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Volunteer Project for Detection of Vote Errors

NEW SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH PROJECT TO MEASURE VOTING ACCURACY
December 17, 2004
http://www.uscountvotes.org/

SUMMARY:

In order to objectively investigate the accuracy of elections in America and provide statistically-valid methods that could help detect probable vote-counting errors worth investigating, a group of independent mathematicians, statisticians and computer professionals has formed a new, volunteer scientific research project: US Count Votes.

ON-LINE PRESS RELEASE:
http://www.uscountvotes.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=53&Itemid=41

PRESS RELEASE:

In recent years the integrity and accuracy of the voting process in America have been a continuing source of controversy. Numerous accusations and counter-accusations of voting irregularities have been made. Accusations inevitably spread - and persist - in the absence of a rigorous scientific method for detecting where vote counting errors may have occurred. The integrity of the election process is the cornerstone of democracy; and as we have seen most recently in Ukraine, open investigation of alleged vote counting irregularities is a matter of vital civic importance.

In order to objectively investigate the accuracy of elections in America and provide statistically-valid methods that could help detect probable vote-counting errors worth investigating, a group of independent mathematicians, statisticians and computer professionals has formed a new, volunteer scientific research project: US Count Votes.

We propose to create and analyze - for the first time - a single database containing precinct-level election results for the entire United States. This rich mine of data will be analyzed by our project's affiliated mathematicians, computer programmers, pollsters and statisticians, as well as by an independent peer-review board.

Our goal is to use this data to develop and test mathematical techniques to reliably detect precinct-level vote counting errors worthy of investigation.

What is the problem with voting in America?

More than 27,000 anecdotal reports of irregularities in the 2004 election were submitted to the independent "Election Incident Reporting System". An alleged pattern of discrepancies between exit poll results and final tallies in several key states is still regarded with suspicion by many observers. The General Accounting Office plans to launch an investigation into the security and accuracy of voting technologies, distribution and allocation of voting machines, and counting of provisional ballots.

Scattered reports of problems undermine confidence in the voting system, but it is currently extraordinarily difficult and time-consuming to reliably detect where counting errors may have occurred - and precisely where a recount should be performed.

Compounding this crisis of confidence, many electronic voting machines do not create a paper audit trail, and as a result an independent recount cannot be performed. These machines may malfunction or possibly even be reprogrammed by malicious insiders, with no independent method of detecting that a problem occurred. Concerns about potential problems with unauditable voting machines are widespread in the computer science community; in a recent survey of US members of the world's oldest and largest computer society, ACM, 95% of the respondents opposed deployment of unauditable voting machines.

What does US CountVotes propose to do about it?

Our goal is to develop reliable mathematical indicators of all probable vote count error incidents regardless of the parties involved.

We will publish all our data and analyses, and will provide public archives to allow anyone to perform and replicate our work.

We invite participation in our independent peer-review group from professional mathematicians and statisticans - especially from those who disagree with our approach or results. We encourage robust scientific debate and criticism, and some of our early critics have since agreed to participate in our peer review process.

If the database and analytic tools can be put in place by the national election in November 2006, for the first time in American history, it could be possible for candidates to be reliably warned of indications of machine or human-caused vote count errors, in time to challenge the results. With a sound scientific approach and methodology, it may be possible for our project staff to serve as expert witnesses, or to help develop statistical evidence in support of legal filings.

Please visit USCountVotes online at http://www.uscountvotes.org for additional information.

Kathy Dopp
http://uscountvotes.org

CONTACT:
Bruce O'Dell, VP, USCountVotes, bodell@well.com


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