Washington Administrative Code
Title 434 - Secretary of State
434-261 - Counting center procedures.
434-261-116 - Preparing for a risk-limiting audit.

PDFWAC 434-261-116

Preparing for a risk-limiting audit.

(1) At least ninety days before a primary or election, a county intending to conduct a risk-limiting audit must notify the secretary of state. This notification must include information about the districts and offices to be included in the audit.

(2) After receiving notice from a county of the intent to conduct a risk-limiting audit and no later than thirty days before the primary or election, the secretary of state will establish and publish the risk limit(s) that will apply in RLAs for that election. The secretary of state may establish different risk limits for comparison audits and ballot polling audits, and for audits of statewide and county contests. In comparison audits, the risk limit will not exceed five percent for statewide contests, and ten percent for county contests.

(3) No later than eighteen days before the primary or election, the county auditor must appoint an audit board to conduct the risk-limiting audit. Observers nominated by the major political party county chairpersons in accordance with RCW 29A.60.170 may be present during the audit. Members of the canvassing board may serve as members of the audit board. The county auditor or members of their staff may assist the audit board in conducting the audit. All observers are allowed in accordance with RCW 29A.60.170 and WAC 434-261-020.

(4) The county must maintain an accurate ballot manifest in a form approved by the secretary of state and independent of the voting system.

(a) In the case of centrally counted paper ballots, the ballot manifest must uniquely identify for each tabulated ballot the scanner on which the ballot is scanned, the ballot batch of which the ballot is a part, the number of ballots in the batch, and the storage container in which the ballot batch is stored after tabulation. The county must secure and maintain in sealed ballot containers all tabulated ballots in the batches and order they are scanned. The county must maintain and document uninterrupted chain-of-custody for each ballot storage container.

(b) In the case of electronic ballots cast on direct recording electronic voting devices (DREs), the ballot manifest must uniquely identify the device on which the ballot was cast or tabulated, the number of ballots cast or tabulated on the device, and the storage container or location in which each paper ballot or VVPAT is stored. The county must maintain and document uninterrupted chain-of-custody for each DRE and VVPAT. Ballots cast on each DRE and VVPAT must constitute a single batch.

(5) No later than the sixth day after election day, the county must pause or finish tabulating all ballots cast by voters registered in the county received through that day. The county may, but is not required to, include in the RLA tabulation any provisional ballots that have been verified and accepted on or before the sixth day after election day. Immediately after completing the RLA tabulation, and to the extent permitted by its voting system, the county must also generate and preserve:

(a) A summary results report, showing overvotes, undervotes, and valid write-in votes;

(b) A results file export suitable for uploading to the secretary of state's election night reporting system; and

(c) A CVR export, if conducting a comparison audit.

(6) Counties conducting a comparison audit must verify that:

(a) The number of individual CVRs in its CVR export equals the aggregate number of ballots reflected in the county's ballot manifest as of the sixth day after election day; and

(b) The vote totals for all choices in all ballot contests in the CVR export equals the vote totals in the summary results report for the RLA tabulation.

After verifying the accuracy of the CVR export, the county must apply a hash value to the CVR export file using the hash value utility provided by the secretary of state.

(7) Comparison audit uploads. No later than 5:00 p.m. on the sixth day after election day, each county conducting a comparison audit must upload:

(a) Its verified and hashed ballot manifest, and the ballot manifest's hash value, to the secretary of state's office;

(b) Its verified and hashed CVR export, and the CVR export's hash value, to the secretary of state's office; and

(c) Its RLA tabulation results export to the secretary of state's election night reporting system.

(8) Ballot polling audit uploads. No later than 5:00 p.m. on the sixth day after election day, each county conducting a ballot polling audit must submit or upload:

(a) Its verified and hashed ballot manifest, and the ballot manifest's hash value, to the secretary of state's office;

(b) Its cumulative tabulation report, to the secretary of state's office; and

(c) Its RLA tabulation results export to the secretary of state's election night reporting system.

(9) The secretary of state will convene a public meeting on the seventh day after election day to establish a random seed for use with the secretary of state's RLA tool's random number generator.

(10) The seed is a number consisting of at least twenty digits, and each digit will be selected in order by sequential rolls of a ten-sided die. The secretary of state will designate one or more staff members to take turns rolling the die. The secretary of state will publish online the random seed after it is established.

(11) No later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday after election day, the secretary of state will select by lot a statewide contest, and for each county at least one ballot contest other than the selected statewide contest. The county auditor shall randomly select a ballot contest for audit if in any particular election there is no statewide contest. These will be considered the target contests for the RLA. The secretary of state will publish online a complete list of all target contests.

(12) The target contest with the closest diluted margin for each county determines the number of ballots that must be examined during the RLA.

(13) The secretary of state will determine the number of ballots to audit to satisfy the risk limit for the target contests based on the ballot manifests submitted by the counties. The number of ballots to audit will be determined according to the formulas maintained on file in the secretary of state's office.

(14) The secretary of state will randomly select the individual ballots to audit. The secretary of state will use a random number generator with the seed established under subsection (10) of this section to identify individual ballots as reflected in the county ballot manifests. The secretary of state will notify each county of the randomly selected ballots that each county must audit no later than the seventh day after election day.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611. WSR 19-19-033, § 434-261-116, filed 9/11/19, effective 10/12/19. Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611, 29A.24.091, 29A.24.311, 29A.60.021, 29A.60.185, 29A.60.170, 29A.60.110, and 29A.60.235. WSR 19-01-102, § 434-261-116, filed 12/18/18, effective 1/18/19.]

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