California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has released its report, Assuring Election Integrity: A Comprehensive Ecological Framework for Evaluating Elections in Southern California, which followed a yearlong effort to develop and implement a wide variety of tools to study the integrity of elections in Orange County.
The report’s findings concluded, “Across our major analytical studies, we produce evidence that the administration and conduct of the 2018 primary and general elections in Orange County had a high degree of integrity. Orange County is a very large election jurisdiction, with complex and evolving procedures. That our analytical tools found so few areas of concern lends strong confidence in the conclusion that the county’s election administration was without compromise.”
Quote by Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley:
“I welcomed this independent review of our operations by Caltech,” said Neal Kelley, Registrar of Voters. “The review and analysis were extensive – with the constant scrutiny of elections, their impartial conclusions help to cut through false and misleading statements about elections in general.”
The project collected information about Orange County's voting system and elections in several ways:
Voter registration auditing: The team took consistent snapshots of voter registration files and analyzed them to look for changes that could indicate if voters were being purged from the rolls, or if multiple voters were being fraudulently added at single addresses. They also monitored other data (related to the overall integrity of the voter database) to look for anomalies that required further investigation.
Voter fraud: The team ran near real-time analyses of election returns in search of statistical anomalies that may have been caused by administrative issues, procedural glitches, or fraud.
Social media: The team monitored and analyzed social media data in search of complaints from voters about problems such as excessively long lines at their polling place or vote-by-mail ballots that never showed up in the mail. They developed a tool that scraped social media posts and classified them according to geography, positive-or-negative sentiment, political orientation of the poster, and the nature of the problem the poster experienced.
Surveys: 6,948 Orange County voters responded to a post-election survey by the team about any problems they witnessed and their perceptions about the integrity of the voting experience. Results showed that 87% of voters responding were confident that their vote was counted as they intended and nearly all of the respondents reported a positive voting experience.
Observers: Caltech students served as election observers during the 2018-midterm elections. They looked for problems or unusual activity.
The data collected, along with analysis, was made available to the public through a dashboard hosted on the project's website, Monitoring the Election.