State Audit Laws Searchable Database

State Audit Laws - Kentucky

This information was updated in September 2013 and reviewed in March 2017.

State Summary:

Kentucky has two separate laws that suggest two separate and independent post-election audit processes take place. Note that most counties in Kentucky use direct-recording electronic machines (DREs) without a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), therefore a true manual audit cannot be conducted for all precincts in Kentucky.

The first is Ky. Rev. Stat. §117.383(8), which requires a manual recount of precincts representing between 3% and 5% of the total ballots cast in each election. While the statute requires the State Board of Elections to develop rules and regulations for audits, at present, there are no rules regarding audits contained in the relevant portions of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations. See Title 31, State Board of Elections.

The second is law is Ky. Rev. Stat. §15.243(3), which requires the Attorney General to conduct an "independent inquiry" in at least 5% of the state's counties. Both audits are addressed in the description below.


No statutory guidance allowing observers to verify ballot marks
No statutory requirement that audit results and data be made public
No statutory requirement that audits be conducted publicly

While KRS 15.243 requires that the random selection of counties be conducted publicly, it does not similarly require that the Attorney General's investigation itself be public.

Although there are no requirements that the audit overseen by the State Board of Elections be conducted publicly, the audit takes place during the canvass and representatives from the new media may be present.  See Ky. Rev. Stat. §117.275(9) and §117.305(1).

Voting Systems Used:

Mixed paper ballot and DREs without VVPAT

Optical scanners or DREs without VVPAT are used as the primary voting systems in Kentucky counties. Some counties provide DREs without VVPAT for accessibility. For details visit the Kentucky page on The Verifier.


Audit results binding upon official results

The audit is conducted "As part of the official canvass." See KRS Ky. Rev. Stat. §117.383(8). The initial canvass "shall constitute the official returns of the precinct," unless a discrepancy is discovered; if so, a re-canvass is required and to the extent errors are discovered "the returns and all papers being prepared by the board shall be corrected accordingly." See Ky. Rev. Stat. §117.305(1).

Additional Targeted Samples:

No statutory guidance for additional targeted samples

Contests and Issues Audited:

Every contest and ballot issue voted on the ballot is audited
Federal election contests audited
Local election contests audited
Primary elections audited
Statewide election contests audited

No specific contests or procedures for the random selection of contests are outlined in either of Kentucky's audit statutes.

Type of Audit Units:


While Ky. Rev. Stat. §117.383 requires that enough precincts to represent 3% to 5% of the total ballots cast in the election be audited, the audit conducted by the Attorney General according to Ky. Rev. Stat. §15.243(3) requires that 5% of counties (not precincts or ballots) be audited.

Counting Method:

Hand count

While Ky. Rev. Stat. §117.383 specifies that the audit is to be manual (hand counted), many counties in Kentucky use DRE machines without VVPAT, therefore a true manual audit cannot be conducted.

Ky. Rev. Stat. §15.243(3) provides no guidance as to how the Attorney General's investigation is to take place, and if it is to involve a manual audit.

Oversight and Conduct of Audit: Oversight and conduct of the audit as required by Ky. Rev. Stat. §117.383 is handled by the State Board of Elections.

Timeline for Audit: The audit authorized by Ky. Rev. Stat. §117.383 is to be conducted as part of the official canvass, but no other specific timing requirements are found in the statute.

The attorney general's audit authorized by Ky. Rev. Stat. §15.243(3) is to commence within 20 days after each election.

Additional Resources:

Kentucky Revised Statutes - Title X - Elections
Kentucky State Board of Elections
Kentucky Secretary of State
Kentucky Administrative Regulations Title 31