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EAC Recounts and Contests Study

Title: EAC Recounts and Contests Study

This virtual meeting room was open from Monday, April 26, 2010, at 9:00 A.M. ( Eastern Time Zone ) and closed on Friday, April 30, 2010, at 9:00 P.M. ( Eastern Time Zone ).

Content: Download Recounts and Contests Study PDF



Comment  Creator  Last Modified 

p. 7 "Optical Scan Ballots" section. I believe the last sentence, first paragraph, should be: "With optical scan ballots . . . " not "paper ballots", correct?

The references to specific State laws and regulations when making points, e.g., p. 7 (Michigan on paper ballots and Colorado on Optical scan ballots, etc.,) and through the entire report, are helpful in the report.

thegarty 04/26/2010 07:08 PM

page 13, California has an automatic recount of 1% of the precincts

page 20, California needs a X*.  Last I checked, petitoner get his/her money back if the recount changes the outcome of the election (double check current law)

page 21, I believe that the media can observe the recount in California

Might want to double check California law on my observation as my reference is five years old.  I don't recall any changes since then, however.


ehawkins 04/27/2010 04:55 PM

General Comments

·       Comments about what constitutes "official results" seem out of place in this document.  See pages 7 and 9.  Suggest removing these comments.

·       Based on errors in state tables (see corrections to six of the tables below), suggest sending document to each state for review for accuracy.  EAC has a process for reviewing state-specific information and should use it for all publications.

·       If a table goes onto a second page, repeat the header row at the top of the 2nd page.


lamonel 04/27/2010 05:11 PM

General Comments

·         Comments about what constitutes "official results" seem out of place in this document.  See pages 7 and 9.  Suggest removing these comments.

·         Based on errors in state tables (see corrections to six of the tables below), suggest sending document to each state for review for accuracy.  EAC has a process for reviewing state-specific information and should use it for all publications.

·         If a table goes onto a second page, repeat the header row at the top of the 2nd page.


lamonel 04/27/2010 05:12 PM

Accounting and Reconciliation (page 5) – The 2nd sentence in the 1st paragraph ("It is critical that the correct number of legitimate votes be counted for each candidate.") seems more appropriate under "Counting" paragraph on the same page.

lamonel 04/27/2010 05:12 PM
Votes on each type of ballot (page 7) – In the 3rd paragraph under Paper Ballots ("the Michigan law is clear . . ."), replace "valid vote" with "valid ballot" as the Michigan law dictates that the ballot – not the vote – be reviewed for distinguishing marks.  In the same paragraph, replace "how a valid ballot is counted" with "what a valid vote is."  Looking for a cross in the proper circle or square is determining whether the vote is valid, not how a valid ballot is counted. lamonel 04/27/2010 05:13 PM

Votes on each type of ballot (page 7) – In the 3rd sentence in the 1st paragraph ("Assuming the voter marks the ballot appropriately, the ballot will be counted correctly."), there are other assumptions that must be made for this statement to be true.  The optical scan voting unit must be tested to make sure that it is working properly, the timing marks printed on the ballot must be aligned according to the manufacturer’s specifications, the paper must be of the correct size and weight, etc.

lamonel 04/27/2010 05:13 PM
Votes on each type of ballot (page 7) – The last two sentences in the 2nd paragraph ("The law then defines how votes are counted.  ‘[T]he return printed by the electronic vote-tabulation equipment . . . [shall] . . . constitute the official return of each precinct’ (CO-1-7-507)"). are unrelated to a "valid vote."  As a result, I suggest removing these sentences as they address what constitutes official results.


lamonel 04/27/2010 05:14 PM

Votes on each type of ballot (page 8) – There are audits that can be performed with DREs without voter verifiable audit trails.  The current text ("also recognizes the need for there to be a second, auditable count available" in the last sentence under "Electronic Voting") does not address this.  Suggested rewrite:  . . . also recognizes the need for auditing and reconciliations.

lamonel 04/27/2010 05:19 PM

Case Study: Voter Intent in Virginia (page 9) – The 3rd and 4th sentences in the 3rd paragraph (" Virginia’s intent standard for DREs . . .") discuss how a recount is conducted.  This information is more appropriate under the Recount section (starting on page 12) than under "Valid Vote."  Suggest removing the text from this section.

