In the face of record-breaking voter turnout and a global pandemic, Arizona election officials and poll workers successfully administered a safe and secure November 2020 general election. In large part, that was because of the coordinated effort of state, local, and federal officials to ensure that Arizona was well prepared for the election effort.

Two of the most important election security measures in use in Arizona today, paper ballots and postelection audits, were first implemented more than a decade ago. Currently, Arizona is one of at least 24 states that conduct postelection audits, which require hand review of paper ballots, prior to certification of the election results. However, as we discuss in detail below, there are two substantive deficiencies in Arizona’s current audit law: (1) local election officials are prevented from completing an audit if one or more political parties refuse to participate and (2) the type of postelection audit required (a “traditional” postelection audit) limits the efficacy and the flexibility of the audit.

A risk-limiting audit (RLA) is a check on the election outcome. Through the use of proven statistical methodologies, an RLA provides voters with confidence in the accuracy of election results. It can be conducted publicly and is designed to detect, and correct, counting errors or malicious attacks that change the outcome of an election.

Image credit: Rebekah Zemansky