Risk-Limiting Audits


In Washington, each county conducts a post-election audit after every election. A risk-limiting audit (RLA) uses statistics to confirm election outcomes. An RLA helps verify that the apparent winner of an election actually won. 

In a risk-limiting audit, ballots are randomly selected for review. Ballots are hand-tallied one by one until enough have been sampled to confirm that the correct winner was found the first time. If the winner won by a lot of votes, the sample needed to confirm the outcome may be quite small; if the race was close, the audit will examine more ballots.


The risk limit for statewide risk-limiting audits (RLAs) is 5%.

The risk limit for county-level ballot comparison RLAs is 5%.

The risk limit for county-level ballot polling RLAs is 10%.


2022 Risk-limiting audits

Primary Election Target Contest
Spokane County Legislative District 3 State Representative Position 2


Additional resources:

RCW 29A.60.185 - Audit of results.

WAC Chapter 434-261 - Sections 114-119 on risk-limiting audit procedures.

risklimitingaudits.org - Additional resources and RLA academic papers