First passed in 1986, Indiana’s audit law, while it audits the entire ballot, does not lead to a full recount. Audits in Indiana are not mandatory but rather occur under specific circumstances, depending on the type of voting system in use.
Audits of optical scan ballots (“ballot card voting systems”) must be requested by the county chair of a political party. The party chair may request an audit of 5% or five (5) precincts in the county, whichever is greater. See, Indiana Code §3-11-13-38.
Audits of DRE voting machines occur only if a discrepancy exceeding the “audit threshold” is identified between the number of votes cast and the number of voters who received a ballot at the polls. If such a discrepancy occurs, the county election board or secretary of state may then order an audit (of all votes cast in that precinct or vote center). See, Indiana Code §3-12-3.5-8.
Statute provides limited guidance on how audits are carried out, referring only to tests and procedures independent of the provider of the voting system being audited. Moreover, many of the DRE voting systems in use in the state are paperless: it was only in 2019 that Indiana law authorized the use of DRE voting machines with VVPAT paper records. See, 2020 Indiana Election Administrator’s Manual, p. 69.
Indiana Senate Bill 405 (2019) established a risk-limiting audit pilot program, adding a chapter on risk-limiting audits to Indiana code. See, Indiana Code §3-12-13. The chapter gives the Secretary of State the authority to develop rules for risk-limiting audits and determine which elections are to be audited. Counties may request that the Secretary of State designate them as risk-limiting audit pilot counties.
SB405 also introduced a chapter on procedural audits to Indiana code. See Indiana Code §3-12-14. The Secretary of State may require a procedural audit of a county if there is an investigation or a recount. See, Indiana Code 3-12-14-3.
Voting Systems Used
As of 2020, Indiana uses paper ballots with optical scanners or DRE voting machines without VVPAT paper records as the primary voting systems in polling places across the state. Some counties provide DREs for accessibility (either with or without a paper component) while others use ballot marking devices. 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.
Indiana has different audit provisions depending on the type of voting system in use. Statute is silent regarding inclusion of early, absentee, and provisional ballots in the audit.
For optical scan ballots, the county chairman of either of the major political parties in the county may request that not more than 5% of the precincts, or 5 precincts, whichever is greater, to be audited. The request is limited to precincts that use optically scanned paper ballots. See Indiana Code §3-11-13-38, “Petition for confirmation of vote cast”.
For an audit of DRE voting systems, “the county election board shall confirm that the votes cast in an election: (1) for each candidate and each public question; and (2) on a direct record electronic voting system in the precinct; were correctly counted.” See, Indiana Code § 3-12-3.5-8
If an audit is conducted of DREs: “Not later than ninety (90) days after each election in which an audit is conducted under this section, the secretary of state shall publish a report stating whether the results of each audit indicate that the discrepancy was the result of human error, intentional violations of election laws, unknown causes, or a combination of these factors.” See, Indiana Code § 3-12-3.5-8(l).
Audit Counting Method
The statute does not specify the counting method. However, Indiana Code §3-11-13-39 and Indiana Code §3-12-3.5-8 call for audits of both optical scan ballots and DREs “by means of tests and procedures that are approved by the commission and independent of the provider of the [ballot card or direct record electronic] voting system being audited.”
Type Of Audit Units
In Indiana, precincts are the audit units.
For audits of optical scan ballots, the party chairman may request that not more than 5% of the precincts, or 5 precincts, whichever is greater, to be audited. See Indiana Code §3-11-13-38, “Petition for confirmation of vote cast”.
For audits of DREs, if the difference between the total number of votes cast and the total number of voters recorded in the poll book equals or exceeds the “audit threshold,” as defined in Indiana Code 3-12-3.5, the county election board or the secretary of state may order an audit of all the votes cast in that precinct.
Contests & Issues Audited
Audits of optical scan ballots are to be conducted “for each candidate and each public question.” See Indiana Code §3-11-13-37, “Confirmation of count.” The statute does not explicitly limit the type of election for which a party chairman may request an audit, suggesting that both primary and general elections may be audited.
For audits of DRE voting systems, Indiana Code § 3-12-3.5-8 similarly suggests that all elections and contests are audited.
The statute does not provide guidance on this matter.
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
For audits of optical scan ballots, a petition for an audit must be made “no earlier than the Saturday before an election and no later than the Thursday after an election. ” Indiana Code § 3-11-13-38. The audit results must be certified twelve (12) days after the election. See, Indiana Code 3-11-13-40.
The results of audits of DREs must be certified by thirty (30) days after the election. See, Indiana Code § 3-12-3.5-8(j).
Binding On Official Outcomes
While Indiana’s audit provisions do not provide guidance for expanding the audit, statute does allow election officials to correct errors they identify: “The county election board or the election division shall correct an error in the certification of the vote for a candidate or on a public question if the error is discovered not later than the final date and hour for the filing of a recount or contest under this article.” See, Indiana Code § 3-12-5-14(b).
Oversight & Conduct
For audits of optical scan ballots or DREs, county election officials conduct the audits.
Either the county election board or secretary of state may order an audit of DREs, if there is a sufficiently large discrepancy between the number of votes cast and voters recorded. For audits of paper ballots, it is the party chairs who petition the county election board for an audit.
With respect to risk-limiting audits, the Secretary of State has the authority to designate the risk-limiting audit pilot counties and develop rules governing the RLAs.
Paper ballots are to be counted immediately after closing. Ballot cards are to be processed immediately at the precinct or a central location open to the public, depending on the type of system used. DRE printouts are to be read immediately. For more information see, Indiana Code §3-12-2-1 and §3-12-3-2.
Additional Targeted Samples
The statute does not address targeted samples.