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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kathy Dopp's latest election paper

Dear colleagues (election integrity advocates),

I've publicly posted a working paper on post-election auditing
*procedures*. Your comments are welcomed. I've shared a copy with
election commissioners in the Philippines who are hoping to convince
authorities there to conduct risk-based post-election audits. Up until
now, the Philippines has employed a hand-counted voter-marked paper
ballot system that exposed ballot tampering problems to detection, and
will be using initial machine counts for the first time.

This new paper is *not* mathematical. It discusses details of
procedures necessary for conducting risk-limiting post-election audits
in order to close loopholes that could be used to tamper with
elections and detect and correct vote miscount via post-election
manual counts of voter-marked paper ballots.

It is publicly posted now at the Social Science Research Network web
site and you can search for it there by my name, Kathy

Checking Election Outcome Accuracy – Post-Election Auditing Procedures

Current voting systems and procedures used to conduct post-election
audits fail to provide reliable assurance of the accuracy of election
results. Several methods have been found that overcome some of the
obstacles to auditing caused by various election system designs. This
article provides an overview of the scope and content of post-election
auditing practices indispensable to ensuring election audits will
effectively and reliably check the accuracy of officially reported
election results.

Keywords: post-election audit, election auditing, election results accuracy

Also, my more mathematical paper on post-election auditing sampling
methodology is posted at the Social Science Research web site:

Checking Election Outcome Accuracy, Post-Election Audit Sampling Methods
Methods for determining post-election audit sampling have been the
subject of extensive recent research. This article (1) provides an
overview of post-election audit sampling methods, focusing on
risk-limiting audits, (2) advances and improves three methods for
calculating risk-limiting election audit samples, showing how to apply
precise margin error bounds to improve the accuracy of existing
methods by using new margin error bounds, sampling weights and
sampling probabilities that improve the e ffectiveness of existing
for any size audit unit and for single or multi-winner election
contests, and (3) provides a new method for estimating post-election
audit sample sizes whenever detailed data, expertise, or tools are not

Post-election auditing is vital to restoring public oversight over the
integrity of an electoral process that has been largely privatized
without independent checks and balances.


FYI, I am also working on three new papers:

One showing, using very simple mathematical proofs, that there is only
one simple method (not dozens of complex methods as previously
thought) for calculating 2-dimensional geographic compactness of
legislative districts and redistricting plans. After the 2010 US
census is complete, a compactness measure will be crucial for helping
redistricting commissions to avoid gerrymandering of districts for
political purposes, ensuring better proportional representation for
constituents of legislators, assuming that geographic proximity of
constituents increases shared political interests, or at the very
least makes legislative districts easier to serve for legislators and
to administer for election officials, as well as decreasing the
likelihood of gerrymandering to help specific politicians retain
control of legislatures, despite having disparate interests from a
majority of constituents.

Another paper showing how simple mathematics can be used to evaluate
precisely how electoral methods affect the ability of minority
coalitions to obtain substantive legislative representation under
conditions of various specific constituency shares that could be used
to improve the way that the Dept. of Justice operates under the
preclearance clause of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A third paper analyzing the recent January 2010 Massachusetts
Senatorial election results, but I need to raise $200 to purchase
additional data from the Secretary of State's office to complete that
analysis, which so far shows that the presence of a computerized vote
counting machine predicts a significant rise (to the 1% level of
significance) in the Republican vote share as compared to townships
that count ballots manually.


There have been some good signs when it comes to stopping the threat
to election integrity and fairness from the instant runoff voting
method. Voters in both Burlington, VT and in Aspen, CO have rejected
IRV after trying it out and experiencing its vagaries including how
IRV eliminates the majority-favorite candidate and elects a
majority-opposed candidate (Burlington), does not allow all voters to
participate in the final counting rounds (San Francisco), and how a
candidate sometimes loses when more voters vote for him, whereas the
same candidate would win if 75 fewer voters voted for him (Aspen).
There are effective proportional voting methods that are in common use
internationally, such as the party list system that, unlike IRV, treat
all voters' votes equally and fairly, and are precinct-summable and
simple to count manually for audits.

Unfortunately election officials who think that proposed requirements
for manual counts of voter marked paper ballots go too far, and some
election integrity advocates who think that the same proposals don't
go far enough continue to work together to kill all federal election
reform that would protect us from determinative vote rigging in
upcoming state and federal legislatures and executive office
elections. Unless there can be some kind of compromise legislation,
the United States is at huge risk of being taken over irretrievably by
an element that will oppose future reform of elections to restore
public oversight over the process. You can see by reading my latest
paper on post-election auditing procedures that virtually no states
are doing everything necessary to ensure accurate election outcomes
and deter undetectable vote fraud. New Mexico and North Carolina
probably come closest, but still fall short. Valiant efforts to
achieve meaningful risk-based post-election audits state by state have
been stymied in states like New Jersey, Maryland, Florida, Tennessee
and in many other states. I may eventually try to add a
state-by-state analysis of all the loopholes in audit provisions and
statutes. About half of states make no show at auditing whatsoever,
and most of the states that do audit, leave large loopholes open to
conduct vote fraud. Massachusetts is a state that conducts no
post-election manual checks whatsoever, so is wide-open to vote


Kathy Dopp
Town of Colonie, NY 12304
"One of the best ways to keep any conversation civil is to support the
discussion with true facts."

Realities Mar Instant Runoff Voting

Voters Have Reason to Worry

View my research on my SSRN Author page: