Audit Laws

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Audit Laws

State Summary

In 2023, the Georgia legislature passed Senate Bill 129, which revised Georgia’s audit provisions in Ga. Code § 21-2-498 so that, as of July 2023, the statute requires “precertification tabulation or risk-limiting audits.” Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-498(b). The statute had previously mandated the use of risk-limiting audits (RLAs) by 2024. The audit rule adopted by Georgia’s State Election Board in 2020 remains unchanged as of this writing, requiring an RLA of one contest following November general elections in even-numbered years. Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 183-1-15-.04. Senate Bill 129 (2023) also instituted audits of all elections with federal or statewide contests, including primaries, special elections, and runoffs; previously, only federal or state general elections were required to be audited.

Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to Ga. Code § 21-2-498.

Voting Systems Used

Georgia uses ballot marking devices for all voters with optical scanners in polling places statewide. 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.

Audit Comprehensiveness

All ballots are subject to audit. The audit should be “conducted by manual inspection of random samples of the paper official ballots.” Ga. Code § 21-2-498(b). All ballot types are audited, including those cast in person, by absentee ballot, early voting, and provisional ballots. Ga. Code § 21-2-498(c)(2).


Local election superintendents must conduct each audit in public view and provide details of the audit to the public within 48 hours of completion. Ga. Code § 21-2-498(c).

Audit Counting Method

The audit is conducted using a hand count only. Audits are conducted by “manual inspection of random samples of the paper official ballots.” Ga. Code § 21-2-498(b).

Type Of Audit Units

The statute does not preclude any type of audit unit, only requiring “manual inspection of random samples of the paper official ballots.” Ga. Code § 21-2-498(b). In 2022, Georgia conducted audits of randomly sampled batches; RLA pilots in 2019 and 2020 sampled individual ballots.

Contests & Issues Audited

Audits are required “on one contest following any election, special election, election runoff, special election runoff, primary, special primary, primary runoff, or special primary runoff with federal or state-wide contests in accordance with requirements set forth by rule or regulation of the State Election Board.” Ga. Code § 21-2-498(b). Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 183-1-15-.04 gives the secretary of state discretion over which contest is selected. When selecting the contest, the secretary of state must consider criteria enumerated in Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 183-1-15-.04(1)3.

Addressing Discrepancies

Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-498 allows the use of “precertification tabulation or risk-limiting audits” and applies to all elections with federal or statewide contests. By contrast, Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 183-1-15-.04(1) requires RLAs but only following November general elections in even-numbered years. According to Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 183-1-15-.04(2), “The audit shall end once all selected ballots have been counted and the risk limit for the audit has been met.” We’ve categorized Georgia as utilizing risk-limiting audits given this requirement in rule. However, the statute appears to allow the use of a non-risk-limiting “tabulation” audit following elections with federal or statewide contests that take place outside of November general elections in even-numbered years.

For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.


The audits are conducted before the final certification of the contest and completed before election results are finalized. Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-498(b).

Binding On Official Outcomes

In conducting each audit, the local election superintendents must complete the audit prior to final certification of the contest. Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-498(b). The statute does not specify whether the results are binding on the official results. In November 2020, Georgia conducted a full hand count RLA of the presidential contest, which did not change the outcome—but the hand count results did not replace the originally reported results. It thus remains unclear whether audit results are binding.

Oversight & Conduct

The State Election Board establishes requirements for the audits in rule, while local election superintendents conduct the audits. Ga. Code § 21-2-498(b). Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 183-1-15-.04(1)3 gives the secretary of state the authority to select the contest for audit.

Ballot Protection

The “chain of custody for each ballot shall be maintained at all times during the audit, including but not limited to a log of the seal numbers on the ballot containers before and after completing the manual audit.” Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 183-1-15-.04(2)

Georgia election code also includes broader ballot protection measures, which are specific to precincts using pre-printed paper ballots or those employing optical scanners. We include a summary of both sections of code here, although for precinct voting, note that all Georgia counties use BMD-produced ballots that are scanned on optical scanners. For precincts using optical scanners, upon closure of the polls, poll workers must either seal the ballot box and deliver it to a central tabulating center or, for locations with precinct scanners, immediately feed any ballots from the “auxiliary compartment of the ballot box” into an on-site tabulator. Ga Code § 21-2-485. For precincts using pre-printed paper ballots, “after the polls are closed and the last elector has voted in precincts in which ballots are used, at least two poll officers shall remain within the enclosed space.” Ga Code § 21-2-436.

Additional Targeted Samples

The statute does not provide for targeted samples.


Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-498: Audit statute

Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 183-1-15-.04: Audit rule

Ga Code § 21-2-485; Ga Code § 21-2-436: Ballot protection


Last updated: September 18,2023

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