lamonel 04/27/2010 05:15 PM

Table 1: Valid Vote Standards (pages 10-11) – Maryland has an objective standard for what constitutes a valid vote.  See Code of Maryland Regulations, 33.08.02.

lamonel 04/27/2010 05:16 PM

Table 2: Types of Recounts (pages 13-14) – While a "citizen" can initiate a recount, the "citizen" must be a registered voter in Maryland.  If the citizen is not a candidate, the citizen can only file a petition for a recount of a ballot question for which s/he is eligible to vote.  As long as the voter follows the required recount procedures, the recount is guaranteed.  Suggest footnote explaining limitation of non-candidate citizen and correction to sentence explaining that citizen-initiated recounts are not guaranteed (they are if all of the procedures are followed).

lamonel 04/27/2010 05:16 PM
Conducting a Recount (page 17) – In the 2nd sentence of the 3rd paragraph under "What is recounted?", add "or the appropriate official" as a parenthetical comment after "Secretary of State."   This parallels the language on page 16.  See 1st sentence in 1st paragraph under "When is a recount started. . ."


lamonel 04/27/2010 05:16 PM
Conducting a Recount (page 17) – In the 2nd bullet of "How is a recount conducted?", add "be" between "should" and "tested."


lamonel 04/27/2010 05:17 PM

Table 4: Method of Recount (page 18) – What does "Varies" (header of 4th column) mean?  In Maryland, a petitioner for a recount can select either a hand/manual recount or a machine re-tabulation.  Does "varies" mean "both"?

lamonel 04/27/2010 05:17 PM
Table 5: Who Pays for a Recount (page 19-20) – Please add an asterisk in the "Petitioner" column for Maryland.    In Maryland, a petitioner for a recount pays for the record unless the outcome of the election is changed, the petitioner gains a certain number of votes, or the margin of difference is 0.1% of less.  See Election Law Article, § 12-107(b)(2), Annotated Code of Maryland.


lamonel 04/27/2010 05:17 PM

Table 6: Observing a Recount (pages 21-22) – All columns should have an "X" for Maryland.  Recounts are open to the public.  See Election Law Article, § 12-106(a)(2), Annotated Code of Maryland and Code of Maryland Regulations  The sentence above Table 6 should be adjusted accordingly.

lamonel 04/27/2010 05:18 PM
Table 7: Legal Standing to Contest an Election Outcome (pages 23-24) – Please add an "X" in the Candidate/Party column for Maryland.  In Maryland, a registered voter can seek judicial relief.  See Election Law Article, 12-202(a), Annotated Code of Maryland.  As candidates must be registered voters, a candidate has legal standing to contest an election outcome.  A political party, however, does not.


lamonel 04/27/2010 05:18 PM

Election Contests (page 24) – In the 2nd sentence in the paragraph under Table 7, "who" should be "whom" and there should be a period at the end of the sentence.

lamonel 04/27/2010 05:19 PM
  mweil 04/28/2010 09:21 AM
Page 21 discusses the live streaming video used by the Orange County Registrar of Voters to enhance election transparency. In addition to this feature, our website contains video blogs of various pre- and post-election day operations, including the testing of voting equipment, the testing of ballot scanning machines, voting booth maintenance, poll worker recruitment, and supply distribution, to name a few. We also post podcasts that share with listeners our progress and activities leading up to election day. We also recently added a 360 degree virtual tour of the Registrar of Voters office that takes viewers through the various departments and rooms, including the vote tally room, warehouse, ballot scanning room, vote-by-mail processing room, and front office. All of these activities have increased the transparency of Orange County’s elections, and have enhanced the public’s trust in the integrity of our election operations. nkelley 04/30/2010 12:12 PM


pcortes 04/30/2010 04:37 PM

The Recounts and Contests Study is comprehensive and very informative.  The study does an exceptional job of pointing out the differences among the states regarding recounts and contests.  It is no wonder that this complexity would lead the EAC to state in the conclusion on page 26, "The risk of creating havoc in State election laws leads the EAC to believe that no Federally-mandated consistent standard for recounts and election contest will necessarily improve election administration."


