STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed legislation
sponsored by Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown)
and Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence) that would establish
The legislation (2017-S 0413A,
would require the Board of Elections to establish a post-election audit program
to make sure that the equipment and procedures used to count votes during an
election are all working properly.
“This will go a long way toward ensuring public confidence
in election results,” said Senator Sheehan, who introduced the legislation at
the urging of the good government group Common Cause. “In those cases where
problems or issues are detected, they can be corrected long before the next
election cycle. Without the constant scrutiny and examination of election
procedures, the democratic system could be called into doubt.”
In effect, the audit would be a partial recount of results
to verify that the voting system is accurately recording and counting votes.
The legislation would authorize the Board of Elections to audit the results
within seven days after an election using established rules and proven
methodologies. These audits would not only act as a deterrent to voter
fraud, but they would help to avoid a full recount by showing when a recount is
necessary, as well as uncovering programming errors, equipment malfunctions and
bugs in the system.
“We’ve all heard allegations of Russian interference in the
2016 election. We’ve seen damage caused by hackers getting into seemingly
secure systems. We will be comparing election results produced by our
machines to statistically significant numbers of hand-counted paper ballots
through these risk-limiting audits to feel more secure about the security
of our elections,” said Representative Ajello.
The measure now heads to the governor’s office. If it
becomes law, Rhode Island will join 29 other states that already require