Election audits are a subset of the larger area of public interest auditing. Audits can improve public integrity by introducing a third party evaluation as to whether conditions exist that would facilitate material misstatement by any government employee or governmental agent.
Because government is owned by the public and paid for with taxpayer money, there is exists a public “right to truth” as well as a public right to authenticate that what we are being told is true. (For sourcing on right to truth and right to know, see http://blackboxvoting.org/transparency .) Audits can serve as a deterrent for fraud, and audits pertaining to governmental functions also relate to the public right to freedom of information.
Various auditing entities are statutorily created for municipalities, counties, states and the federal government. Public right to audit, however, is not limited to solely these official entities. Under freedom of information concepts, unless an item is explicitly excluded from right to know it must be deemed public information, available for public inspection or copying. Exemptions should only be for compelling reason, in the public interest, and constrained to only exemptions which are truly necessary. Thus, auditing is a duty for assigned governmental agencies, but also a right for individual member of the public.
Auditors assess whether conditions are present which may facilitate fraud. When auditors find material omissions, procedural flaws, or inaccuracies they may issue a “decline to state” opinion, explaining that facts cannot be substantiated.
An audit differs from a law enforcement investigation, and may be unable to determine for certain if material misrepresentations were actually made. It is beyond the scope of audits to determine whether inaccuracies were accidental or intentional. Determining criminality and proving whether or not there was theft is a law enforcement function, not an auditor’s role.
An audit can focus on financial reporting, but other kinds of audits also exist. A performance audit can identify areas for managerial improvement. A compliance audit can also evaluate the extent to which processes adhere to rules and laws. Any subject matter may be audited.
Audits are holistic, in that they use a variety of records in the evaluation. They may examine accounts, records, documents, job descriptions, records retention practices, transaction times and dates, to assess weaknesses that produce risk and to reconcile various documents to determine whether they match up. When auditors uncover an area of concern, they may choose to expand the audit.
The opinion of the auditor may be communicated through a formal audit report. Remedies for deficiencies found in audits can include referral to law enforcement investigators, recommendations to correct specific deficiencies, and scheduling follow-up audits. Managerial bodies can also take action based on audits, such as terminating employment of government employees who do not follow auditors recommendations.
Election Transparency – http://blackboxvoting.org/transparency
What constitutes an election audit? – http://blackboxvoting.org/how-to-audit-an-election
Audits or fraudits? – http://blackboxvoting.org/audits-or-fraudits
The Brakey Method – http://blackboxvoting.org/the-brakey-method
INDEX – Accountability – http://blackboxvoting.org/accountability
INDEX – Laws and Rules – http://blackboxvoting.org/laws-rules