State Audit Laws Searchable Database

State Audit Laws - Massachusetts

This information was updated in September 2015 and reviewed in March 2017.

State Summary:

Massachusetts passed its audit law in 2014. All references below are to Part 1, Title VIII, Chapter 54, Section 109A of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Transparency:

Statutes require that audit results and data be made public
Statutes specify that audits must be conducted publicly
Statutes specify that observers can verify marks on the ballots

The audits are performed in full public view. See §109AA(d)(1). 

"The precincts to be audited shall be chosen in a random, publicly verifiable, non-computerized drawing.... The drawing shall be fully observable to the public and representatives of each political party and shall use a procedure that can be easily understood to be random by members of the public." See §109A(c).

The state secretary must make the audit reports publicly available as soon as practicable, but not later than 10 days after receipt of the audit report form. See §109A(i)(1).

Voting Systems Used:

Paper ballot

Precinct-count optical scan r hand count statewide with ballot marking devices for accessibility. For details visit the Massachusetts page on The Verifier. For details visit the Massachusetts page on The Verifier.

Binding:

Audit results binding upon official results

If there is a discrepancy between the audit and the originally reported tallies, the hand count of the paper ballots conducted pursuant to the audit shall be the official vote of record.  See §109A(g). 

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit:

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

"If there is a discrepancy between the results reached in a precinct pursuant to an audit and the originally reported tallies in that precinct in any audited race or any audited ballot question that reasonably leads to doubt about the outcome of the election or systemic failure to accurately count ballots, the state secretary may order audits of additional precincts, offices or ballot questions as shall be necessary to ensure that the outcome of the election is accurate and that the cause of the systemic failure is identified."  See §109A(h).

Audit Comprehensiveness:

Absentee ballots included in audit
Early voted ballots included in audit
Provisional ballots included in audit

"The board of registrars or election commission" in the relevant municipality shall conduct the audit  and each precinct selected for the audit shall conduct a hand-counted audit of votes cast on the day of election. See §109A(d)(1) and §109A(b)(1). According to the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the audit will include absentee, provisional and early voted ballots.

Additional Targeted Samples:

No statutory guidance for additional targeted samples

Aside from the provisions calling for escalation upon the discovery of a discrepancy, as noted above, there is no statutory guidance calling for additional targeted samples.

Contests and Issues Audited:

Federal election contests audited
Local election contests audited
Predetermined election contests or ballot issues are audited
Randomly selected election contests or ballots issue are audited
Statewide election contests audited

The audit will include "races in which more than 1 candidate's name appears on the ballot for president and vice president, representative in congress, senator in congress, representative in the general court and senator in the general court...." The audit will also include a statewide ballot question, if any appear on the ballot, chosen by random drawing. See §109A(b)(1). In precincts selected for the audit, races that are subject to a recount will not be audited. See §109A(b)(2).

Type of Audit Units:

Precincts/districts

"The number of precincts selected to be audited in this drawing shall be equal to 3 per cent of all precincts in the commonwealth, rounded up to the next highest whole number." See §109A(c).

Counting Method:

Hand count

"The board of registrars or election commission" in the relevant municipality shall conduct the audit and each precinct selected for the audit shall conduct a hand-counted audit of votes cast on the day of election. See §109A(d)(1) and §109A(b)(1). According to the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the audit will include a hand count of absentee, provisional and early voted ballots.

Oversight and Conduct of Audit: The random drawing is conducted by the state secretary. The board of registrars or election commission in a municipality conducts the audit. See §109A(b)(3) and (d)(1).

Timeline for Audit: The random selection of the precincts is conducted within 48 hours after the polls are closed. The audits must begin no later than 2 business days following the random selection of the precincts. "The registrars shall submit the completed audit report forms to the state secretary not later than 14 days following the election."  See §109A(c), (d)(1) and (e).

Additional Resources:


Massachusetts General Laws - Title VIII - Chapt. 54 - Elections
Massachusetts Elections Division



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