West Virginia enacted its audit statute in 2005. It provides for all items on the ballot to be audited; at least three percent of the precincts are chosen at random for the audit and counted manually. The Board of Canvassers conducts the audit as part of the canvass. The audit results are binding upon official results and may lead to a full recount of the voter-verified paper audit trail.
The audit provisions are found in WV Code, §3-4A-28 and West Virginia State Rule 153-18. See also, 2022 Best Practices Guide for Canvass.
Unless otherwise specified, statutory references are to West Virginia State Rule 153-18.
Voting Systems Used
Most West Virginia counties primarily use ballot marking devices for all voters, with some jurisdictions still fielding DREs with VVPAT for all voters or as accessible systems. 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.
West Virginia audits optical scan ballots as well as DREs with VVPAT. See, West Virginia State Rule 153-18. According to WV Code, § 3-5-15 absentee ballots must be received by the canvass, so they are included in the audit.
At least 3% of the precincts are to be chosen at random and the voter-verified paper ballots are to be counted manually. See, WV Code, §3-4A-28(d).
The audit is conducted during the canvass, which is open to the public. The random selection of precincts must be conducted during a public meeting. See, WV Code, §3-6-9(a) and page 88 of the Manual for Election Officials of West Virginia.
Discrepancies revealed in the audit “shall immediately be disclosed to the public.” See WV Code § 3-4A-28.
Audit Counting Method
The audit is conducted using a hand count.
Type Of Audit Units
West Virginia uses randomly selected precincts as audit units.
Contests & Issues Audited
Every contest and ballot issue on the ballot is audited. WV Code, §3-4A-28(d) and WV State Rule 153-18-7.
The audit is expanded to a full manual count of a county’s voter-verified paper ballots if the results of the audit show discrepancies that differ by more than one percent from the initial count, or that show a different outcome for an election contest. Specifically, the rule states that “if the difference between the tabulated results . . . and the hand counted results of the same ballots is more than 1% of the total votes cast, all precincts must be hand counted.” WV State Rule 153-18-7. (While the statute is clear that the audit can expand to a full hand count within a county, it does not address whether an audit can expand directly to a statewide hand count.)
For recount laws, see Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota website.
The audit is conducted during the canvass, and must be completed before certification.
Binding On Official Outcomes
If there is a discrepancy between the originally reported tallies and the audit totals, “the manual count of the voter-verified paper ballots is the vote of record.” See WV Code § 3-4A-28(d)(2).
Oversight & Conduct
The Board of Canvassers both oversees and conducts the audit.
Two election commissioners of different registered party affiliations or two special messengers of different political parties appointed by the clerk of the county commission are jointly responsible for delivering the ballot box or container to the clerk of the county commission at the central counting center and receiving a signed receipt. For more information see, WV Code Ann. § 3-1-22 and WV Code Ann. § 3-4A-19(k).
Additional Targeted Samples
Statute does not provide for targeted samples.