Delaware first started requiring post-election audits as of January 1, 2020, following the passage of Senate Bill 121. The audits involve hand-counting a small number of randomly sampled audit units (see “Audit Comprehensiveness”).
Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to Del. Code. Title 15 §5012A.
Per the Office of the State Election Commissioner, Delaware statute provides for the audit of voting machine ballots cast on Election Day in-person at polling places, but does not require auditing absentee ballots or voting machine ballots cast during the early voting period.
Within 48 hours of the certification of the results of the primary and general elections, and school board elections conducted under Title 14, the Department is required to audit the results of one randomly selected voting device in each county and one randomly selected election district in the City of Wilmington.
Within 60 days of the certification of the results of the primary and general elections, and school board elections conducted under Title 14, the Department shall conduct an audit of all such elections, as follows: 1) all results of one randomly selected election district in each county and one randomly selected election district in the city of Wilmington, 2) one randomly selected statewide race in one randomly selected election district in each county and one randomly selected election district in the City of Wilmington.
For each portion of the audit, different election districts must be selected.
The Department of Elections conducts the audit “in public.” Within 60 days of the audit, the Department must publish a report containing the audit results and post the report on its website.
Audit Counting Method
The audit is a hand count only. The statute specifies that votes on each paper ballot will be counted by hand and compared to the electronic totals of the voting device.
Type Of Audit Units
Delaware uses a mix of audit units. It randomly selects voting devices and election districts to audit.
Contests & Issues Audited
The statute provides for audits following primary, general, and school board elections. According to the statute, all results are audited as part of the audits conducted within 48 hours of certification. As part of the audit conducted within 60 days of certification, a portion of the randomly selected election districts will also audit all results. However, the statute also specifies that as part of this “60-day” audit, one set of randomly selected election districts will only audit one randomly selected statewide race. See “Audit Comprehensiveness” for further details.
If the audit results reveal a discrepancy of greater than 0.5% from the certified results totals, an additional ballot audit will be conducted by a different audit team. If, following this additional audit, the discrepancy is still unresolved, further review and testing of the impacted voting machine will be conducted. An additional audit will also be conducted of another randomly selected voting machine used in the same election. If, after these actions, the discrepancy remains unresolved, the state will take further actions to examine and test the voting equipment to avoid similar discrepancies in the future. See 25 DE Reg. 101.
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website
The audit is completed after results are finalized. Specifically, within 48 hours after the certification of results for the first audit, and within 60 days of the certification of results for the second audit.
Binding On Official Results
The audit results are not binding on official results. The audit is held in two stages. The first is conducted within 48 hours after the certification of results. The second set of audits takes place within 60 days of the certification of results.
Oversight & Conduct
The Department of Elections conducts the audit.
“Immediately after the election, and within the 2 days immediately following, all voting materials, including the voting devices, media containing the election results, and secured containers of voted paper ballots, must be stored in a safe and secure place provided by the Department. While the board of canvass is conducting its canvass of the vote, all voting materials must be in the custody of the Prothonotary.” See 15 Del.C. § 4980.
After the canvass is complete, the Prothonotary must return custody of the voting materials over to the Department, who shall leave the voted paper ballots and all documentation extracted from the media containing the election results undisturbed and locked for 22 months after the election. Voting materials may be inspected during this period by “any duly authorized member or agent” of the General Assembly, the Attorney General, or the Department for the purpose of conducting an audit. For more information see, 15 Del.C. § 4980.
Additional Targeted Samples
The statute does not provide for targeted samples.