You don’t need to be a math expert to talk about risk-limiting audits. Use our messaging guide to talk about RLAs to your constituents, the press, and other key stakeholders.
- Tabulation audit – Provides a routine check on the accuracy of the tabulation of votes by manually comparing voter-verifiable paper ballots to the computer-reported results.
- Risk-limiting audit – A specific type of tabulation audit that checks a random sample of voter-verifiable paper ballots. RLAs can give strong assurance that the reported outcome is what a full hand count would find.
- Risk-limiting audit pilot – RLA pilots help election officials learn how to prepare for RLAs in larger elections, and show the general public that the process is observable and transparent.
- Risk limit – The “risk limit” describes the chance that the audit is wrong. For instance, a 5% risk limit means that if the election outcome is wrong, the chance that the audit will mistakenly confirm it is 5% or less. We usually avoid these specifics with a general audience.
- Recount – A full recount means counting all of the ballots, while an audit only entails counting some of the ballots. Post-election audits that detect errors can lead to a full recount if the outcome is in doubt.
- Sample size & margin of victory – Close contests, where the winner’s margin of victory is small, require looking at larger samples of ballots to check the outcome.
Who Else Endorses RLAs – A Non-Exhaustive List:
- American Statistical Association
- S. Department of Homeland Security
- S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee
- S. Election Assistance Commission
- Brennan Center for Justice
- Common Cause
- League of Women Voters
- Presidential Commission on Election Administration
- Gold standard
- Statistically sound
- A tailored approach
What can you say about an RLA?
- An RLA provides solid evidence that the reported election outcomes are correct.
- An RLA can also trigger a full hand recount if the sampled ballots do not match the reported outcome.
- An RLA promotes public confidence in election outcomes and public confidence in our democracy.
- An RLA checks that the ballots were counted accurately.
- RLAs are transparent and observable by the public.
- An RLA is a tool for election officials.
What can’t you say about an RLA?
Because RLAs rely on the ballots, they can only do so much. They can’t do the following:
- Establish that the voting system is inherently secure and reliable.
- Confirm that voter intent was recorded accurately.
- Show that voters were not disenfranchised.
Read more about audits and RLAs at:
Contact Verified Voting Communications Officer Corrie Emerson at email@example.com.