Investigating Discrepancies and Promoting Continuous Improvement

The data gathered from post-election audits should be analyzed and used to continuously improve voting processes.

Best Practices

  1. All discrepancies are recorded, their causes are investigated, and they are categorized by apparent cause — regardless of whether they raise doubts about outcomes. The broad categories include: (1) Machine and election process errors (e.g. ballot programming error, lens scratch, ballot crease interpreted as a mark); (2) Audit errors (e.g. wrong ballot retrieved, miscount in audit); (3) Computer misinterpretations of voter intent (e.g., mark in target area not intended as vote, overvote intended as a correction).
  2. The discrepancies found are compared to historical results. Recommendations to reduce future discrepancies are developed and implemented.
  3. Suggestions and action plans are developed for reducing future discrepancies, including better ballot design and instructions, improved training for officials conducting the initial tabulation or the audit, etc.

(Adapted from Principles and Best Practices for Post-Election Tabulation Audits, 2018)