Signed into law in 2005, Alaska’s audit is conducted for the entire ballot as part of the “review of ballot counting.” The audit is a hand count of all ballots from one randomly selected precinct in each of the state’s 40 house districts that accounts for 5% of the votes cast in the district. Audit results are binding on official results, but do not lead to a full recount in statewide contests.
Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to Alaska Stat. Ann. § 15.15.430
Voting Systems Used
Alaska primarily uses hand marked paper ballots (with optical scanners or hand counts) in polling places statewide, with ballot marking devices or DREs with VVPAT for accessibility. For the most up to date information please visit Verified Voting’s Verifier.
For an explanation on the types of voting equipment used, click here.
Both absentee ballots and provisional ballots are to be included in the audit.
The State Director of Elections (hereinafter called the director) is required to publish online “any changes resulting from [the audit]”. See Alaska Stat. § 15.15.430
Appointed representatives from each political party are required to be present at the audit; other observers may be present as well. See Alaska Stat. § 15.15.420
Appointed watchers may be present at a position inside the place of voting or counting that affords a full view of all action of the election officials taken from the time the polls are opened until the ballots are finally counted and the results certified by the election board or the data processing review board. (This language seems to include the audit.) See Alaska Stat. § 15.10.170
Audit Counting Method
The audit is a hand count.
Type Of Audit Units
The audit randomly selects and hand counts one precinct from each house district that accounts for at least five percent of ballots cast in that district.
Contests & Issues Audited
Per Alaska Administrative Code, the audit requirements apply to all primary, general, and statewide special elections. All contested candidate races on the ballot are to be audited. In addition, one randomly selected ballot measure and one randomly selected judicial retention contest are also to be audited if any appear on the ballot. (6 Alaska Admin. Code tit. 6, § 25.068; 6 Alaska Admin. Code tit. 6, § 25.203.)
If discrepancies “of more than one percent” are found during the audit, the state review board recounts by hand all the ballots from that house district. See Alaska’s Election Process (1/25/2022). The director may initiate a full hand count of ballots in each precinct where any unexplained discrepancy is found.
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
The audit is to begin “as soon as practicable after the election is completed,” and no later than 16 days after the election takes place. It is to be completed before the results are finalized. (Alaska Stat. §15.15.440.)
Binding On Official Outcomes
Audits can alter official totals, but are binding on the outcome only when they lead to a full hand count (see “Addressing Discrepancies”). The statute does not explicitly state that the audit results are used in official totals, but it requires the director to publish “any changes resulting from” the audit, which is completed before results are finalized.
Oversight & Conduct
The director adopts regulations for and oversees the audit, while the audit is conducted by the state review board. Alaska Admin. Code tit. 6, § 27.070.
Local election boards complete a ballot statement, and compare the number of voters in each precinct with the number of ballots cast. All official ballots in the possession of election officials, whether voted or not voted, shall be kept in a secure manner until destroyed in accordance with law. For more information, see Alaska Stat. § 15.15.350, Alaska Stat. § 15.15.370, and Alaska Stat. § 15.15.480.
Additional Targeted Samples
The statute does not provide for targeted samples. However, a partial recount law has a similar effect: a defeated candidate or 10 qualified voters may apply to recount any precinct or house district, for any office, proposition, or question.