The three recommendations on page 27 are all very thoughtful and should be strongly considered to remain in the final draft.


Pennsylvania has also found some inaccuracies with a few of the tables.  I have asked my Commissioner of Elections, who is also our state representative on the Standards Board, to review these areas with our attorneys.  He will be adding additional comments during the Standards Board’s upcoming comment period on this and other issues.


pcortes 04/30/2010 04:35 PM
  bsimons 04/30/2010 06:23 PM

HAVA's charge to the EAC to conduct election law and administrative studies contemplates reports that are broader than what local election officials might find useful at the administrative level.  The original RFP for the Recount Study was designed to serve many audiences, including legislators and other policymakers, judges faced with recount litigation, state chief election officers, and the broader public.  The draft report submitted for our review includes some valuable information, but it omits a great many areas specified by the original RFP.  Its narrow approach lacks value for the important EAC audiences who need the more comprehensive study that the original RFP outlined.   

Therefore, I would urge the EAC to re-issue the impressive original RFP, but this time to include specifications as to what types of expertise must be within the contractor team.   Essential  expertise would include:  highly skilled lawyers and legal scholars with experience in issues relating to election administration; statisticians with knowledge or experience in recounts or election audits; and scientists with knowledge of voting system accuracy, reliability and security.

I learned just today from a member of the EAC staff that the requirements for the study were significantly revised and a number of requirements eliminated.  I expect to be provided with more information, but not before the Virtual Meeting Room closes.

Whether or not the best practices requirement was eliminated, the lack of a list of recommended best practices is most unfortunate.

Because the RFP outlines what could have been a major and influential study, I have compared the RFP to the draft document.

The RFP describes the goal of the project:

Objective.  The objective of this contract is for the EAC to obtain assistance with the collection, analysis, and interpretation of information regarding vote count and recount procedures for the purpose of developing best practices on these topics in time for implementation for the 2006 Federal elections.  As required by HAVA §241(c), the Commission shall submit to the United States President and to the Committee on House Administration of the United States House of Representatives and the Committee on Rules and Administration of the United States Senate a report on the study conducted together with such recommendations for administrative and legislative action as the Commission determines are appropriate.

While the report is a bit late for influencing the 2006 elections, it is also, unfortunately, unlikely to be of use in developing best practices, even for the 2010 election.

Below are just a few examples of material that was called for in the RFP, but not provided.  It is not an exhaustive list:

4.2 Vote Count.

  • How do voting technologies impact a State’s definitions of what constitutes a vote and how votes are counted;
  • What type of accounting/auditing procedures are in place to insure an accurate accounting of each ballot cast (at polling place, at early voting site, and cast by absentee) prior to the certification of official results by a local election office;
  • What are the explanations and reasons cited for changes to the vote count from the unofficial count released on election night to the final certification of results, normally released weeks after an election;
  • Does a longer time period between election night and final certification of results allow for more a more accurate accounting of ballots;
  • What happens to voted ballots that are received by the local election authority after the certification of final results; 
    • How are they handled and accounted for;
    • Can they be counted during a recount procedure;
  • Are candidate, political party representatives and/or other members of the public allowed to be present to observe procedures during the period after an election and up to the period of certification of final results;
  • What procedures are in place to allow for bipartisan administration/control/review/observation over ballot count procedures?
  • Are all documents used to account for ballots and/or to audit an election considered public records and available for public inspection after an election;
  • Have state courts ever enjoined systematic attempts to challenge voters in identifiable socio-economic areas;
  • Review and list court cases that cite the current definitions of what constitutes a vote.  Provide a brief summary of each case.

The RFP calls for a literature review, which is also missing:
4.2.2  Review literature for methodologies used to establish best practices, and develop definitions of what shall constitute a best practice with respect to vote counts.  Utilizing the methodology and definitions developed; identify best practices that are used by States with respect to standards that define what will constitute a vote on each type of voting equipment used in the State to conduct elections for Federal office.
  • Prepare a best practices document and submit to EAC for feedback. 
  • Based on the feedback received from the Commission, the Contractor shall prepare a draft best practices document for review and comment by the EAC Board of Advisors and Standards Board.

