Audits: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

by Mark Lindeman, Acting Co-Director

I’m finally back at my desk after completing a forensic audit of Windham, New Hampshire’s voting machines used to tabulate the votes in the 2020 election. I and my collaborators – also nonpartisan auditing experts – concluded that there was no evidence of tampering in the election results. We’ll have more to share in the coming weeks, but the initial findings show that folds made in the paper ballots affected the vote count on election night – which shows how absolutely essential transparent, scientific audits are in checking the election results.

I’ve been a post-election audit specialist for fifteen years, and my team at Verified Voting advocates for robust audits like risk-limiting audits (RLAs). RLAs are designed to be a transparent, efficient, and cost-effective way for election officials to check the reported election results before the results are certified. The Verified Voting team travels the country assisting election officials in conducting RLAs and RLA pilots. When implemented alongside other best practices, RLAs give strong evidence to support the final election outcome and give the public confidence that their votes count.

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the so-called “audit” being conducted in Maricopa County, AZ  and we have been sharply critical. Unlike the Windham audit (which explored a real discrepancy), the spectacle in Arizona has been a sham from the start. Reporters and observers have been sharply restricted, the procedures have been bizarre, and the auditors even falsely accused officials of destroying evidence. The whole event appears designed not to answer real questions but to feed a toxic narrative about election fraud. That’s disgraceful, and it only weakens election security.

But while fearmongers may be grabbing the most headlines right now, they won’t stop us from advocating for audits as they can and should be conducted. From Maine to Texas, many counties and states are considering more robust, scientifically sound post-election audits like RLAs. We’re helping solidify their plans while pushing back against “audits” like the one in Arizona – and against legislation that restricts voter access in the name of “election security.”

At Verified Voting, we like to say that we are fighting the “battle of the American mind.” Our pieces of the voting rights puzzle – voter-verified paper ballots, strong chain of custody measures, and robust risk-limiting audits that follow expert-recommended best practices – have never been more important in providing voters with real answers about whether election results are trustworthy.

Our team at Verified Voting has the transparent, scientifically sound tools to help voters trust that their votes count, even as we’re up against disinformation and partisan gamesmanship that threatens to undo the progress we’ve made so far. Remember, the most important piece is you. Help us by continuing to stay informed and lifting up our trusted, evidence-based resources.

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