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ES&S Opti-Scans Found Miscounting by 4% (8% margin-swing)

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ES&S Opti-Scans Found Miscounting by 4% (8% margin-swing)

Dear Friends,

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I do not have all the details, but this story needs immediate
investigation before calling winners tomorrow in any state using ES&S
M-100s to count its votes whenever the reported margin is closer than
8%.

The paper ballot precinct-based optical scan voting system used in a
large proportion of US jurisdictions is producing wildly inaccurate
counts of ballots that are off by as much as 4% per precinct - thus
altering the vote margin possibly by as much as 8% by shifting votes
from one candidate to another - depending on how the errors occur.

The ES&S M100 is used in at least some or all counties in the
following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, IA, IL, IN, KS, ME, MI, MN,
MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, OH, PA, RI, SD,TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, WV, and
WY.

The story, with links and copies of at least one original document is
forwarded in the email below.

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Voter marked paper ballots, even if the machines that count them are
inaccurate, are more auditable because accurate vote counts can always
be recovered by hand-counting the paper ballots, unlike with
touchscreen voting systems, but machine counts are not to be blindly
trusted - and this is a good example why not.  It is easier to detect
errors produced by paper ballot optical-scan systems than by
touchscreen e-ballot systems.

The usage distribution of the ES&S M-100 scanners in the U.S. can be
found here:

http://verifiedvoting.org/verifier/index.php

This is yet another reason why States should be conducting routine
independent manual post-election audits like those described in this
proposal:  How to Audit Election Outcome Accuracy
http://electionarchive.org/ucvAnalysis/US/paper-audits/VoteCountAuditBillRequest.pdf


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Charlie S.
Date: Mon, Nov 3, 2008 at 9:19 PM
Subject: ES&S opscans found miscounting by 4%
To: Verfied NM Voting <vvnm@yahoogroups.com>


There has been a grave concern raised about the accuracy of ES&S M-100
opscans (ES&S's primary precinct model)  raised  10 days ago.

A Michigan Clerk wrote to the (federal-ish) Election Assistance
Commission on october  24 to tell them she has been given a
substantial  reason to doubt their accuracy.  In Logic and Accuracy
testing for the the clerk reports that  some of her  Communities
reported "the same ballots run through the same machines, yielded
different results each time"

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http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/files/m100_issue_letter_10.24.08.pdf

How big was the error?  Wired extends the story:

"According to news stories, a race in the August Republican primary in
one Michigan township did have a discrepancy in tallies that were
counted by hand and by ES&S optical-scan machines. The clerks race in
Plymouth Township was recounted after the losing candidate requested
it. The initial machine count had showed Joe Bridgman defeating Mary
Ann Prchlik by 1,920 to 1,170. But the hand count
(http://www.journalgroup.com/Plymouth/8342/canvassers-uphold-decision-in-plymouth-township-recount)
-  narrowed the margin to 1,885 to 1,727."

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http://ElectionArchive.org
Founder and President of US Count Votes, dba The National Election Data Archive and volunteer for honest, accurately counted elections since 2003. Masters degree in mathematics with emphasis on computer science. Has written numerous academic and (more...)
 

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