S. 413, signed into law on May 5, 2017, authorized the state election board to conduct risk-limiting audits in Rhode Island after all statewide primary, general and special elections beginning in 2018, and requires the board to conduct risk-limiting audits after all presidential preference primaries and general elections beginning in 2020. Regulations and procedures wil be promulgated by the state board of elections. As defined in statute: “A risk-limiting audit shall begin with a hand tally of the votes in one or more audit units and shall continue to hand tally votes in additional audit units until there is strong statistical evidence that the electoral outcome is correct.”
Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to RI Gen. L. §17-19-37.4.
Voting Systems Used
As of 2020, Rhode Island 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 please, here.
The statute is silent on which ballots to include in the audit, but in practice Rhode Island has incorporated all ballot types. (By definition, a risk-limiting audit requires that all ballots are considered in determining whether the risk limit has been met.)
“The board in conjunction with the local boards shall conduct the audit in public view.” The board is directed to provide a five-day public notice of the time and place of the random selection of audit units and of the audit itself. Audit results must be published on the state board’s website within 48 hours of being accepted by the state board. “If the audit involved a manual tally of one or more entire precincts, then the names and numbers of all precincts audited and a comparison of the vote tabulator results with the hand counts for each precinct shall be published with the audit results on the website.”
Audit Counting Method
Audits in Rhode Island are conducted manually.
Type Of Audit Units
In Rhode Island, an “audit unit” means a precinct, a set of ballots, or a single ballot.
Contests & Issues Audited
Both some statewide and some other contests are audited. The state board shall determine what local, statewide and federal contests are subject to a risk-limiting audit.
If there is no strong statistical evidence that the electoral outcome is correct, the audit shall continue until there has been a full manual tally to determine the correct electoral outcome of the audited contest.
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
The audit is conducted before certification of results and must be completed before election results are finalized.
Binding On Official Results
If a risk-limiting audit of a contest leads to a full manual tally of the ballots cast using the voting system, the vote counts according to that manual tally shall replace the vote counts reported for the purpose of determining the official contest results.
Oversight & Conduct
The state board of elections in conjunction with local boards of elections conduct the risk-limiting audits.
Each local board is responsible for their respective precincts’ ballot custody. For more information see, RI Stat. Ann. § 17-19-17.
Additional Targeted Samples
Statute does not provide for targeted samples.