State Audit Laws Searchable Database

State Audit Laws - Oregon

This information was updated in March 2017.

State Summary:

Signed into law in 2007 and updated in 2009, Oregon's audit law, Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529, can lead to a full recount and, if it does, is binding upon the official results. In addition, the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) allow for "administrative recounts." While the rules refer to these as recounts, they are primarily post-election audits conducted at the discretion of the county elections official or by a directive from the Secretary of State Elections Division. Administrative recounts provide "a mechanism for selective recounts to confirm the accuracy of the automated vote tally systems used to count ballots." The results of administrative recounts are not binding on the official results. See OAR 165-007-0270.

Most citations below are to Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529. Additional citations are to Or. Rev. Stat. §165-007-0290 and OAR 165-007-0270.

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

Members of the public may observe the audit. See OAR 165-007-0290(4). While candidates and sponsors of ballot measures are notified by mail of the audit, there are no provisions specifying if they are allowed appointed observers, or their ability to observe and verify ballot marks. See OAR 165-007-0290(6) and (7). Results of the audit are to be made publicly available on the Secretary of State's website. See Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529(5).

Voting Systems Used:

Paper ballot

Oregon is an all mail ballot state. Most ballots are tabulated by central-count optical scanners. For details visit the Oregon page on The Verifier.

Binding:

Audit results binding upon official results

If a third hand count is conducted for the audit (see Addressing Discrepancies, below), the results of the audit are the official results of the election. See Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529(7)(d). However, administrative recounts conducted under OAR 165-007-0270 are not binding on the official results.

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit:

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

If the audit of the initial sample identifies a discrepancy of greater than 0.5%, the random sample is audited by hand again. If this second audit shows a discrepancy equal to or less than 0.5%, the initial tally is the official result. If the second audit still shows a discrepancy greater than 0.5%, all ballots for that vote tally system are to be audited, and the result of this final manual count is the official result. See Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529(7)(d).

Audit Comprehensiveness:

Absentee ballots included in audit
No statutory guidance for ballots counted by hand on election day to be included in audit
Provisional ballots included in audit

Oregon is a vote-by-mail state and also uses absentee ballots for military voters or for those voters out of state during an election. Provisional and absentee ballots are not specifically mentioned in the audit provisions. However, according to the office of the Oregon Secretary of State, where vote tally systems are used, these ballots are included in the audit.

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
Statewide election contests audited

Audits in Oregon are for general elections only. Up to three contests are audited:
1. "... the election contest between the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes in the county"
2.  A statewide office; and
3.  When applicable, a state ballot measure.

See Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529(3).

Type of Audit Units:

Batches
Precincts/districts

The size of the random sample (of either precincts or batches of ballots in a county) depends on the margin of victory between the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes in the county. If it is less than 1% of the total votes cast in the election in that county, at least 10% of all precincts or ballots are to be audited; if between 1 and 2%, at least 5% of all precincts or ballots are to be audited; and if more than 2%, at least 3% must be audited. See Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529(2).

To be eligible for the random sample, a precinct must have at least 150 ballots cast in the election. See Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529(3).

Counting Method:

Hand count

See Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529(1).

Oversight and Conduct of Audit: The Secretary of State oversees the audit and conducts the random selection, while county clerks conduct the audit. See Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529(1) and (3).

Timeline for Audit: The audit must begin no later than the 21st day after the election, and be completed within 30 days after the election. See Or. Rev. Stat. §254.529(5). According to Subsection (8) of OAR 165-007-0290, the manual audit cannot begin until after certification of the initial election results.

The random selection is to be conducted no later than 5 p.m. the third business day after the day of the general election. See OAR 165-007-0290(4).

Additional Resources:


Oregon Secretary of State
Oregon Revised Statutes - Title 23. Elections
Oregon Administrative Rules--Elections



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