Virginia’s Department of Elections to begin audit of ballot machines used for 2020 presidential, Senate elections

Virginia Politics

FILE – Ballot Scanner Machine – After you fill out your ballot, you will put it in the scanner and collect your “I voted” sticker.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s 133 localities will take part in a statewide post-election Risk Limiting Audit of the 2020 U.S. presidential and Senate elections, a procedural step where ballot scanner machines used in November will be inspected.

The Virginia Department of Elections, working with the non-profit VotingWorks, will coordinate the audit, which will begin Feb. 16 for general registrars and Electoral Board members. According to VotingWorks’ projection, localities will need to retrieve around 1,423 ballots in order to make it an accurate audit.

“This statewide audit helps to support the idea that the integrity of the election process is always of the utmost importance. The Department is continually vigilant on matters related to the security and accuracy of the vote in Virginia,” Christopher Piper, Virginia’s Commissioner of Elections, said in a statement Monday.

State election officials will review and announce the audit results during a virtual meeting on March 2, according to a news release.

Virginia’s Department of Elections provided the following list of basic steps involved in the audit:

● Creating a ballot manifest – Localities will create a simple spreadsheet that lists all of the containers or the batches that contain the ballots cast and how many ballots are in each batch. All types of ballots are to be included (in person, mail-in, provisional, etc.).
● Uploading the ballot manifest – once the ballot manifest is completed, localities will upload the spreadsheet into VotingWorks’ audit software.
● Generating a Random Seed Number & ballot selection – ELECT and VotingWorks will hold another virtual meeting on February 22 to generate the random seed number. The random seed number is a 20-digit number created by a roll of dice. The random seed number entered into the audit system software generates the list of ballots for retrieval by each locality.
● Ballot Retrieval lists – Localities will receive a list of ballots to review. The lists will include which batches to open and the ballot(s) to retrieve. Localities will have three days to upload the vote tallies from the ballots retrieved.
● Ballot retrieval – Each locality will hold a public meeting to retrieve the ballots on the ballot retrieval list. A review board of two people from each participating locality will retrieve ballots and record the Presidential and Senatorial votes on a tally sheet. Some localities in the Commonwealth will not have to retrieve any ballots and not need to have a meeting.
● Entering ballot tallies – After retrieving the ballots, localities will enter the vote(s) cast for the Presidential and Senatorial contest on each ballot VotingWorks’ audit software.

“The ability to meaningfully participate in our democracy is one of the most important rights we have as citizens, and the Department of Elections is dedicated to maintaining voter confidence in the democratic process,” Piper continued.

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