Kentucky Recount Laws

This information was updated September 2013 using the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) and the Kentucky Administrative Regulations (KAR).

Voting System Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs without VVPAT

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method: 

No statutory guidance provided for counting method

Approximately one third of voters in Kentucky vote on direct-recording electronic machines (DREs) without a voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), or a mixture of paperless DREs with paper ballots (on optical scan machines). This means that, effectively, no recount can be conducted for these voters. For those votes that are cast on paper ballots, we found no statutory guidance requiring ballots to be recounted by hand or retabulated by machine.

Initiating Mechanism: 

Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated Election official-initiated

Election Official-Initiated Recounts: If precinct election officers in any election report errors to the county clerk, it is the clerk's duty to file with the Circuit Court requesting a recount. See KRS 120.017.

Timing: KRS 120.017 (2).

Candidate-Initiated Options: 

Contested election
Specific offices only

For primary elections, any candidate or slate of candidates may request a recount. See KRS 120.095. Candidates may also contest a primary election, and in their petition to the court include a request for a recount. However, in order to contest a primary election, a candidate or slate of candidates must have earned at least 50% “of the votes cast for the successful candidate or slate of candidates for nomination to the office.” See KRS 120.055.

For general elections, any candidate or slate of candidates for “state, county, district or city office,” with the exception of “the office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, member of the General Assembly, and those city offices as to which there are other provisions made by law for determining contest elections,” may request a recount. See KRS120.185. Recounts are handled by the same court that manages election contest proceedings, and if a candidate has initiated a contest, they cannot file the recount request separately but must file it as part of the election contest proceedings. In order to initiate contest proceedings, however, a candidate must have earned at least 25% of the number of votes cast for the successful candidate for the office.” See KRS 120.155.

Timing:  See KRS 120.095 and 120.185.

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

Any voter “who was qualified to and did vote on any public question” may petition for a recount. See KRS 120.250. See Section also 120.280 for information about contests on constitutional conventions or constitutional amendments and for additional informaton on public questions.

Voters may also request recounts for Kentucky’s “local option” elections. Here, the same rules governing candidate initiated recounts apply. See KRS 242.120.

Timing: See KRS 120.250(1).

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

Paid entirely by initiator
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount

Candidates must pay a bond before the recount, for all costs associated with the recount, in an amount to be determined by the Circuit Judge. See KRS 120.095 and 120.185.

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

Paid entirely by initiator
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount

For recount under KRS 120.250 voters must pay a bond before the recount, for all costs associated with the recount, in an amount to be determined by the Circuit Judge See also the costs for recounts under 120.280.

Challengers and Observers: 

No statutory guidance for recount observers
No statutory guidance for recount challengers

For voter-initiated recounts on questions or amendments, two commissioners are appointed by the court to assist in the recount; one “shall represent the contestant and one the contestee.” Initiators may also have an attorney present during the recount proceedings. See KRS 120.260. There are not similar procedures given for candidate-initiated recounts. Nor did we find mention of a role for observers or challengers representing the recount initiators, for either candidates or voters.

Although we did not find any statute requiring that the recount be conducted publicly the media may be present during "recanvasses." Duing the canvass in addition to candidates' representative being authorized to be present, "The county board of elections shall authorize representatives of the news media to witness the vote count." See 10 KRS 117.275(9.)  If a discrepancy is discovered during the canvass, a recanvass is held, candidates and/or their representatives, a representative of each political party represented on the board, and the media may be present.  See 10 KRS 117.305(1)

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

The Kentucky Administrative Regulations contains definitions of a valid vote. See KAR Title 31, Rule 6:030, “Uniform definition of a vote”: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/031/006/030.htm.