Oregon Recount Laws

This information was updated in May 2014 using the 2013 Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS).

Note: The website of the Oregon Secretary of State includes the elections statutes and allows one to link to individual chapters containing multiple statutes. The citations below will retrieve the entire text of the chapter. The Oregon election statutes are available at:  http://sos.oregon.gov/elections/Pages/laws-rules.aspx

Most citiations below are to ORS 258, "Elections Contest; Recounts."

Voting System Used: 

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

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method: 

Recount only

The counting board is to conduct the recount by hand. See ORS Section 258.211.

Initiating Mechanism: 

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

Election Official-Initiated Recounts: County clerks may request recounts for specific precincts, for both offices and measures, to be paid for by their respective county. See Section 258.161 (3). For this and all other requested recounts, with the exception of those requested for president and vice-president, the initiator may specify either a full or partial recount. County clerks may also combine partial recounts requested by multiple counties in order to constitute a full recount. See Section 258.171.

Timing: See ORS 258.161(8) & (9), 258.221(1) and  258.300.

Close Vote Margin: 

Less than or equal to 0.2%

A recount is to be held in the case of a tie, or when the close vote margin between the apparent winning candidate and the next candidate “is not more than one-fifth of one percent of the total votes for both candidates.” See ORS 258.280. This same margin is used for automatic recounts for ballot measures; see ORS 258.290.  No restrictions are listed regarding the type of election in which a recount may be conducted.

Timing: See ORS 258.300.

Candidate-Initiated Options: 

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

Candidates may request a limited number of precincts (a partial recount) or for all precincts (a full recount). After the recount has begun, candidates may request that additional precincts be counted, to complete a full recount. For electors for presidential and vice presidential candidates, only a full recount may be requested. No restrictions are listed regarding the type of election in which a recount may be requested, or limiting the eligibility of certain offices for a recount. See ORS 258.161(1), (4) and (9). Only a full recount is binding and can alter the official election results; partial recounts conducted at the request of a candidate cannot change the official election results. See ORS 258.171.

Timing: See ORS 258.161 (8) & (9), 258.221(1) and 258.300.

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters determine how many/which precincts to recount
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

Any elector may request a recount for a measure on the ballot. Again, a full recount must be requested in order for the recount to alter the official election results. If one elector requests only a partial recount, another elector may file a request for the remaining precincts to be counted to complete a full recount. See ORS 258.181(2) & (4).

Timing: See ORS 258.161(8) & (9), 258.221(1) and 258.200.

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 initiator must deposit a $15 per precinct fee, not to exceed $8000 total. See ORS 258.161(5). The deposit may be waived “if, after the first demand, it appears that due to nondeliberate and material error by a local elections official... the outcome of an election on a candidate or measure will be changed.” The county responsible for the error is then responsible for the cost of the recount. See ORS 258.161(6). For full recounts only, the deposit is to be refunded if the outcome of the election is changed in favor of the initiator. See ORS 258.250(1).

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 initiator must deposit a $15 per precinct fee, not to exceed $8000 total. See ORS 258.161(5). The deposit may be waived “if, after the first demand, it appears that due to nondeliberate and material error by a local elections official... the outcome of an election on a candidate or measure will be changed.” The county responsible for the error is then responsible for the cost of the recount. See ORS 258.161(6). For full recounts only, the deposit is to be refunded if the outcome of the election is changed in favor of the initiator. See ORS 258.250(1).

Challengers and Observers: 

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

Oregon statutes allow for observers during recounts, but specify that they must be requested. For nominations and offices, the candidate or an elector whom they have authorized, as well as an elector representing each political party, has statutory authority to request to observe the recount. For measures, “one elector advocating and one elector opposing the measure” may request to observe. See ORS 258.211(2). We found no statute requiring the recount to be conducted publicly.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

Like many other states, Oregon gives only basic statutory guidance on this matter, stating that if the choice cannot be discerned for an office or measure, their vote for that office or measure shall not be counted. See ORS 254.505.