Kentucky statute requires a “manual recount of randomly selected precincts representing 3% to 5% of the total ballots cast in each election” as part of the official canvass. In 2021, House Bill 574 added a requirement that the State Board of Elections develop regulations to “provide for conducting and review of an election audit, including a risk-limiting audit, and risk-limiting audit pilot program.” The following year, House Bill 564 refined existing statutory language to require 5% of counties to participate in the pilot program. A working group was established by regulation to carry out a risk-limiting audit pilot program for the 2022 primary and general elections in six counties throughout the Commonwealth (31 Ky. Admin. Regs. 4:210). The working group’s final report on the risk-limiting audit program, outlining methodology and findings, can be accessed here.
Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to Ky. Rev. Stat. § 117.383. The information included below relates to the 3% to 5% audit.
Voting Systems Used
Most Kentucky counties use hand marked paper ballots and optical scanners in polling places, with ballot marking devices or paperless DRE voting machines for accessibility. In 2021, Ky. Rev. Stat. § 117.125 was revised to require voting systems approved for use in the state after June 29, 2021 to “[u]se an individual, discrete, permanent, paper ballot cast by the voter for tabulating purposes.” For the most up to date information please visit Verified Voting’s Verifier.
For an explanation of the types of voting equipment used, click here.
The audit consists of randomly selected precincts representing 3% to 5% of the total ballots cast in each election. However, some counties in Kentucky use DRE voting machines with no paper trail for accessibility, making a manual audit of those votes impossible. Statute does not specify whether mail and provisional ballots are included in the audit.
The audit takes place during the canvass, and representatives from the news media may be present as well as representatives designated by political parties or candidates. Statute does not provide for public observation, nor for publication of the audit results. See Ky. Rev. Stat. § 117.275(9).
Audit Counting Method
While the statute specifies that the audit is to be manual (hand counted), many counties in Kentucky use DRE machines without VVPAT for accessibility, so a complete manual audit cannot be conducted.
Type Of Audit Units
The audit samples randomly selected precincts that contain 3% to 5% of the total ballots cast.
Contests & Issues Audited
The statute does not specify what contests are audited.
The statute does not specify how the canvass is to proceed if the audit finds counting errors.
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
The audit is to be conducted as part of the official canvass, but no other specific timing requirements are found in the statute.
Binding On Official Outcomes
The audit is conducted “as part of the official canvass.” The statute is silent on how the canvass is to proceed if the audit finds counting errors.
Oversight & Conduct
The State Board of Elections oversees the audit while the manual count is conducted by county officials as part of the canvass.
Additional Targeted Samples
Statute does not provide for targeted samples as part of the audit. However, any precinct or set of precincts may be re-canvassed if the county clerk or county board of elections “takes notice of a discrepancy in the tally of votes.” A recanvass is also authorized upon a written request by a candidate, if “the difference between the number of votes received by the requesting candidate and the number of votes received by any other candidate or candidates for the same office is less than one percent (1%) of the total votes which were cast for such office.” The re-canvass is described as comprising “the voting equipment, valid federal provisional ballots, valid federal provisional absentee ballots, and absentee ballots”; the statute does not explicitly authorize hand-marked ballots cast in polling places to be manually examined. Ky. Rev. Stat. § 117.305.