Friday, November 02, 2007

New Audit Regulations for New York? And What Happened to Those 600,000(!) Registered Voters?

The Brennan Center was one of several organizations to co-sponsor a post-election audit summit in Minneapolis last week. What is a post-election audit, you ask?

As every state in the Union but New York has now moved to electronic voting, legislators and election officials across the country are asking, what do we need to do to make sure the vote totals from these machines are correct?

The conference brought together many of the country's leading election officials, state legislators, academics, statisticians and activists to figure out the answer.

Among those in attendance was Doug Kellner, Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections, who has said he was inspired enough by the conference that he plans to review and possibly redraft New York's proposed regulations on the subject.

In an e-mail exchange I had with him after the conference, Commissioner Kellner had this bit of interesting information to add:

I am also going to be pushing for an internal NYSBOE audit of NYSVoter, which contains approximately 600,000 fewer voter registration records than the temporary system used last year. I want to make certain that, in fact, those missing 600,000 records are the result of duplicate purges or other legitimate reasons. I propose that we do this by random sample of the missing records, investigation of those selected records, and confirmation of the reason. I have not yet received a reaction from the Republicans.

There is no reason to believe that there was any error, but the whole point of auditing is to go back and confirm that the system worked properly.

We agree -- there's nothing inherently wrong with New York moving its elections into the digital age, but the State must take proper precautions, including conducting good audits, to avoid harming voters. Careless use of computer software and programs can inadvertantly result in massive disenfrachisement.

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