FYI… just sent this to my press list:
Contact: David Goldstein
TO MY FRIENDS IN THE MEDIA:
CalTech/MIT studies confirm accuracy of hand recounts
In asking for a new election, Dino Rossi continues to make the unscientific charge that hand recounts are less accurate than machine counts. However, there happens to be quite a bit of research on this topic by the CalTech/MIT Voter Technology Project. [http://www.vote.caltech.edu/]
Of particularly relevance is the published study “Using Recounts to Measure the Accuracy of Vote Tabulations: Evidence from New Hampshire Elections 1946-2002.” [http://www.vote.caltech.edu/Reports/vtp_WP10.pdf] In this study the authors assert:
“Tabulations may change from the initial count to the recount for a variety of reasons: ballots may be mishandled; machines may have difficulty reading markings; people and machines may make tabulation errors. Because recounts are used to certify the vote, greater effort is taken to arrive at the most accurate accounting of the ballots cast. The initial count of ballots, then is treated as a preliminary count, and the recount as the official.”
In measuring tabulation error rates, the CalTech/MIT investigators clearly start from the assumption that recounts are more accurate because greater care is taken in arriving at the result. The study concludes that recounts should be mandatory whenever the margin of victory falls within 0.5%.
But Mr. Rossi has attacked the integrity of hand counts in particular. The researchers at CalTech/MIT speak directly to that issue in a paper titled “Residual Votes Attributable to Technology: An Assessment of the Reliability of Existing Voting Technology.” [http://www.vote.caltech.edu/Reports/vtp_WP1.pdf]
The “residual voting rate” is considered the primary metric for measuring the relative performance of voting technologies. According to CalTech/MIT:
“Similar jurisdictions using different technologies ought to have the same residual vote rate, on average. By this metric, hand-counted paper ballots and optically scanned ballots have shown the better overall performance than punch cards, lever machines, and electronic voting machines.”
The study finds that punch cards and electronic voting machines have a residual voting rate for president of about 3 percent of all ballots cast, whereas paper and optically scanned ballots produce rates of only 2 percent… “a statistically significant difference of fully one percent.” Indeed, when comparing jurisdictions that have switched from one voting technology to the other, the researchers conclude:
“Paper might even be an improvement over lever machines and scanners.”
The scientific literature clearly supports the notion that hand counts are accurate, and that recounts are more accurate than the initial, preliminary count. For Mr. Rossi to continue to insist that the first count was the most accurate, not only flies in the face of science, but of the clear intent of the governing statutes. It should be remembered that as a state senator, Mr. Rossi voted for an overhaul of RCW Title 29A, that reaffirmed the primacy of hand recounts in determining the outcome of our elections.
I encourage you all to go to the source material and evaluate the research for yourself. I believe you will agree that it is one thing to make specific allegations of fraud and error, and quite another to impugn the integrity our voting system in general.