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 March 7, 2020.

The Idaho Code is available here See Title 34--Elections.

Voting System Used

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT (hand marked paper ballots and ballot marking devices)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method

Mix of hand count and retabulation

The Idaho Election Handbook (p. B23-2) states that “ballots are to be recounted in the same manner as election night.
 
Recounts of ballots originally counted by automatic tabulation systems require a partial manual count of the ballots “[t]o ensure the accuracy of automated vote tabulation systems.”  For statewide and federal offices or a statewide measure, the county clerk is required to randomly select and hand tally a number of ballots equal to at least two precincts of the ballots cast in each county.  For “all other offices or measures, the number of ballots to be tallied and tabulated shall be equal to the greater of one hundred (100) or five percent (5%) of the ballots cast for the office or measure, distributed by county where applicable.”   Whether or not the remainder of the ballots will be recounted by hand or by tabulator depends on the result of the initial sample hand count.  “For a statewide or federal office or a statewide measure, if the results of the hand-tally and the automated vote tally . . . differ by one-fourth of one percent (.25%) or less, the remaining ballots shall be recounted using automated vote tabulating systems. Otherwise, the remaining ballots shall be recounted by hand.” Idaho Code § 34-2313.

For non-statewide offices or ballot measures,  “if the results of the hand-tally and electronic . . . tabulation differ by less than one percent (1%), or two (2) votes, whichever is greater, the remaining ballots shall be recounted using automated vote tabulating systems. Otherwise, the remaining ballots shall be recounted by hand.” Idaho Code § 34-2313.  

All ballots are to be  recounted in plain view of the candidates or their representatives.” Idaho Code § 34-2305.

Initiating Mechanisms

Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

Close Vote Margin Options

Less than or equal to 0.1%
Vote count difference (not percentage based)
Initiated by request

“A losing candidate for nomination, or election or person supporting or opposing a ballot measure, may request a recount of the votes cast for the nomination or election to that office or passage or failure of a measure if the difference between the vote cast for that candidate and for the winning candidate for nomination or election, or the difference between the yes and no votes on a measure, is less than or equal to one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the total votes cast for that office or five (5) votes, whichever is greater.  All requests shall be in writing, and filed with the appropriate officer during the time mentioned in section 34-2301, Idaho Code. The state shall pay for the recount of a federal, state, or legislative district office, or state measure while the county shall pay for the recount of a county, city or district office or measure.” Idaho Code § 34-2309

Candidate-Initiated Options

Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount

Any candidate for federal, state, county or municipal office in both primaries and general elections may request a recount by applying to the attorney general. Candidates in all other elections may request a recount by applying to the county clerk. Idaho Code § 34-2301.

Candidates may initially specify a limited number of precincts to be recounted. Idaho Code § 34-2302. If the recount in these precincts suggests that the overall outcome of the election may be altered should a recount of all precincts be conducted, then “the attorney general, or the county prosecuting attorney for district offices, shall require a recount to be made in all the remaining precincts.” Idaho Code §§ 34-2307 and 34-2306.

Timing: Idaho Code §§ 34-2301, 34-2303 and 34-2304.

Voter-Initiated Options

Voter determines how many/which precincts to recount

Any person supporting or opposing a state, county or city measure in an election may request a recount by applying to the attorney general.  Supporters and opponents to all other ballot measures may request a recount by applying to the county clerk. Idaho Code § 34-2301.

While the petitioner may initially specify a limited number of precincts to be recounted (Idaho Code § 34-2302), if the recount in these precincts suggests that the outcome of the election may be altered should a recount of all precincts be conducted (Idaho Code § 34-2306), “the attorney general, or the county prosecuting attorney for district offices, shall require a recount to be made in all the remaining precincts....” Idaho Code § 34-2307.

Timing:  Idaho Code §§  34-2301, 34-2303 and 34-2304.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

In most cases, candidates pay a $100 per precinct fee. Idaho Code § 34-2302. This fee is refunded, however, if the petitioner has requested a recount of at least the number of precincts required as a prerequisite for the refund and “if the results of the recount [in such precincts] indicate a difference, which if projected across all the precincts of the office in question would change the result of the election in favor of the candidate requesting the recount.” Idaho Code § 34-2306. If the petitioner is entitled to a refund as indicated above, a general recount of all the remaining precincts will be ordered, and the “state shall pay for a general recount of a federal, state, or legislative district office, while the county shall pay for a general recount of a county, city or district office.” Idaho Code § 34-2307.  

Note the other recounts that are available at no cost to candidates in the entry above for “Close Vote Margin” recounts. 

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

As in the case with candidate-initiated recounts, the petitioner for a voter initiated recount pays a $100 per precinct fee. Idaho Code § 34-2302. This fee is refunded if the petitioner has requested a recount of at least the number of precincts required as a prerequisite for the refund and “if the results of the recount [in such precincts] indicate a difference, which if projected across all the precincts of the office in question would change the result . . . in the measure being recounted.” Idaho Code § 34-2306. If the petitioner is entitled to a refund as indicated above, a general recount of all the remaining precincts will be ordered, and the costs shall be allocated to the applicable jurisdiction as set forth above. Idaho Code § 34-2307.

Note that if there is a close vote margin between the yes and no votes on a measure of less than or equal to one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the total votes cast or five (5) votes, whichever is greater, the petitioner is not responsible for the costs of the recount. Idaho Code § 34-2309.

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

Recounts are public. All candidates named on the ballot for the office contested, or a representative of either or all of them, may be present to watch the counting; and every other person interested may be present. Idaho Code § 34-2304

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Secretary of State or Election Board responsible for defining intent

Idaho Code § 34-1203 states that “[a]ny ballot or part of a ballot from which it is impossible to determine the elector’s choice, shall be void and shall not be counted,” provided that “[w]hen a ballot is sufficiently plain to determine therefrom a part of the voter's intention, it shall be the duty of the judges to count such part.” In addition, it states that the “secretary of state shall issue directives or promulgate administrative rules adopting standards that define what constitutes a vote and what will be counted as a vote for each category of voting system used in this state.” 

For detailed voter intent rules, see the Secretary’s Directives on pages J19-1 to J20-4 in the Idaho Election Handbook.   See also the “Guidelines for Counting Paper Ballots” on page 83 of the  Procedural Manual for Judges and Clerks of Elections: Paper Ballots—2017 Regular Elections.

State Has Audit Laws
No
Revision Notes

This information was updated 3/7/2020 using the Idaho Statutes current through the 2019 Legislative Session.