ITU researcher promotes risk-limiting audits at the US Election

The outcome of the ITU-led research project Demtech proves also to be valuable in an American context. Associate Professor Carsten Schürmann went to Washington DC for the presidential election to discuss how risk-limiting audits might increase the accountability of the US election.

The day before election day, Associate Professor at ITU Carsten Schürmann gave a talk at George Washington University in Washington DC. While the two presidential candidates’ concerns of manipulation of the electoral process were still hot in the media, Carsten Schürmann spoke about his experiences with risk-limiting audits at the Danish elections.

“Washington DC and Maryland use electronic voting machines that produce a paper trail. To be sure that the machines are working correctly, the results computed need to be audited and compared to the paper trail.  Although electronic election machines are used all over the US election, most states do not provide a framework for auditing,” he says.

Trials on risk limiting audits
The theory of risk-limiting audits is well-understood, at least mathematically. Such audits serve to create confidence in the reported election outcome by checking the evidence (usually recorded on paper) created during the election. In an American context, these audits might support the electoral process in the US where digital voting machines are challenging voter trust. 

“DemTech experiences in Denmark can be seen as a guide for how to run audits cross-jurisdictional borders” says Carsten Schürmann who collaborated with the American researcher, Philip Stark, on the Danish trials on risk-limiting audits. 

“Philip Stark, who is considered the intellectual father of this technique, has visited DemTech numerous times.  In fact, he spent the summer of 2016 at ITU as a Velux Visiting Professor,” says Carsten Schürmann.

During his stay in Washington DC, Carsten Schürmann will also attend the 2016 U.S. Election Program and Seventh Global Elections Organization (GEO-7) Conference where more than 500 election experts and officials from 80 countries are gathered to discuss and observe the electoral process. 

Read about the DemTech research project at 

Further information

Carsten Schürmann, Associate Professor, email

Jari Kickbusch, phone 7218 5304, email