New National Academies Report Urges Paper Ballots, Recommends States Mandate Risk-Limiting Audits

The central recommendation of a report from the National Academies, “Securing the Vote: Protecting American Democracy,”—which was released September 6 and undertaken after the 2016 presidential election—is that all local, state, and federal elections should be conducted using human-readable paper ballots by the 2020 presidential election to protect the integrity and security of US elections. Among other recommendations is that states mandate a specific type of audit known as a “risk-limiting” audit prior to the certification of election results.

The ASA Board endorsed risk-limiting audits (RLAs) in 2010. The principal architect of RLAs—Philip Stark of the University of California, Berkeley—has been a tireless advocate for their adoption. His outreach is paying off. RLAs have now been piloted in California, Colorado, Ohio, Indiana, and Denmark and are required routinely in Colorado and Rhode Island. A Senate bill introduced this summer also requires them.