State Audit Laws Searchable Database

State Audit Laws - New Jersey

This information was updated in March 2017.

State Summary:

The information below pertains to audit legislation that passed in 2008. However, these statutes were dependent on the implementation of new voting systems that would produce or require the use of voter-verifiable paper records. Such machines were initially scheduled to be in place by January of 2009, but later legislation halted the purchase of new voting systems until funding for such systems could be guaranteed. See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:48-1b(1) and b(2).

Transparency:

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

"All the proceedings of the district boards, county boards, boards of county canvassers and board of state canvassers shall be open and public." See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:6-28.

The procedures for the random selection and audit adopted by the audit team must be published prior to the election and an opportunity for public comment provided. See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(1).

The random selection and the audit must be conducted publicly.  See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(6). However, the law does not specify audits allow observers to view ballots or verify ballot marks.

The Attorney General shall announce publicly and publish the results of the audit.  See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(7).

Voting Systems Used:

DREs without VVPAT

New Jersey uses DREs without VVPAT statewide. For details visit the New Jersey page on The Verifier.

Binding:

Audit results binding upon official results

The revised vote totals from the audit are to be "incorporated in the official result from the relevant election districts or audit units." See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(7).

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit:

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

If the initial audit reveals discrepancies of one tenth of one percent or more, the audit is expanded, and an additional sample of election districts is audited. The law specifies that the expansion should equal the same number of districts that were initially audited. If the initial number of districts audited is already greater than half the election districts for the election contest in question, then a full manual count for all remaining districts is to be conducted. Members of the audit team may initiate additional auditing if the audit "indicates a substantial possibility that a complete hand-to-eye recount would alter the outcome of the audited election." See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(9). 

In addition, the  audit team "shall have the authority to cause audits to be conducted of any election district or audit unit which has not been randomly selected for auditing in which a majority of the audit team determines from the un-audited election results, past election results, or other data that the votes are likely to have been miscounted." See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(6).

If the Attorney General, based on a recommendation of a majority of the professional audit team, determines that the hand-to-eye counts show cause for concern about the accuracy of the election results, then the audit team will audit any additional election districts or audit units considered appropriate by the Attorney General to resolve any such concerns. See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(6). 

Audit Comprehensiveness:

Absentee ballots included in audit

With respect to votes cast other than at the election district on election day (such as votes cast by military service voters and overseas federal election voters), they must be separated and bundled in groups called "audit units." Each audit unit shall contain approximately the average number of ballots cast in the precincts within the county, or fewer, but shall not be associated with any particular election district. Each audit unit will be assigned a unique identifying number, and will be included in the random selection process. See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(a) and c(5).

Emergency and provisional ballots are not included in the group of ballots described above, and they are explicitly excluded from the other election day ballots to be audited. See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(4).

Additional Targeted Samples:

No statutory guidance for additional targeted samples

Contests and Issues Audited:

Federal election contests audited
Local election contests audited
Predetermined election contests or ballot issues are audited
Primary elections audited
Statewide election contests audited

All federal and state offices are audited, and the Attorney General additionally picks county and municipal offices to be audited. See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(a).

Type of Audit Units:

Precincts/districts

The audit is conducted in at least 2% of the election districts in which each audited election appears on the ballot See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(a). Additional auditing may be required to meet the statistical requirements of N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(1).

Counting Method:

Hand count

The audit is required to be a hand-to-eye count. See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(a). However, as noted above, because New Jersey still still uses only paperless DRE machines for its polling place voting equipment, there is no paper record for polling place votes cast in New Jersey and therefore, no hand-to-eye count is possible. For votes cast by methods other than "at the election district [precinct] on the date of the election," audits can be conducted by dividing the paper ballots into "ballot batches." See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(5).

Oversight and Conduct of Audit: The State Attorney General will appoint an "independent professional audit team", that includes at least one member that has verifiable expertise in statistics, and at least one member with verifiable expertise in auditing. This team oversees the audit process. No member of the audit team may be a candidate for office in the election to be audited, nor may they be an employee of or report to the Attorney General. See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(b).

Timeline for Audit: The audit itself is commenced 24 hours after the announcement of the random selection of election districts. The random selection is conducted "within a reasonable period of time after the final vote count after an election," but no definition of "reasonable" is provided. See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(3). "No county shall certify the results of any election that is subject to an audit performed pursuant to this section prior to the completion of the audit...." See N.J. Stat. Ann. §19:61-9(1)(c)(8).

Additional Resources:


New Jersey Division of Elections
New Jersey Code - Title 19 - Elections



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