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Reply #22: hmmmm [View All]

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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-07-10 08:12 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. hmmmm
Edited on Sat Aug-07-10 08:13 AM by OnTheOtherHand
I don't concede the apparent premise that audits have a low probability of helping. You seem to be taking the effectiveness of an audit protocol in a worst-case (or almost worst-case) scenario and treating it as the first and last word on the protocol. If we assessed medical treatments in that way, we'd consider almost all of them useless. (I don't know if you're actually doing that, or whether we're just talking past each other.)

I think published probability numbers are a good idea, although they would be very widely misconstrued. If I reckon that a particular audit gives 10% "confidence," that basically means that if the contest was actually tied, and if miscounts were packed into the fewest possible units without anyone otherwise noticing, then 10% of audit samples would contain more miscounts than the observed audit sample contained. In practice, even an audit that yields 10% "confidence" under that definition can provide useful additional evidence about the election outcome. What it can't do is to provide strong evidence on its own -- and, yes, it's important for people to know that.

Of course, for people who regard the scanner counts as inherently utterly unbelievable, the audit results may be construed as the only evidence about the election outcome. That isn't my view.

My issue is the voters being told that the elections are audited leaving them to assume there is a high confidence in the outcome when there isn't. Actually, harmful might be a description for that. Particularly in close races.

That's a legitimate concern, but not the only one. One of my concerns is that if we insist that New York's 3% audit is useless or worse than useless, someone will believe us and gut it as a cost-cutting measure -- at which point all the "confidence" numbers go to zero. Some people may think that's just fine, but from my standpoint, it would sacrifice a very large amount of information about how the election systems are functioning.

ETA: I still wonder which state you had in mind in your earlier question.
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