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EXPLAINER: What’s with all the election audits?

As they search to overturn – or no less than solid doubts on – the outcomes of the Nov. 3 presidential election, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have zeroed in on a routine and customary course of: post-election audits.

Until now, the Trump marketing campaign’s flurry of authorized challenges hasn’t unearthed any proof of widespread voter fraud, and election specialists in addition to state and federal officers have mentioned there was none.

Still, Trump and Republicans are calling for audits in states the place the president misplaced, at the same time as they dismiss the outcomes of audits that had been already accomplished.


Most states have legal guidelines requiring audits after elections, no matter the margin of victory. That’s not as a result of they suppose one thing is improper. They simply need to ensure that voting tools functioned correctly and election procedures had been adopted.

Usually, officers will take a part of their paper ballots and match them in opposition to outcomes from their digital voting machines. That’s to verify there are not any errors or potential situations of fraud.

If there are discrepancies, state legal guidelines set off a extra thorough accounting of votes, though how that’s performed varies by state.

A post-election audit is totally different from a recount, which occurs when there are a small variety of votes separating the candidates or when requested by a candidate.


It’s taking place in a number of states without delay.

In Arizona, the place President-elect Joe Biden gained, the state Republican Party requested for a brand new hand depend of a pattern of ballots in Maricopa County, which incorporates Phoenix and is the place most of the state’s inhabitants lives. The causes cited? Lawyers for the GOP say they need to see if voting machines had been hacked, regardless that there isn’t a proof of fraud or hacking of voting machines in Arizona.

The request got here after the county had already completed its personal audit and located no issues after a hand-count of ballots. On Thursday, a decide rejected the Republican bid to postpone certification of the county’s election outcomes and dismissed the celebration’s authorized problem that sought the new audit.

Maricopa County officers licensed their outcomes Friday. Biden gained the county by greater than 45,000 votes, and bested Trump statewide by a margin of greater than 10,000 votes.

Then there’s Georgia, the place election officers did a high-profile audit of the presidential race as required by state legislation. The audit – a hand tally of about 5 million votes – wasn’t in response to any suspected issues. A brand new legislation in Georgia mandates an audit of anyone race after each election. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, mentioned he selected to audit the presidential race due to its significance and due to the tight margin between Trump and Biden.

A couple of thousand beforehand uncounted ballots had been found throughout the audit, narrowing Biden’s lead over Trump. Biden nonetheless ended up taking the state.


Things unfolded just a little in another way in Michigan.

It started when two Republican election board members of the district that features majority-Black Detroit, voted to dam a routine certification of the votes. They cited discrepancies between the variety of ballots that got to voters – for voting both by mail or in particular person – and the variety of votes solid.

It was a surprising and surprising transfer, particularly since Biden beat Trump in Wayne County by a greater than 2-1 margin, in accordance with unofficial outcomes. Biden gained Michigan by 154,000 votes, or 2.8 share factors.

The Republicans’ declare drew complaints of racism from Democrats and election specialists who additionally famous there was no signal of widespread voting fraud in Michigan or elsewhere. The two Republican board members later reversed themselves following assurances that there can be an audit, which Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson mentioned can be performed in Wayne County and in some other neighborhood with “significant clerical errors.”

Since then, the Wayne County board Republicans have signed affidavits saying they nonetheless don’t imagine the outcomes ought to have been licensed. State officers have mentioned they can not revoke their votes.


In Alaska, Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, has mentioned he plans to hunt an audit of votes solid on a statewide poll initiative to do away with celebration primaries. That’s after Trump and a few of his supporters solid doubt on the expertise used to tabulate votes – once more, with no proof of great irregularities.

Dominion Voting Systems, one in every of the largest voting expertise suppliers in the nation, denied what it referred to as “false assertions about vote-switching and software issues” with its programs.

In this occasion, it’s not the Trump marketing campaign asking for an audit. Rather, Meyer mentioned the machines proved correct throughout the main, however that he’s searching for an audit as a result of “so many people think our Dominion machines are faulty, corrupt and easily manipulated, and I think a lot of this is misinformation that’s coming from the national level.”

The audit would occur after outcomes are licensed, and wouldn’t change the end result.


There have been no widespread findings of fraud in any state throughout the 2020 elections. At most, election officers have cited routine situations of human error or minor technical issues.

Trump’s personal election safety company declared the 2020 presidential election to have been the most safe in historical past. (Though days after that assertion was issued, Trump fired the company’s chief. )

At this level it’s unlikely that any audit in any state might uncover issues massive sufficient to sway election outcomes.


Associated Press protection of voting rights receives help partly from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely answerable for this content material.

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