General Assembly passes Sheehan, Ajello bill that would establish a post-election audit program
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed legislation sponsored by Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) and Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence) that would establish post-election audits.
The legislation (2017-S 0413A, 2017-H 5704A) would require the Board of Elections to establish a post-election audit program to make sure that the equipment and procedures used to count votes during an election are all working properly.
“This will go a long way toward ensuring public confidence in election results,” said Senator Sheehan, who introduced the legislation at the urging of the good government group Common Cause. “In those cases where problems or issues are detected, they can be corrected long before the next election cycle. Without the constant scrutiny and examination of election procedures, the democratic system could be called into doubt.”
In effect, the audit would be a partial recount of results to verify that the voting system is accurately recording and counting votes. The legislation would authorize the Board of Elections to audit the results within seven days after an election using established rules and proven methodologies. These audits would not only act as a deterrent to voter fraud, but they would help to avoid a full recount by showing when a recount is necessary, as well as uncovering programming errors, equipment malfunctions and bugs in the system.
“We’ve all heard allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. We’ve seen damage caused by hackers getting into seemingly secure systems. We will be comparing election results produced by our machines to statistically significant numbers of hand-counted paper ballots through these risk-limiting audits to feel more secure about the security of our elections,” said Representative Ajello.
The measure now heads to the governor’s office. If it becomes law, Rhode Island will join 29 other states that already require post-election audits.
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903