Voting System Used

 This search field describes the various methods and equipment used by voters to cast their votes in each state. This category focuses only on the primary and accessible voting equipment used, and does not include any variations that may exist for absentee or provisional ballots. For most states, absentee ballots are hand-counted paper ballots only. See the individual search terms for further clarifications.

Counting Method

This search field describes the methods by which votes are recounted. This category exists separately from Voting System Used, for while two states may both use paper ballots, one may hand count all ballots while another may feed all ballots into an automatic tabulator. Unless otherwise noted, the counting method applies to votes cast on the primary and accessible voting equipment and not to how absentee and provisional ballots are counted. See the individual search terms for further clarifications. Counting method chosen by election official – This search term, for the Counting Method search field, indicates that state law allows election officials discretion when performing a recount as to the counting method to be used. The election official responsible for choosing the counting method varies by state.

Close Vote Margin Options

This search field captures the different requirements used by states to determine if the difference in votes received by competing candidates or by opposing positions on a ballot measure is small enough to automatically initiate a recount. The search options include both percentages (in which the vote margin between candidates is divided by a given number of votes, such as the total votes cast for an office) as well as vote count differences (in which a set number of votes, rather than a percentage, is given as the requirement). See "Less than or equal to X%" below for more details.

Initiating Mechanism

This search field describes both persons (candidates, voters, election officials, courts) and circumstances (close vote margins, or audit results mandating a recount) that may trigger a recount to occur after the initial counting of votes. See the individual search terms for further clarifications.

Audit Laws Details

This search field shows those states that have in place laws regarding not just recounts but also post-election audits. While only two states (Hawaii and Mississippi) lack recount laws, many more states lack laws regarding post-election audits.

Candidate-Initiated Options

This search field describes a number of notable characteristics that shape the candidate-initiated recount process differently in each state. These include both limitations that a state may set (some states allow candidates to request a recount only if there is a particular close vote margin, or only if they are running for a particular office) and privileges that a state may grant (such as allowing party officials to request a recount if the candidate does not).

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts

These search fields describe the various means by which states obtain funds to pay for a recount initiated by a candidate or voter(s). This search field exists only for candidate- and voter-initiated recounts, as these are the only initiating mechanisms for which states charge the cost to a private individual, rather than paying the cost from local or state public funds. See the individual search terms for further clarifications.

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts

These search fields describe the various means by which states obtain funds to pay for a recount initiated by a candidate or voter(s). This search field exists only for candidate- and voter-initiated recounts, as these are the only initiating mechanisms for which states charge the cost to a private individual, rather than paying the cost from local or state public funds. See the individual search terms for further clarifications.

Challengers and Observers

 This search field describes the different ways in which states provide guidance for the public to participate as observers and challengers in the recount process. See the individual search terms for further clarifications.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

This search field captures whether state law (including administrative rules and codes in addition to state statutes) provides any guidance and who has the authority to establish definitions of voter intent. While some states provide definitions and guidance for how voter intent is determined in statute, others use the statutes to delegate authority to an office such as the Secretary of State or State Election Board; other states neither delegate authority nor provide guidance (whether general or detailed) as to how voter intent should be determined. See the individual search terms for further clarifications.

Close Vote Margin

Generally, a “close vote margin” is when the margin of votes between two candidates or two answers on a ballot question is quite small, or close. What constitutes “close” varies by state, as does the actual method for calculating this margin; please see the Close Vote Margin section on each state profile for details both on the specific margin set and the method used to calculate the margin. We use the term in several places in the recount database:

  1. The Close Vote Margin search field captures the different requirements used by states to determine if the difference in votes received by competing candidates or answers on a ballot measure is small enough to warrant a recount. The search options include both percentages (in which the vote margin between candidates is divided by a given number of votes, such as the total votes cast for an office) as well as vote count differences (in which a set number of votes, rather than a percentage, is given as the requirement). Please note that the percentage options indicate the highest vote margin that will initiate a recount in a given state. See “Less than or equal to X%” for more details.
  2. Close vote margin as a search term for the Initiating Mechanisms search field is used to describe any state that has laws requiring that a recount take place if the difference in votes received by competing candidates or answers on a measure is small enough that it falls within a pre-established margin. (The actual language used by states to describe this type of recount varies greatly, but they are often referred to as “automatic” or “mandatory” recounts.)

