Principles and Best Practices for Post-Election Tabulation Audits

Date: December 2018
Author: Multiple
Issue: Post-Election Audit, Paper Records

Publication Summary

This document is meant to provide guidance to relevant legislative bodies, state and local election administrators and vendors.

Why Audit Elections?
A healthy democracy requires widespread trust in elections. In particular, people need to be sure that the official election outcomes match the will of the voters. Election audits that examine voted ballots provide direct evidence that the people who take office and the ballot measures enacted were in fact chosen by the voters. Audits differ from recounts. Audits routinely check voting system performance in contests regardless of how close margins of victory appear to be. Recounts repeat ballot counting in special circumstances, such as when preliminary results show a close margin of victory. In most cases, audits require checking a small fraction of ballots, while a recount requires checking all ballots. Ideally, a post-election audit can lead to a full recount if necessary to correct the reported outcome.