Under Arizona Rev. Stat. § 16-602, after each primary, special, general and presidential election, the county officer in charge of the election shall conduct an audit of at least 2% of the precincts in that county, or two precincts, whichever is greater; plus at least 1% of early votes or 5,000 ballots, whichever is less. However, county political party chairs supply the election board workers to perform the audit, and the audit cannot proceed if they supply insufficient staff. The contests to be audited shall include up to five (5) races: one statewide ballot measure (if applicable), one statewide office, one US Senate or US House of Representatives, one state legislative office, presidential race. Audits results are to be reported prior to certification.
Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to Arizona Rev. Stat. § 16-602.
Voting Systems Used
As of 2020, Arizona primarily uses hand marked paper ballots and optical scanners in polling places statewide, with ballot marking devices 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.
The audit covers both regular ballots and early (mail) ballots, but not provisional and conditional provisional ballots.
For the precinct hand count, the officer in charge of elections must conduct a hand count of regular ballots from at least 2% of the precincts (or vote centers), or 2 precincts/vote centers, whichever is greater. Provisional and conditional provisional ballots are not included in the hand count. In a presidential preference election (PPE), the sample includes 2% of the polling places or vote centers, with no minimum.
The officer in charge of elections also is required to conduct a hand count of 1% of the total number of early ballots cast, or 5,000 early ballots, whichever is less. Counties may elect to audit a higher number of ballots at their discretion. At least one batch of up to 400 early ballots from each central count machine used to tabulate early ballots and at least one accessible voting machine (if those machines independently tabulate votes) used during on-site early voting shall be selected for the early ballot hand count process.
Members of the general public may view the central count facility activities from the public viewing area. In addition, political party observers may bring their own video equipment to record the audit. Further, the unofficial vote totals from all precincts shall be made public before selecting the precincts to be hand counted, and Arizona Rev. Stat. §16-602 (I) requires that the results of the hand counts be made publicly available on the Secretary of State’s website. See also, Arizona Election Procedure Manual.
Audit Counting Method
Ballots are audited by hand.
Type Of Audit Units
For in-person voting, the audit units are (in-person) precincts. For early (mail) voting, the audit units are batches of ballots tabulated together.
Contests & Issues Audited
The contests to be audited shall include up to five (5) races: one statewide ballot measure (if applicable), one statewide office, one US Senate or US House of Representatives, one state legislative office, presidential race. The particular contest is chosen at random, when applicable.
If the audit count differs by more than a specified percentage from the electronic tabulation of the same ballots (and a second hand count confirms the disparity), the hand count is expanded to include a total of twice the original number of precincts. If the expanded count again differs by more than the specified percentage, the hand count is extended to include the entire jurisdiction for that race within that county.
This specified percentage (the “designated margin”) is determined by a seven-person vote count verification committee, whose members have expertise in “any two or more of the areas of advanced mathematics, statistics, random selection methods, systems operations or voting systems.”
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
The hand count begins within twenty-four hours after the closing of the polls and is completed before the canvassing of the election for that county. The results of the hand count will then be publicly available on the Secretary of State’s website.
Binding On Official Outcomes
The audit can alter official totals, but is binding on the outcome only when it leads to a full recount. “If the expanded hand count results in a difference in that race that is less than the designated margin when compared to the electronic tabulation of those same ballots, the electronic tabulation constitutes the official count for that race.”
Oversight & Conduct
The Secretary of State oversees the audit while the audit is conducted by both the county election officials and party representatives appointed by the county party chairperson.
The election board shall prepare a report and place it in the ballot box, in which the voted ballots have been placed. This box will then be sealed with a numbered seal and delivered promptly by two members of the election board of different political parties to the central counting place, which shall not be more than fifty miles from the polling place from which the ballots are delivered. The county officer in charge of elections shall retain custody of the ballots for purposes of performing any required hand counts and the officer shall provide for security for those ballots. For more information see, Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 16-608.
Additional Targeted Samples
Arizona statute does not provide for targeted samples.