New study examines Cuyahoga County primary

Another study was released this afternoon, also examining the recent primary in Cuyahoga County. This study was conducted by Election Science Institute, and is titled “DRE Analysis for May 2006 Primary, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.” This report, coming in at a at well over 200 pages, adds more detailed data and analysis to what is one of the most closely studied elections in recent history. Thad and I assisted in components of the analysis of this report, as did VTP colleagues Jonathan Katz and Rod Kiewiet.

Despite the title of the report, it actually examines the complete election administration practice in Cuyahoga’s recent primary, and issues a number of important findings (quoted directly from the executive summary):

After three months of exhaustive research, empirical evidence supports the key definitive finding: the machines’ four sources of vote totals – VVPAT individual ballots, VVPAT summary, election archive, and memory cards – did not agree with one another.

The vast majority of voters surveyed were pleased with their experience with the new system, liked touch screen voting and had confidence that their votes would be recorded correctly.

Improved training, both practical and procedural, is likely to minimize incidents experienced on Election Day.

Incident reports were widespread but concentrated, with 9% of precincts reporting 10 or more incidents. The most commonly reported incidents were voter registration issues (30.1%), election administration issues (22.6%), problems related to voting machines (16.2%) and issues involving booth workers (9.1%).

New strategies for voting machine allocation are needed to minimize voter wait time and distribute it equally across all locations.

VVPAT’s were missing, missing information and the tally of the individual ballots did not always match the VVPAT summary printed at the end of Election Day.

Discrepancies were found across vote counts stored on different mediums across the election system.

The current election system, if left unchanged, contains significant threats to inventory control of mission critical election assets, error-free vote tabulation, and tabulation transparency. One likely result is diminished public confidence in a close election.

As in the previous report that was done regarding this election, there is much worth detailed examination in both studies. Hopefully other election jurisdictions will undertake such detailed audits of their election administration practices in the future.

This report is picking up some attention in the press this evening; for example there is a summary story in the Washington Post as well as other media sources.