(The Center Square) – As Pennsylvania counties provide the State Department with certified election results, state officials conduct audits to ensure no errors have occurred.
Counties were due to submit their certified results Monday, and the department will conduct risk-limiting audits to screen counties for errors.
However, lawsuits and a split county board could slow certification.
“The department is aware of several recount petitions that have been filed in several counties across the Commonwealth. Counties are required by law to certify returnees,” said Ellen Lyon, a State Department spokeswoman. “Only a valid and properly filed recount request can a county withhold certification of election results for an office subject to the recount. Districts should certify races that are not the subject of such a properly submitted recount request. This partial certification process has been previously conducted and allows the secretary to certify those races not affected by legitimate recount requests.”
When all counties submit their findings, the department reviews the findings before acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman certifies them, Lyon said.
Luzerne County failed to confirm its election results thereafter a deadlocked electoral board Voted 2-2 in favor of certification, with one member abstaining.
“The department has reached out to its officials to inquire about the board’s decision and their intended next steps,” Lyon said.
“This is the first step in the scientifically designed auditing process that counties will follow to statistically confirm the outcome of the governor’s race,” Chapman said in a publication. “RLAs are considered the gold standard of robust election testing.”
Behavior of the district electoral offices two exams: 2% statistical sampling required by state law and risk-limiting testing. The statistical sample is a recount of a random sample of ballots, either 2% of the ballots cast or 2,000 ballots, whichever is less.
RLAs, piloted in some elections in 2019 and 2020, “use statistical methods to confirm election results and detect possible interference,” according to the department. A random sample of ballot papers is drawn and the correct count is confirmed. Verifiers must be a non-partisan team and can be an election official or a member of the public, but with a minimum of two verifiers examining each ballot recommends the department teams of three.
The counties are required to submit the results of their audit to the State Department when confirming official election results, and to inform state officials of any errors or anomalies found. For RLAs, counties had to submit their results by Friday.
“Each district’s certified voting system provides a voter-verifiable paper record of every vote cast, meets the latest security and accessibility standards, and can be thoroughly audited,” the department says.
The audit checks all ballots, whether submitted in person or by mail.
The addition of risk-limiting checks follows other voting changes since 2020, such as: B. Extended postal voting and the limitation of third-party funds for conducting elections, such as The Center Square previously reported.
Districts and the state received approximately $47 million in expanded election funding, the vast majority of it at the district level.
“The implementation of best practice changes, such as B. RLAs, in our election process and procedures is one way the department is working to combat the misinformation and disinformation that Pennsylvania voters may encounter about the Commonwealth electoral administration,” Chapman said in September.
Other changes to the electoral law could also be on the horizon. A working group of the Joint State Government Commission has met to recommend voting changes to the General Assembly as The Center Square previously reported. Much of this focused on a lack of clarity on how to submit a postal vote.