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Legislative Update: 14 June 2024

June 14, 2024

In May, a new budget was passed to fund state operations for the next two years. After going through rounds of suggested language, the General Assembly’s proposed budget was still called a “backwards budget,” meaning multiple aspects would be harmful steps backward for the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, in at least one case so far, that has proved true. The General Assembly leadership insisted a ban on presidential election audits be included in the budget, creating budget item 77 F.1:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections C and D of § 24.2-671.2., Code of Virginia, a risk-limiting audit of a presidential election or an election for the nomination of candidates for the office of President shall not be conducted.”

We cannot overemphasize how poor and deeply concerning a decision it was to add this prohibition to the budget. Audits exist to ensure fair elections, regardless of the background—personal, political, or otherwise— of the candidates in question. Prohibiting an audit is a serious affront to the American government system founded on checks and balances to serve the people.

With presidential audits off the table, the next best thing is conducting a statewide audit of the Virginia Senate race. Thankfully, state officials intend to do just that. However, in order for it to be an effective audit, including hand counting some ballots to verify machine counts, both the Department of Elections and the State Board of Elections must choose a specific auditing method called the Batch Comparison Risk Limiting Audit.

The other, more common, method is called a Ballot Polling Risk Limiting Audit. This method includes pulling a “statistically significant” number of ballots (insert eye roll), assuming any needles in the haystack are included, and making a determination about the integrity of the election based on a review of just those ballots.

Please make your voice heard by both the State Board of Elections and the Department of Elections by telling them you support the more robust Batch Comparison Risk Limiting Audit for the statewide audit of the Senate race.

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