Oregon Audit Information

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This information was updated in May 2014 using the 2013 Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS).  

Note: The website of the Oregon Secretary of State includes the elections statutes and allows one to link to individual chapters containing multiple statutes. The citations below will retrieve the entire text of the chapter. The Oregon election statutes are available at:  http://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Pages/laws-rules.aspx

State Summary

Signed into law in 2007 and updated in 2009, Oregon's audit law, ORS 254.529, can lead to a full recount and, if it does, is binding upon the official results.  

In addition, the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) allow for “administrative recounts.” While the rules refer to these as recounts, they are primarily post-election audits conducted at the discretion of the county elections official or by a directive from the Secretary of State Elections Division. Administrative recounts provide “a mechanism for selective recounts to confirm the accuracy of the automated vote tally systems used to count ballots.” The results of administrative recounts are not binding on the official results. See OAR 165-007-0270.

Most citations below are to ORS 254.529. Additional citations are to OAR 165-007-0290 and 165-007-0270.

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

 

Members of the public may observe the audit. See OAR 165-007-0290(4).

 

While candidates and sponsors of ballot measures are notified by mail of the audit, there are no provisions specifying if they are allowed appointed observers, or their ability to observe and verify ballot marks. See OAR 165-007-0290(6) and (7).

 

Results of the audit are to be made publicly available on the Secretary of State's website. See ORS 254.529(5).

Voting Systems Used: 

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

 

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Binding: 

Audit results binding upon official results

 

If a third hand count is conducted for the audit (see Addressing Discrepancies, below), the results of the audit are the official results of the election. See ORS 254.529(7)(d). However, administrative recounts conducted under OAR 165-007-0270 are not binding on the official results.

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit: 

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

 

If the audit of the initial sample identifies a discrepancy of greater than 0.5%, the random sample is audited by hand again. If this second audit shows a discrepancy equal to or less than 0.5%, the initial tally is the official result.

If the second audit still shows a discrepancy greater than 0.5%, all ballots for that vote tally system are to be audited, and the result of this final manual count is the official result. See ORS 254.529(7)(d).

Audit Comprehensiveness: 

Absentee ballots included in the audit

Provisional ballots included in the audit

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

 

Oregon is a vote-by-mail state. The state also uses absentee ballots for military voters or for those voters out of state during an election, and it issues provisional ballots. Provisional and absentee ballots are not specifically mentioned in the audit provisions; however, according to the office of the Oregon Secretary of State, where vote tally systems are used, these ballots are included in the audit.

Additional Targeted Samples: 

No statutory guidance for additional targeted samples

Contests and Issues Audited: 

Predetermined election contests or ballot issues are audited

Local election contests audited

Statewide election contests audited

Federal election contests audited

 

Audits in Oregon are for general elections only.

 

Up to three contests are audited:

 

1. “... the election contest between the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes in the county”

2.  A statewide office; and

3.  When applicable, a state ballot measure.

 

See ORS 254.529(3).

Type of Audit Units: 

Precincts/districts

Batches

 

The size of the random sample (of either precincts or batches of ballots in a county) depends on the margin of victory between the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes in the county. If it is less than 1% of the total votes cast in the election in that county, at least 10% of all precincts or ballots are to be audited; if between 1 and 2%, at least 5% of all precincts or ballots are to be audited; and if more than 2%, at least 3% must be audited. See ORS 254.529(2).

 

To be eligible for the random sample, a precinct must have at least 150 ballots cast in the election.

See ORS 254.529(3).

Counting Method: 

Hand count only


See ORS 254.529(1).

 

Oversight and Conduct of Audit:


The Secretary of State oversees the audit and conducts the random selection, while county clerks conduct the audit. See ORS 254.529(1) and (3).

 

Timeline for Audit:

The audit must begin no later than the 21st day after the election, and be completed within 30 days after the election. See ORS 254.529(5).

According to Subsection (8) of OAR 165-007-0290, the manual audit cannot begin until after certification of the initial election results.

The random selection is to be conducted no later than 5 p.m. the third business day after the day of the general election. See OAR 165-007-0290(4).