Elections belong to the public. The public must be able to observe the audit and verify that it has been conducted correctly, without interfering with the process.

Best Practices

  1. Detailed auditing procedures are developed and published well in advance of elections, with reasonable opportunities for public comment. These include procedures for selecting contests and audit units, cataloguing the paper records and counting the votes. Similarly, algorithms used to determine when more units need to be audited and when the audit can end are published and subject to public comment.
  2. The public is given sufficient notice and access to observe key parts of the audit.The public is offered access to evaluate evidence of ballot protection, from ballot retrieval through manual examination, with reasonable opportunities for public comment. The public has sufficient access to witness the random drawing, ballot retrieval, and other audit procedures, and to verify that voter marks are interpreted correctly on the audited ballots. Election officials have the authority to prevent the public from hampering the proceedings.
  3. The public is provided with all necessary information to replicate all decisions and calculations made in support of the audit.(See Verified Voting’s Checking the Paper Record: A Guide for Public Oversight of Tabulation Audits.) The tabulated vote subtotals by audit unit (if such subtotals are used in the audit) and overall totals are published (presumably on the official elections website) or committed, before the random selection of audit units, as is the ballot manifest that details how the ballots are stored. Other necessary information includes, when applicable, the random seed(s), the pseudorandom number generator (see footnote 24), the procedure for converting random numbers to audit units, and the auditors’ interpretations recorded during the audit.
  4. Final audit results are reported to the public immediately and posted on the official elections website.
  5. Ideally, a public archive of the audit documents, reports and results is maintained indefinitely in the case of electronic records and for at least as long as the election certification documents in the case of paper records.

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