To guard against the multitude of election security threats ahead of the 2018 U.S. midterms, state and local jurisdictions are turning to Risk Limiting Audits (RLAs). Two of the more notable RLA initiatives – State of Colorado and Orange County, Ca. – leverage software developed by election technology startup Free & Fair. A Risk Limiting Audit is an evidence-based method that checks the integrity of election tabulation outcomes by comparing a random manual recount sampling of paper ballots to their corresponding digital versions. RLAs are better and more efficient than the random post-election audits used by jurisdictions today, because they generally require a smaller number of ballots to be audited but still provide a much higher statistical probability that the outcome is correct. In November 2017, Colorado completed the first U.S. statewide set of risk-limiting post-election audits in binding elections – with all 56 Colorado counties that had a November election passing. State of Colorado recently earned the Government Innovation Award for its pioneering use of RLAs in binding elections. Free & Fair, which offers transparent, cyber secure and verifiable election systems, developed the software tools for this first U.S. statewide implementation of RLAs beginning with the November 2017 general election.
“Because the new RLA software system Free & Fair helped to develop for State of Colorado and Orange County, Ca. is open source, other jurisdictions around the country can leverage it at low cost to audit their own election results – and there is still time to act for the 2018 midterms,” said Joe Kiniry, Principled CEO and Chief Scientist at Free & Fair. “Election experts consider RLAs an essential component of a secure election process that can protect against both inadvertent tabulation errors and malicious cyberattacks.”
State and local jurisdictions have further incentive to evaluate RLAs given the fact that two current Congressional Bills, the Protecting American Votes and Elections Act of 2018 and the Secure Elections Act, would require – if passed – paper ballots and risk-limiting audits in all Federal elections, and for other purposes.