Here are more missing pieces:
4.3 Vote Recount.
  • Direct Recording Equipment recounts, do the officials print out the ballots or use the electronic audit record;
    • If a State uses Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail is the audit trail document or electronic ballot counted in a recount;
  • What are the standards for determining whether a vote is counted in a recount;
  • What is the time frame for the recount;
  • Procedures for stopping a recount;
  • Does the relevant law make provisions for proportionate reduction of votes if some votes were cast by ineligible voters whose identities cannot be determined; 
    • If not, what remedy, if any, is applied;
  • Is it possible to manipulate the scope of the recount to achieve a wider or narrower range of recounted votes;
  • How might a recount transition into a challenge to the election overall; 
    • Are there "windows of opportunity" for those inclined to tamper with the vote during the recount process to do so; 
    • Identify security measures against vote tampering in recount statutes and procedures;
  • In general, is it possible to characterize the state’s recount process as designed to produce electoral accuracy or designed to speed the compilation of final results;
  • Often, the vote count changes from the official count during the recount because election office staff fails to account for ballots/documents in their possession, how can this be avoided;
  • Does the definition of a vote change from count to a recount;
  • Include an analysis of how best to structure recount statutes and procedures in order to counter manipulation of recounts to produce a desired result;
  • Identify whether or not there is a need for more consistency among State recount and contest procedures used with respect to elections for Federal office.

Even the format of the study does not satisfy the RFP, which says:
4.3.1 Draft comprehensive report that includes the data analysis and the State-by-State summary of recount and contest procedures.  The report shall also have an Executive Summary, Key Findings Section, and Recommendations for Future Research.
bsimons 04/30/2010 06:47 PM

