Alaska Recount Laws

This information was updated in September 2013.

Voting System Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method: 

Required hand count of a sample of ballots in addition to other counting methods
Mix of recount, retabulation and electronic review

For those votes cast on direct-recording electronic machines, (DREs), the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is to serve as the official ballot during a recount, and to be counted by hand. If the VVPAT is not “available” or “readable,” an electronic review is conducted instead. See the Alaska Administrative Code, Title 6, Part 1, Chapter 25, “Administration of Elections,” Article 1, “General Administration,” Rule 25.200, “Recounts”: http://tinyurl.com/AAC6-25-200. Rule 25.200 also states that “A recount may be conducted using Accu-Vote counting systems along with a hand-count verification of the recount results from one precinct per house district,” meaning that a retabulation may take place only if a sample hand count also takes place. This rule, along with the statutory guidance provided in Section 15.20.480 and Section 15.15.360, suggests that most recounts are conducted by hand (in fact, the Director of Elections individually reviews all ballots). See the Alaska Statutes, Title 15, “Elections,” Section 15.20.480, “Procedure for Recount”: http://tinyurl.com/ak1520480 as well as Section 15.15.360, "Rules For Counting Ballots": http://tinyurl.com/ak1515360.

Initiating Mechanism: 

Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

Close Vote Margin: 

Tie vote only

A tie vote is the only vote margin that automatically initiates a recount in Alaska. See the Alaska Statutes, Section 15.15.460, "Tie votes": http://tinyurl.com/ak1515460. If after a recount and appeal the candidates have been determined to have the same number of votes for office, the winner will be selected by lot. See Section 15.20.530, "Determination Of Tie Votes": http://tinyurl.com/ak1520530.

Timing: In the case of a tie vote, the Director of Elections is required to “immediately proceed with the recount." See Section 15.15.460.

Candidate-Initiated Options: 

Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount

Any defeated candidate may request a recount. No restrictions are listed regarding the type of election in which a recount may be requested, or limiting the eligibility of certain offices for a recount. However, there are different filing deadlines for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor. See Section 15.20.430, "Authorization of Recount Application": http://tinyurl.com/ak1520430. The application must state “the basis of the belief that a mistake has been made” and list the particular precincts, district and office for which the recount is to be held. See Section 15.20.440, "Form of Application": http://tinyurl.com/ak1520440.

Timing: See Section 15.20.430, 15.20.460, and Section 15.20.480, “Procedure for Recount.”

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters determine how many/which precincts to recount
Voters may request recounts for offices
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

Voters requesting a recount may do so for propositions and questions as well as for offices, but a minimum of ten qualified voters is needed to make the request. No restrictions are listed regarding the type of election in which a recount may be requested, or limiting the eligibility of certain offices for a recount. See Section 15.20.440.

Timing:  See Sections 15.20.430, 15.20.440 and 15.20.460.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount
 

The initiator must pay a deposit of $1,000 for each precinct, $2,000 for each house district, or $15,000 for the entire state. The cost is paid entirely by the initiator, unless the vote total changes by four percent or more in favor of the initiator, or if the recount changes the outcome of the election, in which case the deposit will be refunded. For both candidates and propositions, a deposit is not required if there is a tie vote or if the difference between the vote totals for each candidate or side is less than 20 total votes or less than .5% of the total votes cast. See Section 15.20.450, "Requirement Of Deposit": http://tinyurl.com/ak1520450.

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

The initiator must pay a deposit of $1,000 for each precinct, $2,000 for each house district, or $15,000 for the entire state. The cost is paid entirely by the initiator, unless the vote total changes by four percent or more in favor of the initiator, or if the recount changes the outcome of the election, in which case the deposit will be refunded. For both candidates and propositions, a deposit is not required if there is a tie vote or if the difference between the vote totals for each candidate or side is less than 20 total votes or less than .5% of the total votes cast. See Section 15.20.450, "Requirement Of Deposit": http://tinyurl.com/ak1520450.

Challengers and Observers: 

Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers
No statutory guidance provided for recount challengers

While Section 15.20.470, “Requirement of notice,” mandates notification of candidates, initiators, their representatives, and “other directly interested parties,” it does not mandate notifying the public. Nor did we find any statute requiring that the recount be conducted publicly. Section 15.20.440 allows recount initiators two representatives – one of whom may be the initiator – to “be present and assist during the recount.” Subsection (b) also allows for observers for "candidates, political parties, or organized groups having a direct interest in a recount” There is no mention made of these observers having the ability to challenge ballots.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

Alaska statute provides a detailed set of rules for interpreting voter intent. See Section 15.15.360.

Audit Laws: