Election Audits – A Simple Explanation

Larry Moore

September 20, 2021

Recently I posted a blog entry that provided additional data by storage box. I released the vote counts for third-party Presidential candidate Jo Jorgenson for each of 1,634 storage boxes.

To the organizers of the Arizona Senate’s months-long process designed to undermine confidence in the Maricopa’s election, this data signaled that we could effectively audit their numbers.

Several people asked me questions that indicated that they did not have a clear concept of the audit. Having spent the last decade working on this audit methodology now marketed and supported by the company I founded, the Clear Ballot Group, it behooves me to explain it more clearly.

First, a definition. An audit compares two independently produced results based on the same data. It’s like asking two people to add an identical list of numbers.  If the results are the same and they did not talk to one another, we can be reasonably sure the totals are correct.

But, what is a “result?”

In elections, there are two types of results: ballot counts and vote counts.  Like Maricopa’s, all U.S. election departments create ballot counts by precinct and vote counts by candidate and precinct. However, the Senate contractors, the Cyber Ninjas, Inc., did not have the ballots organized by Maricopa’s 743 precincts. Instead, ballots were organized by storage box. Each storage box had an average of 1,274 ballots and 374 distinct precincts. Precincts were comingled in the same storage boxes because 90% of ballot cast were returned during the early voting period. There was no need to physically sort the ballots by precinct because the tabulation software could do that automatically.

Why does this matter? Because the county’s results and the Ninja’s results were not comparable.  Precinct counts cannot be compared to counts by storage box. The Ninjas cannot do an audit. Period.

We, the Audit Guys, linked Maricopa county’s official results to the 1,634 ballot storage boxes. The result: we can make an apples-to-apples comparison between the county’s results and the Ninja’s results.

Here are excerpts from the Audit Template with which we intend to audit the Ninja’s ballot and vote counts.

Compares official ballot counts to Ninja’s ballot counts and links counts to storage box and pallet.
Compares official vote counts to Ninja’s vote counts and links counts to storage box and pallet.

Here is a link to an expanded version of the above snapshots that explains the audit in greater detail.

Hopefully, you will see the conceptual simplicity of the audit:

List the boxes that should be counted, subtract the Ninja’s results from the official results for ballots and votes, analyze the differences.

I’ve personally participated in over 50 audits. We typically find that ballot control is the hardest thing for an election department do consistently. 

Maricopa’s process, which traces every ballot from the envelope opening process straight through tabulation, is among the very best I’ve ever seen.

What next?

Benny White, J.D.

September 18, 2021

The Senate is scheduled to receive a report of some sort from the Cyber Ninjas on Friday, September 24. This will be another press extravaganza designed to continue to disinform the public about elections generally and the 2020 General Election in Maricopa County. Many claims will be made. Most will probably have no evidence and will be difficult to verify.

We think the Ninjas will say they found more votes for Donald Trump and there are several areas where they continue to have questions because they have not been given all of the information they need from the Maricopa County officials.

I will address a few areas we suspect they will try to tell the public where they found problems.

Duplication

The Ninjas were confused about ballots that were duplicated; they were not sure which ballots to count or did not trust the duplication process. The Secretary of State reported that instead of counting the ballots that were duplicated and were actually counted in the official results the Ninjas decided to count the original ballots that had some sort of defect that prevented them from going through the vote counting machines.

Here is a table that shows the actual number of ballots that were duplicated during the entire election:

You can see there were a total of 27,457 ballots that were duplicated and included in the official results. These included mail and early ballots that were duplicated by the election boards before they went to the central count room where the ballots were tabulated. The remaining 7,436 ballots were those that were rejected by the tabulators for some reason and had to be duplicated.

There is no mystery here. There are clear, detailed public records available that account for each of these ballots.

Electronic Adjudication of Ballots By Adjudication Boards

The next area the Ninjas will probably complain about is the process of electronic adjudication. Electronic adjudication allows an expedited and accurate process of resolving ambiguous vote marks and determination of write-in vote marks. Maricopa County is the only county in Arizona that employs electronic adjudication, in part due to the size of the voting population and the number of ballots cast in their elections.

Here is a table that accounts for every ballot that underwent electronic adjudication:

This table shows that there were 2,089,563 total ballots counted. We have public records that confirm that each of these ballots were cast by a qualified voter and the daily records of ballot tabulation of Early, Provisional and Election Day ballots exactly matches the official results.

Much was made initially about the high percentage of ballots that required electronic adjudication. There were 235,392 ballots (11.27% of total ballots cast) that were reviewed by adjudication boards. The vast majority were contests (102K) for which no changes were made, the reason being that the oval was identified as being ‘ambiguous’ (an insufficiently filled in oval), and the adjudicator examined the oval and decided that the weak mark was actually vote intent. The weak mark was allowed to stand without changing anything. Finally, 132,139 ballots needed some sort of modification to resolve which whether the write-in mark was for a qualified candidate, which qualified write-in candidate should receive a vote, whether it was really an overvote or undervote.

