Tennessee Audit Information

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This information was updated in May 2014 using the Tennessee Code Unannotated (TC).

State Summary.  The Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, passed in 2008, contains the state's audit provisions. Under the act, audits are not binding, and there is no requirement that the audits could lead to a full recount.  Audits occur only for the offices of governor and president.  Note: The website hosting the Tennessee Code does not allow for us to link to individual statutes or sections. The index for and links to all statutes cited below can be found at: http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/tncode/  Unless otherwise noted, all citations below are from the Tennessee Code, Title 2, Chapter 20, Section 103, “Automatic mandatory audits of voter-verified paper ballots.”


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


The random selection is open to the public, as is the audit itself. See Sections (a)(2) and (b)(2)(A). However, there is no mention of members of the public or observers being allowed to verify marks on the ballots.


The county election commission shall publicly announce the results of any machine retabulations or manual hand counts. See Section (b)(2)(D)(ii).  See also Sections (b)(2)(C)(i) & (iv). 

Voting Systems Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs without VVPAT


In 2008, Tennessee passed the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, requiring all 95 counties to use optical scan voting systems with paper ballots by the November 2010 general election. In 2010, the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act was amended to delay implementation of this requirement until “no later than the general election in 2012” (Public Chapter 612).  In 2011, the act was amended again to remove the requirement and instead make it optional for counties to use optical scan voting systems (Public Chapter 301).  Currently, only three counties use optical scan voting systems with paper ballots as their polling place equipment


For more details, visit Verified Voting.


No statutory guidance binding audit results on election results


While neither the initial audit results, nor the results from an expanded audit, are binding upon the official election results, they may be used as evidence in any legal contest filed pertaining to that election. See Section (b)(2)(D)(iii).

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit: 

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


If the initial machine audit reveals discrepancies of more than 1%, the audit is expanded to include “at least” 3% of voting precincts (which may include the same precincts audited in the original 1%). This second audit is conducted by machine, but at the discretion of the county election commission may also be done by hand. Although the statute implies that the county election commission has the discretion to audit more that 3% of the voting precincts, it is not clear whether the audit could be expanded to a full recount. It is also noteworthy that the statute does not require discrepancies below 1% to be addressed. See Section (b)(2)(D)(ii). 

Audit Comprehensiveness: 

Early voted ballots included in audit
Absentee ballots included in audit

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


At least one precinct-based optical scan tabulator used to count early voting ballots is audited. Some absentee ballots are also included in the audit, but only those that are tabulated by machine. See Sections (a)(1)(B) and (b)(2)(A).

Additional Targeted Samples: 

No statutory guidance for additional targeted samples

Contests and Issues Audited: 

Predetermined election contests or ballot issues are audited

Statewide election contests audited

Federal election contests audited

Audits are for the offices of governor and president in the November general elections only. See Section (a)(1).

Type of Audit Units: 



The number of precincts audited depends on the population of a given county. For those with fewer than 300,000 people, at least one precinct is audited; for those with  300,000 or more, at least five precincts must be audited. See Section (a)(1)(C).


Additionally, at least one precinct-based optical scan tabulator used to count early voting ballots must also be audited. See Section (a)(1)(B).

Counting Method: 

Mix of machine and hand count

Counting method chosen by election official

Voter-verified paper ballots are to be counted “by inserting the  ballots in a different optical scan tabulator than that used to originally count the ballots.” See Sections (b)(2)(C)(i), (ii) and (iii), and b(2)(D)(ii). See also the definition of voter verifiable paper ballots at TC 2-20-101(3).

The expanded audit is also conducted by machine, but at the discretion of the county election commission may be conducted by hand as well. See Section (b)(2)(D)(ii).

Oversight and Conduct of Audit:
Both oversight and conduct of audits is the responsibility of the county election commissions.

Timeline for Audit:

The random selection of the precincts for the audit is required to take place “Immediately after the polls close.” See Section (a)(2). The audit is to begin “before one o'clock p.m. (1:00 pm) local time on the day following election day.” See Section (b)(2).