State Audit Laws Searchable Database

State Audit Laws - Pennsylvania

This information was updated in March 2017.

State Summary:

Signed into law in 1980, Pennsylvania's audit law provides for all items on the ballot to be audited, but the audit results are not binding on official results and cannot lead to a full recount. There is no statutory guidance on whether the audit results are binding on official results and no guidance on whether the audit could lead to a full recount.

Transparency:

No statutory requirement that audit results and data be made public
No statutory requirement that audits be conducted publicly
Statutes specify that only designated observers can be present
Statutes specify that observers can verify marks on the ballots

The audit is conducted "as part of the computation and canvass of returns." See Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 25 §3031.17. The canvass of the returns is only open to those authorized to be present which includes the candidates and their appointed watchers and attorneys. Watchers are "permitted to keep or check their own computation of the votes cast." See Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 25 §2650 and Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 25 §3153(a). While the outcome of the canvass is made public, there are no provisions specifically stating that the audit results from during the canvass must also be made public.

Voting Systems Used:

Mixed paper ballot and DREs without VVPAT

Counties in Pennsylvania use a wide range of DREs (all without VVPAT) and precinct-count optical scanners. For details visit the Pennsylvania page on The Verifier.

Binding:

No statutory guidance whether audit results are binding on official results

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
Statewide election contests audited

No specific contests or a procedure for randomly selecting contests for auditing is outlined in Pennsylvania's statute, meaning that, presumably, the entire ballot is audited.

Type of Audit Units:

Individual ballots

The county board is to select a random sample of at least 2% of the votes cast, or 2,000 votes, whichever is less. See See Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 25 §3031.17.3031.17.

Counting Method:

Mix of machine and hand count

Audits are to be conducted "using manual, mechanical or electronic devices of a type different than those used for the specific election." No other requirements for the counting method are specified. See Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 25 §3031.17. Additional  counting instructions are provided of the Directive Concerning the Use, Implementation and Operation of Electronic Voting Systems by the County Board (pdf) issued by the Secretary of the Commonwealth in 2011. Page 4 states: For those counties using optical scan electronic voting systems, the county board of elections shall conduct the statistical recount manually. For those counties using direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems, the county board of elections shall conduct the statistical recount manually using the ballot images contained in the system, rather than the "totals tapes."

Oversight and Conduct of Audit: The county board of elections is responsible for oversight of the audit, as well as conduct of both the audit and the random selection.See Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 25 §3031.17.

Timeline for Audit: The audit is completed as part of the canvass of the returns.

Additional Resources:


Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth
2016 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 25 - Elections





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