Ballot Manifest

A key step in the risk-limiting audit process is building a ballot manifest. A ballot manifest is simply a list of all of the ballot containers and the number of ballots inside.

The ballot manifest is used by Arlo to build a list of every ballot in the election. Arlo takes the list of containers and number of ballots and creates a spreadsheet with a line for each ballot and the container that it is in. Later in the process, Arlo uses the list to randomly select ballots and tell the person auditing the ballots where to find each ballot selected.

Create a Ballot Manifest

Creating a ballot manifest is slightly different depending on the type of RLA you are conducting. Use the tabs below to navigate to the correct instructions for your audit type.

Open a spreadsheet program and create a simple spreadsheet with two columns. The first column titled “Batch Name” is for your container/batch name and the second column titled “Number of Ballots” is where you indicate the number of ballots in each container. Enter the data for your county or jurisdiction. When you're finished, take a second to ensure the total number of ballots matches your number of ballots cast. Then save the file as a .csv file.

Ballots Further Separated in the Container​

If ballots have been further separated in a ballot container and are clearly labeled, the separation should be included in the ballot manifest. Only do this when the batches are clearly labeled. For example, if you scanned batches of ballots in sets of 200 and placed them in a folder or wrapped them with a rubber band, and that batch has a label indicating it’s batch x in container y. Simply use a comma in the spreadsheet to indicate another separation - ex “container y, batch x.”

Number of Ballots in Each Container​

The number of ballots stored in each container varies by state and jurisdiction. What’s important when creating the ballot manifest is to make sure the number being used is independent of the tabulator. The number of ballots tabulated is generally the right number but that number should have been independently verified on election night or after the election via a reconciliation process that includes comparing it to the number of voters.​​

All voted ballots should be included. Don’t forget provisional, UOCAVA, absentee, or other ballots counted after election day as required by law.

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