A lawsuit challenging the way Chicago’s elections board audits election results has been shredded by a federal judge. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District for the Northern District of Illinois, was brought by several election monitors. It claimed the methods used by the Chicago Board of Elections (BOE) to audit the 2016 state primary elections violated their right to vote as well as their right to association and to petition the government. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs took particular issue with the so-called “5 percent test” used in the audit. The 5 percent test refers to the sample size of voting machines included in the post-election audit analysis. The Board of Elections argued the audit had no effect on election outcomes, so it could not have violated voting rights or rights to association or to petition the government. U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey agreed.
post election audit
Editorials: Allowing ballot audits preserves integrity far better than disenfranchising voters | The Keene Sentinel
E arlier this year, the GOP-led Legislature was quick to jump on the notion that our state’s elections are a fragile, vulnerable thing in need of shoring up. Their answer, backed by Gov. Chris Sununu, was to make it harder for new voters to cast their ballots. It was a transparent attempt to limit voting by those who might be more likely to vote Democrat — the poor; new Massachusetts transplants; and, most of all, college students. And their effort — Senate Bill 3 — is being challenged in the courts. At the same time, lawmakers made clear they don’t really value the integrity of our state’s elections, by killing in committee a bill to authorize local moderators to conduct verification recounts of machine-counted ballots. Senate Bill 109 couldn’t have been any simpler. It would have added a paragraph of language to existing election law saying local moderators have the discretion to conduct recounts to verify machine results.
In the face of overwhelming evidence that the Russians meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, states are adopting auditing measure to detect any possible direct ballot fraud and give voters confidence in the results. After clear evidence emerged that Russia attempted to influence the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election by social media, and more directly by hacking election systems, state governments are embarking on a variety of efforts to use statistical auditing to verify election results. On Nov. 15, Colorado kicked off its first statewide statistical audit of its most recent election by using a statistical technique known as risk-limiting audits to establish the integrity of the vote. Because of mail-in ballots from voters serving in the military, the state had to wait eight days to receive all votes and initiate the audit. Risk-limiting audits, or RLAs, allow election officials to verify the outcome of an election by sampling a much smaller subset of ballots compared to a full recount. Verifying the results of presidential elections in each state from 1992 to 2008, for example, only requires an average of 307 ballots per state. The number of ballots required to verify the vote, however, increases as the contests become closer and eventually defaults to a full recount, in the case of an extremely close race. Colorado’s legislature voted to adopt an election-wide audit in 2010, and election officials began piloting RLA in 2013.
As the most populous state in the country by far — and a leader in innovations — California is always worth watching. In no situation is that more true than in its attempts to fix its voting system. Sometimes, however, those efforts prove to be entirely counterproductive. In response to reports from US intelligence that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, election officials across the country are striving to fortify their security procedures. In light of all this, many experts were shaking their heads in disappointment after California recently passed a law that election activists are calling “an open invitation to large-scale election fraud.” Earlier this month, a seemingly innocuous bill reached the desk of Governor Jerry Brown (D) after passing the State Assembly and Senate unopposed. Given its ostensible purpose — to allow mail-in voters to re-submit overlooked signatures via email — the lack of scrutiny might have been understandable. However, when the bill was amended before its final Senate vote, its purpose took an unforeseen shift. The altered bill “dramatically reduc[es] the number of ballots counties must include in the [post-election hand count] performed to verify the accuracy of software vote counts,” said the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation in a letter calling for the bill’s veto.
As Washington ignores the danger, state election officials have finally begun facing up to the threat of Russian hackers and other troublemakers infiltrating the American voting process in the midterm and presidential elections. There have been months of apparent indifference in many state election offices, despite stern warnings from federal security experts that hackers will be back for more after their 2016 meddling. But now state election officials have begun trying to tighten the security of outdated, vulnerable balloting systems. These systems were last updated after the hanging-chad debacle of the 2000 election, before internet hackers were a powerful threat.
California: Cyber Security Experts Say California Vote Audit Has Exploitable Problems – capradio.org
Federal officials told California Friday that Russians probed the state’s election system for vulnerabilities before the 2016 election. That’s raising new questions over a bill on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Cyber security experts say the measure could weaken California’s voting systems. California relies on machines to tabulate the millions of ballots cast during an election, but counties also do a manual audit of one percent of precincts. A bill on Brown’s desk clarifies the audits only have to include ballots cast on or before election night—not provisional or late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots.
Kansas: Judges question challenge to voting machines, but case could change state law | The Wichita Eagle
Appeals judges strongly questioned Tuesday whether there’s a legitimate legal question for them to decide in Wichita statistician Beth Clarkson’s quest to use audit tapes to test the accuracy of voting machines. But the case could lead to an effort to change state law to make it easier for citizens to do accuracy tests on election equipment. Clarkson, a statistician at Wichita State University, is asking the judges to order a recount of votes on ballot questions in the 2014 election, using the paper tapes generated by voting machines as voters cast their ballots. At a Court of Appeals hearing Tuesday in Wichita, the lead judge on the three-judge panel repeatedly pressed Clarkson’s lawyer, former U.S. Attorney Randy Rathbun, about whether a recount would have any effect, since the election was settled years ago.
The General Assembly has approved a bill to establish post-election audits to ensure that equipment and procedures used to count votes are working properly. “This will go a long way toward ensuring public confidence in election results,” said Sen. James C. Sheehan, D-North Kingstown, who introduced the legislation at the urging of Common Cause. “Without the constant scrutiny and examination of election procedures, the democratic system could be called into doubt.” The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Edith H. Ajello, D-Providence. The audit would be a partial recount to verify the accuracy of the voting system.
Editorials: How the Kansas Legislature can take up where statistician has been stopped | The Wichita Eagle
Much good can come from Beth Clarkson’s 2 1/2-year quest to solve an unexplained pattern of voting results, but only if the Kansas Legislature can see the bipartisan importance. Clarkson, chief statistician for Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research with a Ph.D. in statistics, has tried since April 2015 to examine paper results from the 2014 general election. She wanted to answer why results tended to increase Republican votes in large precincts. Polling didn’t reflect the tally, which Clarkson reasoned could be caused by unseen demographic trends or fraud within the vote count. She sued Sedgwick County elections commissioner Tabitha Lehman and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for paper results. Representing herself, Clarkson lost when her case was framed more as an open-records filing than a recount request. Her new lawyer called her “a brilliant statistician but a horrible lawyer” in a Kansas Court of Appeals hearing Tuesday.
Rhode Island: House OKs bill to empower Board of Elections to conduct post election audits | Providence Journal
A bill that would give the board of elections power to perform “post-election risk-limiting” audits aimed at improving the accuracy of election results passed the House. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello D-Providence, will allow the Board to create a board in 2018 that would conduct audits of statewide primaries, general, and special elections. In 2020 the board would also analyze the results of the presidential race. It passed unanimously, and awaits action by the Senate.