Research conducted by Samuelson Clinic fellows and students played an important role in a groundbreaking audit just conducted in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, one of the country’s most troubled election jurisdictions.
Cuyahoga County experienced serious procedural and technical problems with the administration of its elections in both the 2004 and 2006 election cycles. In response to these problems, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections commissioned a public monitor and a collaborative public audit led by the Cleveland State University’s Center for Election Integrity.
The support provided by the Samuelson Clinic helped the Cuyahoga auditors attain unprecedented access to election officials, equipment, and data. The auditors’ report incorporates research into post-election vote-tally audits performed by School of Information student PhD Joseph Lorenzo Hall and fellow Aaron Burstein, in conjunction with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School and a panel of distinguished experts. (A report from this group is in preparation.) Also, as acknowledged in the report, the Cuyahoga auditors used arguments developed in the report Legal Issues Facing Election Officials in an Electronic-Voting World, written by Burstein, Samuelson Clinic Fellow Jack Lerner, and Clinic Student Interns Stephen Dang and Galen Hancock.
The report details a number of deep problems with Cuyahoga’s electronic voting systems, including possible corruption of the vote tabulation database, missing or duplicate serial numbers on voting machines, uncounted ballots, ballots counted twice and the poor physical quality of audit reports produced by the election management system. The Cuyahoga report sets a new standard of thoroughness and independence in post-election auditing. It sheds valuable light on a wide variety of challenges that many jurisdictions are likely to face in ensuring the accuracy, accessibility, and integrity of their elections.