State Board to Randomly Select Precincts for Post-Election Accuracy Checks
State Board of Elections staff on Wednesday, November 8, will randomly select precincts, early voting sites, and absentee-by-mail ballots to be counted by hand as part of a statutorily required post-election audit for the November 7 municipal elections.
Municipal elections are taking place on Tuesday, November 7, in 465 municipalities in 86 counties across North Carolina.
The random selection of two voting groups to be counted by hand in each county will take place at 1 p.m. November 8. Any member of the public may access the meeting online or by phone using the information below:
Online: Webex (Password: NCSBE)
By Phone: (415) 655-0003, Access code: 2428 387 8940#, passcode 62723#
After the random selection, the county boards of elections with November elections will count a contest on all ballots by hand from the chosen precincts, one-stop early voting sites, or absentee-by-mail ballots and compare the totals with the results of the machine counts. Required by state law, the sample audit count helps ensure the reliability of election results tabulated by machine. See Principles and rules for counting official ballots. N.C.G.S. § 163-182.1(b)(1).
Wednesday’s event will entail multiple steps:
Ten 10-sided dice are rolled sequentially to determine a 10-digit seed number. The seed number method is used to initialize the random number generator in a way that can be replicated by any member of the public who wishes to do so.
The seed number is entered into a software program, along with the input file (which contains a list of Election Day precincts, one-stop early voting sites, and all absentee-by-mail ballots for each county).
The software program is run using the seed number, the input file, and the code to generate a random sample of two groups of ballots from each county. These groups of ballots include Election Day precincts, early voting sites, and absentee-by-mail ballots (considered a single administrative voting site since these are tabulated at the board of elections). After being generated, the list of random groups of ballots is posted to NCSBE.gov and provided to the county boards of elections.
For transparency, members of the public can produce the same output using the seed number, the input file, and the free software.
Instructions for installing the software, as well as the code itself, are available here: NCSBE Public Files Folder: Sample Audit Code.
The input file will be available here: NCSBE Public Files Folder: November 7, 2023 Election Sample Audit.
The output file (i.e., the resulting randomly selected groups of ballots for each county to audit) also will be available here: NCSBE Public Files Folder: November 7, 2023 Election Sample Audit.
Before every election, each county board of elections tests every tabulator that will be used in the election to ensure ballots are properly coded and the machine accurately counts the ballots. For more information, see Preparing for Accurate Elections. For more information on the many ways election officials secure North Carolina elections, please see Election Security.