Maine Recount Laws

This information was revised 6/13/2016 using the Maine Revised Statutes (ME Rev Stat) current through October 15, 2015, and the Code of Maine Rules (C.M.R.).

Voting System Used: 

Paper ballot (optical scanners, hand counted paper ballots or a mix)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method: 

Recount only

Ballots that are machine tabulated or hand-counted on election night will be recounted by hand.  29-250 C.M.R. ch. 502, § 2(4)(E-F).

Unlike most other states, it is not election officials or staff that conduct the counting. Rather, it is the candidate's representatives or counsel who count the ballots under the supervision of the Secretary of State and the recount supervisors and assistants designated by the Secretary of State. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A and 29-250 C.M.R. ch 502, § 1(1).

Initiating Mechanism: 

Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated 
Voter-initiated

Close Vote Margin: 

Varies by number of votes cast (municipal)
Varies by election contest (municipal differs from state)

Candidates for state and federal elections pay no deposit and will not be charged for recounts when the percentage difference between the leading candidate and the requesting candidate is 2% or less of the total votes cast for that office. These recounts require a written request from the apparent loser(s). 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A.

For township and municipal candidates, no deposit is required and the candidates may not be charged for the costs of recounts in certain situations. The eligibility for these recounts is based on the percentage difference between candidates. This percentage, specified in statute, will vary according to the combined vote totals for the candidates. 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B.  These recounts require a written request from the apparent loser(s). 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A.

Timing: See 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A and 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B.

Candidate-Initiated Options: 

The apparent losing candidate in an election may request a recount for all offices for general and primary elections. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A , 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B, 20-A ME Rev Stat § 1253(2)(B)(7), and 20-A ME Rev Stat § 1473(2)(C)(7).

Timing: See 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A and 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B.

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

For a statewide ballot measure, a recount must be granted when 100 or more affected voters submit a petition to the Secretary of State.  21-A ME Rev Stat § 738.

For town, city or school district ballot questions, a recount must be granted upon written application of 10% or 100, whichever is less, of the persons whose names were checked on the voting list.  30-A ME Rev Stat § 2532, § 2354(5) and § 2556.  

Timing: See 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A§ 73830-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B, and § 2532.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

Paid entirely by initiator (for municipal and township elections)
Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee (for state and federal elections)
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

Candidates for state or federal offices must pay a deposit for a recount when the percentage difference between the leading candidate and the requesting candidate is more than 2% of the total votes cast for that office. The amount of the deposit is determined by statute and ranges from $500 to $10,000.  The deposit increases as the percentage difference between candidates increases.  If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the deposit is refunded to the petitioner. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A.

For township or municipal candidates, a deposit is required when the percentage difference between candidates exceeds one of three percentages: 1.5%, 2.0% or 2.5%.  The applicable percentage is based on the combined vote for the candidates. For these recounts, “percentage difference" is defined as “the difference between the percentage of the total votes for an office received by the candidate requesting a recount and the percentage of the total votes for that office received by the nearest winning candidate.” 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B.

The deposit is determined by the clerk of the municipality and must be 50% of the reasonable estimate of the cost to the municipality performing the recount.  If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the deposit is refunded to the petitioner.  If the recount doesn’t change the result of the election, the municipality calculates the actual cost of the recount and refunds to the candidate any overpayment. If the actual cost was greater than the deposit, the candidate shall pay the remainder of the actual cost to the municipality.  30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B.  

Note that candidates do not need to pay a deposit and are not charged for requesting recounts that are described in the close-vote-margin section above. 

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

Paid entirely by initiator (for municipal and township elections)
Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee (for state and federal elections)
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount 
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

Voter-initiated recounts for a statewide ballot questions require a deposit when the when the percentage difference between the yes and no votes is more than 2% of the total votes cast for that referendum. The amount of the deposit is determined by statute and ranges from $500 to $10,000.  The deposit increases as the percentage difference between yes and no votes increases.  If the recount changes the outcome of the referendum, the deposit is refunded to the voters. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 738.

For township or municipal ballot questions, a deposit is required when the percentage difference between yes and no exceeds variable limits.  These percentages are specified in statute and are based the combined vote totals for the ballot measure and they decrease as the combined vote total increases. The deposit is determined by the clerk of the municipality and must be 50% of the reasonable estimate of the cost to the municipality performing the recount.  If the recount changes the outcome of the ballot measure, the deposit is refunded to the petitioners.  If the recount has not changed the result of the election, the municipality shall calculate the actual cost of the recount and refund to the petitioners any overpayment. If the actual cost was greater than the deposit, the petitioners shall pay the remainder of the actual cost to the municipality.  30-A ME Rev Stat § 2532 and § 2531-B

Note that voters do not need to pay a deposit and are not charged for initiating recounts that are described in the close-vote-margin section above. 

Challengers and Observers: 

Statutes specify that recount must be public
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint challengers

Recounts are public proceedings although space may be limited. 29-250 C.M.R. ch 502, § 1(1)(B)(1).

While there is no formal process by which candidates may appoint observers, it is candidate's representatives who conduct the counting for the recount.  29-250 C.M.R. ch 502, § 1(B)(4)(b).  These representatives may also dispute the validity of particular ballots.  29-250 C.M.R. ch 502, § 2(5).

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Secretary of State or Election Board responsible for defining intent

The secretary is authorized to adopt rules for determining voter intent. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 696(6).  See 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 550 for rules for determining voter intent.

Audit Laws: 

State does not have audit laws

Maine does not have audit laws.