Texas Audit Information

This information was updated in July 2014 using the Texas Election Code (TEC) current through August 2013.

State Summary

The audit law in Texas was originally passed in 1987, and later amended in 1993, 1997 and 2011. All items on the ballot are audited.

 

All statutes cited below can be found in Title 8, Chapter 127.

 

Additional instructions regarding audits from the Texas Secretary of State are available in the Election Advisory No. 2008-09(3)(d).

Transparency: 

No statutory requirement 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

 

While candidates and their appointed representatives are allowed to observe, there are no provisions that mention their ability to verify ballot marks. See Section 127.201, “Partial Count of Electronic Voting System Ballots by General Custodian,” Subsection (b).

 

While appointed observers are allowed, there is also no mention of the general public's ability to attend, and no requirement for the time and location of the audit to be publicly announced.

Voting Systems Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs without VVPAT

 

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Binding: 

No statutory guidance binding audit results on election results

 

The statutes do not stipulate whether the results are binding upon the official election results.

Addressing Discrepancies and Continuing the Audit: 

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

 

Election Advisory 2012-03, Subsection (d)(xi) provides that "If there are discrepancies in the audit, the election official shall continue its audit until it determines the cause of the discrepancy."

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

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

Primary elections audited

Local election contests audited

Statewide election contests audited

Federal election contests audited

 

There are two statutes that inform which contests are to be audited.

 

The first more general statute requires that the general custodian of election records conduct an audit for all items on the ballot in the precincts randomly selected by the Secretary of State. See TEC 127.201(a).

 

However, for certain elections – general elections for state and county officers, primary elections, or any election with proposed state constitutional amendments or statewide ballot measures – the Secretary of State selects three contests and three ballot items for a more focused audit, and notifies the general custodian that these are the contests to be audited. See TEC 127.201(b).

 

The law clearly states that this second audit, from Subsection (b), is not simply an additional audit but supersedes the Subsection (a) audit.

Type of Audit Units: 

Precincts/districts

 

A manual count is to be conducted in at least 1% of election precincts, "or in three precincts, whichever is greater." The audit is only conducted in those precincts using electronic voting systems. See TEC 127.201(a).

Additionally, the Secretary of State may select additional "any portion of any number of ballots from any precinct in which the electronic voting system was used" for auditing at their discretion. See TEC 127.202, “Count of Electronic Voting System Ballots by Secretary of State.”

Counting Method: 

Hand count only

 

See TEC 127.201(a).

 

Although Texas' law specifies a manual audit, in reality a very large number of precincts in Texas use direct-recording electronic machines (DREs) without a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), meaning that no hand count of ballots or VVPATs can be conducted in those precincts. The audit statute explicitly provides that the hand count requirement does not apply where DREs are used. See TEC 127.201(g).

 

Oversight and Conduct of Audit:

The audit is conducted by the general custodian of election records. Oversight is handled by the Secretary of State.

 

Timeline for Audit:

The audit must begin within 72 hours after the polls close, and be completed not later than the 21st day after election day. See TEC127.201(a).

Regarding optional audits by the Secretary of State, "The count may be conducted at any time during the period for preserving the applicable precinct election records." See TEC 127.202(b).