voting (Alexandru Nika/

CISA partners on risk-limiting audit software for election systems

The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency announced it is partnering with VotingWorks to further develop and pilot the organization's open-source election risk-limiting audit tool called Arlo.

Arlo helps election officials complete "a statistically valid audit of vote tabulation processes by comparing the votes marked on a random sample of original paper ballots with the electronically recorded votes for those same ballots," according to its description on GitHub. It supports numerous types of post-election audits across various types of voting systems including all major vendors.

Arlo provides an easy way to perform the calculations needed for the audit: determining how many ballots to audit to ensure confidence that the winner reported by the voting system is correct. It also randomly selects which ballots will be audited, compares audited votes to tabulated votes and knows when the audit is complete.  

Arlo is provided free for all states and local jurisdictions in 2019, and the set-up fee will be waived for jurisdictions that begin using Arlo in 2019. An Amazon Web Services hosted version is also available.

The first version of Arlo is already supporting pilot post-election audits across the country, including several from November's elections. Some partners of this pilot program include election officials in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, Virginia, Ohio and Georgia.

“At a time when we know foreign actors are attempting to interfere and cast doubt on our democratic processes, it’s incredibly important elections are secure, resilient, and transparent," CISA Director Christopher Krebs said in a statement. "For years, we have promoted the value of auditability in election security, it was a natural extension to support this open source auditing tool for use by election officials and vendors, alike.”

VotingWorks, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to building secure election technology, has also built open-source voting machines. Choctaw County, Miss., used the tabletop equipment in the Nov. 5 election.  The machines, VotingWorks told ProPublica, were "inexpensive to make, easy to fix and no problem to set up and take down." The organization said it hopes they will help shorten lines at voting stations and deliver more reliable results.

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