A simple step every state could take to safeguard elections

Oct. 21, 2019 at 7:31 p.m. EDT

ELECTION SECURITY is a complex challenge. One essential step, however, is so simple it can be carried out with a pen and paper.

Pennsylvania officials have announced that Philadelphia and Mercer County will conduct a post-election pilot next month of what’s called a risk-limiting audit. The procedure is new to most of the country, but 12 states are experimenting with it — because it’s that much of a no-brainer.

Currently, 17 states are not required by law to verify the accuracy of their vote tallies at all. Those that are mostly do so the “traditional” way, which in this case means the wrong way. The process auditors typically use — manually recounting votes in a predetermined percentage of precincts — tells officials whether a particular machine or group of machines is working, but it doesn’t actually answer the essential question: Did the declared winner actually win?

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