Audit Laws

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Audit Laws

State Summary

Indiana’s audit law, first passed in 1986, allows for an audit of the entire ballot; however, audits do 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.

For optical scan ballots (“ballot card voting systems”), the county chair of a major political party may request an audit of no more than 5% of precincts or five precincts in a county, whichever is greater. Ind. Code § 3-11-13-38.

Audits of Direct Recording Electronic (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, according to the poll books. Ind. Code § 3-12-3.5-8(a).The state statute provides limited guidance on how audits are carried out, referring only to tests and procedures that are approved by the commission independent of the provider of the voting system being audited. Ind. Code § 3-12-3.5-8(h); see also Ind. Code § 3-11-13-39.

Indiana S.B. 405 (2019) established a risk-limiting audit pilot program, adding a chapter on risk-limiting audits to Indiana code. Ind. Code § 3-12-13. (In 2022, H.B. 1116 changed the statutory language from “risk-limiting audit pilot” to “post-election audit.”) This chapter gives the secretary of state the authority to develop rules for post-election audits and determine which elections are to be audited. For a county to be designated as a post-election audit county, the county election board must adopt a resolution requesting that the secretary of state designate the county as a post-election audit county. The secretary of state, with the consent of the co-directors of the election division, may also require a procedure audit of an election to be conducted if there is an investigation of the election or a recount. (Ind.Code § 3-12-14; see also Ind. Code § 3-6 and; Ind. Code § 3-12.) 

In 2020, the post-election audit included five counties; in 2022, the total number of counties included in the audit was 10. See Secretary of State announces Indiana to double the number of post-election audits (Apr. 1, 2022); see also VSTOP Post-Election Risk-Limiting Audit Reports: 2022 General Election.

Voting Systems Used

Most Indiana counties use DREs with voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) printers for all voters. By July 1, 2024, all counties using DREs must use VVPAT printers. Ind. Code. § 3-11-15-13.3(c). Some counties use ballot marking devices (BMDs) for all voters and others use paper ballots with BMDs available. 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

Indiana has different audit provisions depending on the type of voting system in use. The statute is silent regarding inclusion of early, absentee, and provisional ballots in the audit.

For optical scan ballots, the county chair of either of the major political parties in the county may request an audit of no more than 5% of the precincts or five precincts, whichever is greater. The request is limited to precincts that use optically scanned paper ballots. Ind. Code § 3-11-13-38. For an audit of DRE voting machines, which occur only if a discrepancy exceeding the “audit threshold” is identified between the number of votes cast on DREs and the number of voters who were checked in on poll books, the county election board or the secretary of state may order an audit of all the votes cast in that precinct. Ind. Code § 3-12-3.5-8. Before ordering an audit, the county election board must recheck the computations reported by the inspector and judge.


The public must be notified of the time and place of the audit at least 48 hours before it begins. Ind. Code § 3-11-13-41.

If an audit is conducted of DREs, within 90 days the secretary of state must publish a report stating whether the results of the audit indicate that the discrepancy was the result of human error, intentional violations of election laws, unknown causes, or a combination of factors. Ind. Code § 3-12-3.5-8.

Audit Counting Method

The statute does not specify the counting method. However, Ind. Code § 3-11-13-39 and § 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 [paper ballot or DRE] voting system being audited.”

Type Of Audit Units

In Indiana, precincts are the audit units.

Contests & Issues Audited

Audits of optical scan ballots are to be conducted “for each candidate and each public question.” Ind. Code § 3-11-13-37. The statute does not explicitly limit the type of election for which a party chair may request an audit, suggesting that both primary and general elections may be audited.

For audits of DRE voting systems, Ind. Code § 3-12-3.5-8 similarly suggests that all elections and contests may be audited.

Addressing Discrepancies

The statute does not provide guidance on this matter.

For recount laws, see the 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. Ind. Code § 3-11-13-38. The audit results must be certified within twelve days of the election. Ind. Code § 3-11-13-40.

Post-election audits must be completed not later than the final Friday in June following a primary election or December 20 following a general election. Ind. Code § 3-12-13-7. However, if a petition for a recount or contest is filed in a county, the deadline to complete a post-election audit is not later than 60 days after completion of the recount or contest. Ind. Code § 3-12-13-7.

Binding On Official Outcomes

While Indiana’s audit provisions do not provide guidance for expanding the audit, the statute does require election officials to correct errors they identify in the certification of the vote for a candidate or on a public question if the error is discovered before the final date and hour for the filing of a recount or contest. Ind. Code § 3-12-5-14.

Oversight & Conduct

County election officials conduct audits of optical scan paper ballots or DREs. 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, while audits of paper ballots occur if a party chair who petitions the county election board for an audit. 

The secretary of state retains the authority to designate the post-election audit counties and develop rules governing audits. The secretary of state may also waive the post-election audit requirement, if a county election board makes a written request stating that “the technology in use by the county will not enable the county election board to satisfy the requirements for a post-election audit for an election.” Ind. Code. § 3-12-13-6.

Ballot Protection

Paper ballots must be counted immediately after polls close and must be processed immediately at the precinct or a central location open to the public, depending on the type of system used. Ind. Code § 3-12-2-1; see also Ind. Code § 3-12-3-2. DRE printouts must be read immediately and the memory cards must be removed and transported to the county election board. Ind. Code §§ 3-11-14-30–31.

Additional Targeted Samples

The statute does not address targeted samples.


Ind. Code § 3-11-13-37 (Contests and issues audited)

Ind. Code § 3-11-13-38 (Petition for audit)

Ind. Code § 3-11-13-39 (Audit requirement)

Ind. Code § 3-11-13-40 (Certification)

Ind. Code § 3-11-13-41 (Notice requirement)

Ind. Code § 3-12-3.5-7 (Timeline)

Ind. Code § 3-12-3.5-8 (Audit threshold)

Ind. Code § 3-12-13-7 (Timeline for completion)

Ind. Code § 3-12-13 (Post-election audit statute)

Ind.Code § 3-12-14 (Procedural audit statute)

Ind. Code § 3-11-14-2 (VVPAT requirement)

Ind. Code § 3-12-2-1 (Ballot protection)

Ind. Code § 3-12-3-2 (Ballot protection)

Ind. Code § 3-12-5-14 (Error correction)

Ind. Code §§ 3-11-14-30–31 (Ballot protection)

2024 Indiana Election Administrator’s Manual


Last updated: April 5, 2024

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