Vermont’s audit statute was signed into law in 2007. With the passage of SB 86 in 2014, Vermont post-election audits became mandatory rather than at the discretion of the Secretary of State. Vermont’s post-election audits are not binding on official results and do not lead to full recounts. Rules and procedures for Vermont’s post-election audit are found in 17 Vt. Stat. Ann. §2493 and the Code of Vermont Rules (CVR) 04-010-001, which was amended in 2019.
Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to 17 Vt. Stat. Ann. §2493.
Voting Systems Used
As of 2020, Vermont primarily uses hand marked paper ballots statewide, with ballot marking devices for accessibility. Jurisdictions in Vermont use optical scanners or hand counts for tabulation of paper ballots. 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.
The Secretary conducts an audit of “any polling place election results” which includes ballots counted by hand on election day. See, 17 Vt. Stat. Ann. §2493(a)(3)(C). While the statute is silent on the number of polling places to be audited, CVR 04-010-001(E)(a) specifies that the Secretary of State must conduct a random audit of at least six polling place’s election results.
The Secretary of State is to “publicly announce the results of the audit as well as the results from the original return of the vote.” See, 17 Vt. Stat. Ann. §2493(a)(3)(C). The same rules that apply for the initial counting of the ballots apply for the audit. According to these rules, the public is allowed to observe the counting process. There is no reference as to whether the public can verify marks on the ballots. See, 17 Vt. Stat. Ann. §2581.
Audit Counting Method
“The Secretary shall open the ballot bags and conduct the audit in the same manner as ballots are counted under sections 2581 through 2588 of this chapter.” This means that the counting method used for the audit is the same as the counting method used in the polling place on election day (i.e. polling places that were hand counted would be audited by hand count and polling places that used tabulators would be audited by tabulators). Thus, local choice determines both counting methods.
Type Of Audit Units
The statute calls for random sampling of polling places. It does not set any requirements regarding the sample size. However, CVR 04-010-001(E)(a) specifies that the Secretary of State must conduct a random audit of at least six polling place’s election results.
Contests & Issues Audited
Vermont’s statute does not explicitly specify the scope of the audit, but in practice, all contests on the ballot are audited.
No statutory guidance is provided on this matter. For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
The audit must be conducted within thirty (30) days of the election.
Binding On Official Outcomes
The audit results may be used as a basis for investigating potential election fraud, but they do not automatically change the official results and cannot alter outcomes.
Oversight & Conduct
By statute and rule, the Secretary of State both conducts and oversees the audit. (However, in practice the audit has been conducted by a third-party contractor under supervision.) Should the audit results suggest potential election fraud, further action may be taken by the Attorney General.
All ballot boxes shall be rigid wood or metal containers. The town clerk shall safely store the sealed containers with all voting materials and shall not permit them to be removed from his or her custody or tampered with in any way. For more information see, 17 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 2590.
CVR 04-01-001(E)(j) specifies that the Secretary of State must reseal the ballots in their original bags, with new seal numbers. The ballot bags are then securely stored by the Secretary of State until local officials retrieve the ballot bags.
Additional Targeted Samples
No statutory guidance is provided on this matter.