Bill Description: Senate Bill 1274 would direct the Secretary of State to order a postelection audit of certain election results after a general or primary election.
Analyst Note: Senate Bill 1274 shares similarities with House Bill 349 from 2021. Like that bill, this bill would take positive steps toward increasing election integrity and transparency. But it limits its own potential by limiting the scope of the audits.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
Senate Bill 1274 creates Section 34-1203A, Idaho Code, which authorizes the Idaho Secretary of State office to "identify and order a postelection audit of certain paper ballots cast in any election" "after the completion of all county canvasses for any primary or general election, including any presidential primary election."
Auditing paper ballots is a positive step toward increasing the security and accuracy of elections, but the limited scope of the audits is concerning. As one example, the initial audit is limited to just one legislative election within a county. While in some counties, there are only three such elections, in Ada County there will be 30 legislative office elections in 2022. Limiting an audit to just one of those races may well prove insufficient to unearth fraud or other improprieties.
Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?
Senate Bill 1274 requires that the secretary of state "immediately post to the website of the office of the secretary of state a list of the elections, counties, and precincts selected for audit." It adds that "such an audit shall be open to attendance by news media personnel." The process must "include provisions allowing each interested candidate and political party, and each political committee that publicly reported expending money on a ballot question for which the results will be audited, to appoint a designated observer."
These are positive efforts toward transparency, but they could be enhanced by requiring a livestream of the audit process so the public could observe as well.