Recounts initiated by a close vote margin differ from those recounts that are described as a candidate - or voter-initiated with a close vote margin required. For the latter, a voter or candidate must take action in order for a recount to begin, though the law limits their ability to request a recount to those times when there is a close vote margin. For the former, election officials are legally bound to begin recount proceedings regardless of the actions of candidates or voters. The term is also used more generally throughout the recount guide any time a small vote margin somehow comes into play for a recount (for instance, a state may require that a different counting method be used if the election results fall within a specified close vote margin). It is important to note that different methods are used from state to state to calculate the vote margin. Please see the Close Vote Margin section of each state profile for details.

Voter-Initiated Options

This search field describes the characteristics that shape the voter-initiated recount process in each state. These include both limitations a state may set (some states allow voters to request a recount only if there is a particular close vote margin) and privileges a state may grant (such as allowing voters to request recounts for offices as well as ballot measures). See the individual search terms for further clarifications.

Initiating Mechanisms

This search field describes both persons (candidates, voters, election officials, courts) and circumstances (close vote margins, or audit results mandating a recount) that may trigger a recount to occur after the initial counting of votes. See the individual search terms for further clarifications.

This information was updated October 21, 2020. 

Voting System Used

Hand marked paper ballots (ballot marking devices for accessibility)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

voting system used

Counting Method

Required hand count of a sample of ballots in addition to other counting methods
Mix of hand count and retabulation

In a state primary, state general or state special elections, ballots from the race to be recounted will be retabulated.   Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 16-664.

However, for close vote margin recounts, 5% of the precincts for the recounted race shall be randomly selected for a hand count audit of the paper ballots. If the results from the hand count differ from the retabulation, and if that difference falls outside a set margin, an expanded number of votes will be hand counted. If the difference persists, the count will eventually be expanded to the entire jurisdiction for the office being recounted. A.R.S. § 16-663 (B).

This is a test about counting method 

Initiating Mechanisms

Close vote margin

Close Vote Margin Options

Less than or equal to 0.1%
Vote count difference (not percentage-based)
Varies by election contest
Initiated automatically

"A recount of the vote is required when the canvass of returns in a primary or general election shows that the margin between the two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for a particular office, or between the number of votes cast for and against initiated or referred measures or proposals to amend the Constitution of Arizona, is less than or equal to the lesser of the following:

1. One-tenth of one per cent of the number of votes cast for both such candidates or upon such measures or proposals.
2. Two hundred votes in the case of an office to be filled by state electors and for which the total number of votes cast is more than twenty-five thousand.
3. Fifty votes in the case of an office to be filled by state electors and for which the total number of votes cast is twenty-five thousand or less.
4. Two hundred votes in the case of an initiated or referred measure or proposal to amend the constitution.
5. Fifty votes in the case of a member of the legislature.
6. Ten votes in the case of an office to be filled by the electors of a city or town or a county or subdivision of a city, town or county."   A.R.S. § 16-661(A).

Close-vote-margin recounts must be ordered by the appropriate court after election officials certify to the court the facts requiring the recount.  A.R.S. § 16-662.

Timing: A.R.S. § 16-663.  “The superior court …shall forthwith make and enter an order requiring a recount of the votes….” 

Candidate-Initiated Options

N/A

There are no provisions for candidate-initiated recounts in Arizona law.

Voter-Initiated Options

N/A

There are no provisions for voter-initiated recounts in Arizona law.

Challengers and Observers

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

According to the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State, the counting center rules that apply to hand count audits also apply to those hand counts that occur after every close-vote-margin recount.

The county chairman of each political party shall designate and provide the required number of election board members who shall perform the hand count under the supervision of the county officer in charge of elections. A.R.S. § 16-602(B)(7).  If the election board members are unable to reach a unanimous decision regarding a voter’s intent, the officer in charge of elections must make the final determination in regards to the voter’s intent. Arizona Elections Procedures Manual, Chap. 11, Section IV, page 233.

According to A.R.S. § 16-621(A);  All proceedings at the counting center shall be …. under the observation of representatives of each political party and the public.  

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Statutory guidance provided

See the Arizona Elections Procedures Manual, Chap. 11, Section IV, page 233.

State Has Audit Laws
Yes
Revision Notes

This information was updated 10/21/2020 using the Arizona Revised Statutes, including the revised sections from the 54th Legislature (2019-2020), 2nd Regular Session.