Comments on the Recounts and Contests Study


  1. The report needs to define the terms it uses, and then use them consistently. This is especially important given that many of the terms used within the report are defined and used differently in state statutes. Too many terms are vaguely defined and used inconsistently. Terms needing clearer definition in the report include recount, recanvass, recheck, and retabulate (the distinctions between these remain unclear). Other additional distinctions should be made between terms like "recount coordinator" and "recount conductor." 
  2. The definition of ballots does not satisfy the RFP and is misleading.  On page 4, the report defines three types of ballots: paper ballots, optical scan ballots, and ballots cast on direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting systems.  This definition does not satisfy the definition in the RFP, which says in 4.2 Vote Count: Types of voting systems include e.g., paper ballots, optical scan, DREs, and DREs with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail capacity.  By not including DREs with VVPATs, the report omits a significant group of ballots which must be included in any final version of the report.  Also, the classification of optical scan ballots as separate from paper ballots is confusing, since optical scan ballots ARE paper ballots.  Therefore, the four categories of ballots should be:
    1. Hand counted paper ballots
    2. Optically scanned paper ballots
    3. Electronic representations of ballots in paperless DREs
    4. Electronic + paper representations of ballots in DREs with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT).
  3. Some of the information in the report appears incorrect. The chart on costs for candidate-initiated recounts on page 20, for instance, lists only three states that cover the costs of the recount if the outcome of the election is changed. In reality, there are closer to two dozen states that have statutory provisions for local or state governments to pay the full recount cost if the recount alters the outcome of the election. The chart on counting methods on page 18 similarly contains errors. One can point to Iowa, which is marked as having only manual recounts, where in fact their statutes specify that the recount board decides the counting method, meaning that the method can vary.
  4. The report oversimplifies many of the recount statutes. This leads to poor recommendations and misleading use of some statutes as exemplary.  For instance, the report uses Colorado as an example of a clear and simple law for determining the close vote margin, praising their use of a single percentage for all offices and elections. (See pages 12-13).  In fact, Colorado's close vote margin statute is more complicated then it may first seem: Colorado uses a method to calculate their close vote margin (which is "less than or equal to .5%" for all offices) that differs slightly from many states. The difference in votes received by the apparent winning and runner-up candidates is not divided by the total vote, the total votes cast for the respective office, or the total votes received by the top two candidates, all of which are common in other states. Rather, the difference is divided by the number of votes received by the apparent winning candidate. This lessens the probability of a close vote margin recount in Colorado with respect to states that have otherwise similar close vote margin requirements.
  5. The report lacks evidence to back up some of its claims. For instance, "…recounts are expensive…" (page 14, first paragraph under chart).  Where is the documented evidence that recounts are expensive? (Is it the recounting of the ballots that is expensive or is it court costs? Some costs may result from parties contesting either how the recount was conducted or the results of the recount, as opposed to the costs of the actual recount itself. It is likely that clear recount laws could decrease ancillary costs). Furthermore, the comment on the costs of recounts really does not further the argument being made in that paragraph—thus, it can be removed entirely. (A more philosophical question to consider is what costs more—a recount or to have the wrong candidate in office because a recount was not conducted.)
  6. Some of the examples are poorly constructed.  For example, on page 15 the question: If an election contest occurs during a statewide election, what is the venue for the recount? is answered by: In Washington in 2004, the challenging candidate was able to select the venue for the recount.  Virginia establishes a single venue for recounts and then empowers that court to enlist assistance from other local courts, if necessary, during the recount.  This is a poorly constructed example, as it first provides an incident in Washington (but no statute), followed by an example that seems to be a statute, though no statute is referenced.  Is there an established statute in Washington?  If so, provide details of that statute, rather than an incident.
  7. The tables are poorly created.  There are numerous issues with the tables, including:
    - Not all states have "x" next to them, yet there is no explanation as to why there isn’t information. Is it because the researcher couldn’t find the information? Is it because the states don’t have recounts?   For example, table 4: Method of Recount, has three categories— hand/manual; machine retabulation; varies. Some states, such as Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas do not have an x next to them. Are the authors still researching the matter? If so, that should be indicated. It should be noted that while table 4 is used as an example, there is a consistent lack of information in all tables with "x" next to them to explain why there is no information provided for some states.
    - The statutes on which the table entries are based are not included.  An added column giving chapter and verse citations on which the table entries were based would be really helpful. 
  8. Some important information is omitted.  For example:
    1. There is no discussion of post-election audits, which differ from recounts. Post-election audits routinely check voting system performance in contests, regardless of how close margins of victory appear to be.  Recounts repeat ballot counting in special circumstances, such as when preliminary results show a close margin of victory. Post-election audits that detect errors can lead to a full recount.  When an audited contest is subsequently recounted, duplicate work can be avoided.
      The number of ballots that need to be inspected in a post-election audit can often be reduced through the use of risk-limiting audits.  This is an important area, which is receiving a tremendous amount of attention from computer scientists, statisticians, and some election officials, should have been included.  For example, see American Statistical Association Recommends Risk-Limiting Audits of Federal and Statewide Elections http://www.amstat.org/about/pressreleases/ASARecommendsRisk-LimitingAudits.pdf
    2. The discussion of mark-sense scanners should include the need to test the scanner for sensitivity to different kinds of marks, e.g. writing utensil, thickness, etc.
    3. The quote from Michigan law (168.803) on page 7 does not include the part that is crucial to the comments on mark-sense ballot counting:

          168.803(2): If an electronic voting system requires that the elector  place a mark in a predefined area on the ballot in order to cast a vote, the vote shall not be considered valid unless there is a mark within the predefined area and it is clearly evident that the intent of the voter was to cast a vote. In determining intent of the voter, the board of canvassers or election official shall compare the mark with other marks appearing on the ballot.

      The above paragraph applies to machine counted paper ballots, and it means that the election officials can judge marks in a recount (or during the resolution process, see below) without regard to how the machine counted them.  Thus, if the machine refuses to count X marks in the bubble, and if the voter consistently used X marks in a manner consistent with the rules for voting, those X marks count.
    4. Yet another important omission is the failure to address the resolution process, that is rules for dealing with ballots that are defective and must be corrected before tabulation.  These rules are crucial for postal voting.  Either the tabulators are set up to kick back ballots for resolution, or the workers opening envelopes are instructed to recognize them and sort them out of the ballot stream.  The resolution board must then eyeball each vote on these ballots and make a determination of voter intent in order to allow the repaired or duplication of the ballot for tabulation.  One Virginia election official with whom Doug Jones spoke said that 4% of their absentee ballots typically needed resolution.  See Fred Berghoeffer's testimony before the TGDC on September 20, 2004 http://vote.nist.gov/PublicHearings/9-20-04%20Public%20BERGHOEFER.doc.

