New york Audit Information

 

This information was updated in August 2014 and was revised 11/7/2016 to reflect changes to statutes required by Chapter 515 of the 2015 Laws of New York.

 

State Summary

Signed into law in 2005, New York's audit law does not lead to a full recount but is binding upon the official results. All contests and propositions on the ballot for general elections are audited.

 

Note: While New York's Election Law is currently available in multiple forms online, neither website allows to link to individual sections. However, a searchable version is available here.

The entire Election Law may also be downloaded as a PDF.

 

The primary sections relevant to audits are Article 9, Section 9-211, “Audit of voter verifiable audit records,” and Section 6210.18 of the Rules and Regulations, “Three-percent (3%) audit.”

State Summary

Signed into law in 2005, New York's audit law does not lead to a full recount but is binding upon the official results. All contests and propositions on the ballot for general elections are audited.

 

Note: While New York's Election Law is currently available in multiple forms online, neither website allows to link to individual sections. However, a searchable version is available at: http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menugetf.cgi?COMMONQUERY=LAWS.

The entire Election Law may also be downloaded as a PDF:

http://www.elections.state.ny.us/NYSBOE/download/law/2011NYElectionLaw.pdf.

 

The primary sections relevant to audits are Article 9, Section 9-211, “Audit of voter verifiable audit records,” and Section 6210.18 of the Rules and Regulations, “Three-percent (3%) audit.”

Transparency: 

No statutory requirement that audits be conducted publicly

Statutes require that audit results and data be made public

No statutory guidance allowing observers to verify ballot marks

 

We found no statute requiring that audits in New York be conducted publicly.

 

Candidates, political parties, and independent bodies qualified to appoint watchers during registration and polling are likewise allowed to appoint observers for the audit. See Section 9-211(1), Section 5-206 and Section 8-500.

Voting Systems Used: 

Paper ballot (optical scanners, hand counted paper ballots, or a mix)

 

In September 2010 New York completed phasing out lever machines for a mixture of accessible ballot marking devices and optical scan machines. For more details, visit the New York State Board of Elections website and Verified Voting.

Binding: 

Audit results binding upon official results

 

9-211(4) states that if a "complete audit" is conducted, then its results "shall be used by the canvassing board in making the statement of canvass and determinations of persons elected and propositions rejected or approved." "Complete audit" here refers to a hand count of all the votes in a county that were initially cast and counted on voting machines. Because each county board conducts its audit independently, it is possible for a contest to be subject to a "complete audit" in some counties but not in others.  See also Section 6210.18(j).

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit: 

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

 

Section 6210.18(c)(3) through (g), describes a staged escalation protocol for expanding the audit. At each stage, the audited is expanded if discrepancies of a certain magnitude are found:

 

Stage One: The first initial sample is audited again.

Stage Two: An additional 5% of machines are audited.

Stage Three: An additional 12% of machines are audited.

Stage Four: If discrepancies of a certain magnitude still exist after the additional 12% audit, “each county board shall manually count all voter verifiable paper audit trail records from all the remaining unaudited machines and systems where the contest appeared on the ballot.”

 

The state regulations also clearly empower any board of elections to conduct an audit if they believe one to be needed. See 6210.18(h).

Audit Comprehensiveness: 

No statutory guidance for either early, absentee or provisional ballots

No statutory guidance for ballots counted by hand on election day to be included in audit

 

All language in the statutes and regulations regarding audits pertain to votes cast on voting machines.  Note that New York has a separate statute that requires a mandatory recanvass, 9-208, which includes the hand-counted ballots.  See also 9-209(2)(e).

Additional Targeted Samples: 

No statutory guidance for additional targeted samples

Contests and Issues Audited: 

Every contest and ballot issue voted on the ballot is audited

Local election contests audited

Statewide election contests audited

Federal election contests audited

 

New York's audit statute does not limit the audit to any particular election contests, and includes ballot propositions. Audits are for every primary, general, village and special election.

Type of Audit Units: 

Machines

 

3% of voting machines or voting systems within the county board's jurisdiction are to be audited. See Section 9-211(1).

Counting Method: 

Mix of machine and hand count 

 

Audits may be performed "manually or via the use of any automated tool authorized for such use by the state board of elections which is independent from the voting system it is being used to audit."  See Section 9-211(1).

 

Oversight and Conduct of Audit:

While oversight of the audits comes from the New York State Board of Elections, the random selection is conducted by the county Board of Elections, who is also responsible for conducting the audit.

 

Timeline for Audit:

The audit must be conducted within fifteen days after each general or special election, and within seven days after every primary or village election. See Section 9-211(1).