EXPLAINER: Taking a closer look at NC’s post-election procedures and audits

CHARLOTTE — With all the talk about concerns over elections fraud or a compromised election, Channel 9 wanted to dig deeper into North Carolina civics to reassure you about the integrity of your vote.

On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, you may have heard the networks declare winners in each state, but the final results aren’t actually counted until canvassing day -- 10 days after the election.

In that time, each county in North Carolina will send your vote through six separate audits.

  1. A voter history audit uses your own voting history and is designed to identify fraud, like ballot stuffing or fraudulent manual entries
  2. The manual entry audit double checks machines to make sure what voters entered matches the result that comes out -- this audit can catch inadvertent mistakes in transcribing numbers from tally sheets and election results tapes, as well as intentional manipulation of data
  3. A provisional audit looks at questionable ballots and issues of voter eligibility to see whether those votes should count -- these ballots are set aside pending research by county boards
  4. A sample audit double-checks a random sample of paper ballots to compare them with the machines (Presidential races will automatically go through this audit)
  5. A close contest audit looks at each race’s margin of victory to make sure the outcome of the election is legitimate
  6. A risk-limiting audit (the state is testing this one) requires elections officials to sample batches of ballots, count them by hand, and then compare them to the machines -- election officials said this is done until an acceptable confidence interval is reached, such as 95%, that an election outcome is reliable

With election workers back counting ballots Wednesday, Channel 9′s Anthony Kustura asked Mecklenburg County’s Director of the Board of Elections Michael Dickerson how the audits will impact their work.

“It validates our counting process,” Dickerson said. “And that’s what we want to make sure we do. I want everybody to feel comfortable that these are accurate and true results.”

Audits will be all done before local elections boards like Mecklenburg County certifies votes on Nov. 13.

The state board certifies them on Nov. 24 and only then will North Carolina award its 15 electoral votes.

On the state level, the first process started around 11 a.m. Wednesday when North Carolina’s Board of Elections randomly selected a precinct for a sample audit. That is not because of any concern about compromised votes.

>> For more information on county canvass and election audits, click here.