Pennsylvania

Risk Audit Underway to Validate Philadelphia's Nov. 5 Election Results

The audit of the local election's 302,000 ballots cast is a pilot that is expected to help the rest of the state's counties conduct similar audits by 2022

What to Know

  • A risk-limiting audit is meant to mathematically validate the results of an election.
  • Philadelphia and Mercer counties are the first Pennsylvania counties to conduct the audit, which Gov. Wolf wants for all counties by 2022.
  • Philadelphia purchased new voting machines for the first time in decades. They were put in use for the Nov. 5 election.

State and local officials are conducting a “risk-limiting audit” of Philadelphia’s Nov. 5 general election to determine whether or not the results are valid.

Thursday’s audit, which also involves election security experts from the Brennan Center for Justice and the University of Michigan, is a pilot being conducted by the City Commissioners and Pennsylvania's Department of State, Philadelphia Deputy Commissioner Seth Bluestein said.

Philadelphia and Mercer County in western Pennsylvania are the first in the state to conduct the risk-limiting audits of their Nov. 5 elections. If successful, such audits will be conducted by every county in the state by 2022, Bluestein said.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is personally overseeing the audit in Philadelphia on Thursday. It is taking place at a warehouse in the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood where the City Commissioners store all the paper ballots.

The audit comes on the heels of the first election to use new ballot and voting machine technology in decades. 

Ballots took longer than previous elections to be counted in the Nov. 5 election, but city officials said the use of new voting machines went smoothly.

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Controversy surrounded the purchase earlier in the year of hundreds of ExpressVote XL voting machines from a company called ES&S. The city controller's office contends the contract procurement process for the machines was not properly executed.

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