New York Recount Laws

This information was updated in August 2014.

Note: While New York's Election Law is currently available in multiple forms online, neither website allows to link to individual sections. However, a searchable version is available here. The entire Election Law may also be downloaded as a PDF here.

Voting System Used: 

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

In September 2010 New York completed phasing out lever machines for a mixture of accessible ballot marking devices and optical scan machines. For more details, visit the New York State Board of Elections website.

Counting Method: 

No statutory guidance provided for counting method

New York's Election Law does not use the term “recount.” Rather, it uses the term “recanvass.” See Section 9-116 and Section 9 208(3).  Section 16-106, regarding court-ordered recanvasses, does not prohibit the court from ordering that a recanvass be conducted by hand, where applicable.

Initiating Mechanism: 

Candidate-initiated
Court-ordered
Election official-initiated
Audit-initiated

Election official-initated
If upon the recanvass of an election district a discrepancy exists between the number of voters who cast a vote in an election district and the number of votes recorded on the tabulated results tape the board of elections shall proceed thoroughly to examine all the election day paper ballots in that election district to determine the result. See section 9-208(3).

In addition, section 9-116(2) states:  "Whenever the total number of votes tallied (including blank and void votes) for any office or party position, divided by the number of persons to be nominated or elected thereto, or tallied for any ballot proposal, does not exactly equal the number of ballots cast (including blank and void ballots), a recanvass must be made immediately in order to correct the error.”

Audit Initiated
New York's audit law can  lead to a full recount. These audit results are binding upon the official results only when a “complete audit” (full recount) has been conducted.  Regulation 6210.18 describes a staged escalation protocol for expanding the audit up to a full recount

Court-Ordered Recounts: Section 16-106, “Proceedings as to the casting and canvass of ballots,” Subsection (4), states that “The court may direct a recanvass or the correction of an error, or the performance of any duty imposed by law on such a state, county, city, town or village board of inspectors, or canvassers.”  

Timing: There are no requirements or restrictions listed in the above statute.

Candidate-Initiated Options: 

Specific offices only

The only candidate-initiated recanvass provided for in New York's election law is for village elections. Any candidate in a village election may request a recanvass, and there are no restrictions listed on the type of election (primary, general, etc.) for which a recanvass may occur. See Section 15-126, “Canvass of Election,” Subsection (3).

Timing: See section 15-126, Subsection (3).

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

No statutory guidance provided

Challengers and Observers: 

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

New York's statutes specify that political parties and candidates may appoint “watchers” to be present both during voter registration and at the polls. See Section 5-206 and Section 8-500. While these statutes do not state that such watchers have the ability to observe during canvassing or recanvassing, and we found no other rule or statute requiring that recanvassing be conducted publicly, we were informed by the New York Board of Elections that they "always allow watchers to be present at recanvases," and that "the City Board allows watchers to be present for all aspects of canvasses and recavasses."  We found no rule or statute requiring that recanvassing be conducted publicly.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

Instructions for counting votes and determining intent are contained in Section 9-112, “Canvass ballots; validity of ballots.”  See also Section 6210.15 (9) of the Rules and Regulations.