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Do we need full hand counting of hand-marked paper ballots?

Citizens Oversight (2019-02-07) Ray Lutz

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More Info: Election Integrity

[email to Tim Canova and others on 2019-02-07]

I am definitely a supporter of hand marked paper ballots, but not to require that only hand counts be used.

I am worried about providing adequate oversight. We offered $100 per county to volunteers (in FL) to just record a 15 minute random selection meeting and could not get the volunteers to step forward. So the issue is not with the original count, it is with providing oversight. And frankly, I don't know why you trust people in precincts that have no oversight. I would rather have the ballots securely transported to the central location where we can provide centralized observation.

Realize that >90% of contests are >10% margin and hacking anything larger than about 3% margin (district wide) is technically difficult. So using machines with robust audits (hand counts) will work fine for almost all elections. The close ones should be hand-counted (or perhaps better, crowd-sourced hand counting of validated ballot images).

Cost aside, if I really thought hand counting ballots in the precinct was more secure, I would endorse it. But it has its own problems. No solution is perfect. And since it is so much harder to provide oversight (which is my agenda) with that approach, I would rather have the ballot securely transported to central location, ballot images created, and statistical and robust audits on all races that are not too close. The close ones we can use the ballot images to insure that there has been no hacking, and if it appears that the races are flipped, then definitely a full hand count is called for.

Florida has very poor audits that are called off if any official recounts (machine recounts) are called for. This needs to be fixed. In very large districts (Like we have in CA) providing oversight for 4500 precincts in LA is undoable for any oversight group. But we can provide oversight at the central office, and that does produce benefits.

Risk Limiting Audits are a reasonable way to insure that most elections have not been hacked, and they include looking at the original ballots. But to be efficient, election systems need to be able to pair up the ballot with the computer record, and most can't do this today.

--Ray Lutz


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Title Do we need full hand counting of hand-marked paper ballots?
Publisher Citizens Oversight
Author Ray Lutz
Pub Date 2019-02-07
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Keywords Election Integrity
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Topic revision: r1 - 07 Feb 2019, RaymondLutz
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