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The Recount Primer

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Virginia Board of Elections employees count the receipts from voting machines in 2006 in Richmond. It’s possible the state could see a recount in its Senate race this year.

The threshold: Only a certified tie triggers an automatic recount. However, the unsuccessful candidate can request a recount at the state’s expense if the margin is less than a quarter of 1 percent.
The process: County election administrators must announce a recount and give the public an opportunity to observe the process. In a hand recount, the candidates can challenge individual ballots, then a recount board can set aside questionable ballots for later review.
The fine print: The apparent unsuccessful candidate can request a recount at their own expense if the margin is between a quarter and a half of 1 percent.

North Dakota

Rep. Rick Berg (R) vs. former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D)

The threshold: There’s an automatic recount if the apparent victor wins by less than half of 1 percent of his or her total votes. A candidate can request a recount at their own expense if the margin is less than 2 percent.
The process: Ballots are recounted in their original manner (optical scan, paper, etc.), one by one, while a recount board rules on any challenged ballots. Candidates can request full hand recount.
The fine print: The state has no voter registration. Separate from a recount, the parties can contest the election to challenge voter standing.

Ohio

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) vs. state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R)

The threshold: There’s an automatic recount if the margin is less than a quarter of 1 percent in a statewide contest. Otherwise, a losing candidate or a group of five voters can request a recount at their own expense.
The process: The Board of Elections runs the recount and handles the ballots. It is required to notify participating parties in advance of its counting sessions.
The fine print: If the recount changes the results of the election, the new losing candidate can apply for a recount in any remaining precincts that were already recounted.

Virginia

Former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) vs. former Sen. George Allen (R)

The threshold: A candidate can request a recount if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 1 percent. The petitioner has 10 days to file after certification.
The process: Officials hand-count paper ballots and the printouts from electronic voting machines. Officials will rerun ballots cast via optical scan, setting aside questionable ballots.
The fine print: Local officials won’t certify results until late November, so a recount would most likely ensue in December.

Wisconsin

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) vs. former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R)

The threshold: Only a candidate can initiate a recount for office after the canvass board is complete.
The process: The County Board of Canvassers counts the ballots in the same manner that they were tallied on Election Day (optical scan, etc.). The candidates can request a hand recount.
The fine print: The state carries the cost of the recount if the margin between the top two candidates is less than half of 1 percent.


Top House Races in ‘Orphan States’

New York

18th district: Sean Patrick Maloney (D) vs. Rep. Nan Hayworth (R)
19th district: Julian Schreibman (D) vs. Rep. Chris Gibson (R)
27th district: Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) vs. former Erie County Executive Chris Collins (R)
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