About Post-Election Audits
Post-election tabulation audits can provide solid evidence that election outcomes are correct.
Nearly all U.S. votes today are counted by computerized voting systems. Such voting systems have produced outcome-changing errors through hardware, software, and procedural problems. Well-designed and properly performed post-election tabulation audits provide solid public evidence for the initial tabulation outcome when it is correct — and an opportunity to correct the outcome when it is not. In addition to detecting errors (whether accidental or intentional), good tabulation audits can deter hacking, malware, and fraud and help foster continuous improvement in elections administration.
Why Do a Tabulation Audit?
Because we can’t correct errors unless we know they happened.
Auditing can catch errors missed by other tests.
Logic and accuracy tests ensure machines are ready for election day, but intentional or accidental errors that occur after initial testing can go unnoticed.
Auditing provides a recovery plan for the vote count.
By preserving and then auditing voter-verified ballots, errors can be detected and corrected in a timely manner.
Routine tabulation audits ensure quality control in the tabulation process. Checking samples of voter-verified ballots gives voters assurance their ballots count.
Why Do a Risk-Limiting Audit?
RLAs strategically allocate resources while providing evidence-based assurance of contest outcomes.
RLAs avoid checking
Risk-limiting audits base the number of ballots selected on the specifics of the contest. Contests with a wide margin can be audited with very few ballots, freeing up resources for closer contests. In general, risk-limiting audits can be conducted with a modest amount of effort.
The American Statistical Association endorses and recommends risk-limiting audits. When risk-limiting audit procedures are followed, there is only a limited chance that an incorrectly reported outcome could go undetected.
There are different types of risk-limiting audits, all of which provide statistical accuracy and efficiency. RLAs can adapt to various kinds of voting systems, as long as there are voter-verified ballots to audit.