Boosting Voter Confidence Through Audits

Post-election audits provide a boost to voter confidence in these times of uncertainty about the accuracy and reliability of modern election systems. This will be especially important as the presidential primary....

April 24, 2008

Post-election audits provide a boost to voter confidence in these times of uncertainty about the accuracy and reliability of modern election systems.

This will be especially important as the presidential primary elections season winds down and with what is expected to be a record voter turnout in this fall's general election.

Ohio is developing the use of random post-election audits as a way to ensure accurate vote totals in light of the state's massive study released in December 2007 that showed critical voting system security failures. With the state's tight budget, replacing voting machines before this year's presidential election is a difficult prospect.

Eleven of Ohio's 88 counties are taking part in a pilot program to conduct post-election audits of the state's March 4, 2008 presidential primary election. This program was devised by the secretary of state's office with the advice and suggestions of our Voting Rights Institute Advisory Council.

The county boards of elections who volunteered for the program follow required procedures to randomly select precincts for 7% hand counts, and if discrepancies exist of more than two votes, an additional 3%.

Failure to be within two votes in the additional 3% results in a county-wide hand count. Our office plans to work further with election officials, voting rights advocates and the academic community, including the Brennan Center for Justice, to further develop Ohio's audit procedure for statewide use in the fall.

There is an emerging national consensus that post-election audits are a best practice in elections. This is especially so in light of the new voting machine technology that has been tested by Ohio and other states with findings of security and performance problems and that have resulted in a number of states decertifying or discontinuing their use.