Oklahoma Recount Laws

This information was updated Februrary 2016 using the Oklahoma Statutes and the Oklahoma Administrative Code .

Note: The Oklahoma Statutes are available to view by Title here.  All statute sections below refer to Title 26. The Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) is available online and links have been included in the text below.

Voting System Used: 

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

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method: 

Mix of recount and retabulation
Counting method chosen by initiator

Both voters and candidates may request that ballots be recounted by hand. If they provide no preference regarding the counting method, ballots will by default be retabulated. Section 26-8-111(A)(3). “When a recount is initiated, all ballots in the precinct involved must be counted.” Section 26-8-116.1.  Although petitioners for recounts in elections for office may request that recounts be terminated at any time, Section 28-8-116, apparently the recount cannot be terminated in the middle of the count of one precinct: “neither party to the recount shall be allowed to terminate the recount process [in the precinct] until all such ballots have been recounted.” Section 26-8-116.1.

Initiating Mechanism: 

Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated
Election official-initiated

Election Official-Initiated Recounts: The Oklahoma Statutes contain provisions for election officials to retabulate ballots on election night, but only under certain circumstances. The circumstances include a finding that the number of ballots cast does not match the number voters who voted by a factor of 2% or more, a machine malfunction that produces a blank or illegible results tape (due to the failure of memory storage devices or otherwise), or the failure of election workers to process emergency ballots through the precinct scanner before issuing final precinct results. In addition, a recount may be conducted in the precinct on election night if “[t]he Secretary of the County Election Board is directed by the State Election Board to conduct an election night recount of all ballots cast at a precinct polling place in order to resolve a problem not referenced” among the foregoing.  In each such case, election officials may retabulate the ballots on election night. Section 26-7-134.1 and OAC 230:35-3-85.1(a). Given that such recounts take place before the election results have been finalized in the precincts on election night, they might more properly be considered “recanvasses,” although both Oklahoma's Statutes and Administrative Code refers to them as “recounts.” See Section 26-7-134.1, as well as OAC 230:35-3-85.1.

Timing: Section 26-7-134.1 and OAC 230:35-3-85.1(a).

Candidate-Initiated Options: 

Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount

Any candidate whose name was printed on the ballot in an election for office may request a recount of that election. Section 26-8-111(A)(7).  The candidate “must set forth in the petition the precincts and absentee ballots which are to be recounted.” Section 26-8-111(A)(1), and may indicate that the candidate “desires to have the ballots recounted manually.” Section26-8-111(A)(3).  If the candidate does not so request, the recount will be conducted by retabulation. Section 26-8-111(A)(3).

Timing: Section 26-8-111(A)(8).

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Close vote margin required
Voters determine how many/which precincts to recount
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

For a voter to initiate a recount on an issue or question, the election result must fall within a specified close vote margin, and the petition must be accompanied by a given number of signatures by other voters. The specifics of these requirements vary depending on the number of votes cast on the issue. If 15,000 or more votes are cast on the issue, the vote margin must be 150 or less, and 150 registered voters must sign the recount petition. If less than 15,000 votes are cast, the margin must be 1% or less and the petition must include signatures from “a number of registered voters who participated in the election equal to one percent (1%) or more of the total votes cast for and against the issue.” Sections 26-8-111(B)(1) and (B)(2).

The pertinent statute on this matter also distinguishes between those issues and questions requiring a simple majority to be passed and those requiring more than a simple majority. For those requiring a simple majority, the margin is to be calculated as the difference between the votes cast for and against the issue. Sections 26-8-111(B)(1) and (B)(2).  For those requiring more than a simple majority, the margin is to be calculated as the difference between the votes cast for the issue and the number of votes required for the issue to be approved. Sections 26-8-111(C)(1) and (C)(2).

Recounts are not allowed for issues or questions in any statewide election. Section 26-8-111(E). They are allowed on questions for “counties, municipalities, school districts and any other entity authorized to call elections, except statewide question elections.”  OAC 230:45-3-34,  http://www.oar.state.ok.us/viewhtml/230_45-3-34.htm.  Voters requesting a recount may do so for all counties in which the issue is on the ballot, or they may select particular counties. However, the Administrative Code also specifies that “All ballots, including absentee ballots and any counted provisional ballots, cast in the election in the county shall be recounted.” OAC 230:45-3-39   http://www.oar.state.ok.us/viewhtml/230_45-3-39.htm.

Timing: Section 26-8-111(D)

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 cost charged to a candidate initiating a recount depends on the counting method that they request: The cost for retabulation conducted by machine is $600 per county. Section 26-8-111(A)(2).  The cost for a recount conducted by hand is $600 for the first 3,000 ballots to be counted, and $600 for each additional 6,000 ballots, or fraction thereof, per county.  Section 26-8-111(A)(4).  Requests for both retabulations and hand recounts for statewide offices (all those filed with the State Election Board) must include an additional $300 beyond the amounts listed above.  Section 26-8-111(A)(5). When the margin between the first and second-place candidates is large (10% or more in an election involving two candidates), an additional deposit equal to the aggregate of the deposits set forth above is required (although that rule does not necessarily apply in primaries where there are three or more candidates). Section 26-8-111(A)(6).   If the recount shows the initiating candidate to be the actual winner, all fees paid are refunded to the candidate  Section 26-8-117.

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 cost charged to a voter initiating a recount depends on the counting method that they request: The cost for retabulation conducted by machine is $600 per county. Section 26-8-111(A)(2).  The cost for a recount conducted by hand is $600 for the first 3,000 ballots to be counted, and $600 for each additional 6,000 ballots, or fraction thereof, per county. Section 26-8-111(A)(4).  If the recount shows the side of the question represented by the initiating party to be the actual winner, all fees paid are to be refunded.

Challengers and Observers: 

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

Recount initiators are entitled to appoint a “watcher” at each counting location during a recount. Sections 26-8-114(A) and (B).  In the case of recounts conducted by retabulation, “[t]he watcher shall be limited to a challenge, in writing, of any action taken by operators of the voting devices.”  Section 26-8-114(A).  In the case of recounts conducted manually, “[t]he watcher shall be limited to a challenge, in writing, of any decision made by the counters with regard to counting of a ballot.” Section 26-8-114(B). 

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided
Secretary of State or Election Board responsible for defining intent

The statute provides that the same rules pertaining to voter intent govern both counting and recounting votes.  Section 26-7-127.  The rules are relatively inflexible. While “[a] valid vote shall be any mark prescribed by the Secretary of the State Election Board made by voters indicating the voter's choice of party, candidate or issue on a ballot,” Section 26-7-127(2), “[m]arks used to designate the intention of the voter, other than those herein defined as valid markings, shall not be counted.” Section 26-7-127(3).  The Administrative Rule applicable to recounts clarifies this by providing that “[a]ny marking in the voting target shall be a valid marking,”  OAC 230:45-5-19(2), but that “[a]ny mark extending outside the voting target into another voting target cannot be counted” and that “[m]arks used to designate the intention of the voter shall not be counted if they are not located in the voting target.” OAC 230:45-5-19(4) and (5).

Audit Laws: 

State does not have audit laws

Oklahoma does not have audit laws.