Testimony in support of AB 44

Philip B. Stark, 15 April 2015

AB 44 puts California in a position to use the most scientific, efficient, and economical methods to check election results.

Right now, California and other states have "procedure-based elections": local elections officials follow various procedures, use equipment that has been certified, and we live with the result.

This bill would put the foundations in place to move California to "evidence-based elections," where local elections officials can provide convincing evidence that election results are correct.

Procedure-based elections are like a surgeon saying she washed her hands and used sterile equipment, so the operation must have gone well and the patient must be fine.

In contrast, evidence-based elections actually look at the patient to see how things went.

Current laws in California don't do much more than establish whether the patient still has a pulse.

AB 2023, SB 360, and AB 44 set the groundwork for elections officials to do CAT scans of election results, checking precisely and scientifically whether the election is healthy-- that is, whether the reported winners really won.

To do that, it's crucial to know how many ballots there are, how they are organized and stored, and to be able to retrieve individual ballots and see how the tabulation system recorded them.

It's also crucial that the tabulation system report how it interpreted individual ballots, so that it's accuracy be checked efficiently.

AB 44 does both of those things. It puts California ahead of other states in laying the groundwork to confirm elections rigorously and economically.