The Rhode Island General Assembly has passed two bills that will implement post-election audits. The bills are expected to be signed into law, as Governor Raimondo has already voiced support for vote auditing.
The audits, championed by advocacy groups Common Cause and the ACLU are designed to safeguard election results that come from electronic machines. While piloted in several states, including California and Ohio, only Colorado currently requires risk-limiting audits.
The audits will begin as soon as September 2018. Rhode Island will become 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.
“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.”