Friday, January 4, 2008

Iowa's Open-Source Precinct Aggregation Audit Tool

Thanks to Jerry Depew from IowaVoters.org for giving me the opportunity to use this cool tool.

It's all right here: http://www.iowacaucusresults.com

The above URL is a HTML frame. There's nothing to it. But there are a bunch of JavaScripts accessed from this URL contained within the above frame: http://s3.amazonaws.com/caucuspublic/index_live.html
That one's a little harder to remember.

In English, it's open-source precinct aggregation audit software and it can be used for the whole state of Iowa! (Democratic precincts only at the moment.)

In better English, they post the precinct tallies on this website in real time, so anyone who's at the precinct can verify them. If the tallies don't match, people will know. All that's needed is a web browser.

I was able to check Jerry's precinct in Iowa, where I had people (well Jerry anyway) on the ground, to see that the results on the website were the same as at the precinct. And they were! Imagine that.

And I just signed up for access to the "post-caucus analysis" part; I'm supposed to get a password tomorrow.

Note: this is NOT an Election Management System on the Internet; it's just a reporting tool (website).

There Ought To Be A Law

Why should you care?

Because this is free precinct tally aggregation software, and there ought to be a law about having to use it for every election -- not just the Iowa Democratic Caucuses.

It may cost $1-Billion to get paper ballots in every precinct, and even with a statistical audit (which is really the only kind), we still won't know for sure who won our elections without checking precinct aggregation too. At this point, the latter can be done for free, using this Iowan software. As a taxpayer, I'm really interested in the FREE solution, since neither that nor the billion-dollar one solves the e-vote counting problem on its own. But together, they might!

Let's not let our obsession with paper ballots cloud the issue. Any kind of voting system can be rigged by messing with the precinct aggregation -- even Hand Counted Paper Ballots. There are 1,781 precincts in the State of Iowa (and about 180,000 nationwide). I know at least one of them could have been aggregated correctly. Now we just have to check the rest and see if they all add up. I'm hoping the password to the post-caucus analysis will allow that.

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