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Post-Election Audits

Post-election audits can ensure votes are recorded and tallied accurately and help restore public confidence in elections.

Overview

Public concerns about elec­tion secur­ity spiked follow­ing revel­a­tions about foreign inter­fer­ence with the 2016 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion. One way to confirm whether votes are recor­ded and tallied accur­ately — and, in turn, help restore public confid­ence in elec­tions — is to perform a post-elec­tion audit. 

In a risk-limit­ing audit, considered the gold stand­ard of post-elec­tion audits, elec­tion offi­cials hand count a sample of paper ballots to provide strong evid­ence that the repor­ted elec­tion-night result was correct. These audits, which can only be carried out when there’s a voter-veri­fi­able paper record of each vote, are typic­ally conduc­ted publicly and can provide voters with confid­ence that a count­ing error or mali­cious attack did not change the outcome.

The Bren­nan Center promotes post-elec­tion audits as a key compon­ent to secur­ing elec­tions against foreign inter­fer­ence and advoc­ates for voting meth­ods that produce a paper backup of each vote and mandat­ory risk-limit­ing audits.

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