In 2012 Michigan passed a provision for an optional post-election audit. See, M.C.L.A. § 168.31a. As amended in 2018, the statute stipulates that audit procedures “include reviewing the documents, ballots, and procedures used during an election,” explicitly including a partial “audit of the results.” Although statute does not specify, the procedures have required this audit of results to be a hand count. See, Michigan Post-Election Audit Manual.
In November 2018, Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment stipulating, in part, “the right to have the results of statewide elections audited, in such manner as prescribed by law, to ensure the accuracy and integrity of elections.” This amendment has bolstered efforts to expand post-election tabulation audits.
Unless otherwise specified, references are to the Michigan Post-Election Audit Manual.
Voting Systems Used
Michigan 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.
A procedural audit is required to include an audit of the results in at least 1 race in each precinct randomly selected for audit and at least 1 statewide race or ballot question for statewide elections. The audit reviews procedures performed before, during, and after the conduct of an election. Michigan also commenced risk-limiting audit pilots in 2019, and continued in 2020.
The audits are conducted in a public location. Also, precinct level results are required to be made public “to interested persons who may be present,” after the precinct-level count.
Audit Counting Method
The post-election audit manual specifies that the tabulation audit is conducted by hand count.
Type Of Audit Units
Michigan randomly samples precincts for audit. The audit reviews procedures performed before, during, and after the conduct of an election, as well as results. See, M.C.L.A. §168.31a.
Contests & Issues Audited
The procedural audit includes an audit of the results in at least 1 race in each precinct randomly selected for audit and at least 1 statewide race or ballot question for statewide elections. See, M.C.L.A. §168.31a.
Discrepancies discovered as part of the procedural audit will be used to develop training for the future. The audit of voted ballots will reinforce accuracy and security of the voting system.
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website. For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
The audit is completed after the canvass. The post-election audit must be conducted within thirty (30) days of canvass completion unless a recount has been ordered. (This date could fall either before or after results are finalized, but there is no statutory mechanism by which the audit could lead to a recount.)
Binding On Official Outcomes
The audit has no bearing on certified election results.
Oversight & Conduct
The Secretary of State and the county clerks audit precincts after an election.
Michigan retains strict chain of custody laws that, if not observed, affect the validity of ballots to be recounted if necessary. See, M.C.L.A. §168.871(1). After ballots are counted, the board of election inspectors shall securely tie the ballots in rolls and attach to each ballot bag an endorsed statement showing the number and kind of ballots included in the ballot bag. The board of election inspectors shall then seal the bags with an approved seal and place them in a ballot box along with one (1) tally sheet. The ballot box will then be delivered to the township, city, or village clerk. For more information see, M.C.L.A. §168.805.
Additional Targeted Samples
In addition to the random sample, the Bureau of Elections may select additional precincts to be audited at the state level.