Audits (2007)

Note: Many of the links are broken.

Audits, Recounts, Paper Trail (2007)

  • All mission-critical systems must have strong auditing procedures. Current audits are too weak, especially with absentee ballots. Recounts are too expensive, hence way too rare. They should be free if the race is moderately close.
  • Ideally, we need to be 99% confident that the decision represented by the vote count reflects the will of the voters.
  • Counties should post computer and human-readable detailed precinct reports on the internet at regular intervals on election night and throughout the canvas period.
  • Auditing of just 1% of precincts leaves open too many possibilities for cheating, especially in small counties. (Please see the spreadsheet provided below)
  • When there is a difference between what the paper audit record shows, and what the machine total shows, the paper record must prevail.
  • When there are differences, the important question to ask is, what are the odds that the differences might have changed the outcome of the race.
  • In some states, there is no trigger threshold that would require further auditing or a full manual recount (aka “escalation”). This needs to be defined by regulations or law.
  • In my opinion, any candidate in a close race should be able to select additional precincts to be audited.
  • It would be good practice to separate the officials auditing the election from those running the election.
  • Governments should study the feasibility of hand-counting or auditing paper ballots/records in the polling places before delivering them to the county headquarters.

California Law

  • For sections of the California Elections Code concerning accessible paper audit trails, click here.

Absentee Ballots

  • As many absentee ballots as possible should be sorted and distributed to the precincts to be counted there on election day. This will provide for more efficient and auditable results.
  • Because more and more people are voting by absentee ballots, and many of those are counted after election day, candidates should not concede until all votes are counted.
  • Expert testimony at Celifornia’s Post-Election Audit Standards Working Group hearing of July 2, 2007, indicated that absentee ballots complicate the auditing process significantly.


  • Exit polls are a valid and efficient ways to check election results. We need more of them.

  • It is not clear to this author how you do exit polls on absentee voters.

Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT)

    The voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) provided with DRE’s are very difficult and extensive to use in auditing because the records for each ballot are kept on a roll of paper. In order to recount votes, officials need to cut each ballot record off the roll of paper.



Web Sites

Documents to Download

More auditing documents are at :

A Spreadsheet for Calulating How Many Precincts to Audit :

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