[lug] ElectionAudits software - help audit the election!
neal at bcn.boulder.co.us
Fri Oct 24 14:23:54 MDT 2008
I briefly noted this project at the last blug meeting and in my barcamp
email, and I have finally finished some pieces I really wanted done
before asking for help. So please check it out.
One particular question relates to xml and xpath: how can I get e.g.
the lxml package to deal with the "xmlns =
'urn:crystal-reports:schemas'" namespace declaration in the top node?
Unless I just take that part out (which I do now before parsing), the
xpath queries return nothing at all, and my attempts to incorporate the
namespace in my queries result in "Invalid expression"....
Read the rest on my blog here:
ElectionAudits software - help audit the election!
or read on....
Proper audits are the gold standard of election integrity - they can
tell whether the election system actually counted the real ballots
properly. Unfortunately, they are rarely done properly. We need better
audits of our elections in order to promote confidence in the results.
Thankfully, there are resources to make it easier than it has been in
the past, both in terms of procedures and statistical research, and in
terms of open source software. If you are willing to talk to your local
elections officials, you can make a difference. Read the Background
section below for more information.
* Join the ElectionAudits Team - this will get you on the mailing
* See how prepared your state is for the 2008 election
* Ask your local officials if they follow the Principles and Best
Practices for Post-Election Audits
* Attend a Logic and Accuracy Test (LAT) of your county election
* Get data from the LAT and test the ElectionAudits software
* Ask when the report your county intends to audit will be
* Ask when the random selection will be done and how. Make sure
the selection isn't done before they release what they intend to
audit (like most of Colorado unfortunately!)
To do my part, I've worked with the Boulder County Clerk and started the
ElectionAudits open source software project to help us audit elections
with appropriate statistical significance, and I need help there too! If
you're skilled with Python or Django (especially on Windows since it is
developed on Ubuntu Linux), database query optimization, xml, xslt, css,
setuptools for packaging cross-platform easy_install eggs, statistics,
documentation or the like, see the ElectionAudits Software Home Page,
download the latest code, and please lend a hand:
We all know there are many questions being raised about the systems used
to count votes in our elections. The bottom line, as noted in a paper by
MIT voting and security expert Ron Rivest and NIST voting expert John
Wack, is the need for "Software Independence":
meaning that election software should not be a critical component which,
if it fails, can threaten the results of an election.
That is why we've moving from using unauditable paperless DRE machines
to systems based on paper ballots that can be audited. And we're slowly
getting there. But even for optical scanner systems we also need to
check the software that does the actual tallying and reporting of the
Those paper ballots are of little use if we never audit them. And we
still have a long way to go on effective audits of elections: the voting
systems don't support audits well, the laws and regulations are sparse
and often inadequate, and the topic is confusing to many.
This prompted California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to establish
Post Election Manual Tally Requirements and issue California proposed
emergency regulations for them.
Along with that, recently, experts in elections, statistics, computer
science, risk assessment and related fields have been working on better
audits, coordinated by ElectionAudits.org, the nation's clearinghouse
for election audit information. The latest results are the Principles
and Best Practices for Post-Election Audits.
I've been very active in that effort, and convinced Boulder County to do
a complete audit, far better than what is currently required in
Colorado, starting with an audit of the 2008 Primary in Boulder:
Based on that experience, it was clear we needed software to help deal
with the inadequacy of the reports available from our Hart InterCivic
BallotNow system, and to make it clearer how to base the work on good
statistics. So the software includes the "varsize.py" statistical
software from Ron Rivest to guide efficient sampling of the audit units.
On Auditing Elections When Precincts Have Different Sizes, by Javed A.
Aslam, Raluca A. Popa and Ronald L. Rivest
See the demo and more at http://neal.mcburnett.org/electionaudits/
And while you're at it, please Digg it!
Neal McBurnett http://neal.mcburnett.org/
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