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Auditing Principles

Table of Contents


  1. TRANSPARENCY: Elections belong to the public. The public must be allowed to observe, verify, and point out procedural problems in all phases of the audit without interfering with the process.
  2. INDEPENDENCE: The authority and regulation of post-election audits should be independent of officials who conduct the elections. The actual work of postelection audits may be best performed by the officials who conduct the elections.
  3. PAPER RECORDS: Ideally, post-election audits use hand-to-eye counts of voter-marked, voter-verified paper ballots. Where such paper ballots are not available, other forms of voter-verifiable paper records should be used.
  4. CHAIN OF CUSTODY & BALLOT ACCOUNTING: Robust ballot accounting and secure chain of custody of election materials and equipment are prerequisites for effective post-election audits.
  5. RISK-LIMITING AUDITS: Post-election audits reduce the risk of confirming an incorrect outcome. Audits designed explicitly to limit such risk (risk limiting audits) have advantages over fixed-percentage or tiered audits, which often count fewer or more ballots than necessary to confirm the outcome.
  6. ADDRESSING DISCREPANCIES and CONTINUING THE AUDIT: When discrepancies are found, additional counting and/or other investigation may be necessary to determine the election outcome or to find the cause of the discrepancies.
  7. COMPREHENSIVE: All jurisdictions and all ballot types, including absentee, mail-in and accepted provisional ballots, should be subject to the selection process.
  8. ADDITIONAL TARGETED SAMPLES: Including a limited number of additional targeted samples of ballots can increase audit effectiveness and public confidence. Such samples may be selected by candidates, issue committees, parties, election administrators, or others as provided by regulation.
  9. BINDING ON OFFICIAL RESULTS: Post-election audits must be completed prior to finalizing official election results and must either verify the outcome or, through a 100% recount, correct the outcome.