A meeting of top state officials this week yielded new recommendations for post-election audits in a step to firm up guidelines at a time when former President Donald Trump and his allies have leaned on partisan reviews of the 2020 election to question the results.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican, was the sole “No” vote at the meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State on Monday. The group approved new guidelines that recommend states set specific timelines governing the duration of audits and ensure the involvement of local governments in any such inquiries, among other things. Republican Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was present but abstained from voting.
The guidelines were drawn up by the NASS’s bipartisan Task Force on Vote Verification, which is composed of four Democratic and four Republican secretaries of state, and recommend the performance of any audit to be triggered “as soon as reasonably possible” after an election, as well as any subsequent election recertification necessitated by the audit.
The recommendations also stressed the maintenance of chain of custody procedures throughout an audit as “paramount,” urging elections officials to track where ballots and other election materials are during the audit process. The guidelines said states should use accredited test labs to perform any audit procedure involving a county’s voting machines to avoid decertifying such equipment.
“As experts in the field, the bipartisan task force came together to tackle the important issue of post-election audits to promote a greater public understanding of the processes, procedures, and necessary elements for successful audits,” NASS said in a statement.
A spokesman for Warner said he opposed the recommendations because they were “void of any legislative input.”
“Secretary Warner has long held that the state Legislature is the proper venue to implement election law,” the spokesman said , according to Metro News.
The recommendations take up several issues local jurisdictions around the country face, or expect to face, where audits of the 2020 election are either being conducted or pursued by Republican supporters of Trump.
In Maricopa County, Arizona, where ballots and equipment from the 2020 general election were subpoenaed as part of a state Senate-ordered audit, officials have had to purchase new election machines after Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs threatened to decertify them. In May, Hobbs said the security of the machines, which were examined by private contractor Cyber Ninjas, was compromised.
The county on Wednesday notified Arizona’s Republican Senate President Karen Fann it expects the chamber to pick up the tab.
Officials in several Pennsylvania counties, from which Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano requested “information and materials” in hopes of performing a similar 2020 election audit, have pushed back against the lawmaker’s request citing a fear of being left with unusable machines.
Author : Jeremy Beaman