      Manual resolution has always been a practice recommended by the vendors of central count optical scan systems.  Jones also had extended talks with John V. McMillin II, the Westinghouse engineer who worked with the Urosevitch brothers when they first began exploring mark-sense ballot counting in the 1970s.  McMillin emphasized that they were recommending human examination of problem ballots from the very start.
  9. A retabulation is not a recount, since it simply duplicates the original counting process.  A retabulation cannot be considered best practice as it does not constitute an independent check on the original tabulation.  One purpose of a recount is to determine voter intent which, as we saw in the Minnesota 2008 US Senate race, can have a significant impact  in very tight races.

    Because a paperless DRE may not accurately represent voter intent, it is not possible to conduct a meaningful recount of paperless DREs.  If votes are lost, as happened in Carteret County, NC, or if votes are improperly recorded, there is no recourse.  What happened in Florida's 13th Congressional District in 2006 (page 6), where paperless DREs were used, was not  a recount - unlike the Minnesota Senate election recount, which was a true recount.
  10. There are some incorrect conclusions.  In addition to those mentioned above, the following claim (page 26) should be deleted:
    The risk of creating havoc in State election laws leads the EAC to believe that no Federally-mandated consistent standard for recounts and election contests will necessarily improve election administration.
    The justification for the "havoc" claim is that "the only parties harmed by slow, inefficient, or otherwise non-best practice policies and procedures for recounts and election contests are the States themselves as they will be without some of their representation in the Federal government."  This makes no sense.  The entire country could be impacted when an election in a single state is problematic.  Furthermore, federal legislation is often necessary simply to put into place uniform standards and mechanisms.
    Also, there is a problem with the discussion of optical scan ballots.  The following appears near the top of page 8:
    The valid vote is then determined by the tabulation equipment,  which produces the official return after summing the counted marks on the ballots.
    This was referred to as the Machine Model by the courts in Bush v. Gore.  It is deeply flawed, because it means that the state is setting no standard for what the machine should or should not count.  That is, the Colorado statute that is quoted at the bottom of page 7 says nothing about voter intent.  In contrast, the Michigan statute quoted in 8c) above directly addresses the needs of an election official attempting to determine whether a mark on a ballot is or is not a vote.
    The case study of Virginia continues to endorse the Machine Model (page 15).
  11. There are many important recommendations for improving recount laws that the EAC should make, beyond those listed in the report. These include:
    ·         Requiring that all states have at least minimal post-election audit laws.  While  risk-limiting post election audits are the gold standard, even a 1% random, manual post-election audit will catch some problems, and it will give election officials experience in conducting post-election audits.  If serious problems are uncovered in a post election audit, they should trigger a full recount.
    ·         Requiring that recount results are binding, and officially alter the outcome of the election. Currently some states, such as Illinois, do not require the outcome of the election to be in any way affected by the recount results.
    ·         Requiring that the public be allowed to observe the recount. Currently, many states lack any statute or rule regarding public observation; some list the parties eligible to observe the recount, and leave out members of the public; many others simply have unclear statutes on the matter.
    ·         Requiring that states allow sufficient time to conduct recounts before the deadline for determining the winners. Currently, some states have such a small window between the end of the election and the deadline for certifying the winners that it is almost impossible to conduct recounts.
    ·         Requiring that previously excluded ballots be considered in recounts, since sometimes ballots can be wrongly excluded.
    ·         Requiring that all states have recount laws. Currently, neither Mississippi nor Hawaii has laws mandating recounts.

