In January 2019, the Department of State formed a PA post-election audit workgroup to study models of post-election audits. These audits, such as risk-limiting audits, are scientifically designed and highly effective procedures conducted after an election to strengthen election security and integrity, confirm the accuracy of election outcomes, and provide confidence to voters that their votes are being counted accurately.
The members of the workgroup include:
- Allegheny County Election Director David Voye
- Butler County Election Director Aaron Sheasley
- Cumberland County Elections Manager Megan Orris
- Lebanon County Election Director Michael Anderson
- Philadelphia Deputy City Commissioner Nick Custodio
- Sullivan County Election Director Hope Verelst
- Brennan Center Democracy Program Counsel Liz Howard
- Committee of Seventy Policy Director Patrick Christmas
- Verified Voting Senior Science and Technology Policy Officer Mark Lindeman
- Veronica Degraffenreid – Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth
- Jonathan Marks - Deputy Secretary for Elections and Commissions
- Sindhu Ramachandran - Voting System Analyst
- Zane Swanger, Deputy Director, Bureau of Election Security and Technology
- Department of State advisors:
- Jessica Mathis - Director, Bureau of Election Services and Notaries
- Mike Moser - Director, Bureau of Election Security and Technology
- Jessica Myers - Director, Office of Policy
The workgroup will:
- develop recommendations
- work with the legislature for any suggested legislative enhancements, and
- carry out pilot audits in multiple counties across the Commonwealth in 2019-2021.
By November 2022, all counties will utilize the new enhanced audits.
November 2019 Audit Pilots
Pennsylvania is one of the first states in the nation to pioneer pilots of the risk-limiting audit, which is a scientifically designed procedure using statistical methods to confirm whether reported election outcomes are correct and to detect possible interference.
first audit pilots of this cutting-edge security measure in PA occurred in November 2019 in Mercer County and Philadelphia. County election officials, Department of State staff and election experts from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the University of Michigan, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Democracy Fund, VotingWorks, and Verified Voting participated in developing and implementing the pilot audit process using the new paper-based voting systems.
"We were very impressed with the risk-limiting audit. It was statistically superior and easier to conduct than the current statutory 2 percent audit," -Deputy City Commissioner Nick Custodio
more about Philadelphia and Mercer County pilot audits
Both pilots demonstrated how a risk-limiting audit can be used to provide a high-level of confidence and statistical verification that the outcome of the election is accurate.
Robust post-election audits have been recommended by the U.S Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee, and many other experts, and are one part of a strong and resilient election infrastructure. Risk-limiting audits use statistical methods to confirm whether reported election outcomes are correct and to detect possible interference.
At the state and county levels, many important recommendations by national security and cybersecurity experts are already in place in Pennsylvania, including mandatory pre-election testing of all voting equipment before every election. The pilot audits will help determine whether the risk-limiting audit can complement existing safeguards and further strengthen the commonwealth's ability to withstand attacks on its election systems. The pilot audits will incorporate a number of variations of the basic procedure to evaluate operational efficiency and ease of use.
August 2020 First Enhanced Statewide Election Audit Pilot
Pennsylvania's first enhanced statewide post-election audit pilot overwhelmingly confirmed the outcome of both the Democratic and Republican presidential primary races held in June 2020.
Pennsylvania is one of the first states in the nation to employ the risk-limiting audit, which is a scientifically designed procedure using statistical methods to confirm whether reported election outcomes are correct and to detect possible interference. Robust post-election audits have been recommended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee, and many other experts as one part of a strong and resilient election infrastructure.
Counties conducted an audit using a statistical sample of ballots cast in the June 2, 2020, presidential primary that were randomly selected from across the state. Based on the results of this random sampling, the chance that the audit produced a false-positive result is less than 0.1 percent.
The success of this first enhanced statewide audit pilot will provide the Department of State’s post-election audit workgroup with valuable information that it can use to continue to develop auditing practices and procedures that advance election security and integrity across the commonwealth.