standing Rhode Island State House

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A new report recommends how to adopt a system for auditing election results required in Rhode Island.

Common Cause, Verified Voting and The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released the report Tuesday. They helped the state design and test the risk-limiting audit system this year.

Rhode Island will first use risk-limiting audits for the 2020 presidential primaries.

There are three ways to do the postelection audit. The report recommends a ballot-level comparison because of its efficiency, transparency and relatively predictable cost.

That type of audit would compare the vote on an individual ballot to the machine's recording of the vote on that ballot, which requires the fewest number of ballots to be examined. The other methods, ballot polling and batch comparison, compare more ballots to totals produced by the machines and require the examination of far more ballots, John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said Tuesday.

Rhode Island passed a law in 2017 to require the postelection audits of paper ballots to ensure voting machines haven't been hacked and elections yielded the correct outcome. It called for full implementation in 2020.

Rhode Island was the second state to mandate this routine, rigorous audit statewide. Colorado was the first.

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea supports risk-limiting audits as an additional layer of election security. She thinks insights from the report and feedback from other groups, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rhode Island College, will be "invaluable" as the Board of Elections decides how to proceed with the risk-limiting audit process, her spokesman, Nick Domings, said Tuesday.

Rhode Island is using a portion of the $3 million it received in federal funds for election security to adopt the audit system.

Marion said the report will help Rhode Island elections officials decide which type of audit to implement, and help other states considering risk-limiting audits to ensure confidence in election results and safeguard the vote against foreign interference. The groups are the first to publish data on the cost of the three methods for doing the audit and the time that each take, Marion added.

Wilfred Codrington, counsel for the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, said the risk-limiting audit is one of the most important tools states can use to bolster voter confidence and secure elections for 2020 and beyond.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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