2020 Rhode Island General Laws
Title 17 - Elections
Chapter 17-19 Conduct of Election and Voting Equipment, and Supplies
Section 17-19-37.4 Post-election audits.
§ 17-19-37.4. Post-election audits.
(a) The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that auditing of election results is necessary to ensure effective election administration and public confidence in the election results. Further, risk-limiting audits provide a more effective manner of conducting audits than traditional audit methods in that risk-limiting audit methods typically require only limited resources for election contests with wide margins of victory while investing greater resources in close contests.
(b) Commencing in 2018, the board, in conjunction with local boards, is authorized to conduct risk-limiting audits after all statewide primary, general, and special elections in accordance with the requirements of this section. Commencing in 2020, the state board, in conjunction with local boards, must conduct risk-limiting audits after the presidential preference primary and general elections in accordance with the requirements in this section.
(c) The audit program shall be conducted as follows:
(1) The state board shall determine what local, statewide, and federal contests are subject to a risk-limiting audit;
(2) The state board shall provide notice pursuant to chapter 46 of title 42 of the time and place of the random selection of the audit units to be manually tallied and of the times and places of the audits;
(3) The state board shall make available to the public a report of the vote-tabulating device results for the contest, including the results for each audit unit in the contest, prior to the random selection of audit units to be manually tallied and prior to the commencement of the audit;
(4) The state board, in conjunction with the local boards, shall conduct the audit upon tabulation of the unofficial final results as provided in §§ 17-19-36 and 17-19-37; and
(5) The state board, in conjunction with the local boards, shall conduct the audit in public view by manually interpreting the ballots according to rules established by the state board in accordance with chapter 35 of title 42.
(d) If a risk-limiting audit of a contest leads to a full manual tally of the ballots cast using the voting system, the vote counts according to that manual tally shall replace the vote counts reported pursuant to §§ 17-19-36 and 17-19-37 for the purpose of determining the official contest results pursuant to §§ 17-22-5.2 and 17-22-6.
(e) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) "Audit unit" means a precinct, a set of ballots, or a single ballot. A precinct, a set of ballots, or a single ballot may be used as an audit unit for purposes of this section only if all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(i) The relevant vote-tabulating device is able to produce a report of the votes cast in the precinct, set of ballots, or single ballot; and
(ii) Each ballot is assigned to not more than one audit unit.
(2) "Contest" means an election for an office or for a measure.
(3) "Risk-limiting audit" means a manual tally employing a statistical method that ensures a large, predetermined minimum chance of requiring a full manual tally whenever a full manual tally would show an electoral outcome that differs from the outcome reported by the vote-tabulating system for the audited contest. A risk-limiting audit shall begin with a hand tally of the votes in one or more audit units and shall continue to hand tally votes in additional audit units until there is strong statistical evidence that the electoral outcome is correct. In the event that counting additional audit units does not provide strong statistical evidence that the electoral outcome is correct, the audit shall continue until there has been a full manual tally to determine the correct electoral outcome of the audited contest.
(4) "Unofficial final results" means election results tabulated pursuant to §§ 17-19-36 and 17-19-37.
(f) The results of any audits conducted under this section shall be published on the website of the state board within forty-eight (48) hours of being accepted by the state board. If the audit involved a manual tally of one or more entire precincts, then the names and numbers of all precincts audited and a comparison of the vote tabulator results with the hand counts for each precinct shall be published with the audit results on the website.
(g) Any audit required under this section shall not commence for any election subject to a recount pursuant to §§ 17-19-37.1, 17-19-37.2, and 17-19-37.3 until the conclusion of said recount.
(h) The state board shall promulgate rules, regulations, and procedures in accordance with chapter 35 of title 42 necessary to implement this section.
History of Section.
(P.L. 2017, ch. 410, § 1; P.L. 2017, ch. 423, § 1.)