Utah Recount Laws

This information was updated 7/15/2018.

Voting System Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

 According to the Elections Division of the Office of the Utah Lieutenant Governor, 27 of 29 Utah counties use paper ballots and hold vote-by-mail elections. 

Counting Method : 

Recount procedures specify that the election officer shall recount all ballots for that race and that "unopened absentee ballots" be reexamined to ensure compliance with statutory provisions governing voting by absentee ballot. UT Code 20A-4-401(1)(e) and (2)(d).

Section R623-2-4(H) of the Utah Administrative Code provides recount procedures for the retabulation of optical scan ballots.

According to the Elections Division of Utah's Office of the Lieutenant Governor, ballots are generally recounted using the same method of counting as used on election day.  For paper ballots, this would normally involve retabulating the ballots by voting machne.  For DREs with VVPATs this would normally involve an electronic review that retabulates the results from DRE memory cards.  At the discretion of election officials, and by practice only in rare circumstances, the optical scan ballots or the DRE journal tapes may be hand counted.  In addition to the post-election audit that is routinely conducted in Utah after the election, there is another audit after the recount involving the hand counting of ballots or journal tapes for at least one voting machine in each county where the recounted race occurred.  

Initiating Mechanisms: 

Close-vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

Close Vote Margin Options: 

Less than or equal to 0.25%
Vote count difference (not percentage-based)
Initiated by request

A close-vote-margin recount in Utah requires a request from voters or candidates.  See the candidate-initiated and voter-initiated options below.

The statute authorizing the Municipal Alternate Voting Methods Pilot Project contains a separate set of close-vote-margin requirements for instant runoff elections. UT Code 20A-4-603.

Candidate-Initiated Options : 

Close vote margin required

Candidates may file a request for a recount “if the difference between the number of votes cast for a winning candidate in the race and a losing candidate in the race is equal to or less than 0.25% of the total number of votes cast for all candidates in the race, that losing candidate may file a request for a recount.” See UT Code 20A-4-401(1)(b).

“For a race between candidates where the total of all votes cast in the race is 400 or less, if the difference between the number of votes cast for a winning candidate in the race and a losing candidate in the race is one vote, that losing candidate may file a request for a recount.” See UT Code 20A-4-401(1)(c)

Timing: See UT Code 20A-4-401(1)(d)(i) and (d)(ii).

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Close-vote-margin required
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

For a ballot proposition or a bond proposition, if the proposition passes or fails by a margin that is equal to or less than 0.25% of the total votes cast for or against the proposition, any 10 voters who voted in the election where the proposition was on the ballot may file a request for a recount. UT Code 20A-4-401(2)(a).

“[F]or a ballot proposition or a bond proposition where the total of all votes cast for or against the proposition is 400 or less, if the difference between the number of votes cast for the proposition and the number of votes cast against the proposition is one vote, any 10 voters who voted in the election where the proposition was on the ballot may file a request for a recount….”  UT Code 20A-4-401(2)(b).

Timing: UT Code 20A-4-401(2)(a) and (b).

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

Paid entirely by state or county

Costs incurred for close-vote-margin recounts may not be assessed against the person requesting the recount.  See UT Code 20A-4-401(3).

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

Paid entirely by initiator

Voters requesting a recount for propositions are required to cover all costs associated with the recount. UT Code 20A-4-401(2)(f).

Challengers and Observers : 

Statutes specify that recounts must be public
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers
No statutory guidance for recount challengers

For a recount of a ballot proposition or a bond proposition, "proponents and opponents of the ballot proposition or bond proposition may designate representatives to witness the recount." See UT Code 20A-4-401(2)(e).

Any individual may become a watcher in an election at any time by registering as a watcher with the administering election officer.  Watchers may observe recounts.  UT Code 20A-3-201(2)(a) and (4)(m).

UT Code 20A-4-303 requires the public opening of ballots and determination of votes during the canvass, and the statute applies this same public procedure to recounts. 

According to the Elections Division of Utah's Office of the Lieutenant Governor, recounts are open to the public. 

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

See UT Code 20A-4-105 for the standards for evaluating voter's ballot choices. See also the Utah Administrative Code, R623-2, "Uniform Ballot Counting Standards."

For instant runoff elections, see UT Code 20A-4-603(3).

State Has Audit Laws: 
Yes
Revision Notes: 

This information was updated 7/15/2018 using the Utah Code that includes amendments to election law enacted by Chapter 187 of the 2018 General Session.