Re: SB 1438 is law in CA...

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Wed Sep 29 2004 - 14:47:18 CDT

On Sep 29, 2004, at 2:23 PM, Joseph Lorenzo Hall wrote:

> Ballots have been replaced by official records. The key here is,
> what's considered the official record? I would argue that all aspects
> of the audit trail should be conisdered the official record... if
> there's a descrepancy or conflict in different parts of the electronic
> record, this should be reconciled (I'm not sure *how*).

Amen and amen!

The how might best be stated in classic legal terms as
"the preponderance of the evidence". Each element of the
record of the election should lose merit in proportion to
the extent to which it is removed from the voter. So,
original signatures in a pollbook and original paper ballots
should have more weight than faxed, photocopied or other
secondary records. In addition, each element of the record
should lose merit in proportion to the weakness of the
chain of custody, so a ballot box that accidentally went
home with an election official for the night should be
viewed with more suspicion than one that was promptly
delivered to the court house.

With these weightings in mind, different pieces of
evidence may corraborate each other, allowing a determination
of which evidence is most likely to be correct. If there
are 50 signatures in the pollbook, but 100 paper ballots
in the ballot box, it would be extremely sensible check
the electronic records. If those, too, held 100 ballots
and 100 ballot cast events, it would make sense to
accept the contents of the ballot box and begin an in-depth
investigation of what happened to the pollbook. If there
were only 48 ballot cast records in the event log of the
precinct-count vote tabulator, though, along with 48 electronic
ballot images, it would make sense to accept that record
and begin an in-depth investigation of the ballot box, with
a strong suspicion that it had been stuffed.

(What about that 2-ballot discrepancy between the pollbook
and the electronic records? Some voters sign into the
polling place and then flee or forget to vote. Ideally,
the pollworkers will notice this when it happens, and
there ought to be a written record from the precinct indicating
that this was noted. It's worth investigating.)

                Doug Jones
                jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Thu Sep 30 23:17:10 2004

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