How Can We Be Sure the Outcome of an Election is Correct with High Certainty?

Perform a Risk-Limiting Audit!

 

What is a Risk-Limiting Audit? A risk-limiting audit (RLA) is a procedure for manually checking a sample of ballots or voter-verifiable paper records from an electronic voting device that will have a large, pre- specified chance of correcting an erroneous election outcome

Why Risk-Limiting Audits?

·      Risk-limiting audits are practical and inexpensive compared to other election costs.

·      Risk-limiting audits can confirm correct outcomes very efficiently.

·      Risk-limiting audits accommodate a wide variety of voting systems.

·      Risk-limiting audits can greatly reduce the need for recounts and election contest litigation.

·      Risk-limiting audits can yield extensive information about voting system accuracy.

Does My State Already Use Risk-Limiting Audits in Elections? Colorado and Rhode Island are currently the only two states with mandatory risk-limiting audit laws. The Ohio SOS post-election audit directive recommends risk-limiting audits. 

How Can I Be an Advocate for Risk-Limiting Audits? Contact your state legislators, secretary of state, and local elections officials and educate them about risk-limiting audits. Contact local organizations that advocate for voting and election integrity and ask for their support.  If you live in Washington State, learn more here

Common Risk-Limiting Audit Questions

  • How many ballots get counted in a RLA? The number of ballots in the initial sample depends on various things, including the margin of victory in the contest: the narrower the margin, the larger the initial sample.
  • How many contests can a RLA audit? Risk-limiting audits can be conducted for any number of contests in a single election, often using a single sample for greater efficiency.
  • What if the election outcome is incorrect? If the reported outcome is incorrect, then the audit usually will lead to a full hand count that reveals the correct outcome.
  • When does a RLA stop? By design, once the audit finds strong evidence that the reported outcome was correct, it can stop. 
  • Will RLA’s delay election results? Risk- limiting audits can begin very soon after the election – in some cases even before all the votes have been counted.  The audit results should be available before an election result is certified.
  • Can you show me an example of RLA language in state law? Check out Colorado’s here. And Rhode Island's here.  
  • Is there software to perform RLA’s? Yes. Colorado is currently working with Free and Fair to provide open source RLA software.

Download risk-limiting audit facts.

Sources

https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~stark/Preprints/evidenceVote12.pdf

https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~stark/Preprints/RLAwhitepaper12.pdf

https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~stark/Preprints/gentle12.pdf


An election should not only
find out who won,
but should also
provide convincing evidence
that the winner really won.

— -Stark & Wagner Evidence Based Elections 2012