Implementing Risk-Limiting Post-Election Audits in California

Electronic Voting Technology Workshop/Workshop on Trustworthy Elections 2009 (EVT/WOTE '09)

24 Pages Posted: 29 May 2009 Last revised: 29 Jul 2009

See all articles by Joseph Lorenzo Hall

Joseph Lorenzo Hall

New York University - MCC

Luke Miratrix

Harvard University - Department of Statistics

Philip B. Stark

University of California, Berkeley

Melvin Briones

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Elaine Ginnold

Marin County Registrar of Voters

Freddie Oakley

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Martin Peaden

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gail Pellerin

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Tom Stanionis

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Tricia Webber

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: May 28, 2009

Abstract

Risk-limiting post-election audits limit the chance of certifying an electoral outcome if the outcome is not what a full hand count would show. Building on previous work, we report on pilot risk-limiting audits in four elections during 2008 in three California counties: one during the February 2008 Primary Election in Marin County and three during the November 2008 General Elections in Marin, Santa Cruz and Yolo Counties. We explain what makes an audit risk-limiting and how existing and proposed laws fall short. We discuss the differences among our four pilot audits. We identify challenges to practical, efficient risk-limiting audits and conclude that current approaches are too complex to be used routinely on a large scale. One important logistical bottleneck is the difficulty of exporting data from commercial election management systems in a format amenable to audit calculations. Finally, we propose a bare-bones risk-limiting audit that is less efficient than these pilot audits, but avoids many practical problems.

Keywords: elections, auditing, statistics, pilot studies, election auditing, risk-limiting audits, risk, e-voting, electronic voting

Suggested Citation

Hall, Joseph Lorenzo and Miratrix, Luke and Stark, Philip B. and Briones, Melvin and Ginnold, Elaine and Oakley, Freddie and Peaden, Martin and Pellerin, Gail and Stanionis, Tom and Webber, Tricia, Implementing Risk-Limiting Post-Election Audits in California (May 28, 2009). Electronic Voting Technology Workshop/Workshop on Trustworthy Elections 2009 (EVT/WOTE '09). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1411219 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1411219

Joseph Lorenzo Hall (Contact Author)

New York University - MCC ( email )

239 Greene St., 7th Floor
New York, NY 10003-1836
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://josephhall.org/

Luke Miratrix

Harvard University - Department of Statistics ( email )

Science Center 7th floor
One Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138-2901
United States

Philip B. Stark

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

Department of Statistics
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-2781 (Phone)

Melvin Briones

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Elaine Ginnold

Marin County Registrar of Voters ( email )

3501 Civic Center Drive, Room 121
San Rafael, CA 94903
United States
(415) 499-6401 (Phone)
(415) 499-6447 (Fax)

Freddie Oakley

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Martin Peaden

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Gail Pellerin

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Tom Stanionis

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Tricia Webber

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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