ACM Technology Policy Council Releases TechBrief on Election Security: Risk-Limiting Audits

October 13, 2022

ACM's global Technology Policy Council (ACM TPC) has released "ACM TechBrief: Election Security: Risk-Limiting Audits." The TechBrief explores the benefits of risk-limiting audits (RLAs), which were designed to determine how many post-election random ballot samples must be examined manually to assure the accuracy and integrity of a vote count. The TechBrief includes an overview of RLAs, the different techniques in which they are used, and the multiple methodologies required for procedural flexibility when implementing this highly-accurate, efficient, and economic tool which thus far has been extremely underutilized throughout the world.

The authors also offer three key conclusions to be drawn from the TechBrief:

  • RLAs are a powerful, efficient means to assure election accuracy and encourage public confidence in their certified results.
  • RLAs mitigate the risk of software bugs, procedural mistakes, and security flaws in electronic tallying systems by permitting randomly sampled paper ballots to be checked against their electronic equivalents but are not possible with internet or paperless electronic voting systems.
  • While the use of RLAs has been increasing, many more jurisdictions potentially could benefit from their adoption.

This TechBrief is the latest in a series of short technical bulletins by ACM TPC that present scientifically grounded perspectives on the impact of specific developments in computing technology or their applications. Designed to complement ACM's activities in the policy arena, TechBriefs aim to inform policymakers, the public, and others about the nature and implications of information technologies. The previous TechBriefs include such topics as climate changefacial recognitionsmart cities, and quantum computing and simulation. Topics under consideration for future issues include AI and trust, encryption security, media disinformation, content filtering, blockchain, digital accessibility, and more.

Read the ACM news release.