    Hawaii does not have laws mandating recounts of any kind. A 2001 task force suggested a number of laws, but their recommendations were vetoed by the governor in 2002.  The Hawaii statute is at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol01_Ch0001-0042F/HRS0011/HRS_0011-.htm
    Mississippi election code had no recount provision.  See http://michie.com/mississippi/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&cp
  12. Typos:
    The following (page 3) is not a sentence:
    There are numerous steps in election administration prior to recounts and contests can be conducted.
    (Page 17) There should be a "be" before "tested" in:
    Second, any voting equipment – such as ballot tabulators – that will be used in the recount should tested for logic and accuracy to ensure that they are prepared to recount the election outcome in dispute

bsimons 04/30/2010 08:34 PM

Table 1-Ohio is a voter intent State.  If Board of Elections can determine clear and consistant voting pattern.

kcunningham 04/30/2010 06:57 PM

Table 2 - Recounts in Ohio are conducted by local Boards of Elections under supervision of Secretary of State.

kcunningham 04/30/2010 06:58 PM

Table 3 - Ohio recounts require a hand count of 3%.  If it matches machine count the remainder of the recount is done on machine.  If 3% hand counted sample fails to match machine count all remaining ballots are recounted by hand.

kcunningham 04/30/2010 07:00 PM

1. I agree with Linda's comments on sending these to states for review.  Notice several inconsistencies on Mo (i.e. we do have detailed standards for what constitutes vote).  May be better to include an "Other" column on some of the survey options to handle situations such as the "Who Pays".  These can vary depending on outcome of contest closeness of race etc.

2. I would add one recommendation that states should evaluate their recount, election contest laws and procedures in light of the tight timelines for Presidential Elections.  I know our recounts would not even start until a week before the safe harbor date.  Contested election would start even later.  This is a meltdown waiting to happen unless states have a plan for handling it.

3. I found this pretty weak on how states handle issues raised in election contests - i.e. what kinds of issues raised in constets - eligible voter not getting to vote (or the correct ballot), voters who should not have voted who were allowed to vote, disagreements over non standard handling of provisional ballot eligiblity.  What kinds of issues constitute election contests and how have the various courts handled this.  

I think a good review of what would rise to the level of calling new election - these are things the courts struggle with.  No good discussion of this and how it is handled in states when errors are documented that could have changed the outcome of the election - the Miami mayoral election 15 or so years ago is a good example of how the courts bounced this back and forth on this issue.  We had a judge in this state hold a new election just for people who got the wrong ballot - made up a new law on the bench. 



wnoren 04/30/2010 08:13 PM
  wnoren 04/30/2010 08:13 PM
  wnoren 04/30/2010 08:16 PM

My comments were lost again. 

1.  Agree with Linda on sending to state for review -seems to be a great deal of error.  Add an "other" column for states to use for situations that are not black/white i.e. who pays

2.  May want to add recommendations that states review laws and and develop procedures for a presidential recount given the short timeframe afforded under safe-harbor.  States have a detailed plan in place to conduct recounts/contests within the timeline of safe harbor requirements.  Our recounts/contests cannot not even start until a week before safe harbor date.

3.  I find the report weak on election contests.  What level do states set for contests, what are their standards for ordering new elections, what are the implications when errors are discovered that could have changed outcome of elections.  Courts struggle with these issues when people are not allowed to vote or are allowed to vote when they should not.  What are implications when courts order new elections.  The Miami mayors race years ago was a good example of courts going back and forth on this issue.  Our state has pretty strict standard - error that could have changed outcome court orders a new elections under law (although some have ignored it).  One judge ordered a new election but restricted it to only the voters who received and incorrect ballot - new law from the bench in that case.  I know judges struggle with the fairness of these situations and having a look at what states do would be beneficial.



wnoren 04/30/2010 08:27 PM
  wnoren 04/30/2010 08:28 PM

Some References for Inclusion in the Report

  1. Report on Election Auditing by the Election Audit Task Force of the LWV, http://www.lwv.org/Content/ContentGroups/Membership/ProjectsTaskforces/Report_ElectionAudits.pdf
  2. The College Poll worker study and Poll Worker legal compendium (CSU Center for Election Integrity was the contractor), http://www.eac.gov/election/poll%20workers 
  3. Principles and Best Practices for Post-Election Audits document, http://www.electionaudits.org/principles
  4. A report on how to do audits, http://josephhall.org/papers/jhall_evt08.pdf.
    Also, a step-by-step recipe-like procedures for doing audits,
  5. Eyes On the Vote Count: non-partisan reports of the 2008 post-election audit and recount (Minnesota) http://www.ceimn.org/minnesota-recount/ceimn_nonpartisan_observation_report 
  6. A bibliography, http://josephhall.org/eamath/bib.pdf
bsimons 04/30/2010 08:42 PM

At some point this study might be a good place to recognize that there will never be a perfect election and some dialogue needs to start on what constitutes an acceptable  "margin of error".  I think there has been some published legal papers on this.   

wnoren 04/30/2010 08:44 PM
  mweil 05/14/2010 06:51 PM

Note: The following comments were submitted by EAC Standards Board Member Lillie Coney during the designated period for the virtual meeting; however, the comments were posted after the meeting due to a technical problem with the virtual meeting room.



