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 6/8/2020. 

Voting System Used

Paper ballot (ballot marking devices for all in-person voting)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method

Retabulation only

The recount shall be conducted by tabulating all ballots utilizing ballot scanners. See the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia (Rule) 183-1-15-.03(1)(b)[Revision note 11/11/2020:  The Georgia Secretary of State has authorized a hand count of the ballots for the 2020 presidential election.]

Prior to the retabulation, the ballot scanners will be tested for accuracy, and will not be authorized for use during the recount if there are discrepancies in the test results that cannot be resolved.  When there are unresolved discrepancies in the testing, the recount will be conducted by manual hand count. Rule 183-1-15-.03(1)(c).  The only other mechanism for a recount by hand is by court order.  Rule 183-1-15-.03(2)(a).

Initiating Mechanisms

Election official-initiated
Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated

Election-Official Initiated Recounts

In precincts where paper ballots or scanning ballots have been used, the superintendent of elections may, at his or her discretion, order a recount of the ballots whenever there appears to be any discrepancy or error in the returns. See the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A) § 21-2-495(a) & (b). 

“Whenever the difference between the number of votes for approval or rejection of a constitutional amendment or binding referendum question shall be not more than one-half of 1 percent of the total votes which were cast on such amendment or question therein, within a period of two business days following the certification of the election results, the Constitutional Amendments Publication Board shall be authorized in its discretion to call for a recount of the votes cast with regard to such amendment or question.” O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(c)(2).

Timing:  O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(a) & (c)(2).

Close Vote Margin Options

Less than or equal to 0.5%
Initiated by request

A candidate has a right to a taxpayer-funded recount “whenever the difference between the number of votes received by a candidate who has been declared nominated for an office in a primary election or who has been declared elected to an office in an election or who has been declared eligible for a run-off primary or election and the number of votes received by any other candidate or candidates not declared so nominated or elected or eligible for a runoff shall be not more than one-half of 1 percent of the total votes which were cast for such office….” The recount requires a petition. O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(c)(1).

Timing: O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(c)(1).

Candidate-Initiated Options

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

In precincts where paper ballots have been used, the superintendent may upon petition of any candidate or political party order the recount of all the ballots for a particular precinct or precincts for one or more offices in which it shall appear that a discrepancy or error has been made.  O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(a).

A candidate for a federal or state office voted upon by the electors of more than one county may petition the Secretary of State for a recount or recanvass of votes when it appears that a discrepancy or error has been made. The petition shall set forth the discrepancies or errors and any evidence in support of the petitioner's request for a recount or recanvass and shall be verified. O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(d).

Timing: O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(a) & (d).

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts

No statutory guidance provided

According to the Office of the Georgia Secretary of State, for recounts authorized under Title 21, the petitioners are not responsible for any of the costs incurred by election officials.

Challengers and Observers

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

The recount will be open to the view of the public. Rule 183-1-15-.03(1)(d).

Each candidate “may be present in person or by representative,” and each party “may send two representatives to be present....” There is no reference to the right of these representatives to challenge  ballots. O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(a) and (b). 

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Statutory guidance provided

Rules for determining voter intent can be found in O.C.G.A. §§ 21-2-43721-2-435(b), and Rule 183-1-15-.02.  

State Has Audit Laws
Yes

See O.C.G.A. § 21-2-498(b). "As soon as possible, but no later than the November, 2020, general election, the local election superintendents shall conduct precertification tabulation audits for any federal or state general election in accordance with requirements set forth by rule or regulation of the State Election Board. Audits performed under this Code section shall be conducted by manual inspection of random samples of the paper official ballots."

Revision Notes

This information was updated on 6/8/2020 using the Official Code of Georgia Annotated current through the 2019 Regular Session of the General Assembly and HB 276 and HB 444 of the 2020 Regular Session of the General Assembly, and the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, current through rules and regulations filed through May 13, 2020.  

The Counting Methods section was revised 11/11/2020.