Testimony to California State Senate Committee on Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments
15 June 2010
Philip B. Stark, http://statistics.berkeley.edu/~stark

Good afternoon.

AB 2023 calls for a pilot of risk-limiting election audits. An election audit is risk-limiting if it has a large chance of catching and correcting any electoral outcomes that are wrong—no matter what caused them to be wrong.

Risk-limiting election audits are the gold standard. They are 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.

The Board of Directors of the American Statistical Association has called for routine risk-limiting audits of all federal elections, most statewide elections, and at least a sample of other governmental elections.

I served on Secretary of State Debra Bowen's Post Election Audit Standards Working Group. I have spoken on election auditing at national political science conferences, national statistics conferences, national meetings on election integrity, and with groups of election officials from California and other states.

I developed the idea of risk-limiting audits and the first risk-limiting methods, which were published in top Statistics and Computer Science journals. In collaboration with election officials in Marin, Santa Cruz, and Yolo counties, I conducted the first six risk-limiting audits. The contests 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.

AB–2023 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 valuable to California and our nation in many ways:

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 to improve election audit policy and standards for California.

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

15 June 2010.