Auditing Election Results

After every primary and general election in Pennsylvania, counties conduct two different types of audits to ensure the reported election outcomes are correct. Both audits occur before any results are certified.

Verifying the Results of Every Election

After every primary and general election--and before any results are certified--Pennsylvania's counties conduct two separate, distinctly different types of audits:

  1. 2% statistical recount. Required by state law, the 2% statistical recount occurs in each county. During this audit, county boards of elections pull a random sample of either 2% of all ballots cast in all races OR a random sample of 2,000 ballots, whichever number is fewer. 
  2. Statewide risk-limiting audit (RLA). RLAs are are scientifically designed procedures that use statistical methods to confirm election outcomes. RLAs examine a random sample of paper ballots, comparing the votes on paper to the totals reported by the vote-counting machines to ensure that the reported outcome of the contest being audited is correct. These types of audits can confirm that voting systems tabulated the paper ballots accurately enough that a full hand count would produce the same outcome.

Review the results of previous statewide RLAs held in Pennsylvania:

About Risk-Limiting Audits in Pennsylvania

County election officials, Department of State staff, and election experts from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, National Vote at Home Institute, Verified Voting and VotingWorks participated in developing and implementing Pennsylvania’s RLA pilot program, which began in 2019.

Read the two RLA pilot reports the Department created:

After three years of performing RLA pilots, the Department of State in September 2022 directed all Pennsylvania counties to participate in a statewide RLA for every primary and general election beginning with the Nov. 8, 2022, general election.

Each county's certified voting system provides a voter-verifiable paper record of each vote cast, meets the latest standards of security and accessibility, and can be thoroughly audited. 

Every voting system and paper ballot in Pennsylvania must include plain text that voters can read to verify their choices before casting their ballot, and every system has successfully completed penetration testing, access-control testing and testing to ensure that every access point, software and firmware are protected from tampering. Many other important recommendations by national security and cybersecurity experts are in place in Pennsylvania, including mandatory pre-election testing of all voting equipment.