New jersey Audit Information

This information was updated in June 2015 using the 2014 New Jersey Revised Statutes (N.J. Rev. Stat.)

 

State Summary

 

All of the information below pertains to audit legislation that passed in 2008. However, these statutes were dependent on simultaneous implementation of new voting systems that produced voter-verifiable paper records. Such machines were initially scheduled to be in place by January of 2009, but later legislation halted the purchase of new voting systems until funding for such systems could be guaranteed. See N.J. Rev. Stat.19:48-1b(1) and b(2). 

Transparency: 

Statutes specify that audits must be conducted publicly

Statutes require that audit results and data be made public

No statutory guidance allowing observers to verify ballot marks

 

“All the proceedings of the district boards, county boards, boards of county canvassers and board of state canvassers shall be open and public.”  See 19:6-28.

The procedures for the random selection and audit adopted by the audit team must be published prior to the election and an opportunity for public comment provided. See Subsection 19:61-9(1)(c)(1).

The random selection and the audit must be conducted publicly.  See 19:61-9(1)(c)(6).  However, the law does not specify audits allow observers to view ballots or verify ballot marks.

The Attorney General shall announce publicly and publish the results of the audit.  See  19:61-9(1)(c)(7).

Voting Systems Used: 

DREs without VVPAT

 

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Binding: 

Audit results binding upon official results

 

The revised vote totals from the audit are to be “incorporated in the official result from the relevant election districts or audit units.” See 19:61-9(1)(c)(7).

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit: 

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

 

If the initial audit reveals discrepancies of one tenth of one percent or more, the audit is expanded, and an additional sample of election districts is audited. Tthe law specifies that the expansion should equal the same number of districts that were initially audited. If the initial number of districts audited is already greater than half the election districts for the election contest in question, then a full manual count for all remaining districts is to be conducted. Members of the audit team may initiate additional auditing if the audit “indicates a substantial possibility that a complete hand-to-eye recount would alter the outcome of the audited election.” See 19:61-9(1)(c)(9)

In addition, the  audit team “shall have the authority to cause audits to be conducted of any election district or audit unit which has not been randomly selected for auditing in which a majority of the audit team determines from the un-audited election results, past election results, or other data that the votes are likely to have been miscounted." See 19:61-9(1)(c)(6)

If the Attorney General, based on a recommendation of a majority of the professional audit team, determines that the hand-to-eye counts show cause for concern about the accuracy of the election results, then the audit team will audit any additional election districts or audit units considered appropriate by the Attorney General to resolve any such concerns.  See 19:61-9(1)(c)(9).

Audit Comprehensiveness: 

Absentee ballots included in audit

 

With respect to votes cast other than at the election district on election day (such as votes cast by military service voters and overseas federal election voters), they must be separated and bundled in groups called “audit units.” Each audit unit shall contain approximately the average number of ballots cast in the precincts within the county, or fewer, but shall not be associated wtih any particualr election district.  Each audit unit will be assigned a unique identifying number, and will be included in the random selection process. See 19:61-9(1)(a) and c(5).

 

Emergency and provisional ballots are not included in the group of ballots described above, and they are explicitly excluded from the other election day ballots to be audited. See 19:61-9(1)(c)(4).

Additional Targeted Samples: 

No statutory guidance for additional targeted samples

Contests and Issues Audited: 

Predetermined election contests or ballot issues are audited

Primary elections audited

Local election contests audited

Statewide election contests audited

Federal election contests audited

 

All federal and state offices are audited, and the Attorney General additionally picks county and municipal offices to be audited. See 19:61-9(1)(a).

Type of Audit Units: 

Precincts/districts

 

The audit is conducted in at least 2% of the election districts in which each audited election appears on the ballot See 19:61-9(1)(a). Additional auditing may be required to meet the statistical requirements of 19:61-9(1)(c)(1).

Counting Method: 

Hand count only

 

The audit is required to be a hand-to-eye count. See 19:61-9(1)(a). However, as noted above, because New Jersey still still uses only paperless DRE machines for its polling place voting equipment, there is no paper record for most in-precinct votes cast in New Jersey and therefore, no hand-to-eye count is possible.  For votes cast by methods other than “at the election district [precinct] on the date of the election,” audits can be conducted by dividing the paper ballots into “ballot batches.”   See 19:61-9(1)(c)(5).

Oversight and Conduct of Audit:

The State Attorney General will appoint an “independent professional audit team”, that includes at least one member that has verifiable expertise in statistics, and at least one member with verifiable expertise in auditing. This team oversees the audit process. No member of the audit team may be a candidate for office in the election to be audited, nor may they be an employee of or report to the Attorney General. See 19:61-9(1)(b).

 

Timeline for Audit:

The audit itself is commenced 24 hours after the announcement of the random selection of election districts. The random selection is conducted “within a reasonable period of time after the final vote count after an election,” but no definition of “reasonable” is provided. See 19:61-9(1)(c)(3). “No county shall certify the results of any election that is subject to an audit performed pursuant to this section prior to the completion of the audit….” See 19:61-9(1)(c)(8).