LaRose Bill Will Increase Accountability, Bolster Voter Confidence And Better Secure Ohio Elections
COLUMBUS—State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) today introduced legislation that would make the current practice of conducting post-election audits a requirement for county boards of election under state law. Additionally, it will require that all county boards of election upgrade to a sophisticated statistical technique called a risk-limiting audit which is widely recognized as the best practice for assuring accuracy. Allowing time for transition and training, the improved post-election audit procedures will be required by 2020 in time for the next Presidential election.
“These audits will ensure that every Ohioan can be confident that their vote is accurately counted,” said Senator LaRose. “The evolution of technology presents both opportunities and vulnerabilities. It is our responsibility to maintain a constant vigilance to protect the integrity of our elections. With this best-in-class technique in place, Ohioans can be sure that our state is leading the way in the fight against fraud.”
Senate Bill 256 will require that elections officials transition to risk-limiting audits by 2020 in advance of the next Presidential election. Currently, Boards of Elections are allowed to choose between a percentage-based audit and a risk-limiting audit. Percentage-based audits will review a fixed percentage of ballots regardless of whether the candidate won by 40% or 1%. Where a risk-limiting audit differs from this is it only looks at a statistically significant portion of the ballots based on the outcome of the election.
For example, if a candidate won by 40%, a smaller sample of ballots would need to be tested to determine the validity of the election. Similarly, a closer election would require more ballots to be reviewed. The 2014 Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommended the method for use in all jurisdictions following all elections, to reduce the risk of having election outcomes determined by undetected computer error or fraud. Additionally, risk-limiting post election audits are the only form of post-election audits endorsed by the American Statistical Association.
“This bill will save both time and money especially in regard to the auditing of elections with wide margins of victory,” LaRose added.
Additionally this bill will ensure that Boards of Elections conduct the most accurate audit possible in elections that are close. Senate Bill 256 allows for a two year period during which County Boards of Elections can prepare to implement risk-limiting audits. This will give each county ample time to develop their procedures for conducting risk-limiting audits and train staff accordingly.
Last summer, Senator LaRose visited with senior staff from the office of the Colorado Secretary of State to discuss their implementation of risk-limiting audits. Since that time, he has been working on how best to bring this idea to Ohio to better secure our elections.
Both of these changes are intended to not only protect Ohio’s elections from security breaches, but also to bolster the integrity of the election process and increase the confidence that Ohioans have in it as well. While audits are already required by directive of the Secretary of State, statewide implementation of the widely recommended risk-limiting process allows for greater accountability, transparency and voter confidence for Ohio’s elections.
From a press release originally posted on OhioSeante.gov/LaRose