Iowa conducts audits after each general election for the race of president or governor. The election code was revised in 2021 to require the state commissioner to conduct audits of “all other elections.” The state commissioner shall determine the number of counties and precincts to be audited and shall select the precincts to be audited by lot. The results of the audit are not binding and shall not change or invalidate certification.
Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to Iowa Code Title 2 Chapter 50 Section 51.
Voting Systems Used
Iowa primarily uses hand marked paper ballots and optical scanners in polling places statewide, with ballot marking devices for accessibility. 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.
Iowa audit law indicates that “the absentee ballot and special voters precinct for each county . . . shall be included with all other precincts of the county for selection by lot.” There is no specific mention of provisional ballots.
Iowa’s audit law states that “a representative selected by each of the two political parties whose candidates received the highest number of votes statewide . . . shall be invited to observe the hand count.” There is no statutory guidance on observer participation including and up to validating ballot marks.
Audit Counting Method
Audits are conducted manually.
Type Of Audit Units
Iowa uses precincts as audit units. The number of counties and precincts to be audited are determined by the state commissioner and selected by lot.
Contests & Issues Audited
Iowa audit law calls for an audit of the top race on the ballot, i.e. president or governor (Iowa elects its governor in mid-term years). A 2021 revision to the statute now requires audits of “all other elections,” though the specific contests to be audited are not specified.
Statute provides no explicit response to discrepancies found during the audit. However, an administrative recount may be conducted when the commissioner suspects that voting equipment used in the election malfunctioned or that programming errors may have affected the outcome of the election, or if the precinct election officials report counting errors to the commissioner after the conclusion of the canvass of votes in the precinct. Iowa Code Title 2 Section 50.50.
For recount laws, see, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
A post-election audit shall be completed not later than 12:00 noon three days after the county canvass of votes. Iowa Administrative Code 721-26.202(50).
Binding On Official Outcomes
Iowa audit law specifically indicates that “results of an audit conducted shall not change the results, or invalidate the certification, of an election.”
Oversight & Conduct
The audit is conducted by the secretary of state, with the cooperation of county auditors.
The precinct-level election officials seal the ballots in an envelope and deliver them to the state election commissioner (secretary of state), who must preserve them for six months after the election. Ballots from elections for federal offices shall be preserved for 22 months. For all voting equipment, the following security measures are required: serial number, inventory, custody and memory card log. For more information see Iowa Code § 50.12 and Iowa Admin. Code 721-22.51.
Additional Targeted Samples
The statute does not provide for targeted samples as part of the audit. However, an administrative recount may be conducted when the commissioner suspects that voting equipment used in the election malfunctioned or that programming errors may have affected the outcome of the election, or if the precinct election officials report counting errors to the commissioner after the conclusion of the canvass of votes in the precinct. See, Iowa Code Title 2 Section 50.50.