Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Monday, July 3
We've Got Paper Trails -- Now What?
Sadly for election officials in Yuba County, California, they're going to have to count them, according to this report in the Appeal-Democrat. A recount has been requested in a supervisorial race where the incumbent defeated the challenger by a 676-639 margin. There weren't that many votes cast, just a little over 1300, but the recount of the paper strips that constitute the electronic voting machine's "voter verified paper audit trail" (VVPAT) is expected to last several days according to elections supervisor Donna Hillegass. Why? Take a look at the accompanying photo of the VVPATs and you'll get an idea.

The big question that this raises is this: Will it really be feasible to conduct automatic audits of a sufficient number of VVPATs on a routine basis, to get an adequate level of confidence in election results? That entails two subsidiary questions. The first is a math/statistics question: What percentage of randomly selected ballots (or precincts) will have to be recounted to get a adequate level of confidence? The second is a manpower question: How long will it actually take to count that many ballots?

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Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University