Put in place by the Secretary of State in 1990, Missouri’s audit rule requires a manual audit for a number of local, state-wide, and federal contests, as well as any contest within a certain close vote margin. The audit must include at least 5% of election precincts. Audit results are binding on the official election results, but they do not lead to a full recount.
Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to 15 CSR §30-10.110, “Manual recount.”
Voting Systems Used
As of 2020, Missouri uses hand-marked paper ballots and optical scanners in polling places statewide, with ballot marking devices or DRE voting machines with VVPAT paper records for accessibility. 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.
Missouri’s statute is silent on whether absentee, early voted ballots, or provisional ballots are included in the audit. No less than 5% of all election precincts must be audited.
The random selection of precincts is open to the public. However, there is no other guidance in statutes or rules regarding the public or appointed observers’ ability to watch the counting during the audit process. The results of the audit are to be kept in the public records of the election.
Audit Counting Method
Missouri’s audit rule provides for a manual count.
Type Of Audit Units
No less than 5% of all election precincts must be audited.
Contests & Issues Audited
Contests are randomly selected, but must include one of either the presidential, US Senate, or statewide candidates; a statewide ballot issue; a US congressional or state general assembly candidate; a partisan circuit, associate circuit, or nonpartisan judicial retention candidate; and one local contest from the county. Additional contests with close vote margins are also selected for auditing. Any contest in which the margin of victory between the top two candidates is equal or less than 0.5% must be audited.
If the results of the manual recount of the selected races and ballot issues differ by more than 0.5% from the results of the electronically tabulated vote results, the local election authority is to “investigate” and “resolve” any discrepancies. Statute does not provide for expanding the audit, and is silent on whether “resolving” discrepancies could entail a recount.
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
The audit rule requires that the random selection of precincts take place before the certification of election results but does not specify when the audit itself must begin. However, the rule does provide that the election authority must “resolve any discrepancies prior to the date of certification.”
Binding On Official Outcomes
The audit results become part of the certified returns. However, the statute does not explicitly provide for the audit to expand beyond the original sample. (See also “Addressing Discrepancies”)
Oversight & Conduct
Local election officials select a bipartisan team of judges to conduct the audit.
After the polls close, the two supervisory election judges, one from each major political party, return sealed ballot containers and other election materials to the election authority. The materials are divided among the judges for security. After review by the election authority, materials are sealed and kept for twenty-two (22) months before being destroyed. For more information see, 15 CSR 30-10.150; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 115.491; and Mo. Rev. Stat. § 115.493.
Additional Targeted Samples
Missouri’s audit rule does not provide for targeted samples.