Nevada has two separate audit requirements in place. This entry provides detail on both, though for the purposes of categorization in the searchable database and the map of audit laws, we have relied on the state’s RLA provisions, unless otherwise noted.
Since 2020, Nevada has been phasing in the use of risk-limiting audits, while maintaining its long-standing “postelection certification audit of VVPATs.”
Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293.247.3(g) requires the secretary of state to adopt regulations that specify “the procedures to be used for the testing, use and auditing of a mechanical voting system which directly records the votes electronically and which creates a paper record when a voter casts a ballot on the system.” Nev. Admin. Code § 293.255.3–4, “Postelection certification audits of VVPATs,” sets out the specific audit requirements: counties must audit at least 2% or 3% of their voting machines, depending on the county’s population. Throughout the text, we refer to this audit as the “postelection certification audit.” The audit may be conducted by hand or by machine. Nev. Admin. Code § 293.255.2.
Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293.394, enacted in 2019, requires the secretary of state to adopt regulations on the procedures and scope of a risk-limiting audit (RLA). This statute initially required a pilot program for an RLA of the 2020 general election, followed by an RLA of the 2022 election. Assembly Bill 422 (2021) extended the pilot program to include the 2022 general election, postponing the implementation of pre-certification RLAs until 2024. Nev. Admin. Code § 293.480, effective through 2023, establishes the procedures for a risk-limiting audit pilot of the 2022 primary and general elections. Nev. Admin. Code § 293.485, which takes effect January 1, 2024, sets deadlines for the submission and publication of RLA results in 2024, though no further procedures for the 2024 RLA have been put in place as of this writing. (Consequently, we have relied upon Nev. Admin. Code § 293.480 for much of the information on RLA procedures.)
Nev. Admin. Code § 293.255, which relates to the postelection certification audit, only mentions an audit of VVPATs; it does not include absentee or provisional ballots.
Nev. Admin. Code § 293.480.4(a), which covered the 2022 primary and general elections, requires that “all accepted and tabulated ballots, including, without limitation, mail ballots, provisional ballots and ballots voted using a mechanical recording device” be included in the ballot manifest used for the risk-limiting audit. In effect, all ballots are eligible to be audited as part of a risk-limiting audit.
Nev. Admin. Code § 293.255.6 states that any member of the public observing the postelection certification audit must not interfere with the counting. It does not specify whether the public may verify ballot marks or if the date for the audit is to be made public. County clerks must transmit audit results to the secretary of state, but there is no requirement to make those results public. Nev. Admin. Code § 293.255.5.
Nev. Admin. Code § 293.485, effective as of January 1, 2024, requires the risk-limiting audit results to be made public, but there are no requirements that the public be allowed to observe the audit.
Given that RLA procedures for 2024 have not yet been fully fleshed out, we consider Nevada’s audit to have partial transparency, based on the provisions for the post-election certification audit.
Type Of Audit Units
The post-election certification audit specifies an audit of VVPATs: for larger counties, VVPATs are selected from 2% of voting machines or at least 20 devices, whichever is greater; for smaller counties, 3% or at least four devices, whichever is greater. Nev. Admin. Code § 293.255.3–4.
The risk-limiting audit may be either a ballot comparison audit, a ballot polling audit, or a hybrid of the two audit methods. Nev. Admin. Code § 293.480.7(b). The ballot is treated as the audit unit in each of these methods.
Contests & Issues Audited
The post-election certification audit is conducted of all contests on the ballot. Nev. Admin. Code § 293.255.2.
According to the risk-limiting audit regulations, in 2022, counties were required to audit one statewide race, randomly selected by the secretary of state. Counties were also directed to randomly select one race for countywide office to be audited. Nev. Admin. Code § 293.480.3.
Nev. Admin. Code § 293.255 was revised in 2022 to provide for a mechanism to address discrepancies in the post-election certification audit. If a discrepancy of four or more votes is discovered during the audit, the county clerk must randomly select additional voting machines to audit if the discrepancy cannot be resolved. The number of additional machines depends on the county’s size: larger counties must select 2% or at least 20 devices, whichever is greater; 3% or at least four, whichever is greater, for smaller counties. An explanation of any discrepancies found and their cause must be reported to the secretary of state as part of the county’s audit results.
For the risk-limiting audit, Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293.394.2(b) requires an audit protocol “designed to limit the risk of certifying an incorrect election outcome.” However, the risk-limiting audit statute and regulations do not provide specific guidance on addressing discrepancies.
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
The results of the postelection certification audit must be sent to the secretary of state within seven working days after the election. Nev. Admin. Code § 293.255.5.
Beginning January 1, 2024, Nev. Admin. Code § 293.485.1 will require county clerks to submit the results of an RLA to the secretary of state within 15 days after completing the RLA. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293.394.2 will require RLAs to be conducted prior to the certification of the election results.
Binding On Official Outcomes
The post-election certification audit statute and regulations do not provide guidance on whether the audit is binding.
The risk-limiting audit statute requires the use of an audit protocol that is “designed to limit the risk of certifying an incorrect election outcome.” Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293.394.3. Beginning January 1, 2024, the risk-limiting audit must be completed prior to certification, so we consider it to be binding.
According to Nev. Rev. Statute § 293B.330, upon the closing of the polls, the election board must secure all voting machines from further voting, transfer the ballots voted on voting machines to the required storage device, account for all ballots at the polling location, and seal the ballots to be delivered to the central counting place. At least two members of the election board—ideally of different parties—then deliver the sealed container to a receiving center or to the central counting place, as directed by the county clerk. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293B.335.1. The central ballot inspection board then continues with their respective procedures. See generally Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293B.365.
Through 2023, for the purposes of conducting a risk-limiting audit, the county clerk may remove the seals affixed pursuant to NRS 293.391.1 to retrieve the ballots used in the audit. After the RLA is completed, the county clerk must return the ballots to their original location and seal the ballots. The county clerk is required to maintain a record of the seals affixed to the ballots used in the RLA. Nev. Admin. Code § 293.480.6.
Additional Targeted Samples
The statutes do not provide for targeted samples.
Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293.247: Secretary of state to regulate elections
Nev. Rev. Stat. § 293.394: Risk-limiting audits through 2023 and effective January 1, 2024
Nev. Admin. Code § 293.255: Post-election certification audits of VVPATs
Nev. Admin. Code § 293.480: 2022 RLA pilot program
Nev. Admin. Code § 293.485: RLA result deadlines beginning January 1, 2024
Last updated: May 16, 2023