Orange County has begun conducting a routine risk-limiting audit for the 2020 election ballots on Friday to ensure that both local and national results are accurate, according to a statement from the Orange County Registrar of Voters.
The procedure provides statistical evidence that an election outcome is correct or would provide an exact conclusion, said Neal Kelley of the Registrar of Voters for Orange County. The audit is conducted by people instead of machines and would require a greater examination of closer contests than those with wide-margins.
"Conducting a risk-limiting audit is an excellent way to audit elections and provide an important check on the integrity of the election process,” Kelley said. “This is a valuable opportunity to utilize the enhanced auditing capability of Orange County's voting system, while at the same time ensuring that the outcomes are true and correct.”
Jackie Wu, a community outreach manager, said that in order for the registrar to certify an election, which is required by law, they must conduct an audit of the results after every ballot is counted.
The method of choice for the county to ensure accuracy calls for a random selection of ballots to be counted after all votes are tallied, which aims to confirm that the candidate with the most votes is in fact showing in the election results, Wu said.
Wu continued to clarify that the audit is not a recount but still a form of double-checking.
In addition to the riskt-limiting audit, the registrar will conduct the 1% manual tally audit, where 1% of all ballots casted in an area during the election are counted by hand. Wu said this is the traditional way to audit an election, going back to the 1960s.
Both audits must be completed by Dec. 3, but Wu said they hope to finish before then.
As of Nov. 14, 155 ballots have been audited. Only three out of seven groups have completed the 1% manual tally audit. Each group contains 18 precincts.
Wu said the audits are a routine process for every election rather than a response to complaints of voter fraud from President Donald Trump. Wu said there have yet to be any suspicions of voter fraud in the county.
As of Sunday evening, Trump has received 44.4% of Orange County votes with President-elect Joe Biden leading with 53.5% of votes.
Last week, over 300 Trump supporters gathered in front of the Orange County Registrar of Voters office in Santa Ana to protest against a voting system they claim is corrupt. However, Alan Hostette, the rally organizer, said they are not specifically protesting county results, according to the Orange County Register.
Kenneth Gonzalez, Cal State Fullerton’s Republicans club president, said he feels it’s important that the counting of ballots is accurate in order to maintain fair elections. He added that the increase of early voting and mail-in ballots may have increased the likelihood of fraud or simple errors.
“We have to ensure that the rightful winner of the election is the person who will be sworn in and represent us, the people deserve their votes to actually matter,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said if there is no evidence of error after the audits are conducted, he will feel a sense of relief knowing the county is competent to ensure fair and safe elections.
Claudia Lazaro, president of College Democrats of CSUF, echoed Gonzalez’s statements and said she feels it’s important to ensure election results are accurate because it allows everyone who voted to know their voice is heard and acknowledged.
“Accuracy in election results should be prominent in both local and national elections,” Lazaro said. “I trust that the votes counted are a clear representation of the people, and the outcome of the results should be decided on what the votes say and not on our personal feelings towards the situation.”