Do Elections Get Audited?

May 24, 2023

As technology evolves, the way we do things shifts and changes, too. That includes our voting processes. With online hybrid voting increasing in popularity, along with other alternative methods of submitting ballots, many organizations enjoy the flexibility and efficiency of digital voting options. Yet, at the same time, many worry if these elections are secure and what is mobile voting’s greatest risk.

It doesn’t matter if your organization is a small homeowners association electing officers in an intimate election or if you’re tallying votes for a large-scale industry association—you want to be sure the process is uncorrupted and fair. If the integrity of your elections comes into question, this is when election audits take place.

Election audits occur when there is suspicion or evidence of discrepancies or inaccuracies in the voting process. These audits aren’t just reserved for elections involving the government. They can be applied to industries and organizations. Auditing your election can instill voter confidence and ensure your organization follows all proper procedures.

What Is an Election Audit?

An election audit is a review conducted after the voting process is closed. These audits determine whether the votes were counted accurately and if all procedures were followed correctly during the election process. This includes verifying all election officials comply with regulations and internal policies.

Are Audits Necessary for Digital Votes?

While online voting is generally secure and accurate, audits are just as necessary for digital voting as physical ballot submissions. Both methods can work together to ensure accurate results. National Election Defense Coalition experts recommend manually reviewing all ballots—virtual or otherwise—to ensure an accurate count.

Currently, manually reviewing and recounting through an objective third party is the best way to audit elections and ensure an accurate vote count.

Qualities of an Election Audit

A well-conducted election audit will deter fraud, find counting errors and correct them, and provide confidence for voters in the election process. To make this possible, your election audit should be:

  • Timely: Audits must be conducted before official results are announced.
  • Secure: Election audits must have procedures that track the audit trail, are consistent, and are uncompromised.
  • Paper: While digital and mobile voting practices are generally accurate and secure, manually counting ballots is the only surefire way to verify this. Placing ballots in a counter does not constitute manual counting.
  • Consequential: This means that if fraud or inaccuracies are detected, the election outcome will align with the audit results.

Best Practices for Election Audits

According to, several audit principles and best practices exist for conducting election audits. These include, but are not limited to:

Examination of Voter-Verifiable Paper Ballots

An audit requires a third-party human being to examine and count ballots manually. This is still possible if some or all of your voters utilize a digital voting program or software by simply printing the ballots to count remote ballots. Scanned images or machine-counting cannot accurately reflect voter intent.


If you’re auditing votes for local government or government-funded entities, such as public school districts, the election belongs to the public. However, if you are a private entity or organization, your election auditing process must be open to all interested parties in your organization. This way, voters can feel assured that the audit is being conducted fairly and correctly.

Ballot Protection

All ballots submitted according to the election process (i.e., filled out correctly and submitted within the approved timeframe) must be protected from loss, substitution, alteration, or addition. Ballots cannot be modified after submission in any way.

Wrapping Up

Election audits can be tedious but are necessary. The larger your organization and voter turnout, the longer and more important this process becomes. These audits are time-consuming and require thoughtful planning, staffing, and diligence. If this is your organization’s first election, you may not have the structures set in place yet.

Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Election support services like ElectionBuddy provide election services (including audits) to organizations of all sizes and across all industries. 

Unsure of how to start your auditing procedures? Wondering what the three major influences on voting behavior are? Check out our latest posts or consult with one of our experts today!

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