State Audit Laws Searchable Database

State Audit Laws - Ohio

This information was updated in March 2017.

State Summary:

Procedures for audits in Ohio are currently established through a directive from the Secretary of State's office, rather than through statute. See Ohio Election Officials Manual, Chapter 9, Section 1.03 on Post-Election Audits. Audits in Ohio are binding upon official election results (although the audit is conducted after certification).

Transparency:

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

While the audit results must be filed with the Secretary of State's office, there is no mention made of requirements for this data to be made publicly available.

Voting Systems Used:

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT

Counties in Ohio use a range of DREs (all with VVPAT) and precinct-count optical scanners. For details visit the Ohio page on The Verifier.

Binding:

Audit results binding upon official results

Even though the audit is conducted after certification, if an audit confirms results that differ from the initial results, the official certified results are to be amended to reflect the results of the audit. See Ohio Election Officials Manual, Chapter 9, Section 1.03, E. Reporting Results after the Post-Election Audit is Complete.

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit:

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

"A county is required to escalate an audit if its accuracy rate is less than 99.5% in a contest with a certified margin that is at least 1%...or less than 99.8% in a contest with a certified margin that is smaller than 1%.  Escalation entails drawing a second random sample of at least 5% of votes cast, selected from units that were not audited in the original sample....  If, after the second round of auditing, the accuracy rate from the two samples is below 99.5%, the county shall investigate the cause of the discrepancy and report its findings to the Secretary of State's Office.... In such cases, the Secretary of State's Office may require a 100% hand-count."  See Ohio Election Officials Manual, Chapter 9, Section 1.03, D. Conducting the Post-Election Audit (6). Note that Section D of Directive 2012-56 offers a choice of audit methods and states that is "requires the use of either a simple, percentage-based post-election audit or a 'risk limiting audit'.'"  Although there is a choice offered, the directive recommends a risk-limiting audit.

Audit Comprehensiveness:

Absentee ballots included in audit
Ballots counted by hand on election day included in the audit
Early voted ballots included in audit
Provisional ballots included in audit

"When determining the public count, the board must include all relevant categories of ballots, including regular ballots (VVPAT and/or optical scan paper ballots), counted provisional ballots (whether cast in person before, or on, Election Day), and counted absentee ballots of all types for the precinct or polling place." See Ohio Election Officials Manual, Chapter 9, Section 1.03, C. Preparations for the Post-Election Audit, 4(a).

Additional Targeted Samples:

Election officials may choose additional targeted samples

"A board of elections may choose to audit a universe greater than 5%. For contests where the margin is above the statutory threshold for an automatic recount but is close, selecting a greater percentage of ballots to be audited is advisable." See Ohio Election Officials Manual, Chapter 9, Section 1.03, C. Preparations for the Post-Election Audit, 4(d).

Contests and Issues 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

"After Election Day, the Secretary of State will randomly select at least one other statewide contest to be included in the post-election audit in addition to the "top of the ticket" contest (e.g., President). Further, in addition to any contest selected by the Secretary of State, the board of elections must randomly select at least one other contest (candidate contest or question/issue contest), preferably from the universe of all countywide contests, unless circumstances (i.e., no, or only one, countywide contest) necessitate the selection of some other contest." See Ohio Election Officials Manual, Chapter 9, Section 1.03, C. Preparations for the Post-Election Audit, 1.

Type of Audit Units:

Machines
Other
Precincts/districts

"At the time the Board meets to certify the official results of the election (or within ten days of certification, if the Board has already met to certify the official results, the Board should determine whether it will conduct its post-election audit by precinct, by polling place, or by individual voting machine1 (herein collectively referred to as "units to be audited"); the date and location that the selection of units to be audited will take place; and the date and place that the audit will commence. It is preferable to audit the smallest unit available to the Board." See Ohio Election Officials Manual, Chapter 9, Section 1.03, C. Preparations for the Post-Election Audit, 2.

"On the date the Board selects the units to be audited, the Board must randomly select a sufficient number of units to be audited until the number of votes cast (machine public count) on all selected units to be audited equals at least 5% of the total number of votes cast for the county (countywide voter turnout)." See Ohio Election Officials Manual, Chapter 9, Section 1.03, C. Preparations for the Post-Election Audit, 3.

Counting Method:

Hand count

The hand count requirement for audits is found in Ohio Election Officials Manual, Chapter 9, Section 1.03, D. Conducting the Post-Election Audit, 4.

Oversight and Conduct of Audit: The random selection and audit are both conducted by local election boards. Discrepancies and results are to be reported to the Secretary of State, who is also responsible for developing regulations and procedures for audits.

Timeline for Audit: Audits may begin no sooner than six days after the official certification of election results, and must be completed between the seventh day after the county's declaration of the official certification and 28th day after the Secretary of State declares the official certification in a statewide election.

Additional Resources:


Ohio Secretary of State Elections Division
Ohio Revised Code - Title 35 - Elections
Ohio Secretary of State Directives



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