Over the past year, election auditing experts, including Verified Voting staff, have been working with California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office toward improving California’s audits. Now legislation authorizing the Secretary of State to work with a minimum of five volunteer counties to conduct pilot risk-limiting audits in 2011 is making good progress. The Secretary of State will report to the legislature on the risk-limiting pilots, and how their effectiveness, efficiency, and cost compare to those of the current 1% manual tally. Currently, California law requires hand counting all contests on ballots from one percent of randomly selected precincts in each county, and comparing those hand counted totals with the announced election results.
Earlier this year California Assembly Elections Committee Chair Saldaña introduced bill AB2023 “Post Canvass Risk-Limiting Audit Pilot Program” on behalf of Secretary of State Bowen.
On April 20, the Committee on Elections held a brief hearing on the bill, including testimony from University of California Berkeley statistician Philip Stark. After the hearing, the committee voted unanimously to recommend the legislation to the full Assembly.
Update, June 21 – The bill has now passed the Senate Rules Committee by unanimous vote.
Verified Voting has strongly endorsed the proposed legislation, and encouraged other election integrity organizations to do so as well. We have also sent comments suggesting improvements in several areas that would clarify aspects of the bill, as well as considerations for future legislation.