Georgia Recount Laws

This information was updated July 2016 using the Official Code of Georgia (GA Code) current through the 2015 Regular Session, and using the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, current through a July 7, 2016 publication on the State of Georgia website.

Voting System Used: 

DREs without VVPAT

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method: 

Mix of recount, retabulation and electronic review

Georgia’s statutes make a  distinction between a “recount,” which involves paper ballots (used for provisional and absentee voting), and a “recanvass,” of votes cast on DREs. The majority of votes in Georgia are cast on DRE machines without VVPATs, so most votes can only be “recanvassed,” that is, electronically reviewed. An electronic reviews consists of rereading the data from the memory card on either the same DRE or on an alternate machine or computer. Rule 183-1-12-.02(7) and GA Code § 21-2-495(b).  

According to the Office of the Georgia Secretary of State, in primaries and elections where optical scanners are used, the paper ballots will be retabulated for recounts, and in municipalities where paper ballots are used but optical scanners are not used, the ballots will be hand counted. 

Initiating Mechanism: 

Election official-initiated
Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

Election-Official Initiated Recounts
In precincts where paper ballots have been used, the superintendent of elections may, at his or her discretion, order a recount of the ballots whenever it appears to be any discrepancy or error in the returns.  In precincts using DREs, the superintendent shall order a recanvas whenever there appears to be any discrepancy or error in the returns.  GA Code § 21-2-495(a) & (b)
“Whenever the difference between the number of votes for approval or rejection of a constitutional amendment or binding referendum question shall be not more than 1 percent of the total votes which were cast on such amendment or question therein, within a period of two business days following the certification of the election results, the Constitutional Amendments Publication Board shall be authorized in its discretion to call for a recount of the votes cast with regard to such amendment or question.” GA Code § 21-2-495(c)(2).
Close Vote Margin: 

Less than or equal to 1%

A candidate has a right to a taxpayer-funded recount “whenever the difference between the number of votes received by a candidate who has been declared nominated for an office in a primary election or who has been declared elected to an office in an election or who has been declared eligible for a run-off primary or election and the number of votes received by any other candidate or candidates not declared so nominated or elected or eligible for a runoff shall be not more than 1 percent of the total votes which were cast for such office….” The recount requires a petition. GA Code § 21-2-495(c)(1).

Timing: GA Code § 21-2-495(c)(1).

Candidate-Initiated Options: 

Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount 
Party official may petition for candidate 

In precincts where paper ballots have been used, the superintendent may upon petition of any candidate or political party order the recount of all the ballots for a particular precinct or precincts for one or more offices in which it shall appear that a discrepancy or error has been made.  GA Code § 21-2-495(a).

A candidate for a federal or state office voted upon by the electors of more than one county may petition the Secretary of State for a recount or recanvass of votes when it appears that a discrepancy or error has been made. The petition shall set forth the discrepancies or errors and any evidence in support of the petitioner's request for a recount or recanvass and shall be verified. GA Code § 21-2-495(d).

Timing: GA Code § 21-2-495(a) & (d).

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters may request recounts for offices 
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

Voters may request a recanvass (not a recount) of those votes cast on DRE machines, if they believe there to be errors in the returns. 

“In precincts where voting machines have been used, whenever it appears that there is a discrepancy in the returns recorded for any voting machine or machines or that an error, although not apparent on the face of the returns, exists, the superintendent shall, either of his or her own motion or upon the sworn petition of three electors of any precinct, order a recanvass of the votes shown on that particular machine or machines.” GA Code § 21-2-495(b)

Timing:  GA Code § 21-2-495(b)

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

No statutory guidance provided

According to the Office of the Georgia Secretary of State, for recounts authorized under Title 21, the petitioners are not responsible for any of the costs incurred by election officials.

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

No statutory guidance provided

According to the Office of the Georgia Secretary of State, for recounts authorized under Title 21, the petitioners are not responsible for any of the costs incurred by election officials.

Challengers and Observers: 

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

Each candidate “may be present in person or by representative,” and  each party “may send two representatives to be present at such recount.” There is no mention of the right of such parties to challenge ballots. GA Code § 21-2-495(a) and (b)

According to the Office of the Georgia Secretary of State, recounts are open to the public. 

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

Rules for determining voter intent can be found in GA Code §21-2-437, § 21-2-435(b), and Rule 183-1-15-.02.  

Audit Laws: 

State does not have audit laws