11,954 of these electronically adjudicated ballots involved the Presidential Elector contest. There may have been other contests that had some issue with vote marks but the table below shows exactly what the issues were, how they were resolved and what the results were:

This data shows us a few very important things. First, the vast majority of these ballots (6,611) were marked for unqualified write-in candidates. Secondly, these adjudications awarded additional votes to all three Presidential candidates with Biden receiving 2,069 to Trump’s 1,516.

There is a detailed record for each one of these ballots, the actions taken and identification of the election board involved and the time the action was taken. In addition to those records that were produced at the time the action was taken there is a complete record of the adjudication action included with every digital image of every ballot no matter whether some ambiguity was resolved or not.

We anticipate that the Ninjas will once again demonstrate that they don’t know what they are doing. They will talk about counts that we will show are wrong. They will talk about various problems they have discovered. Most of these will be about things involving election administration and operation of the election systems which they did not understand when they started and haven’t learned about over the last six months.

They attempted to create a different result that would show Donald Trump won Arizona and they have failed.

The Audit Guys Publish Vote Counts in Preparation for a Real Audit

Larry Moore

September 16, 2021

Today, the Audit Guys provide additional data to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, her contractor, the Cyber Ninjas, and the media. With this “September 16th spreadsheet“, the Ninjas can easily verify the accuracy of their vote-counting methodology before they release their report to the Senate. The September 16 spreadsheet updates the July 12 spreadsheet, which has enabled the Ninjas to test the accuracy of their ballot-counting methods for the past two months.

To recap:

In mid-May, 2021, we began to develop the capability to provide an independent audit of the Ninja’s unorthodox recount procedures.  That is because the Ninjas seemed unaware that they would not be able to conduct an audit. Why?

An audit compares two independent results based on the same data.  Maricopa counted votes by precinct; the Ninjas counted votes on ballots in storage boxes.  It would have been challenging for the Ninjas to count ballots and votes by precinct; Maricopa has 743 precincts and, on average, storage boxes contain 1,274 ballots and 374 distinct precincts.  

Drawing on public data, we devised a method (see Appendix F of our report) to recast the official results to compare the official vote counts to votes counted by ballot storage box.

On July 12, the Audit Guys sent an email to Senator Fann, Ken Bennett (Senate liaison), and Kory Langhoffer (counsel to the Senate) containing a spreadsheet that listed the 1,634 boxes containing exactly the 2,089,563 ballots reported in the officially certified election results. Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, should welcome this data because, on July 15, he publicly expressed confusion over which ballot storage boxes should be counted out of the 1,691 boxes delivered by Maricopa County in response to the AZ Senate’s subpoena. See Logan’s testimony at 1:23 here.

In addition, the July 12th spreadsheet contained the ballot counts for each of the 1,634 boxes. One day later, on July 13, Senator Fann announced that the Ninja’s hand count of ballots did not match the official ballot count. The difference, although never revealed, was sufficiently significant to justify purchasing two high-speed paper counters at the cost of $30,000 to create an independent ballot count.

What is new in the September 16 spreadsheet? Two additional items which the Ninjas can use to check their results.

First, it contains the count of ballots in 24 boxes which Ken Bennet provided the Audit Guys. This ballot count, performed on high-speed paper counters, matched the official ballot counts at 99.94% level of accuracy. It will be interesting to compare the hand count to the offical results and to the Ninja’s machine count.

Second, the September 16 spreadsheet provides box-level vote count for Jo Jorgensen, the third-party candidate for President.  

With the names of 1,634 boxes to be counted, ballot counts for each box and vote counts for one candidate, it should be relatively easy for the Ninjas to see how close their ballot counts are to the official results.

Once the Senate complies with our public record request, we will compare ballot and vote counts from the Ninjas hand count and machine count to the official results.

Disaffected Voters: Impact on the Presidential race in the Arizona 2020 Election

I am publishing a spreadsheet that contains the backup data to support our contention that Trump lost Arizona because a sufficient number of disaffected Republican-supportive voters did not vote for him in the two most populous counties – Maricopa and Pima Counties.

This spreadsheet provides additional information not contained in our report, Lessons from Maricopa …

For our purposes, disaffected voters vote for a majority of down-ballot candidates of one party but not for that party’s President.

Here’s a link to the supporting spreadsheet.

Highlights:

CellComment
C2674,822 Disaffected Republican Supportive Voters
C1948,577 voted for Biden
(represents 4.6x the margin of Biden’s statewide victory (10,457)
Source: Cast Vote Records from Maricopa and Pima Counties
obtained under a Public Records Request.

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