Testimony to California State Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting, 20 April 2010
Philip B. Stark, http://statistics.berkeley.edu/~stark

Good afternoon.

I have worked extensively on election auditing. I have spoken on risk-limiting election audits at national political science conferences, national statistics conferences, national meetings on election integrity, and with groups of elections officials from California and other states.

In 2007 I served on California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's Post Election Audit Standards Working Group.

An election audit is risk-limiting if it is guaranteed to have a large chance of catching and correcting any electoral outcomes that are wrong—no matter what caused them to be wrong.

In 2007 I developed the idea of risk-limiting election audits and the first methods for conducting them. The methods were published in a series of peer-reviewed articles in top Statistics and Computer Science journals in 2008 and 2009.

Risk-limiting election audits are considered the gold standard by a document entitled "Principles and Best Practices for Post-Election Audits," which was endorsed by Common Cause, Verified Voting, The Brennan Center for Justice, The American Statistical Association, and election integrity groups from Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Today, the Board of Directors of the American Statistical Association will publish a statement recommending conducting risk-limiting audits routinely for all federal elections, most statewide elections, and at least a sample of other governmental elections.

In collaboration with elections officials in Marin County, Santa Cruz County, and Yolo County, I conducted six risk-limiting post election audits in 2008 and 2009. These were the first risk-limiting audits ever performed, anywhere.

The contests we audited included simple measures, measures requiring a super-majority, single-winner contests with several candidates, and multi-winner contests in which each voter could vote for more than one candidate.

I continue to work to improve the efficiency and transparency of risk-limiting audits, to simplify the procedures, and to reduce costs.

I am grateful to Assemblymember Lori Saldaña for authoring AB 2023 and to Secretary of State Debra Bowen for sponsoring this landmark bill to conduct an official pilot of risk-limiting election audits, with the ultimate goal of improving election audit policy and standards for California.

The bill is the first in the U.S.—indeed, the first in the world—to test risk-limiting election audits.

The experience it will provide will be of great value to California and to the nation in many ways:

I wholeheartedly endorse AB 2023, and I offer my assistance to any jurisdictions that wish to conduct pilot audits next year.

20 April 2010.