Audits in Illinois are conducted primarily by machine retabulation. (The paper records from Direct Recording Electronic voting systems may be audited either manually or by machine.)
Before results are certified, officials randomly sample and audit 5% of the precincts in their jurisdiction, as well as 5% of the machines used in early voting. The audit statutes imply that the main purpose of the retabulation is to check the “total number of votes cast” (see also “Contests Audited” below). The statutes are silent on whether this audit can lead to a full recount or correct the final results.
The statutes do also provide, where applicable, for the machines that tallied votes in the audit sample to be tested using a set of premarked ballots. If these tests uncover programming errors, “the cause shall be determined and corrected, and an errorless count shall be made” before results are certified.
There are three statutes regarding audits in Illinois, each pertaining to a different voting system. Two of these, however, are nearly identical: 10 ILCS 24A-15 covers obsolescent central-count systems such as punch cards, and 10 ILCS 24B-15 covers the voter-fed optical scanners currently used in most of Illinois. The third statute, 10 ILCS 24C-15 , covers Direct Recording Electronic systems.
Voting Systems Used
As of 2020, most Illinois counties primarily use hand marked paper ballots and optical scanners in polling places, with ballot marking devices or DRE voting machines with VVPAT paper records for accessibility. Two counties use DREs with VVPAT for all polling-place voters. 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 statutes explicitly address votes counted on machines in precincts and in early voting. They are silent concerning absentee and provisional ballots.
All records, documentation, and results for the audit are to be made public. See the definition for “Audit trail” in 10 ILCS 5/24C-2. Each separate audit statute states that members of “the State Board of Elections, the State’s Attorney and other appropriate law enforcement agencies, the county chairman of each established political party and qualified civic organizations,” may view the audit. However, there is no mention of their ability to verify ballot markings. Similarly, there is no mention of the general public’s ability to observe the audit.
Type Of Audit Units
Illinois uses precincts and voting machines as audit units.
The audit statutes specify that in each election jurisdiction, the election authority shall test the voting devices and equipment in 5% of the precincts, as well as 5% of the voting devices used in early voting. The precincts and the voting devices to be tested shall be selected after election day on a random basis by the State Board of Elections, so that every precinct and every device used in early voting in the election jurisdiction has an equal mathematical chance of being selected. See, ILS 10 §5/24C-15.
Contests & Issues Audited
Statute is ambiguous on the scope of the retabulation audit. Specifically, the statute applicable to voter-fed optical scanners says that “the election authority shall retabulate the total number of votes cast in” the precincts and machines in the audit sample…. The retabulation shall consist of counting the ballots which were originally counted and shall not involve any determination of which ballots were, in fact, properly counted.” This language could be construed to mean that only the total number of ballots is considered.
The statute also says that “the election authority shall print a comparison of the results of the retabulation with the original precinct return…. The comparison shall be done for each precinct and for each early voting device selected for testing and for each office voted upon within that precinct or on that voting device, and the comparisons shall be open to the public.” This language explicitly covers all contests, but is silent as to whether the election authority should take account of the comparisons.
For DREs, election officials are to count the VVPATs multiple times until “an errorless count” is produced, and if such a count cannot be made, a report and explanation must be provided to the appropriate canvassing board. See, 10 ILCS 5/24C-15. For other mechanical and electronic voting systems an errorless count must be made on a “preaudited group of ballots”; if this test uncovers programming errors, “the cause shall be determined and corrected, and an errorless count shall be made” before results are certified. However, statute is silent on how discrepancies found during the retabulation of voted ballots (not the test using pre-audited ballots) would be handled. See, 10 ILCS 5/24A-15 and 24B-15. See also “Contests Audited” below.
These statutes also incorporate canvassing provisions that can lead to ballots being audited or retabulated in any precinct.
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
The random sample is drawn “after election day” and the audit is completed before the certification (“proclamation”) of election results.
Binding On Official Outcomes
No statutory guidance on this matter. Narrowly read, the statutes do not specify that discrepancies found in the audit retabulation of voted ballots, apart from errors found in the test using pre-marked ballots, have any effect on the results. Because the audit is completed before results are certified, election officials arguably have discretion and opportunity to revise results.
Oversight & Conduct
The State Board of Elections oversees the audit and conducts the random selection. The audit is then conducted by county election officials.
Two ballot boxes are to be provided for each polling place. One for votes cast on the electronic voting system and the other for all other ballots, including any paper ballots. Each box is to be locked and sealed and then transported to the counting location designated.
For a polling location that only utilizes DREs, one copy of an “In-Precinct Totals Report” shall be generated by the automatic tabulating equipment for return to the election authority. One copy of an “In-Precinct Totals Report” shall be generated and posted in a conspicuous place inside the polling place, provided that any authorized pollwatcher or other official authorized to be present in the polling place to observe the counting of ballots is present.
Additional Targeted Samples
Statute does not provide for targeted samples.