paper trail

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paper trail

Physical or digital documentation of a person's activities. The con artist wrote fraudulent checks all over the state, leaving a paper trail for police to follow. Frank swore that he wasn't using the company's computer for illegal activities, but the digital paper trail he left proved otherwise.
See also: paper, trail
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*paper trail

Fig. a series of records that is possible to examine to find out the sequence of things that happen. (*Typically: have ~; leave ~; make ~.) The legal department requires all these forms so that there is a paper trail of all activity.
See also: paper, trail
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

a paper trail

A paper trail is written evidence of someone or something's activities. Police investigations found a paper trail of checks that were written on false bank accounts. Unlike conventional voting systems, many electronic systems leave no paper trail to allow results to be double-checked.
See also: paper, trail
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
Said Lacson: 'If you go by the paper trail, you will see where the overpayments were implemented.
He submitted that the EC wrote 10 letters to the Centre in 2014 for funds to introduce paper trail but nothing has yet happened.
It said that paper trail was an "indispensable requirement of free and fair elections".
Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's office, which oversees elections, said adding paper trail backups to voting machines wouldn't be something her office could decide to do on its own.
When confronted with the paper trail during police interviews the sex fiend admitted it could only mean one thing - he was in Northern Ireland the day little Jennifer vanished during her bike ride to visit a pal Louise Major on August 12.
Tehran portrays it as a boost to tourism The United States suspects it is a ploy to allow freer movement for Iranian agents without leaving a paper trail. Recently, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari (photo) was in Tehran and a reporter asked if he would sign the visa-travel agreement Iran was proposing.
There is no paper trail to suggest he was involved."
The seven figure deal has enabled The Paper Trail, which is the charitable trust that owns the mill, to open the new centre offering visitors the opportunity to learn more about the heritage of the mill, provide exhibition facilities, a cafe and educational exhibits for school parties and visitors.
Ruby and Ian's mysterious race through time is illustrated as a "paper trail," a light reminder of the bureaucratic labyrinth of energy politics.
Congress has done a terrible job of regulating electronic voting: It allowed A.T.M.-style voting machines to proliferate without requiring them to produce a paper trail that can be audited to ensure that the results are accurate.
Electronic voting machines with no paper trail should be made illegal nationwide immediately.
Evolution leaves behind a long paper trail, and it probably has something nasty to say about all human aspirations--those nourished by the tall as well as the short, the outgoing as well as the introverted, the strong as well as the meek.
550, a bill that would require electronic voting equipment to have a paper trail, something 27 states already require and 23 others are likely to require soon.
"The VVPAT is only as reliable as the administration of the system that produces the paper trail," said Tracy Warren, the ESI researcher in charge of the manual recount of the VVPATs.
VOTING MACHINES that create a paper trail, plus regular audits of the vote tallies, would provide an answer.