950 CMR 46.05 - Conduct of the Audit

(1) Selected Precincts. The board of registrars or election commission in a municipality where one or more precincts selected to be audited are located shall conduct the audit.

The board of registrars or election commission may employ tally clerks to count the ballots.

(2) Timing. Audits shall begin not later than two business days following the random drawing of precincts and shall continue on each successive business day or other day at the discretion of the board or commission in each municipality.
(3) Location. The audits shall be shall be performed:
(a) In an accessible location; and
(b) In full public view.
(4) Prior to the beginning of the audit, the local election official shall deliver to the audit location the envelopes or containers containing all records of the election, including the sealed envelopes containing the ballots cast, the original tally sheets, the envelopes containing the spoiled and unused ballots, the voting lists used at the election, the certificates issued to voters omitted from the voting list, the precinct clerk's election record, the absentee ballot envelopes and applications for such absentee ballots as were cast at the election, the lists of voters who were sent absentee ballots with the notation as to whether such ballots were cast or rejected or whether such voter voted in person, the early ballot envelopes and applications for early voting ballots by mail as were cast at the election, the lists of voters who were sent early voting ballots with the notation as to whether such ballots were cast or rejected or whether such voter voted in person at an early voting location or by mail, and the sealed envelopes containing the ballots rejected as defective.
(5) To conduct the audit, the board or commission shall unseal the envelopes or containers containing the ballots.
(a) Ballots for an audited precinct shall be separated into blocks of 50.
(b) Blocks of ballots shall be audited by a team of two workers, both of whom shall view each ballot. One worker shall read the votes, and the other shall record the votes on a tally sheet. Only the worker actually marking the tally sheet shall have any marking device, which must be a red pencil or red pen.
(c) Each team shall receive a block of ballots, the corresponding block tally sheet, and an envelope. The block tally sheet and envelope shall be marked with a block number.
(d) Tellers shall count each audited office and ballot question in its entirety before proceeding to the next ballot. They shall begin with the office at the top of the ballot, reading aloud the names of the candidates selected by the voter. They shall continue reading each office aloud in turn in the order in which they are printed on the ballot and proceed to the selected ballot question, if any. They shall count all offices on one ballot and then proceed to the next. They shall keep the ballots in the order counted.
(6) Methods of Recording Votes. Two suggested methods of tallying are:
(a) Tellers Shall Use Red Pencil or Red Pen. A teller shall read ballot # 1 and a marker shall record all voters for selected candidate or blank in column #1. A teller shall read ballot # 2 and a marker shall record the vote in the first vacant consecutive space on the tally sheet for that candidate. Counting shall continue one ballot at a time working to the right using consecutive boxes as selected candidates are called until the entire stack of ballots is completely tallied.
(b) Tellers Shall Use Red Pencil or Red Pen. A teller shall record votes in the space corresponding to the order in which the ballot appears in the block. A teller shall read ballot # 1, and a marker shall record all votes for selected candidates or blanks in column # 1. A teller shall read ballot # 2 and a marker shall record all votes for elected candidates or blanks in column # 2. Counting shall continue one ballot at a time working to the right using the box corresponding to the order of the ballot within the block.
(c) If a voter does not cast a vote for a candidate or question, that vote for that office or question is tallied as a blank. If the voter has marked more than one vote indicator for any office or question, the vote for that specific office or question is tallied as an overvote. Each vote for an office shall be recorded either in a candidate space, a space for blanks or an overvote space on the tally sheet. Each vote for a ballot question shall be recorded either in a yes space, a no space, a blank space or an overvote space on the tally sheet.
(7) Voter Intent Shall Be the Standard for Counting Votes.
(a) If the marks on the ballot fairly indicate the voter's intent, the vote should be counted in accordance with that intent, as long as the voter has essentially complied with the election laws. If the ballot is marked in a way that leaves the intent of the voter unclear, the vote should not be counted and tallied as a blank.
(b) Individuals charged with tabulating votes during the audit shall disregard the omission or inaccuracy of initials, the omission, inaccuracy or misspelling of given names and the misspelling of surnames if the intent of the voter to express a preference for any particular individual can be ascertained.
(c) Individuals charged with tabulating votes during the audit shall record the number of votes for each contest for which voter intent is discernible but that are not marked by the voter according to the instructions provided to the voters under M.G.L. c. 54, ยง 48. They may include additional explanatory notes related thereto including, but not limited to, the way in which the markings for candidates and questions on the ballot were made.
(d) If the tally clerk is unable to determine the intent of the voter, the board of registrars shall decide the intent.
(8) After the block has been counted and tallied, the tellers shall record the total number of tally marks in each line for each candidate for each office. They shall total all candidate votes, blank votes and overvotes in each office and for the selected ballot question.
(9) The votes for each candidate and office shall be counted, tabulated and entered on official audit report forms provided by the Secretary.

Notes

950 CMR 46.05
Adopted by Mass Register Issue 1335, eff. 3/24/2017.

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