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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/19/09

Connecticut Election Audit: 'Ridiculous, Unacceptable, Unconscionable'

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"We know of no other area of business or government where something labeled an 'audit' is this far from independent," citizens group CT Voters Count reports. Connecticut released an "audit" (not really an audit) on May 12, 2009 -- more than six months after the Nov. 2008 election, and long past any possibility of rectifying errors, if found. Yet even this belated "audit" was procedurally flawed, and even this flawed belated "audit" uncovered "ridiculous, unacceptable, unconscionable" problems. For example: Depending on how you calculate it, nine percent, or as many as 29 percent of all memory cards (programmed by LHS Associates) contained unexplained "junk data."

And Connecticut is the only state in New England that even bothers to check what's on the memory cards, or do any approximation of an audit.

In addition to the curious "junk data" found on memory cards, CT Voters Count points out that the state's examination found "a serious failure of officials to follow procedures. A rate of 34% or 144 failures to follow procedures" on 421 memory cards.

Now let's go back to the lack of independence in the so-called "audit" itself. According to CT Voters Count, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz supported independent audits in 2008, but they failed to pass the Connecticut Legislature. One wonders how anyone of conscience could vote against independence in the auditing process. In Connecticut, election officials and the secretary of state are responsible for both the election and its audit. It would seem more prudent to put election audits under the auspices of the State Auditor's Office.

The citizens group report points out that the state "audit" is not a random audit of memory cards. Instead, the memory cards submitted for checking are selected by the election officials, not exhaustive, not a random sample. "This opens a huge hole for covering up errors and fraud – just don’t send in your card," CT Voters Count writes.

While the state of Connecticut just announced that its own "audit" of its own election should inspire confidence, CT Voters Count points that that confidence should not be inspired due to the lack of:
* standards,
* detailed guidance for counting procedures, and
* consistency, reliability, and transparency in the conduct of the audit.

"We find no reason to agree that the audits prove the machines in Connecticut were 'extremely accurate'", CT Voters Count writes.

Also noted: The process was not open to the public. "Our request that they be open to the public, or at least open to us, was to no avail," says CT Voters Count.

Two of the CT Voters Count reports on this are included below; my preliminary comments here have just scratched the surface on the serious issues raised. Thank heavens for public scrutiny, which provides a very different story than the official state press release!

It should be noted that Connecticut is the "best of breed" in New England. In fact, high-profile New Hampshire falters so badly in every area when compared with Connecticut that Black Box Voting now advocates removing New Hampshire's "first in the nation" status for the presidential primary.

Nov 08 Election Audit Reports - Part 1 - Bad Cards, Procedural Lapses Continue
By Luther Weeks on May 16, 2009

Original link:


This week the University of Connecticut (UConn) VoTeR Center released reports on post-election audits and memory card testing for the November 2008 election. These reports were announced by a press release from the Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz.
Press Release: hl=en
Post-Election Memory Card Report:
Post-Election Audit Report:

Today we will highlight and comment on the Memory Card Report. In Part 2 ( ) we will highlight and comment on the Post-Election Audit Report.

We should all applaud the unique memory card testing program, yet we must also act aggressively to close the gaps it continues to expose.

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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.
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