In August of 2018, the Michigan Bureau of Elections and the city clerks of Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Rochester Hills partnered with the Brennan Center for Justice, Professor Ron Rivest and Mayuri Sridhar of MIT, Dr. Philip Stark and Kellie Ottoboni from the University of California, Berkeley, Jerome Lovato of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Verified Voting Foundation, and the Voting System Technical Oversight Program at Ball State University (the “RLA Team”) to conduct the first risk-limiting audit (“RLA”) pilot in Michigan.
While the main goal was to provide Michigan election officials with a hands-on learning experience about RLAs, the “gold standard” of post-election tabulation audits, participants gained broadly-applicable insights about best practices. We hope this report can serve as a resource to election officials across the country who are considering adding RLAs to their election security procedures or conducting similar pilots. We have designed it to be useful for election officials with varying levels of familiarity with RLAs.
The executive summary and the project overview provide a high-level overview of the project, introduce the different audit methods used, and list the voting systems and RLA tools used in each jurisdiction. A risk-limiting audit definition and a chart that summarizes the pilot audit results in each jurisdiction are also provided.
Next, election officials offer their insights on the process, the pilot and their goals moving forward. State election officials provide the background to this unique partnership and add their perspective on the project. Importantly, they discuss lessons learned through piloting different audit methods and random ballot selection methods, and how they plan to move forward in the future.
Local election officials then provide a detailed overview of their individual experiences during the pilot. Each discusses their workload, communication strategy, implementation strategy and lessons learned. They also provide recommendations to state election officials.
Finally, two members of the RLA Team describe the foundational mathematics, specific procedures, sampling methods and RLA software tools.
If you have additional questions about the procedure, the pilot, or any other aspect of this partnership, as we hope you do, please do not hesitate to contact anyone involved.