Introduction to Voting Equipment Audits

As required by Section 7.08(6), Wis. Stats, following the November general election, the Wisconsin Elections Commission is required to direct an audit of each voting system used in the state to determine the error rate of the system in counting ballots that are validly cast by electors. The audit consists of two independent hand-tallies of ballots tabulated by electronic voting systems. The results of the hand-count are verified against the results report produced by the voting system.

The purpose of the audit is to ensure that voting equipment used in Wisconsin is accurately counting ballots according to federal standards, which is 1 error in 500,000 ballots. It is not to verify the accuracy of voting equipment prior to certification of the results. If a piece of equipment did not meet standards (which has never happened since audits began in 2006), the Elections Commission could order the municipality or county with defective equipment to take remedial action (such as purchasing new equipment).

2018 Post-Election Voting Equipment Audit Information and Video

Wisconsin will engage in the most thorough post-election audits and double-checks in state history this year.

This page contains information about mandatory voting equipment audits to be conducted following the November 2018 General Election.


Click here to view Webinar                           November 2, 2018                      

Voting equipment used in Wisconsin elections is required to be audited after every General Election to ensure the accuracy of tabulation equipment using during that election.  Wis. Stat. §7.08(6) is the state embodiment of §301(a)(5) of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA):

(6) Enforcement of federal voting system standards. Following each general election, audit the performance of each voting system used in this state to determine the error rate of the system in counting ballots that are validly cast by electors. If the error rate exceeds the rate permitted under standards of the federal election commission in effect on October 29, 2002, the commission shall take remedial action and order remedial action to be taken by affected counties and municipalities to ensure compliance with the standards. Each county and municipality shall comply with any order received under this subsection.

The WEC has provided the following resources to be used when conducting your audit:

  1. A sample audit public notice: The voting equipment audit should be conducted as part of a public meeting and should be noticed accordingly.  A sample notice has been provided that you can customize for your use.  Remember to also send a copy of your notice to wecaudits@wi.gov.
  2. Audit Instructions:  Detailed instructions and guidelines are provided that walk you through the audit process and provide guidance on how to use the tally shet and reporting form.
  3. Training presentation:  A webinar has been recorded and posted on this page for use by auditors before starting the process.  Please send any questions you may have about the procedures to wecaudits@wi.gov.
  4. Tally sheet:  The auditors will use the tally sheet when auditing each contest.  One sheet should be used per each stack of 100 ballots in the reporting unit.
  5. Reporting form: This form is used after the votes for each audited contest have been tallied by two independent auditors and it has been determined the audit totals match each other.  Auditors will use the reporting form to compare the audit totals to the results from the voting equipment and report and explain any discrepencies.
  6. Optional tally worksheet:  The worksheet has been provided for auditors to use if they wish to verify their totals before filling out the reporting form.
  7. Voting equipment audit reimbursement form:  You can use this form to document your audit costs and the WEC will reimburse a municiaplity up to $300 per reporting unit subject to audit.  Please submit all reimbursement request forms and questions to wecaudits@wi.gov.

Races Selected for Audit

  1. Governor/Lt. Governor
  2. Representative to Congress
  3. Representative to the Assembly
  4. State Senate or Sheriff:  Selected municipalities with a State Senate race on the ballot will audit that contest.  If that contest is not on the ballot in that municipality, the Sheriff contest will be audited instead.

 The Wisconsin Elections Commission determined the following standards for conducted the 2018 voting equipment audit at its September 25, 2018 meeting:

  1. The sample size of reporting units selected for auditing will be at least 5% of statewide reporting units. This equates to a minimum of 183 total reporting units. No more than 2 reporting units will be chosen per municipality.
  2. At least one audit will be conducted in each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Reporting units will be selected to include a sample from each piece of voting equipment approved for use that records and tabulates votes.
  3. Municipalities selected as part of the audit will be chosen at random by Commission staff on November 7, 2018. Selected municipalities will be informed no later than November 8, 2018.
  4. The deadline for completing all audits and submitting materials and documentation to WEC will be November 28, 2018. A municipality may submit a waiver requesting an extension for cause. Any such waiver must be submitted to WEC by November 12, 2018.
  5. Municipalities subject to voting equipment audit may submit reimbursement requests for actual costs up to $300. Requests in excess of the maximum will be considered and may be granted if funds are available.
  6. Information about previous post-election voting equipment audits can be found here:  elections.wi.gov/elections-voting/voting-equipment/audit.