North Dakota Recount Laws
Paper ballot (hand marked paper ballots and ballot marking devices)
For more details, visit Verified Voting.
Mix of hand count and retabulation
Required hand count of a sample of ballots in addition to other counting methods
According to the North Dakota Recount Guidelines, recounts may involve hand-counting or machine retabulation. If the ballots are to be retabulated, a sample hand count must be conducted to verify the accuracy of the voting machines. During a retabulation, ballots containing undervotes for the office recounted and ballots rejected as uncountable by the voting machine will be manually checked for voter intent. Recount Guidelines, p. 15.
Close vote margin
Less than or equal to 1%
Less than or equal to 0.5%
Less than or equal to 0.25%
Varies by election contest
“A recount of any primary, special, or general election for nomination or election to a presidential, congressional, state, judicial district, multicounty district, legislative, county, or city office, or for the approval or disapproval of any measure, question, or bond issue submitted to the qualified electors of this state or one of its political subdivisions must be conducted according to guidelines established by the secretary of state and as follows:
1. A recount must be conducted when:
a. Any individual failed to be nominated by the individual's party or to a no-party office in a primary election by one percent or less of the highest vote cast for a candidate seeking nomination from the political party for the office sought or for a candidate for the no-party office sought.
b. Any individual failed to be elected in a general or special election by one-half of one percent or less of the highest vote cast for a candidate for that office.
c. A question, measure, or bond issue submitted to the qualified electors has been decided by a margin not exceeding one-fourth of one percent of the total vote
cast for and against the question at any election." North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) § 16.1-16-01(1).
Timing: NDCC § 16.1-16-01(4).
Close vote margin required
“A demand for a recount may be made by any of the following:
a. Any individual who failed to be nominated by the individual's party or to a no-party office in a primary election by more than one percent and less than two percent of the highest vote cast for a candidate seeking nomination from the political party for the office sought or for a candidate for the no-party office sought.
b. Any individual who failed to be elected in a general or special election by more than one-half of one percent and less than two percent of the highest vote cast for a candidate for that office.” NDCC § 16.1-16-01(2). Voters may not initiate recounts for ballot measures in North Dakota.
Timing: NDCC § 16.1-16-01(3) & (4).
Paid entirely by initiator
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount
When filing an application for a recount, candidates must pay a bond in an amount determined by the county auditor and sufficient to pay the actual cost of the recount. There is no provision for this bond to be returned if the recount alters the outcome of the election. NDCC § 16.1-16-01(3).
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint challengers
No statutory guidance for recount observers
“The individuals entitled to participate at the recount are: (1) Each candidate involved in the recount, either personally or by a representative. (2) A qualified elector favoring each side of a question if the recount involves a question or proposition submitted to a vote of the electorate.” These participants “may challenge the acceptance or exclusion of any ballot.” NDCC § 16.1-16-01(6).
Secretary of State or Election Board responsible for defining intent
The Secretary of State may adopt rules for determining voter intent. NDCC §16.1-06-26(3).
“A voting mark that touches the oval on an optical scan ballot used as a part of an electronic voting system shall be counted as if it were in the oval. Except as provided in North Dakota Century Code section 16.1-13-25, if the voting mark does not touch the oval and is not in the oval, the vote may not be counted.” North Dakota Administrative Code 72-06-01-05.
See NDCC § 16.1-15-19 for determining voter intent on write-in votes.
The recount board decides by majority vote how to count the challenged ballots. NDCC § 16.1-16-01(7).
The Close Vote Margin Options and Candidate Initiated Options Sections were updated 11/8/2022.
The other sections were updated 6/5/2020 using the North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) current through the changes approved by the 66th Legislative Assembly (2019).