Automatic Recounts

1/30/2020

Introduction

yes no boardNot all states offer a recount process in the case of close elections. In some states, a defeated candidate’s only remedy is to contest the result of the election in court. Twenty states and the District of Columbia provide for automatic recounts, which are conducted if the margin between the top two candidates is within certain parameters. In other states, a losing candidate or a voter may request a recount. Below are the thresholds for states with automatic recounts.

Requesting a Recount

  • 43 states and the District of Columbia permit a losing candidate, a voter, a group of voters or other concerned parties to petition for a recount. (Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee do not; New York only permits recounts for village elections.)
  • In a few states, the vote totals for the top two candidates must be within a specified margin in order for the losing candidate to be able to request a recount. For example, in Idaho, a candidate may petition for a recount if the difference between the requesting and winning candidates is less than 0.1 percent of the total votes cast for the office.
  • In at least five states, a political party officer can request a recount, and in at least 17 states, a voter can petition for a recount.

Recount Costs

In most of the states that permit a candidate or other interested party to demand a recount, the petitioner is required to pay a deposit toward the cost of conducting the recount. If the recount reverses the result of the election, that person’s deposit is refunded. If the recount does not change election results, the petitioner is required to pay most of the costs associated with the recount. Automatic recounts are paid for by the state or county that conducts the recount.

Automatic Recounts

State

Trigger Margin

Alabama

Ala. Code § 17-16-20

Less than 0.5% of votes cast for the office or measure

Alaska

Alaska Stat. §15.20.430

Tie vote

Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-661

Less than or equal to the lesser of the following:  (1) 0.1% of votes cast for both candidates; (2) 200 votes if more than 25,000 votes were cast; or (3) 50 votes if 25,000 or fewer votes were cast.

Colorado

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-10.5-101 et.seq.

Less than or equal to 0.5% of highest vote cast in the contest

Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. §9-311a

Less than 0.5% of total votes cast for office but not more than 2,000 votes; or margin of less than 20 votes

Delaware

Del. Code tit. 15, §5702(e)

Absentee ballots are recounted if the number of votes separating the top two candidates is 1,000 (in a statewide contest) or 0.5% (in any contest) of all votes cast for the two candidates, whichever is less

District of Columbia

D.C. Code § 1-1001.11

Less than 1% of the total votes cast for office

Florida

Fla. Stat. §102.141(7)

0.5% or less of votes cast for office or issue

Michigan

Mich. Comp. Laws §168.880a

2,000 votes or less for statewide elections

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. Stat. §32-1119

1% or less of the votes received by the candidate with the most votes, if more than 500 votes were cast; or

2% or less of the votes received by the candidate with the most votes, if 500 or fewer votes were cast

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-14-24

0.25% of total votes cast (for federal or statewide office) or less than 1% of the total votes cast (for any other state office, including state legislators).

North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code §16.1-16-01

Primary –1% or less of highest vote cast for that office

General –0.5% or less of highest vote cast for that office

Ballot Measures -- 0.25% or less of total vote cast for measure

Ohio

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3515.11

0.25% or less for statewide office

0.5% for other offices

Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. §258.280

Tie vote, or not more than 0.2% of total votes cast for top two candidates

Pennsylvania

Pa. Cons. Stat., tit. 25, § 3154

0.5% or less for a candidate for public office which appears on the ballot in every district in the Commonwealth

South Carolina

S.C. Code §7-17-280

Less than 1% of total votes cast for the office

South Dakota

S.D. Codified Laws Ann. §12-21-16

Tie vote

Texas

Tex. Elec. Code §216.001

Tie vote

Washington

Wash. Rev. Code §29A.64.021

Less than 2,000 votes and also less than .5%

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. §22-16-109

When the difference in number of votes cast for the winning candidate receiving the least number of votes and the number of votes cast for the losing candidate receiving the greatest number of votes is less than 1% of the number of votes cast for the winning candidate receiving the least number of votes cast for that office

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