Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2125, paving the way for California’s county elections officials to conduct post-election risk-limiting audits in future elections. The new law was authored by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) and sponsored by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
“Post-election risk-limiting audits are a major step towards increasing the transparency and ensuring the integrity of elections in California,” Padilla said. “Voter confidence in elections and vote results is vital to the health of our democracy. However, cyber threats to our elections are the new norm and they’re not going away. Elections officials must take every measure to ensure voters the accuracy and integrity of election results. By signing this measure, Gov. Brown has made it easier for county elections officials to adopt post-election risk-limiting audits, helping keep California at the forefront of election security.”
“Accurate elections are more important now than ever. Over the past two years we have learned that state elections are frequent targets of international adversaries backed by resources of powerful nations, like Russia,” Quirk added. “It’s certainly possible that homegrown threats could try to disrupt elections as well. All of this comes a time of increased public cynicism of government and politics. Accurate elections are the bedrock of a free and open democracy. It is crucial that Californians, and indeed all Americans, believe in the power of the vote – the power of their voice.”
Each county is required by law to perform a post-election audit to confirm the accuracy and integrity of the results. For years, state law has specified a post-election audit consisting of a manual tally of one-percent of the precincts. The manual tally results must match the machine tally results. Risk-limiting audits provide a more robust methodology of ballot review resulting in a greater level of confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the results. AB 2125 further specifies that the audit be of paper ballots.
Beginning in the statewide primary election in 2020, county elections officials will have the improved option of conducting a risk-limiting audit in lieu of the one-percent manual tally.
The secretary of state’s office will consult with statistical experts, election verification and integrity stakeholders, voting system manufacturers, and local election officials to develop audit regulations and procedures. The auditing process will be observable to the public, and the methods that election officials utilize to select the ballots in the auditing process will also be publicly disclosed.
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