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CISA Announces Open Source Post-Election Auditing Tool

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) this week announced the release of an open source post-election auditing tool in preparation for the 2020 elections.

CISA says it has teamed up with election officials and their private sector partners to support their efforts in improving post-election auditing in future elections.

Called Arlo, the newly introduced auditing tool is being created by non-partisan, non-profit firm VotingWorks, which is committed to developing secure election technology. The tool includes support for various types of post-election audits across numerous voting systems, including major vendors.

Arlo is built on auditing work performed by Colorado, which in 2017 implemented rigorous Risk-Limiting Audits (RLAs) and conducted audits in over 50 of its 64 counties.

Considered the best safeguard against hacked or faulty voting systems, the RLA is efficient because it eliminates the need to manually recount every vote, VotingWorks explains.

The Arlo open source software is being offered for free to state and local election officials, and their private sector partners. State and local jurisdictions can also use a hosted Software-as-a-Service version of the tool, for a fee.

“Arlo provides an easy way to perform the calculations needed for the audit: determining how many ballots to audit, randomly selecting which ballots will be audited, comparing audited votes to tabulated votes, and knowing when the audit is complete,” CISA says.

The initial version of Arlo has support for pilot post-election audits across the country, including several from this month’s elections. Election officials in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, Virginia, Ohio, and Georgia are among the partners of the pilot program, but some additional partners will be revealed within the following weeks.

“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. 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,” said CISA Director Christopher Krebs.

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