Post-Election Audits: Restoring Trust in Elections (Executive Summary)

August 1, 2007

In the last several years, most of the public debate on electronic voting has concerned whether voting machines should include a voter-verifiable paper record. Today, in much of the country, that debate is over: thirty states require voter-verifiable paper records. Another eight states use voter-verifiable paper records in every county without requiring them, and of the remaining twelve states that do not use voter-verifiable paper records statewide, several are currently considering legislation that would mandate such records in the future.

The widespread adoption of voter-verifiable paper records does not, however, resolve the security, reliability, and verifiability issues with electronic voting that many groups, including the Brennan Center, have identified. To the contrary, as the Brennan Center noted in its June 2006 comprehensive study of electronic voting system security The Machinery of Democracy: Protecting Elections in an Electronic World, voter-verifiable paper records by themselves are “of questionable security value.”

Executive summary of practical recommendations put forth by the Brennan Center and Samuelson Clinic for improving post-election audits, regardless of the audit method that a jurisdiction ultimately decides to adopt.

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