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Post-Election Audit Finds No Discrepancies Between Election Night Tallies and Recount in Cambridge Precinct

City officials completed a regular audit of ballots cast in this fall's elections.
City officials completed a regular audit of ballots cast in this fall's elections. By Lara F. Dada
By Taylor C. Peterman, Crimson Staff Writer

A post-election check conducted by the Cambridge Election Commission on Nov. 9 found no discrepancies between the audit and the election night tallies in one precinct in Cambridge, according to the commission’s report.

A Massachusetts law requires that a random selection of three percent of Commonwealth precincts hold a post-election audit after every presidential election. Ward 7 Precinct 3 in Cambridge was among the precincts randomly selected this year.

In addition to concluding there were no discrepancies, the post-election audit report noted that the only ballot “not marked properly” was a single write-in, in which the oval was not filled. The report adds that poll workers did account for this on election night, and the vote was ultimately tallied correctly.

Lesley Waxman, the assistant director for the Cambridge Election Commission, said the post-election audit was a recount of all the ballots cast in the precinct by Election Day, both in person and by mail. Mail-in ballots postmarked on time but counted after Election Day were not included in the audit, she said.

Though election officials received permission to process some ballots up to a week before the election, all of the early ballots for Cambridge were processed on Election Day and thus included in the recount, according to Waxman.

“It's basically a recount — a hand count — of all of the ballots that were cast, and then we compare that to the results that we had tallied election night,” Waxman said. “For places that have voting machines it is a good way to see that the voting machines count accurately.”

Waxman said she believes the biggest takeaway from this audit is that the machines counted the ballots accurately — something that will be assessed across three percent of precincts in the state.

“The Secretary of State's Office will be publishing the reports from all of the precincts that were audited for this election so I think people in Massachusetts will be able to look at that and have a pretty good idea of the results from this election,” she said. “Basically, three percent of the precincts will have been verified and if there are discrepancies, they'll have explanations for them.”

Waxman said she has “complete faith” in the voting machines as well as the poll workers’ training.

“If there ever is a discrepancy, it's usually because the hand count was done wrong, so if you do a hand recount, oftentimes the machine results are probably more accurate just because hand counts are prone to more human error than machine counts,” she said. “There's always some ballots that we need to count by hand on election night just because, you know, a ballot could be torn or absentee ballots — somebody could have spilled something on it before mailing it back.”

“This precinct only had two hand-counted ballots, and our poll workers were trained on how to tally those as well,” she added.

—Staff writer Taylor C. Peterman can be reached at taylor.peterman@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @taylorcpeterman.

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