Well, it turns out that this "audit" is not actually going to audit the election, and no actual ballots are going to be recounted. In fact, what Maryland is doing pretty much defeats the purpose of having paper ballots. The whole point of paper ballots, which many of us fought very hard for, is to have a definitive record of each voter's intention, which was viewed and handled by the voter, and which can be independently recounted. Such paper ballots are not subject to wholesale electronic fraud, which is very difficult to detect.
Unfortunately, the Maryland "audit" is only examining the electronic record in the scanning machines. No actual ballots will be reviewed. So, any errors in the scanning process will not be detected. The Maryland process will not detect any errors (intentional or inadvertent) in the software in the scanning machines. But, isn't that the whole point of an audit?
It is disingenuous to call what Maryland is doing an audit. While the Maryland electoral votes went to the loser in this election, and so ultimately the results in the Presidential election cannot change if an audit reveals anything wrong, as citizens, we should be very concerned about the integrity of our voting process. Calling Maryland's post election process an "audit" is highly misleading, and we need to fix the process for future elections.
Paper ballots are only half of the solution. Without proper audits, manual recounting of ballots in a statistically significant way, we cannot achieve trustworthy results in our elections. If the next governor's race or Congressional race is very close, we need to know that we have a process in place in our state that guarantees that we can have confidence in the outcome.
Here are some useful articles on this issue:
- Poorvi Vora's important and detailed work.
- An op-ed by Philip and Poorvi in the Baltimore Sun.
- A column by Philip and Ron in USA Today asking for an audit of all paper.