2020 Special Primary and General Election for the 7th Congressional Election: Post-Election Automated Ballot Tabulation Audit
An independent, automated audit relies solely on the use of independent software to tabulate ballot images. The results from the independent tabulation are then compared to the tabulation results from the voting system. Any variances between the two tabulations are easily identified and resolved. For the 2020 Special Primary Election for the 7th Congressional District, this office contracted with Clear Ballot, a Boston-based elections technology company which offers the ClearAudit software product. ClearAudit is the only currently available, market-ready software product that can perform an independent automated post-election tabulation audit using ballot images from another voting system.
The post-election tabulation audit is conducted using ballot images. The use of ballot images allows elections officials to maximize the technological functions of the new voting system while minimizing human error and eliminating chain of custody issues by using securely stored ballot images, rather than voted paper ballots. The use of ballot images removes the need for election officials to physically handle or count voted ballots unless a petition for recount or other judicial challenge is granted.
A discrepancy variance level of 0.5% was established for the post-election tabulation audit1 . If there is a variance between the voting system results and the audit results greater than 0.5% in any given contest and the variance cannot be explained, additional auditing will be performed before the election results are
To prepare for the post-election tabulation audit, SBE provided Clear Ballot with:
- PDF files of all ballot styles for all 3 counties involved in the special election;
- Pre-election reports for all precincts showing no votes cast;
- Information to assign ballot styles to precinct; and
- Files needed to process ballots used with the ExpressVote ballot marking device.
Upon receipt of the data, Clear Ballot:
- Created a Ballot Definition Files for each county;
- Validated each Ballot Definition File; and
- Created a ClearAudit database for each county.
The local boards of elections send to Clear Ballot the images of ballots cast during early voting and on election day. Once Clear Ballot receives the ballot images, Clear Ballot:
- Transfers the ballot images from each county into its corresponding audit database;
- Tabulates the ballot images from election day and early voting;
- Resolves unreadable ballots;
- Performs an audit database review; and
- Sends a Preliminary Statement of Votes Cast to SBE.
Once SBE receives the Preliminary Statement of Votes Cast, SBE provides Clear Ballot with election results from early voting and precinct-level elections results from election day. This delay in sending the precinct-level results to Clear Ballot is intentional. It creates a “blind” audit, meaning that Clear Ballot provides its results without knowing the results from the voting system. Clear Ballot uses the results from early voting and election day to create various reports comparing the sets of results.
After absentee and provisional ballots have been counted, the local boards of elections send to Clear Ballot images of counted absentee and provisional ballots. Clear Ballot adds these ballot images into the appropriate database, tabulates these ballot images, resolves unreadable ballots, and generates a Comparison of Votes Cast for the absentee and provisional ballot canvasses.
Reports Produced by Clear Ballot
With this audit solution, election officials and other interested individuals can sort contest, ballot and precinct reports, see images of contests and ballots, and provide detailed information about how each ballot image was adjudicated. Clear Ballot produces for each county four audit reports.
- Comparison of Cards Cast for each canvass: This report compares the number of ballots counted during early voting, on election day, during both absentee canvasses, and during the provisional canvass against the number of ballots tabulated by Clear Ballot. This ensures that the same number of ballots were tabulated by both systems.
- Comparison of Ballots Cast by Precinct: This report compares the number of ballots cast in each precinct2 against the number of ballots tabulated during the audit. This is another way to ensure that the same number of ballots are tabulated by both systems.
- Comparison of Votes Cast: This report compares the results from the voting system against the audit results and identifies possible discrepancies by candidate or choice.
- Contest Vote Discrepancy Threshold Report: This report shows - by contest - the number of vote differences between the two systems and the vote difference as a percentage. Before the audit was performed, SBE determined that a percentage of 0.5% or higher would trigger an additional review, which could include a manual review of voted paper ballots.
2020 Special General Election Audit Results
2020 special general reports for each county are available below. This election the State Board of Elections also provides a web portal where the ballots and the audit results can be reviewed.
2020 Special General Election: Post-Election Tabulation Audit Reports - Phase 2 - All Ballots
2020 Special General Election: Post-Election Tabulation Audit Reports - Phase 1 - In-person voting and Partial Vote by Mail Ballot
2020 Special General Election: Preliminary Statement of Votes Cast
2020 Special Primary Election Audit Results
2020 special primary reports for each county are available below. This election the State Board of Elections also provides a web portal where the ballots and the audit results can be reviewed.