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February 17, 2022

Risk-Limiting Audit Procedures for Local Election Officials

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A risk-limiting audit (RLA) is a post-election tabulation audit in which a random sample of voted ballots is manually examined for evidence that the originally reported outcome of the election is correct. As its name suggests, an RLA limits the risk of certifying a contest with the wrong winner.

An RLA gives statistical evidence that the machine-tabulated results are consistent with what a full hand count of ballots would reveal. Unlike fixed percentage audits, an RLA limits the risk that the wrong election result will be certified because of a tabulation error. They also allow jurisdictions to strategically allocate resources to check more ballots when needed in close contests, and fewer ballots in contests with wider margins.