[lug] ElectionAudits software - help audit the election!

Bruce Raup brauplists at gmail.com
Sun Oct 26 08:05:48 MDT 2008

Related to this, I recently learned about an interesting new company
that has developed a voting system that combines paper-and-pen voting
with a Linux-based system to record and count the votes automatically.
 One of the people involved tells me that the software (written in
Java) would be (or is?) open-source.



On Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 2:23 PM, Neal McBurnett <neal at bcn.boulder.co.us> wrote:
> 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.
> You can:
> Join the ElectionAudits Team - this will get you on the mailing list.
> 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 system
> Get data from the LAT and test the ElectionAudits software
> Ask when the report your county intends to audit will be released
> 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:
> http://neal.mcburnett.org/electionaudits/
> Background
> 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":
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 results.
> 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:
> http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/elections/2008-boulder-primary-audit/
> 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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Bruce Raup

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