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  1. ElectionAudits: a Django App for Good Election Auditing Neal McBurnett OSCON July 22 2009

  2. Boulder County used open source code to audit its 2008 election!

  3. Share the story, share the code, and get you all involved where you live.

  4. QuestionsClarifications? Anytime“But what about...”? At the end

  5. Why audit?

  6. Elections can inspire us! South Africa 1994Paper ballots, hand counted

  7. Or serve as a warningIran 2009

  8. US problems with elections:black box voting systems

  9. Not just a problem with touch screen devices (DRE)‏

  10. Humboldt County 2008Paper ballots, optical scan197 ballots deleted by Diebold/PremierWithout a trace

  11. Certified....

  12. Discovered later by Humboldt County Election Transparency Project audit“Ballot Browser”(also open source Python code)Kudos to Mitch Trachtenberg, brave Registrar of Elections Carolyn Cernich, and colleagues

  13. Surprise!Computers make mistakesSometimes whoppers!

  14. Growing movement to require paper ballotsNot doing well at looking at them....Not often required or well done

  15. Goal: software independence(Rivest & Wack)via auditable paper records,good audits

  16. Open Source voting systemsImportant!

  17. Good audits and clean chain of custodyNecessary

  18. Election Quality FSF Statue of liberty with floppy disk in her hand

  19. Election Integrity Computer Scientists for Social Responsibility Question Technology

  20. Boris Bazhanov's Memoirs of Stalin's Former Secretary - quote from StalinLoosely translated: "I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how."

  21. But what is an audit anyway?

  22. Compare system's reported results with the evidenceTake sample of detailed results by batchand compare to hand counts of those batches

  23. Auditing steps` Produce report by audit unit (precinct or batch)‏ Reconcile number of ballots in each unit Randomly select audit units to audit Count audit units by hand Compare results Escalate audit if statistical evidence isn't good enough

  24. Report of Vote Counts by Audit Unit

  25. Optical scanners arrivedEra of trusting computers too muchFew audits

  26. Audit DREs without voter verified paper trail?Can't do it....Pushback – Can't Trust Computers!

  27. “But we're doing audits”

  28. Announcing “random selection” before results come out

  29. Using software to select random numbersNo more software independence....

  30. Wasting time auditing contestswith a single candidate

  31. Reports are by precinctBut often piles of paper aren't- Mail in- Early voting- Provisional

  32. Colorado rescans and recounts just the selected batches of mail-in ballotsNot an auditJust a tiny post-election test that is unrelated to the actual election results

  33. But no state yet does an efficient, “best practices” audit

  34. Principles and Best Practices forPost-Election Audits (2008)http://electionaudits.org/principlesLeague of Women VotersElection Audit Report (2009)‏

  35. Fixed percentage vs Risk-limiting audits

  36. Fixed percentage:Wasteful focus on landslide contestsLittle confidence for tight contests

  37. Significance of the results driven by how many batches you audit, not how many ballots you countLooking for incorrect vote countsDon't care about total vote count for the sample

  38. 20 samples out of 1000 batches much better than2 samples out of 100 batches (2%)and easier than20 samples out of 100 batches More samples = more statistical significanceMore audit units = smaller samples, less counting

  39. “Risk-limiting” audit chooses more audit units when margin of victory is smallHas a pre-specified minimum chance of requiring a full hand count whenever the apparent outcome of the contest is wrong

  40. Trying to audit in Boulder since 2002Obstacles, cluelessness, politics

  41. Elect new Clerk, Hillary Hall3 good audits in 2008The hard part - getting good data

  42. Hart InterCivic systemPrecinct reportsBut only 15% cast in precinct70% mail-in, 15% early voting

  43. Solution: run cumulative report 500 timesOnce for each batchSubtract each report from the previous report to get batch sub-totals

  44. Like snapshots of election-night reporting through the nightBut we want lotsof them....

  45. Report of Cumulative Vote Countsby Audit Unit

  46. Report of Vote Counts by Audit Unit

  47. ElectionAudits supports the Best PracticesAutomates many steps of the auditEnter the data, publish with statisticsRoll 15 dice, publish all the selectionsTo do: automate discrepancies, escalation

  48. Time to look at some real dataIn a real auditElectionAudits in action!One of the first and most extensiveBest Practices audits