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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

What is an election audit?

Iowa is one of 38 states, plus the District of Columbia, that conducts a post-election audit.

With so much anticipation leading up to the election, Local 5 is focusing on the days after the election to ensure accuracy in what could be a contested presidential contest. 

Here's how an election audit in Iowa works.

Iowa and 37 other states, plus the District of Columbia, conduct post-election audits. Here, it's referred to as a traditional audit.

In the days following the election, the Secretary of State's office will randomly select a precinct in each of Iowa's 99 counties. 

A commissioner at each selected precinct then hand-counts the ballots. 

A representative from each party—for example, one Trump and Biden rep—can be there to observe the process, though it is not required.

The precinct must report their audit to the Secretary of State within 20 days. Those results do not have the power to change or invalidate the outcome of the election.

So, why do an audit?  

It's an effort to avoid a full recount and identify any potential bugs.

Post-election audits can be time-consuming for election administrators, and most post-election audits contain an element of hand counting paper records, which is an error-prone process. 

Even with good procedures, people physically looking at votes on a piece of paper are less reliable at tabulating than a machine, although humans are better at discerning voter intent.

For more information on voting in Iowa, click here to access Local 5's Voter Guide or text VOTE to 515-457-1026.