North carolina Audit Information

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This information was updated in April 2014 using a version of the North Carolina General Statutes that reflected changes made by the 2013 legislative session. References to the statutes are preceded by “NCGS” and  followed by the applicable section numbers. 

State Summary


Signed into law in 2005, North Carolina's audit law requires that only one election contest per election be audited. It is one of only a handful of states that requires that the size of the audit sample be chosen in consultation with a statistician to ensure that the sample is statistically significant for the given election. The audit results are binding upon the official election results and may lead to a full manual recount.


Unless otherwise noted, all information below comes from the NCGS 163-182.1(b)(1).


No statutory reguirement that audits be conducted publicly

No statutory requirement that audit results and data be made public

No statutory guidance allowing observers to verify ballot marks


North Carolina regulations and statutes do not require public audits; however, audits are by practice open to the public.  Chapter 3 of the NC Elections Uniformity Project Report states that “Observers may witness the vote counting, but cannot interfere.” 

Voting Systems Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT


For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Note that an official from the North Carolina State Board of Elections confirmed that after January 1, 2018, DRE touch screen voting systems (currently required to be outfitted with VVPAT printers) will no longer be certified for use in the state.


Audit results binding upon official results

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit: 

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


The law states that

“In the event of a material discrepancy between the electronic or mechanical count and a hand-to-eye count, the hand-to-eye count shall control, except where paper ballots or records have been lost or destroyed or where there is another reasonable basis to conclude that the hand-to-eye count is not the true count. If the discrepancy between the hand-to-eye count and the mechanical or electronic count is significant, a complete hand-to-eye count shall be conducted. .”  See NCGS 163-182.1(b)(1)

Audit Comprehensiveness: 

Early voted ballots included in audit
Absentee ballots included in audit

Ballots counted by hand on election day included in the audit


Currently, North Carolina's audit statute requires that the audit is to be of the “paper ballots and paper records,” and specifies that, in the randomly selected precincts, all mailed absentee ballots and at least some early voting ballots must be included. See NCGS 163.182.1.

Note that an official from the North Carolina State Board of Elections confirmed that, although the audit does currently include VVPATS from DREs, after January 1, 2018, DRE touch screen voting systems will no longer be certified for use in the state. 

As of January 1, 2018, references to “paper records” will be removed from the audit statute and references to “paper ballots” will be retained. See NCGS 163.182.1.

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


Only one statewide ballot item is audited per county, unless it is a presidential election, in which case the presidential contest is the item audited. If there is no statewide or presidential ballot item, the State Board is required to 'provide a process for selecting district or local ballot items to adequately sample the electorate.”

Type of Audit Units: 


Individual ballots



The random sample consists of “one or more full precincts, full counts of mailed absentee ballots, full counts of one or more one stop early voting sites, or a combination.” The statute requires that the State Board consult a statistician to ensure that the sample can produce a statistically significant result.

Counting Method: 

Hand count only


Oversight and Conduct of Audit:

The State Board of Elections is responsible both for overseeing the development of procedures for audits, including the method by which the random sample is to be selected, and for choosing the random sample. The audit is conducted by county election officials.


Timeline for Audit:

The random selection of precincts for a given county must be done “after the initial count of election returns for that county is publicly released or 24 hours after the polls close on election day, whichever is earlier.” There is no timeline provided for completion of the audit.