Rhode Island poised to lead New England in Post-Election Audits

Press Release:  Rhode Island Takes Important Step to Secure Elections with Post-Election Audits – Adopts New Procedure to Check Election Results as Threats Increase <read>

“Post-election audits are the best safeguard to making sure that votes are being counted as cast,” said Representative Edith Ajello (D-Providence), the House sponsor. “My community saw a simple administrative error almost turn into an incorrect election result,” added Senate sponsor, Senator James Sheehan (D-North Kingstown), “and this legislation will help assure voters that a system is in place to catch and correct future problems.”

The audits will begin as soon as September 2018. Rhode Island becomes the 32nd state to require post-election audits, and only the second state to require risk-limiting audits.

Passage came after two Rhode Island communities suffered from administrative errors in the November 2016 election that led to incorrect machine counts on election night.  Because the results were obviously wrong, election officials reprogrammed the scanners and recounted the ballots.  The correct results were reported, but the situation demonstrated the need for a manual check on the results of machine-counted ballots.

Connecticut was the first New England State with post-election audits.  Unfortunately we are among the vast majority of states with post-election audits that do not provide sufficient public confidence.  Connecticut’s audits suffer from an insufficient design, poor execution, and ll but no oversight. <See the Citizen Audit Reports>

To be fair, most experts only regard the post-election audits in two states, Minnesota and New Mexico, as adequate.  Yet, the Risk Limiting Audits to be implemented this year in Colorado and over the next couple of years in Rhode Island are likely to lead the Nation in deserved confidence and efficiency.

PS: I have played a minor supporting role working with other advocates and computer scientists in assisting the development of rules in Colorado and in honing the Rhode Island law.  From that ongoing experience it is clear that it takes a lot of detailed work, patience, commitment and participation to create good laws and see them through.  Participation from willing and reluctant officials, legislators, advocates, and scientists.  Expect some bumps along the way as these new laws are implemented – patience will be required over several election cycles to smooth out those bumps.

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