When EPEC Met ELECT
A few notes on the board's recent meeting with Virginia's Commissioner of Elections, changes to the MUS, Plus L&A reminders and schedules.
In this edition of the weekly EPECTeam newsletter:
1. Notes from a Fruitful Meeting w/ Commissioner Beals
Board members of the Electoral Process Education Corp (EPEC) got a chance to sit down with Virginia’s Commissioner of Elections, Susan Beals last week to present some of our analysis into the Commonwealth’s voting databases.
EPEC is grateful to Commissioner Beals (and her assistant Ashley Coles), who gave of their time to review our work as a nonprofit charity promoting voter participation and improved understanding of election systems, which included the following:
—We estimate between 30,000-80,000 problematic Registrant Pairs, or “clones”, out of 176,944 candidates' pairings found that need to be researched and validated, removed or merged to avoid multiple voter IDs being assigned to the same voter. More on EPEC’s detected cloned registration records is here.
—5,000 addresses in the official Registered Voter List (RVL) of voters who cast ballots in the VA 2022 general election that were not recognized by the United States Post Office NCOA database as valid occupied addresses. Both primary AND mailing had to fail in order to flag a record.
--Overall, the state’s Early Voting success rate was 90%, based on EPEC’s analysis. In Person voters showed a 99.4% success rate (6 failed per 1000).
--By Mail voters had a 75% success rate (1 in 4 failed). UOCAVA voters had a 50% success rate (1 in 2 failed). More research on this to follow in the EPECTeam Newsletter.
--We also noted a difference of over 66,000 discrepancies between the Virginia Dept. of Election’s official results and the results on its Website from 2022 General Election. (See our dashboard visualization here.)
Commissioner Beals made a few observations on our findings and how we might communicate some of the more complex details to achieve more clarity.
As a 501 c(3) nonprofit engaged in voter education to promote participation, we remain grateful for the opportunity to discuss the work of some 14-15 volunteers, and potential process improvements.
In the spirit of transparency, EPEC has some follow-up findings on current datasets regarding the Daily Absentee List (DAL), and Monthly Updates (MUS):
* Daily Absentee List (DAL):
The current Daily Absentee List (DAL) shows some 13 records listed in a “countable” state (either FWAB | MARKED | PRE_PROCESSSED | ON MACHINE).
Given that early voting doesn’t start until Sept. 22, 2023, some questions:
Could these 13 records marked for counting be considered “special status” ballots that have no deadline?
Might these records be leftovers from the special elections that Virginia has already conducted?
All the other records are listed as "issued" or "deleted" ballot status.
By way of background about the DAL:
The DAL file records the transactions of all absentee ballots during the early voting period in VA elections. It includes records for both mail-in and in-person early voting transactions. It does not record the the actual values of the voted ballots, but the “fact-of” a registered voters checking in to an early voting site, or mailing their ballot application or completed ballot to the registrar, etc.
You can read up on EPEC’s DAL analysis from 2022 and earlier here:
* Missing Fields in the Monthly Update (MUS):
EPEC noticed some notable changes to the datasets from the monthly registration changes from the Dept. of Elections.
It appears that Dept. of Elections has removed “PROTECTED_VOTER” and “VOTE-IN_PERSON” fields from the monthly status updates
This looks to have happened as of August 1st.
EPEC’s initial take: These changes could impact the ability to validate the legality of addresses of registered voters.
Some follow ups to ask:
1. Why did the Dept. of Elections suddenly change that header?
2. Do the registrars receive the info, even if it is denied to the public?
Data science experts will tell you the field is an important filter to avoid obvious false positives when evaluating primary and mailing addresses of registrants, which is a separate issue from “Protected Voters,” who are allowed to mask their information.
EPEC’s take: This change to the registration list published monthly to qualified groups could create more work for registrars who will have to respond to inquiries when bad address records are discovered.
More details to follow in our next edition of EPECTeam Newsletter.
2. Now is the Time for All Good Logic & Accuracy Testing
The all-important tasks of making sure that voting machines work properly for the 2023 General Election are underway. Commonly known as “L&A,” the Logic and Accuracy Testing must be completed by Noon the day before voting starts.
Chesterfield County election officials are giving the public two days of procedure review, as WTVR.com reported.
Here’s a review of the L&A statute, per Dept. of Elections:
All localities must perform logic and accuracy testing on their electronic pollbooks (EPBs) and certify to the Department of Elections that testing was completed by noon on the day prior to any election.
This testing must confirm that the EPBs will provide promptly an accurate and secure record of those who have voted pursuant to § 24.2-611 of the Code of Virginia. Specifically, the logic and accuracy testing must do the following:
1. The logic and accuracy testing must confirm that the appropriate election-specific data files were downloaded to the electronic pollbook. In dual primary elections, localities must show that applicable voter registration files were downloaded from both political parties so that the combined data files contain all voters and all absentee ballot information for voters eligible to participate in the election.
2. The logic and accuracy testing must confirm that the electronic pollbooks for each election are set to the correct type of election being held in that jurisdiction. For example, the data on the electronic pollbook must correlate with whether the upcoming election is a primary (single or dual) or general election.
3. The logic and accuracy testing must show that all precincts will provide the correct ballot styles to voters in the precincts. The locality must provide certification to the Department of Elections that all EPBs being used in an election have been tested in compliance with this section.
If a locality repeatedly fails to perform logic and accuracy testing on their electronic pollbooks, then the Department of Elections and State Board of Elections may disallow the locality's use of electronic pollbooks in subsequent elections.
Virginia’s Election Guidebook has more on testing here.
Testing Guides from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is here.
That’s a wrap for now. See you next week. #