Saturday, April 7, 2007

Amend H.R.811 to Allow States to Use Audits to Confirm ALL Federal Election Outcomes

Update -- H.R.811 is out of committee with some language changes that recognize science and statistical accuracy with respect to alternate audit methods. While this language is somewhat vague, NIST is granted $100,000 to provide guidance to the States. We are seeking signatures for the Senate now. Anyone who was reluctant to try to improve H.R.811 may wish to consider improving the Feinstein bill, S.1487, by signing the letter below which will be changed to refer to that bill.

Below please find a formal letter and proposed language modification for H.R.811 to explicitly allow States to conduct manual audits of electronic vote counts to confirm the outcomes of ALL federal elections with high statistical confidence. Currently this is not provided for in the bill due to some ambiguous language. The new language, written by Larry Norden (Brennan Center for Justice) in consultation with Dr. Ron Rivest (of MIT), Dr. Mark Lindeman (Bard College Political Studies Program) and yours truly will allow all states to do a better job without weakening any existing provisions of the Holt bill.

We have only a few days left until the markup by the House Administration Committee so there is no time to waste.

For those who haven't been following this issue, there is mounting evidence and a consensus among supporters and critics of H.R.811 alike, that the audits proposed in the bill will not confirm all federal electoral outcomes with high statistical confidence.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't support the bill; it means we can and should do better; and it will not be more burdensome or expensive to do so.

If you care about this issue, please email me with your name, title and any affiliation you wish to include, and this letter will be delivered to the House Administration Committee and later to the Senate Rules committee and those working on Senator Feinstein's bill.

If you have an organization, please let me know and I will add your group to the list of signatories. Election officials are welcome to sign.

Also, please forward this to other interested parties before it's too late.


Regards,

Howard Stanislevic
E-Voter Education Project

Here is the letter:

We believe that Congress, the States, election officials, winning and losing candidates and the American People need to be able to confirm the outcomes of all federal elections independently of the software used.

The language of H.R. 811 that appears to allow alternative audit mechanisms must be clarified to ensure that States are enabled to confirm the outcomes of all Federal elections at a statistically high confidence level. Such standards would provide for maximum efficiency by minimizing redundant auditing in uncompetitive races, while allocating adequate resources to the races where they will be needed most.

On Page 12 of his written testimony of March 20, 2007, Lawrence Norden of The Brennan Center for Justice proposed language for H.R. 811 to improve the alternative audit section of the bill that would explicitly authorize States to establish more effective audits using statistical confidence standards and guidance provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to confirm the outcomes of all federal elections independently of software. (See: http://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org/downloads/Testimony_1.pdf)

A similar measure has already been adopted in the State of North Carolina for low cost and a modest amount of time. Pamela Smith, President of Verified Voting, referred to North Carolina's audits in her testimony before the Committee on House Administration’s Elections Subcommittee on March 15, 2007. (See:
http://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org/downloads/PamelaSmithTestimonyFinal_2007mar20.pdf)

We therefore propose that the following language suggested by Mr. Norden replace Section. 322 (b) of the Help America Vote Act, as proposed in H.R.811:

Current H.R.811 language (also in S.559 and S.804 with a different section number):

Section 322 --

“’(b) Use of Alternative Mechanism- Notwithstanding subsection (a), a
State may adopt and apply an alternative mechanism to determine the
number of voter-verified paper ballots which will be subject to the hand
counts required under this subtitle with respect to an election, so long
as the National Institute of Standards and Technology determines that
the alternative mechanism will be at least as effective in ensuring the
accuracy of the election results and as transparent as the procedure
under subsection (a).”

Proposed language:

Section 322 –

Use of Alternate Mechanism – Notwithstanding subsection (a), a State may adopt and apply an alternative mechanism to determine the number of voter-verified paper ballots that will be subject to the hand counts required under this subtitle with respect to an election for Federal office, so long as the National Institute of Standards and Technology determines that the alternative mechanism is as transparent as the procedure under subsection (a) and is consistent with the guidelines set forth in Section X.

Section X -- GUIDANCE ON BEST PRACTICES FOR ALTERNATIVE AUDIT MECHANISM. Not later than May 1, 2008, the National Institute for Standards and Technology shall establish guidance for States to establish alternative audit mechanisms. Such guidance shall be based upon scientifically reasonable assumptions for the purpose of creating an alternative audit mechanism that will

“(a) require the hand-count of at least 2% of all precincts (or other audited units) within each Congressional District, and ensure, with at least [90/95/99]% statistical confidence, for each federal election held in the State, that a 100% manual recount would not alter the outcome of the election; or

“(b) be at least as effective as section 322(a) in ensuring that for each federal election held in the state, a 100% manual recount would not alter the outcome of the election.

AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS – There are authorized to be appropriated to the National Institute of Standards and Technology $100,000 to establish the guidance required by this section.

We the undersigned election integrity organizations and advocates support the above changes as written:

Organizations

Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota

Coalition for Voting Integrity, Pennsylvania

Commonweal Institute, Katherine Forrest, MD, President and Co-Founder, Menlo Park, CA

Florida Fair Elections Coalition

Georgians for Verified Voting

Las Vegas (New Mexico) Peace & Justice Center

New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center, Renee Steinhagen, Exec. Dir.

North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting, Joyce McCloy, Founder

United Voters of New Mexico

VotersUnite.Org, John Gideon and Ellen Theisen, Co-Directors


Individuals

Thomas L. Tedeschi, Esq., Election Attorney, NY, NY

John L. McCarthy, Ph.D., Computer Scientist, Berkeley, California

Mark Lindeman, Ph.D., Bard College Political Studies Program, NY

Arlene Ash, Ph.D., Statistician, Fellow of the American Statistical Association, Boston, MA

Mary Batcher, Ph.D., Statistician, Fellow of the American Statistical Association, Silver Spring, MD

David Marker, Ph.D., Statistician, Fellow of the American Statistical Association, Columbia, MD

John S. Gardenier, Research and statistical ethicist, Vienna, VA

Vittorio Addona, PhD, Statistician, Macalester College, MN

Howard Stanislevic, Research Consultant, E-Voter Education Project, NY, NY

Jerry Lobdil, Physicist, Election Integrity Researcher, Fort Worth, Tarrant County, TX

Lisa Young, I.T. Risk Management Consultant, Tampa, FL

Paul Stokes, Electrical Engineer, Corrales, NM

Pamela de Maigret, Documentary Film Maker and Writer, Los Angeles, CA

Jerry Adams, Ph.D., Oregon

Jerry Depew, Laurens, IA, http://iowavoters.org

Donna Mummery, Election Inspector, Monroe County, NY

Henry Greenspan, Ph.D., Justice in Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Judy Bertelsen, M.D., Ph.D., Berkeley, CA

Teresa Hommel, wheresthepaper.org, NY, NY

1 comment:

Pamela de Maigret said...

Howard, This is a good statement of what has to be done. Please include my signature -- and keep up the good work. -- Pamela --