Whatever voting system is used, it is a basic fact of elections that votes are miscounted. In every major election there are instances of vote totals that have to be amended after problems counting the votes have been found. These problems include switching vote totals for two candidates, double counting votes from particular precincts, and misreading or mistranscribing vote tallies. Because of this, it is necessary that vote counts be audited in a manner likely to detect any error in the results.
Additionally, it is important that all audits and recounts
- Independent oversight
- Flexible sample size based upon the margin of victory
- Recounts are expanded to more precincts when discrepancies are found
New Jersey enacted the first law (AB 2730 of 2007) in the country that adapts recount procedures to the outcome of the election — in closer races, where a smaller discrepancy could change the outcome, the recount will be broader. The scope of the audit is also expanded when discrepancies are found. Additionally, the law sets up an independent commission to design and oversee the audits. The commission includes statisticians and has strong transparency guidelines.
Minnesota recently passed an innovative amendment (Chapter Law 336 of 2008) to its audit procedures that allows a candidate to obtain a discretionary recount of up to three precincts at their expense. This is an economical and convenient way to boost the integrity of elections by allowing those most likely to detect questionable vote totals the ability to direct limited recounts.