Election Audits in South Carolina

The State Election Commission (SEC) requires counties to audit election results through two types of post-election audits: hand-count audits and results-verification audits. Additionally, the SEC’s Audit Division performs compliance audits and compliance reviews to evaluate county office compliance with federal and state law and SEC policies and procedures.

Election Result Audits

Hand-Count Audits

A hand-count audit is intended to ensure the number of ballots cast was accurately recorded by the tabulation device. Additionally, the audit ensures the number of votes cast for a particular contest was accurately recorded by the tabulation device.

Hand-count audits are required for all federal and state-level elections. These audits are required for early voting centers and election day precincts, with the specific number of audits based on the number of active registered voters in each county. The early voting locations and contests are randomly selected by the SEC’s Audit Division, which is independent of county voter registration and election offices. These selections are made prior to the election but only provided to county offices after the close of the election.

Examiners are individuals who conduct the audit. They are proposed by the county and reviewed for approval by the SEC. At a minimum, there must be two examiners. A lead examiner assists with the audit as well as communicates with the public and attests to the results.

Hand-count audits are open to the public. County offices must post a public notice with the date and time of the audit, which must occur before certification. The SEC publishes the early voting centers, precincts, and contests that must be audited on this website. Examiners must take the constitutional oath, blue ballot boxes must be unsealed in public, and audits must be conducted publicly as a blind audit, which means ballots and votes are counted first, then compared to results tape. Hand-count audit results are published on this website under Election Results Audits.

Notice Regarding Hand-Count Audits at Early Voting Centers

To conduct hand-count audits for ballots cast at early voting centers, the SEC has required county offices to isolate the results from one tabulator at a randomly selected early voting center for the first day of voting. The number of ballots cast (public count) on this tabulator will be printed on a tape and displayed next to it. Isolating the results will cause this tabulator’s public count to reset to zero. As such, the audited tabulator’s public count will not equal the number of voters check in on the electronic pollbook on days 2­-11 of early voting. However, adding the public count from the printed tape to the public count on days 2-11 will resolve the mismatch caused by the audit.

Results-Verification Audits

A results-verification audit uses independent software to retabulate the results from an entire election using scanned ballot images. The results from this audit are then compared to the results from the state’s voting system. A tolerance level of .5% for discrepancies has been established for these audits. Anything exceeding this percentage in any given contest will undergo additional auditing.

To conduct these audits the SEC has contracted with Clear Ballot, a Boston-based elections technology company. Results from these audits are published on this website under Election Results Audits.

Election Results Audits

Compliance Audits

SEC compliance audits are intended to evaluate whether the practices of a county board of voter registration and elections are consistent with federal and state law and SEC policies and procedures.

The audits, and their associated corrective action plans, are performed pursuant to the S.C. Code of Laws §§7-3-20 and 7-3-25. As such, compliance audits are executed at the discretion of the Executive Director of the SEC. These audits, and subsequent corrective action plans, are published on this website under Compliance Audit Results.

Compliance Reviews

Compliance reviews are similar to compliance audits in that they evaluate a county’s compliance with state and federal law and SEC policies and procedures. They are different in that they can be completed more quickly to provide needed information to requesters in a timelier manner.

Compliance Audit Results

Compliance Audit Input

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