All mission-critical systems must have strong auditing procedures. Current audits are too weak, especially with absentee ballots. Recounts are too expensive, hence way too rare. They should be free if the race is moderately close.
Ideally, we need to be 99% confident that the decision represented by the vote count reflects the will of the voters.
Counties should post computer and human-readable detailed precinct reports on the internet at regular intervals on election night and throughout the canvas period.
Auditing of just 1% of precincts leaves open too many possibilities for cheating, especially in small counties. (Please see the spreadsheet provided below)
When there is a difference between what the paper audit record shows, and what the machine total shows, the paper record must prevail.
When there are differences, the important question to ask is, what are the odds that the differences might have changed the outcome of the race.
In some states, there is no trigger threshold that would require further auditing or a full manual recount (aka "escalation"). This needs to be defined by regulations or law.
In my opinion, any candidate in a close race should be able to select additional precincts to be audited.
It would be good practice to separate the officials auditing the election from those running the election.
Governments should study the feasibility of hand-counting or auditing paper ballots/records in the polling places before delivering them to the county headquarters.
Post-Election Audits: Restoring Trust In Elections, Brennan Center et al, 8/07, 90 pgs:
http://brennancenter.org/dynamic/subpages/download_file_50135.pdf (2.2 MB)
Press release : http://brennancenter.org/press_detail.asp?key=51&subkey=50088
Post Election Audit Standards Report - Evaluation of Audit Sampling Models and Options for Strengthening California's Manual Count, California Post Election Audit Working Group, 7/07, 42 pgs :
www.SoS.Ca.gov/elections/peas/final_peaswg_report.pdf (126 KB)
Percentage-based vs. SAFE Vote Tabulation Auditing: A Graphic Comparison, McCarthy et al, 7/07, 30 pgs :
www.VerifiedVoting.org/downloads/SAFE-Auditing-July-26-Final.pdf (236 KB)
Proposed Practices for the Post-Election One Percent Manual Tally in Alameda County, 6/07, 40 pgs :
www.CountedAsCast.com/docs/Proposed_Practices_For_Manual_Tally, ACLoWV, June07.pdf (143 KB)
www.CountedAsCast.com/docs/Proposed_Practices_For_Manual_Tally, ACLoWV, June07.doc (235 KB)
1% Manual Tally Observer Report for CA11, 01/07, 5 pgs :
www.CountedAsCast.com/docs/CD11_Manual_Tally_Report_Jan01.pdf (36 KB)
Four Tier Audit, Dopp et al, 01/07 :
On Estimating the Size of a Statistical Audit, Rivest, 11/06, 20 pgs :
http://theory.lcs.mit.edu/~rivest/Rivest-OnEstimatingTheSizeOfAStatisticalAudit.pdf (178 KB)
Considering Vote Count Distribution in Designing Election Audits Rev. 2, Lobdill, 11/06 :
http://vote.nist.gov/Considering-Vote-Count-Distribution-in-Designing-Election-Audits-Rev-2-11-26-06.pdf (65 KB)
The Titanium Standard for Election Verification & Security, 10/06, 21 pgs :
www.VelvetRevolution.us/titanium.pdf (294 KB)
Election Audit Sampling Design It's Not Just About Sampling Without Replacement, Lobdill. 10/06 :
http://vote.nist.gov/Election-Audit-Sampling-Plan-Design-Its-Not-Just-About-Sampling-Without-Replacement-10-09-06.pdf (21 KB)
The Election Integrity Audit, Dopp & Stenger, 9/06 :
An End To "Faith-Based" Voting: Universal Precinct-based Handcount Sampling To Check Computerized Vote Counts In Federal and Statewide Elections, Simon & O'Dell, 9/06, 12 pgs :
The HR 550 Election Audit Methodology in U.S. Congressional Elections :
Fundamental Shortcomings and Proposed Solutions, O'Dell et al, 06
www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org/hr550auditflaws (537 KB)
Myth and Reason in Designing Election Audits, Lobdill, 9/06 :
Designing Mandatory Election Audits, Lobdill, 8/06 :
www.MyImageHosting.com/pic.php?u=778Ke5d2&i=41726 (265 KB)
Random Auditing of E-Voting Systems: How Much is Enough?, Stanislevic, 8/06 :
www.VoteTrustUsa.org/pdfs/VTTF/EVEPAuditing.pdf (271 KB)
How Can Independent Paper Audits Detect and Correct Vote Miscounts?, 7/06 :
Proposed Criteria for the Post-Election One Percent Manual Tally in Alameda County, 2/06 :
www.CountedAsCast.com/Principles-Criteria-For-Random-Audit.pdf (1,665 KB)
Implementing Precinct Sampling for the General Election, Wilson, 8/05 :
www.Ballot-Integrity.net/docs/Precinct_Sampling_2006_General.pdf (229 KB)
A Survery of Sampling Methods, Wilson, 6/05 :
www.Ballot-Integrity.net/docs/Sampling_Methods_201.pdf (310 KB)