total vote count, descending, and audit
>in that order, (3) permit loser to select one precinct (or some very
>small number of precincts) per county to be audited (on the theory
>that candidates and their campaign staff probably know better than
>anyone else which precincts have the highest probability of corruption).
>
>The rule I recommend is this: If a single precinct is found in the
>audit (conducted sequentially) that has had votes switched from any
>candidate to the reported winner, this is the trigger for a
>mandatory full hand ballot recount for that race in the county in
>which the discovery is made. No ifs, ands, or buts. There are both
>scientific and political reasons for this rule.
>
>The scientific reason is that the design of the audit has ensured
>that if the random sample contains at least one corrupted precinct
>then the hypothesis that the election has been stolen cannot be
>rejected at a -090 confidence level. (To give authorities the
>discretion to reject the result or to require further auditing
>before the authorities reach a conclusion whether to order a full
>recount or not is to grant arbitrary power to the authorities--who
>would no doubt love to have that power but who have no idea how much
>the uncertainty will be reduced by additional auditing. That
>uncertainty reduction is very small and could have been obtained by
>increasing the required Pd from 0.90 to a larger value and doing
>away with arbitrary power. Obviously, the improvement is going to be
>less than 0.1.)
>
>The political reason is that by granting this additional power you
>destroy the objectivity of the process and return to the problem of
>political manipulation of the election process.
>
>The addition of the non-random selections does not decrease the Pd
>of the process, and it generates a positive effect on public
>perception of fairness and confidence in the integrity of the process.
>
>Now to other comments...
>
>Generally, I feel that the bill is top-heavy with prescription of
>administrative processes and deficient in prescription of how to
>design and conduct the audit and provision of a requirement that
>triggers a mandatory full recount without granting unwarranted and
>destructive discretion to authorities.
>
>Also, the entire process should be completed in time to reverse any
>erroneous election result detected.
>
>It is dangerous, IMO, to tell authorities to select "a random
>sample" without specifying acceptable methods of doing it.
>
>Though I know what you are getting at on page 4, lines 8 through 11
>of the bill, lawyers and administrators will have no idea what is
>meant and will interpret the language themselves in creative ways.
>
>In Texas, once the county canvass has been completed the time for
>possible recount is passed. Not true in NM? (p 4, line7)
>
>p 5, lines 14-21: This is insufficiently specifying the trigger for
>confirmation of the vote tally. We know, from probability theory,
>that if the sample is truly random and if no corruption is found in
>any precinct in the sample then we cannot reject the null
>hypothesis: "In 10% of audits conducted according to these rules
>there will be no corrupt precinct in the sample (and we will rule
>the election to be clean) when, in fact, the election has been
>stolen by vote switching." I would prefer legal language that says,
>"If no vote switching is detected in the sample of precincts audited
>then the county canvass shall be confirmed as the official vote tally..."
>
>p5 lines 22-25: Danger! This opens the door for debate that has no
>scientific basis. When votes have been switched in a manner that
>makes the total vote count correct, but the ballots don't match the
>tallies for the winner and loser there is nothing to debate.
>
>p 6, lines 1-4 Danger! Don't do this. Either we have confidence in
>probability theory or we don't. Don't give authorities discretion on this.
>
>p 6 lines 5-10 Here is where the mandatory trigger should be specified.
>
>
>I hope these suggestions are helpful.

>To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list <ovc-discuss@listman.sonic.net>
>Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 16:49:43 -0500 (EST)
>Reply-To: charlie strauss <cems@earthlink.net>,
> Open Voting Consortium discussion list
> <ovc-discuss@listman.sonic.net>
>Message-ID:
><4740797.1164145783725.JavaMail.root@elwamui-muscovy.atl.sa.earthlink.net>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
>Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] TAR--audits. urgently need help to get law.
>Message: 2
>
>as a follow-up to my original query
>
>Here's a synopisis what we decided to put in the proposed law.
>
>first the number of randomly selected machines is chosen such that
>if there were a sufficient number of bad machines to overturn the
>closest race then the chance at least one of those were to appear in
>the sample would be 90%. We left it open for the legislature to
>change that, but we feel 90% is excellent.
>
>Additionally, 1/4 of the number used above will be chosen in a
>targeted fashion. Any major party will get an equal number of
>choices in the target (and the SOS gets an equal share as well).
>
>1/4 was chosen so that we could treat the tar machines as though
>they were randomly chosen without excessively dilluting the
>statistical power of the random sample. That is it will introduce a
>slight bias but not one big enough to argue over. Most of the time
>it weel serves It's main purpose: to satisfy the the candidates
>that anomlies were simply anomlous not errors.
>
>in typical elections the number of recounted machines in NM will be
>small: if the election margin between 2 candidates was 2% then to
>achieve 90% confidence all of NM would have to count 33
>machines. Thus the number in the TAR is very small. So we felt it
>was best to place the choice in the hands of the major stakeholder
>parties rather than candidates. This way we get party wide buy-in to
>the entire recount process both random and TAR, and thus a more
>generally authoritative public reassurance (parties we felt are
>likely to be more restrained about unsupported accusations than
>individual candidates). The SOS's share is there to help cover the
>independent and minor parties interests as well as to target known
>problem spots that might not be of interest to the parties.
>
>If the sample detects a bad machine the problem is handed over a
>commission to decide how to expand the recount give whatever error
>modality was detected. (e.g. in some case the errors will point to
>a county specific or precinct specific, problem not a statewide, or
>vica vera) They are charged with expanding the recount sample until
>it is determined that there less than 10% chance any race would be overturned.
>
>In this second stage, where a detection event has occurred, it's
>more important to maximize the statistical power of the sample to
>estimate the error size accurately rather than search for more
>events. Therefore, we made it discresionary whether to include
>targeted precints in the expansion.
>
>When I say machines and recount what this means is a recount of the
>paper ballots by hand from a given machine.
>
>
>Some of The reasons we are comfortable with 90% here is that 1) we
>feel that in the case of systematic errors that in many cases there
>will either be none or legislative district wide errors. The
>latter will always exceed the 90% threshold level. 2) Moreover,
>remember that the number we chose to recount is based on the closest
>race. Thus even if the detection probability for that race is 90%
>it's far higher for all the other races. It's not particularly
>likely that an error would only affect the closest race. 3) The
>same logic applies to fraud being detected at greater than 90%
>confidence. 4) And we also feel that if the recount deters
>fraudsters then there's little different in deterence between 90%
>and 99%. 5) And finally, that percentage is the single election
>detection threshold. Over the course of many elections, it will
>find many error modalities with much higher confidence and these can
>be removed from recurrence.
>
>We also liked the idea of counting whole machines rather than say
>sampling 10% of the ballots in every machine. Our feeling was that
>most error modalities and most suspciious events are machine or
>precint specific. By recounting a machine in it's entrirety you
>get defintive and actionable information about the machine's
>electronic total accuracy. While the former aproach might be
>equally good, we prefered the concreteness and interpretability of
>the machine-centric recounts.
>
>The bill is being massaged right now in committees so any comments
>you care to make are still welocome. If you have sound procedures
>for including non-random choices in a way that improves the
>statistical decision theory that would be espeicially welcome.

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Received on Thu Nov 30 23:17:11 2006

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