State Audit Laws Searchable Database

State Audit Laws - Hawaii

This information was reviewed in March 2017.

State Summary:

Signed into law in 2005, Hawaii's audit law does not lead to a full recount but does require the entire ballot to be audited and is binding upon the official election results. While we have included links below to the appropriate statutes in the Hawaii Revised Statutes, much of the law pertaining to audits in Hawaii is contained in the Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 3, Department of Accounting and General Services, Office of Elections.


No statutory requirement that audits be conducted publicly
Statutes require that audit results and data be made public
Statutes specify that observers can verify marks on the ballots

The audit process is not open to the public more broadly. The election rules clearly state that outside of the audit team, "no person is to witness the audit" without prior authorization. See Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102(a)(4).

However, according to Administrative Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102 (a)(5), approved observers "may request to conduct a manual audit." While this process is not defined further in the rules, we take this to mean that observers may verify marks on the ballots.

Results of the audit are also filed with the office of the chief election officer and considered a public record. See Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102(a)(8). 

Note:  The regulations state that the audit report filed with the chief election officer is considered a public record  (see Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102(a)(8)) but they don't make the same statement about the expanded audit report.

Voting Systems Used:

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT

Precinct-count optical scanners are used statewide. Dial interface DREs with VVPAT are provided in each polling place for accessibility. For details visit the Hawaii page on The Verifier.


No statutory guidance whether audit results are binding on official results

The law states that the audit is concluded "when a majority of the [audit] team members so decide," and that the expanded audit is likewise concluded when the chief election officer determines it to be finished. See Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102 (a)(7) and (b)(3).

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit:

Statutes specify criteria to expand the audit (short of a full recount)

The law requires the chief election officer to conduct an expanded audit if the initial audit finds any discrepancies. See Hawaii Rev. Stat. §16-42 (4). However, the nature and extent of the expanded audit is left to the discretion of the chief election officer. See Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102 (b).

Audit Comprehensiveness:

No statutory guidance for ballots counted by hand on election day to be included in audit
No statutory guidance for either early, absentee or provisional ballots

The statute requiring audits does so only for those precincts using electronic voting machines, and no mention is made of early, absentee, or provisional ballots. See Hawaii Rev. Stat. §16-42. It should be noted that the administrative rules governing recounts do not state that manual audits are to be used only for precincts using voting machines. Neither do they explicitly include early, absentee, or provisional ballots.

Additional Targeted Samples:

Election officials may choose additional targeted samples

While the law does not use the phrase "additional targeted sample," as the chief election officer is at liberty to choose how an expanded audit may be conducted, it seems reasonable to conclude from Hawaii's laws that the officer may use additional targeted samples as a means for investigating discrepancies. See Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102 (b)(2).

Contests and Issues Audited:

Randomly selected election contests or ballots issue are audited

The auditing team is required to select precincts allowing for the auditing of at least one statewide, one county-wide, and one district-wide contest. See Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102 (a)(2).

Type of Audit Units:


The audit must be conducted in "not less than ten per cent of the precincts employing the electronic voting system." See Hawaii Rev. Stat. §16-42 (b)(3).

Counting Method:

Hand count

The audit provisions explicitly call for a manual audit. See Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102 (a).

Oversight and Conduct of Audit: The chief election officer works with a multi-partisan audit team to conduct the audit, and files the results with the Office of Elections. See Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102 (a).

Timeline for Audit: Audits are conducted after the election and before certification. See Hawaii Rev. Stat. §16-42 (b)(3). Haw. Admin. Rules §3-172-102 (a) further specifies that the audit be conducted on election day, but also allows for additional audits to occur after election day.

Additional Resources:

Hawaii Revised Statutes, Title 2 Elections (2015)
Hawaii Elections Review Task Force Report (2002)
Hawaii Office of Elections
Hawaii Administrative Rules Office of Elections (Chapters 3-171 through 3-176)