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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: There’s no automatic recount under state law for House races.
The process: Candidates must sue for a recount, giving a reason why the machines were not reliable vote-counters.
The fine print: This could make for a legal mess. There’s relatively little in state law books about recounts.

Illinois

10th district: Businessman Brad Schneider (D) vs. Rep. Robert Dold (R)
11th district: Former Rep. Bill Foster (D) vs. Rep. Judy Biggert (R)
12th district: Retired Maj. Gen. William Enyart (D) vs. businessman Jason Plummer
13th district: Physician David Gill (D) vs. former Congressional aide Rodney Davis (R)
17th district: Former East Moline Alderwoman Cheri Bustos (D) vs. Rep. Bobby Schilling (R)

The threshold: There’s no automatic recount. Instead, candidates can initiate a “discovery recount” if they acquire at least 95 percent of the winner’s vote totals.
The process: Candidates can only pick 25 percent of the precincts in any given county in the district. They can examine the ballots for mistakes or stray marks, as well as errors in ballot applications. Discovery recount results are not binding, and the findings can only serve as proof for an eventual lawsuit.
The fine print: A judge makes the final decision on whether a recount is warranted.

California

7th district: Physician Ami Bera (D) vs. Rep. Dan Lungren (R)
9th district: Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) vs. Ricky Gill (R)
10th district: Astronaut Jose Hernandez (D) vs. Rep. Jeff Denham (R)
24th district: Rep. Lois Capps (D) vs. former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado (R)
26th district: Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D) vs. state Sen. Tony Strickland (R)
36th district: Physician Raul Ruiz (D) vs. Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R)
52nd district: San Diego Port Commissioner Scott Peters (D) vs. Rep. Brian Bilbray (R)

The threshold: Candidates must file a request for a recount in any or all counties in the district at their own expense.
The process: Officials may examine all ballots at the candidates’ request. County registrars run the recount, during which attorneys and observers can challenge ballots. Election officials make the final call on whether to allow the vote.
The fine print: The initiator does not have to pay for the recount if the results change the outcome of the election. But in California, it’s a rare circumstance for House races.

Source: Each state’s secretary of state or elections office, or Citizens for Election Integrity.

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