Bysiewicz Defends Audits – Registrars Express Blind Faith In Machines

Bonus: RFK Jr. interviews election official, Ion Sancho, who understands the issues <watch>

Why do we need independent audits? – Because people too close to the system have too much faith in its integrity and too much stake in proving it worked perfectly.

Today we welcome and heartily applaud the defense of random post-election audits by the Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz, while we point to the dangers of blind faith in computers, procedures, Diebold Premier, and LHS..

Stamford Advocate article: State to audit Greenwich primary results <read>

Update: Our complements are tempered by the latest news that the Secretary is abandoning manual recounts.  Alse we hope that when she said “it’s important to do a random audit each year” she meant after each election.

Lets start with Secretary Bysiewicz:

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz defended the system, which requires municipal election officials to send the hand count results to the University of Connecticut for a statistical analysis. A report on that analysis should be available in about a month, she said.

“I have had a few legislators say, ‘Gee, maybe in the future we won’t need this.’ I would fight that,” Bysiewicz said. “I think from the voters standpoint and from the standpoint of the integrity of the election process, it’s important to do a random audit each year to ensure people that their vote is being counted properly and that, if there is fraud, we can ferret that out.”

Municipalities chosen for the random audit will receive reimbursement for “reasonable” expenses incurred from the process, Bysiewicz said.

“Yes, it does cost some time and effort, but I think it is a worthwhile investment in the security and integrity of our election process,” Bysiewicz said.

Let us turn to an example how not to be perceived as performing the duties of Registrar in carrying out the law in an unbiased manner:

Election officials in Greenwich are reluctantly preparing for a state-mandated audit of this month’s Super Tuesday primary results

“It’s drudge work,” said Veronica Baron Musca, the town’s Republican registrar of voters.

Lest we think the bias is political or that having registrars of two parties insures an adversarial check and balance in the conduct of the audit:

Sharon Vecchiolla, the Democratic registrar, said she hopes the mandatory audits might become unnecessary over time if the results show no disparities between the hand counts and machine tallies.

Yes, if they find no problems the reward might be less audits. Quite an incentive to avoid surfacing problems, for which the only perceived rewards would be more drudgery and perhaps close scruting of the conduct of the election in a town unlucky enough to detect an error.

Now for that blind faith:

Musca said she had confidence in the machines’ accuracy. There’s no way you can make a mistake. You color in your ovals and the machine reads it,” she said. “It’s as good as scanning their can of peas (at the supermarket). If they trust the price on their can of peas, they should trust this as well.”

Unfortunately, Grocery Scanning (like ATM banking) is not the same as optical scan voting.

Since we have heard this before, it deserves its own Frequently Asked Question for our archives. <read>

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