My thanks to the University of Utah for conducting research and producing a study to comply with HAVA Section 241 (b)(13).

Overall comments the document is the right length and covers the topics of the study. I would recommend using footnotes to support definitive statements in the report. Footnotes can establish the basis for the statements and offer further reading to the content reviewer.

The issue of Provisional Ballots and the topic of Recounts and Contests are relevant. If there is another study underway or has been done on this topic it should be mentioned or referenced in this report.

Pew Center on the States Electionline.org Project has some very good source data relevant to the report:

Election Preview 2008: page 14 stated that most to vote on paper. They used percentage of registered voters, if your calculation is based on counties or precincts then that should be made clear. If there is a new study, report, or if the raw survey data for this report is the basis for the statement, then the data should be published as part of the report or made available online. However, if there is another reference for the statement "Paper ballots are the least commonly used type of ballots in contests for Federal office." Footnote this it will draw questions so to save time add the reference for the statement.

Recounts: From Punch Cards to Paper Trails

Page 4. Types of ballot
I would recommend using consistent definitions sources from an EAC published documents that describes different types of ballots and voting systems.

Page 5. Design and Testing
This is a good start because election officials must be responsible for the design, production, and delivery of ballots for election purposes. I would suggest a footnote to a link for the EAC "Effective Designs for the Administration of Elections." It contains some very good information and would be readily available if this document is published in electronic form via link.

Accounting and Reconciliation, Counting, and Recounts these sections could use a few footnotes to examples of state practices in these areas that show the range of practices. NASS or NASED may be helpful in identifying some good choices to further illustrate these areas for readers.

Voter indent is the really hard problem and one of the larger challenges in close contest. A report could be done on this topic alone.

I like the use of Case Studies.

The tables are clear and easy to follow. I would add Footnotes following the name of states to online information relevant to the topic of the state and the particular state’s policy. For example, Table 1: Valid Vote Standards, it would be helpful to have a link in an e-version of the document to the relevant state law or statue.

p. 21 Observers and Monitors
Transparency focus is important and I would suggest that this might be an area for future study. It is necessary in public elections, but it can also present challenges to election officials attempting to planning and carryout an election. Ideas on best practices or model guidance would be a good outcome.

There are challenging to observing and monitoring DRE systems. The outward appearance of screens will not present a window into the inner operations of the voting system. Transparency with these systems may require more hands-on investigations to achieve a level of balance with voter expectations and election official resources.

This is a nagging problem because finding a road for collaboration and cooperation between technologists who are interested and willing to volunteer services and elections officials who would welcome there assistance seems to be a challenge.

There may be room for a clearing house of sorts or a forum to bring interested parties together for a discussion on this topic.

p. 23 Election Contests
This may be the most mysterious party of post election activity to voters. Footnotes and probably a case study would be of benefit. Also links in the table for this section to state laws.

p. 26 Consistency Among the State Recount and Contest Procedures
This section is a good conclusion to the report. It might be worthwhile to have a discussion with Minnesota on whether they have templates or guides on how to develop recount procedures and how they address issues that are not foreseen by written policy or if they have seen it all and found a way to address any possible issue within the guidance.

Recounts and Contest with VVPATs that are joined with DREs may present some interesting challenges, but worth exploring to exhaust the topic of effectiveness and compatibility for recounts and contest challenges.

States should make clear to voters their election contest rights, when available, that may flow to voters and under what circumstances they can be exercised. States should provide the cost to voters of an election contest, as well as the realistic expectation that a particular outcome would change.

slitton 05/19/2010 04:26 PM