If the goal of elections is to ensure the will of the voters, then the goal of election audits is to ensure that voters determine who represents them. It seems simple. However, the US Congress may be planning election audits that are not designed to ensure that voters always determine election outcomes!
According to analysis by Kathy Dopp, President of National Election Data Archive,
"If Congress specifies a 2% fixed rate manual election audit, with a minimum audit of 6 vote counts, that would only result in a 56% chance for detecting when election outcomes are inaccurate in races with 5% margins between candidates; and would provide under 50% chance of detecting inaccurate election outcomes in races with 4.2% or less margins between candidates."
Dopp says, "We have a choice: To achieve fair elections now, or to put it off for another election cycle and hope that we will have another opportunity to achieve fair elections."
People who want to influence Congress to require sufficient election audits can act now by contacting their US Senators and House Representative and Representative Rush Holt D-NJ at
http://house.gov (put in your zip code)
to ask them to please read the "Tiered Election Audit".
Congressman Rush Holt D-NJ could be considering the same 2% flat rate audit that was in his former HR550. Holt's new proposal is due to be released to the House floor this week after which it will become difficult to alter its audit provisions.
A "tiered" election audit specifies audit percentages in a small table along with minimum numbers of vote counts that must be manually audited to ensure correct outcomes, according to specific margins between candidates, as seen in the initial election results. The closer a race, the more vote counts must manually counted to find a small amount of miscount that could wrongly alter the outcome.
A tiered election audit is a compromise between audits which simply require that "large enough size samples of vote counts are manually counted to ensure 99% scientific certainty that the election outcomes are correct" but which must be calculated individually for each race; and audits which simply require that a flat rate of "2% of all vote counts are manually counted" but are insufficient to ensure the integrity of election outcomes in all cases.
A tiered audit requires that a minimum "amount" of vote counts be manually audited for any particular margin to prevent audits from being subverted by aggregating ballots into a small number of larger-size vote counts which could cause a flat percentage audit to be ineffective. These required minimums sometimes will result in 100% hand counts of 100% of vote counts whenever it is necessary to ensure election outcome integrity.
Today's utterly flawed electronic voting systems provide no means to determine who did what and when on a voting machine after an election, so that a fraudster would never be caught. A flat 2% audit would announce to a vote fraudster exactly how and when fraud would be most likely to succeed in rigging an election.
Dopp encourages all election officials, election integrity activists, and U.S. Senators and Representatives who are concerned about election integrity to read "Tiered Election Audits" and to implement its recommendations.
To achieve the necessary effective public oversight over manual audits of elections, audits must be independent, verifiable, transparent, scientific, and used to detect and correct any errors found in initial election results that might wrongly put a candidate into office that was not selected by voters.
The possible consequences could be dire if insufficiently audited U.S. elections remain wide-open to vote fraud and innocent miscount in the upcoming 2008 elections.
Please help us ensure the future by taking action now.