Election records provide a durable record for election accountability. In the U.S., federal election records must be retained for 22 months; state and local elections records generally have shorter retention requirements.
Election records consist of much more than vote results. They also include voter lists (who can vote); participating voter lists (who did vote); vote count reports broken out by type of vote (such as absentee, early, polling place, provisional, and write-in) and by location (precincts or polling places), and within the system are also records of votes by voting machine and batches processed (such as each batch of absentee ballots as they were counted). Election records also include audit logs, inventory lists, and chain of custody documents.
Financial records, contracts, and invoices are also a component of election records, as are surveillance tapes. Because vote results reports originate from databases on memory cards and central tabulators, these databases are also crucial election records. Computerized voting systems produce many types of administrative reports and audit logs, as well as, in most cases, ballot images for each vote cast; these, too, are election records. Though the original copy of computerized records should be preserved on its original media, regulations sometimes interpret retention requirements to mean a copy of the original, rather than the original itself.
Public right to inspection of election records is not consistently enforced, even though citizens’ ability to examine election records is necessary for elections to be accountable to the public.
ITEMS RELATED TO ELECTION RECORDS:
2016-11-18 – Audits or Fraudits? – Gives pointers for catching sham audits or spot checks of election records
2008-09-25 (AL) – State tries to charge $28,000 for voter list – a state election official obstructs access to a record crucial to election integrity by charging $28,000 for a record that should cost about $25
2008/01/07 – New Hampshire election credibility – Video: New Hampshire House Elections Committee hears testimony by computer expert Harri Hursti regarding the ease of tampering with election records, specifically the poll tape (voting machine results tape).
11/04/2006 – Texas: Williamson County: ES&S voting machines miscount – Williamson County elections lacks records (ballots) needed to verify that counts are correct, while stating that results are correct following two miscounts in a row during testing.