Under AR Code § 7-4-121, the State Board of Election Commissioners is required to audit the results of each general election. To complete the audit, the State Board selects by lot the counties, polling sites, early voting locations, and vote centers to be audited, selecting enough of each “to obtain a meaningful sample.” The counties to be audited must be selected no less than sixty (60) days after the election, and the audit has no legal effect on the outcome of the election.
The initial audit under the audit law was conducted after the 2020 general election as a pilot program. The State Board of Election Commissioners (SBEC) randomly selected five counties, all of which used the same election systems. (As of November 2020, all Arkansas counties use the same election systems.) According to AR Code § 7-4-121, the SBEC was required to conduct an audit of at least one county with a population of more than 100,000 people; conduct an audit of at least four counties with a population of less than 100,000 people; and conduct the audits in a manner that effectuates at least one audit from a county in each of the congressional districts of this state.
In 2020, the SBEC selected certain batches of ballots tabulated by the voting equipment and hand counted the paper ballots, then comparing the hand count to the electronic count. The SBEC produced a Post-Election Audit Report 2020 Pilot Program report, indicating it found no issues with its tabulators.
Unless otherwise noted, AR Code § 7-4-121 is used to provide audit information.
Statute specifies that early voting centers are included, but does not provide guidance on whether absentee or provisional ballots are included. For the 2020 pilot, one county’s absentee ballots were audited.
The Post-Election Audit Report 2020 Pilot Program report was made public. Statute does not provide guidance on whether the public is allowed to observe audit and/or whether they can check ballot marks.
Audit Counting Method
Counting is conducted manually.
Type Of Audit Units
The audit units are precincts. A sufficient number of early voting locations, polling sites, and vote centers may be used to obtain a meaningful sample.
Contests & Issues Audited
No statutory guidance on issues and contests eligible. In the 2020 pilot program, auditors reviewed votes for president.
Arkansas statute does not provide guidance on handling discrepancies.
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
Counties to be audited are selected no less than sixty days following the date of the general election.
Binding On Official Outcomes
The post-election audit has no legal effect on the outcome of any election subject to the audit.
Oversight & Conduct
The State Board of Election Commissioners shall develop a comprehensive plan to audit the state’s election equipment in future elections based on the experience gained through the 2020 pilot program.
For twenty days, the county board of election commissioners shall retain the custody of ballots in an appropriately marked, sealed container, after which time they shall be stored in a secure location in the county courthouse or other county storage facility. For more information see AR Code § 7-5-702.
Additional Targeted Samples
Arkansas statute does not provide for targeted samples.