March 23, 2021
Connecticut Government Administration and Elections Committee
Legislative Office Building, Room 2200
Hartford, CT 06106
RE: Verified Voting Support of Section 10 of HB6325
Dear Committee Members:
On behalf of Verified Voting, I write in support of Section 10 of House Bill 6325 regarding risk-limiting audits. Verified Voting is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization with a mission to strengthen democracy for all voters by promoting the responsible use of technology in elections. Since our founding in 2004 by computer scientists, we have acted on the belief that the integrity and strength of our democracy rely on citizens’ trust that each vote is counted as cast. As such, we welcome and support Section 10 of HB 6325, which would establish a working group to evaluate the use of post-election risk-limiting audits. This legislation would place Connecticut on a path to efficient and compelling verification of its vote counts.
As you know, the United States confronts unprecedented security threats to election systems – and to public confidence in election outcomes. To counter these threats, tabulation audits are needed to manually check the results against the actual ballots cast. Risk-limiting audits (RLAs) are robust tabulation audits designed to efficiently confirm that election outcomes match what a full hand count of those ballots would reveal. These audits have been widely endorsed by security specialists and election officials. In fact, risk-limiting audits have been recommended by the American Statistical Association, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and many other experts as one element of a strong and resilient election infrastructure. They have been tested or implemented in at least eleven states so far, including three states that conducted official risk-limiting audits of the 2020 presidential election, and many other states are considering them. I have worked on risk-limiting audits since before they had a name, and I’ve been honored to provide technical assistance in six of those states including Rhode Island, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Appropriately, the bill sets broad requirements for the study and piloting of RLAs in Connecticut, and to inform potential future regulations, the bill establishes an advisory workgroup. In our experience, risk-limiting audits turn out best when state and local election officials work together with people who are deeply familiar with this kind of audit. We recommend that the Committee consider broadening the advisory workgroup to include risk-limiting audit experts, not just statisticians or lawyers. Additionally, the timeline for study, piloting and producing recommendations about RLAs might be too aggressive in order to fully understand the benefits of risk-limiting audits and how they can be implemented successfully in Connecticut. To that end, we also recommend lengthening the timeline for RLA pilots to be conducted (and perhaps not limiting the number of municipalities that can participate) along with setting a later deadline for the workgroup to provide its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly.
We applaud you for considering these provisions and thank you for considering our testimony. We look forward to future opportunities to work with Connecticut officials in implementing risk-limiting audits.