New York Recount Laws

The current New York State Election Law may be viewed here and the Election Law and administrative rules may be downloaded here

Voting System Used

Paper ballot (hand marked paper ballots and ballot marking devices)

For more details, visit Verified Voting

Counting Method

Hand count only

The board of elections or a bipartisan committee appointed by the board shall conduct a full manual recount of all ballots for a particular contest when a close vote occurs, as defined in the close vote margin options section below.

After every general, primary, special or village election in which ballot scanners are used, New York conducts a recanvass.  Although a recanvass may involve some hand counting of ballots, it is primarily a review of the voting machine results tapes to compare them to the numbers recorded on the canvass returns.  A recanvass is also done for (a) any election day paper ballots that have not been scanned and were hand counted on election night, and (b) write-in votes on ballots which were otherwise scanned and canvassed at polling places on election night; these recanvasses may involve some hand counting of ballots. New York Election Law (NY Elec L) § 9-208(1).

Note that the “county boards of elections, as well as the courts, retain the authority to order manual counts of those records [voter verifiable paper audit trail] in whole or in part under such other and additional circumstances as they deem warranted.”   Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York, Title 9, Subtitle V (9 CRR-NY) § 6210.18(h).

See also the ballot counting references in the election-official and audit-initiated recounts below.  

Initiating Mechanisms

Election official-initiated
Close vote margin

Election Official-Initiated Recounts:

If upon the recanvass of an election district a discrepancy exists between the number of voters who cast a vote in the district and the number of votes recorded on the tabulated results tape, the board of elections must thoroughly examine all the election day paper ballots in that election district to determine the result.  NY Elec L § 9-208(3).

"Whenever the total number of votes tallied (including blank and void votes) for any office or party position… 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.” NY Elec L § 9-116(2).

Audit Initiated Recounts:

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.  NY Elec L § 9-211(4) & (5).  See 9 CRR-NY § 6210.18 for the escalation protocol for expanding the audit up to a full recount.

Court-Ordered Recounts:

Courts, pursuant to a request of a candidate or voter, “may direct a recanvass or the correction of an error, or the performance of any duty imposed by [the Election Code] on such a state, county, city, town or village board of inspectors, or canvassers.” NY Elec L § 16-106.  See also court ordered manual audits.  NY Elec L § 16-113.

Timing:  For time periods and deadlines with respect to court ordered recounts, see NY Elec L § 16-106(6)

Close Vote Margin Options

Less than or equal to 0.5%
Vote count difference
Varies by number of votes cast

"The board of elections or a bipartisan committee appointed by the board shall conduct a full manual recount of all ballots for a particular contest: where the margin of victory is twenty votes or less; or where the margin of victory is 0.5% or less; or in a contest where one million or more ballots have been cast and the margin of victory is less than 5,000 votes."  NY Elec L § 9-208 (4)

Candidate-Initiated Options

Specific offices only

Candidates may initiate a recanvass for village elections.  NY Elec L § 15-126(3).

Timing: NY Elec L § 15-126(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

Political parties and candidates may appoint “watchers” to be present both during voter registration and at the polls. NY Elec L § 5-206 and § 8-500. While these statutes do not state that watchers have the right to observe during recanvassing, according to the New York State Board of Elections, they "always allow watchers to be present at recanvasses," and "the City Board allows watchers to be present for all aspects of canvasses and recanvasses." 

Note that at the recanvasses, each “candidate whose name appears on the official ballot, or his or her representative, shall have the right personally to examine and make a record of the vote recorded on the tabulated result tape and any ballots which were hand counted.” NY Elec L § 9-208(1).

We found no rule or statute requiring that recanvasses to be open to the public. 

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Statutory guidance provided

Instructions for counting votes and determining voter intent are contained in NY Elec L § 9-112 & 8-410.  See also 9 CRR-NY §§ 6210.15 and 6210.13.

State Has Audit Laws
Revision Notes

This information was updated 9/27/23 using the 2022 New York Consolidated Laws-Election Law, the Election Law Update  2023, and the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations current through Register Vol. 45, No. 26, June 28, 2023. 

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