Sunday, September 21, 2008

No meaningful audits or recounts in Virginia this year

Readers of this blog know that one of my pet peeves is that Virginia law prohibits meaningful audits or recounts after an election. To be precise, audits are allowed only after the election results have been finalized, and only if the margin of victory is greater than 10% (no, that's not a typo, I mean greater - i.e., when there's no chance that you'll find anything wrong). And recounts are generally restricted to just retallying the printouts from the voting machines (DREs or optical scanners). If a jurisdiction uses DREs, there's nothing else to count so it wouldn't make much difference, but where there are optical scan ballots you'd really want to at least rerun them through the scanner - but even that is prohibited without a judge's order. [I'm slightly simplifying things, but not in a meaningful way.]

Last Thursday WTVR-TV in Richmond (the state capital) ran a two-part series on the upcoming election. My comments were included in part 2 of the series, which can be found here. As someone who explains things frequently using analogies, I was pleased that they included my explanation for why Virginia's "retally the results" isn't a good way to do recounts.

My only disappointment about the series is that Secretary of the Board of Elections Nancy Rodrigues, for whom I have tremendous respect, made the comment that there's no way the machines could be hacked because they have strong chain of custody. She's right that a strong chain of custody is important, but it's not enough - in particular for the WinVote machines used widely in the state which have wireless networks. I wish the reporters had more technical background to challenge her on that point...


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home