District of columbia Audit Information

Audit Laws Database Moved

Verified Voting, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a commitment to verifiable elections, will be hosting and maintaining the state audit laws database. Please go to the new State Audit Laws database at Verified Voting to view the most up-to-date database.

This information was updated September, 2013 using the District of Columbia Code (D.C. Code) and the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR).

State Summary D.C.'s audit legislation was signed into law as part of the “Omnibus Election Reform Amendment Act of 2009,”and became effective in 2010. Audits are binding on official results and can lead to a full recount.


Statutes specify that audits must be conducted publicly

Statutes require that audit results and data be made public

Statutes specify that observers can verify marks on the ballots


The audit is to be conducted publicly in such a way “that members of the public are able to verify that votes are correctly classified and tallied.” See DC Code 1-1001.09(f).


Results of the audit are to be made publicly available before the election is certified. In addition to the results, the Board of Elections must also identify and explain any discrepancies and describe what investigations or actions are underway based on the discrepancies. See DC Code 1-1001.09(j).

Voting Systems Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT


For more details, visit Verified Voting.


Audit results binding upon official results


See DC Code 1-1001.09(i).

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit: 

Statutes specify criteria to expand the audit (up to a full recount)


D.C.'s audit law contains a three-stage escalation protocol:

Stage One: If a discrepancy is identified that is either greater than .25% or 20% of the margin of victory, whichever is less, a second audit of the same precincts is conducted.


Stage Two: If the second count confirms the discrepancy, an additional precinct in each ward in which the contest appears on the ballot will also be conducted. An additional 5% of centrally tabulated ballots is also audited.


Stage Three: If the expanded audit continues to find discrepancies (again, either greater than .25% or 20% of the margin of victory, whichever is less), then all ballots for the contest in question are to be manually recounted.


See DC Code 1-1001.09(h).

Audit Comprehensiveness: 

Early voted ballots included in audit

Absentee ballots included in audit

Provisional ballots included in audit


5% of centrally tabulated ballots, which includes absentee and early voted ballots, are to be audited. The law also specifies that special (that is, provisional) ballots are included in the audit. See DC Code 1-1001.09(c)(1)(B).

Additional Targeted Samples: 

Election officials may choose additional targeted samples


The Board may, in its discretion, audit additional precincts, voter-verifiable records or contests.  See DC Code 1-1001.09a(c)(c) and 3 DCMR 812.10.

Contests and Issues Audited: 

Randomly selected election contests or ballots issue are audited

Primary elections audited

Local election contests audited


DC Code 1-1001.09(b) specifies that audits shall take place after “ each primary, general, and special election.”


A minimum of three contests are audited, and these must include at least one district-wide and at least two ward-wide contests. However, the specific contests are randomly selected.  See DC Code 1-1001.09(c)(2). In addition to the randomly selected three contests, the "Board shall select at least one additional contest" to be audited. See DC Code 1-1001.09(c)(2)&(3).  See also 3 DCMR 812.10.

Type of Audit Units: 


Individual ballots


At least 5% of precincts using voting machines are randomly selected for the audit, as well as an additional 5% of votes counted centrally. See DC Code 1-1001.09(c)(1).

Counting Method: 

Hand count only


See DC Code 1-1001.09(g).


Oversight and Conduct of Audit:

The Board of Election and Ethics both oversees and conducts the audit.


Timeline for Audit:

The date of the audit must be announced (not commenced) no later than three business days after the initial canvass, and at least 24 hours before the audit begins. See DC Code 1-1001.09(e).

Not only is the audit completed before certification, but the results must be made available for public review before certification as well. See DC Code 1-1001.09(j).