Thursday, December 07, 2006

Optical Scan Machines Performed "Very Well" Says Audit Report

The Secretary of the State's office and the University of Connecticut today released a preliminary report on the recent audit performed on optical scan voting machines. The report suggests that the optical scan machines are just as reliable as the lever machines. From the press release:
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz today released a report from her office and the University of Connecticut which shows that the optical scan voting machines used in several cities and towns on Election Day performed extremely well, and were proven to be a safe and secure form of voting technology.

The report was released following a randomly conducted series of audits in a number of cities and towns which used optical scan machines in place of lever machines this year. The audits were performed during the final week of November on optical scan machines used in seventeen polling precincts in nine cities and towns throughout the state.

The audits involved performing a manual recount of each voting machine used in these seventeen precincts to match the machine results with the separate hand-count. In the majority of the precincts, the counts matched up perfectly, and in those where the results did not match, there were only minor changes reported. In each instance, the change was due to a mismarked ballot, not to machine error, Secretary Bysiewicz said.

See the full report here. Some of the key findings summarized on the first page of the report:
1. The overall discrepancies between the machine counts and hand counts are not statistically significant.
2. The effect of individual machines (locations) is not significant.
3. The machine counts and hand counts are proportional with the proportionality constant 1, although the machines have a tendency to overcount, on the average by 1/2 vote.
4. The accuracy of the voting machines did not affect the election results (although no audited races were particularly close). One needs to be careful, however, in relying on machine counts when the total number of ballots is small, especially in multi-opening races.

The report itself is worth a read, especially if you're interested in statistics. It's important to note that there were some minor problems where ballots were mismarked, but the machines themselves seem to have performed well enough. The nice thing here is that these sorts of audits can be performed at all. Neither lever voting machines nor touch-screen machines have a paper trail that can be verified.

I'm looking forward to using these machines myself next November.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would be much easier and less expensive if we adopted a universal vote by mail approach like Oregon.

Genghis Conn said...

You might be right, anonymous. I've heard a lot of good things about it.

Anonymous said...

There was a very good op/ed piece on it the other day in the NYT.

Anonymous said...

Of course they worked. The dems won just about every race.

Anonymous said...

Funny how the voting machines don't work when D's lose.

Anonymous said...

"I'm looking forward to using these machines myself next November."

Yeah Genghis! Party on!

Anonymous said...

Something tells me that if Simmons won by 92 votes the Machines would have failed.

Anonymous said...

A Dem in Florida is contesting the election which she lost (Kathryn Harris seat)...

Of course now that the D lost, their are many, many "discrepancies".

Wolcottboy said...

I know while canvassing our vote there was a marking that read "unknown Murphy" and another that read "unknown Zoni". I don't know if that's because these candidates were endorsed by the Working Families (though I think there was a separate number for that line) or what.

We had some confusion that night on what that meant (glances at report... Guess I'll have to read).

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Republican candidate for Governor there got more votes than anyone else, so that means the people who did not vote in the Congressional race were Democrats?

or so says How-weird Dean

MikeCT said...

Anon,
Perhaps if you spam the same message another 18 times, you will start to sound articulate.

Jon Green said...

Wolcottboy,

Here's the answer to your quesiton:

Votes for "Unknown Murphy" or "Unknown Zoni" were from people who voted twice for Murphy (Democrat AND Working Families) or twice for Zoni (Democrat AND Indpendent).

Before anyone FREAKS OUT about people "voting twice," keep reading...

The mechanical lever machines have a locking mechanism that prevents voters from pulling multiple levers for cross-endorsed candidates. The optical scan machines cannot prevent a voter from marking BOTH party lines if a candidate is cross-endorsed. However, the machines are programmed to record these voters as a SINGLE vote for the candidate with an "unknown" party.

The Secretary of State's office instructs town clerks to consider the "unknown" vote as a vote for the minor party for purposes of considering whether or not the party got the minimum 1% to qualify -- which actually makes sense.

Bo ItsHaky said...

Vote by Mail – here’s an Op-Ed published in the New York Times two days ago:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/06/opinion/06goldway.html?_r=1&oref=slogin