Auditing standards can and should be applied to election administration. They provide a way for election officials to detect errors in the voting equipment, provide accountability to voters, deter fraudulent activity, limit the risk of certifying an incorrect outcome, provide assurance that votes were counted and reported accurately, and provide feedback to the election official for process improvement. A risk-limiting audit (RLA) is a post-election tabulation audit in which a random sample of voted ballots is manually examined for evidence that the outcome of the election is correct. Some of the key terms and definitions for understanding how an RLA works include the risk limit, diluted margin, target contest, cast vote record (CVR) and ballot manifest. The two main methods of conducting an RLA are ballot-level comparison and ballot polling audits. A ballot-level comparison audit compares the markings on each voted ballot to the electronic interpretation of that ballot. A ballot polling audit examines the markings on randomly selected ballots to confirm the outcome is correct. Developing RLA policy can be challenging and requires drafting language that can be understood by the non-RLA expert while not undermining good auditing practice. The RLA process is still in its infancy and continues to evolve. End-to-end auditing of the full election process should not be overlooked
KeywordsElection Audits Risk-limiting Policy Technology
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