Rochester Hills to pilot cutting-edge election security measure

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 27, 2018

ROCHESTER HILLS — Rochester Hills is one of three communities across the state that will pilot a new post-election audit system following the Nov. 6 general election to verify that voting equipment and election officials performed properly.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said the Bureau of Elections is partnering with Rochester Hills City Clerk Tina Barton, Kalamazoo City Clerk Scott Borling, Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and various researchers to pilot the risk-limiting audit program.

“With this pilot of risk-limiting audits, Michigan further bolsters its reputation as a national leader in election security and integrity,” Johnson said in a statement. “With our new election equipment and secure voter file, and now with our pilot of risk-limiting audits, we are well ahead of other states in strengthening election integrity.”

A risk-limiting audit, according to state officials, is a comprehensive check that uses statistical methods to confirm whether reported election results are correct and to detect possible anomalies that may need further scrutiny due to human error or possible manipulation. Ballots will be randomly selected based on a mathematical formula in the three pilot communities to confirm that the ballot tabulators tallied them correctly.

Barton said Rochester Hills will be the first city in the state to complete the new audit process, which is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 3.

“Election security measures, such as risk-limiting audits, are an important element to ensuring election integrity — from the beginning of the process through the certification of the winner,” Barton said in a statement. “My job is not only to administer fair and accurate elections, but also to maintain voter confidence in the system. This process, which will include Michigan voters reviewing paper ballots, may be a cost-effective option to provide additional assurance to our voters.”

Officials will then head to Lansing to complete the audit process on Tuesday, Dec. 4, followed by Kalamazoo on Wednesday, Dec. 5.

The goal of the pilot program, state officials said, is to determine how risk-limiting audits could be rolled out across Michigan.

“This pilot project will allow us to explore a number of effective and efficient audit procedures that will further strengthen our election security profile,” Johnson said in a statement. “The feedback we obtain from these pilots will enable the bureau to assess how to best move forward with this concept on a statewide basis and further strengthen Michigan’s post-election audit process.”