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 19, 2018.

Note: Illinois allows “discovery recounts.” Discovery recounts are limited in scope and will not change the results of an election, but they may be used as a basis for an election contest.

Voting System Used

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method

No statutory guidance provided for counting method

For discovery recounts, the statute requires that the “ballots, voting machines, or ballot cards – as the case may be – shall be examined, that any automatic tabulating equipment shall be tested, and that ballots, recorded votes, or ballot cards – as the case may be – shall be counted.” The language here is unclear as to whether ballot cards are to be retabulated on the automatic tabulating equipment or if they are to be recounted by hand. See the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 10 (10 ILCS), Section 5/22-9.1

For election contests, there is no guidance on counting methods for recounts ordered through the court. The statute requires that the State Supreme Court may order a “recount or partial recount of the ballots” and that they shall appoint a Circuit Court judge to “supervise the examination of the records or equipment” and to “take evidence in the same manner and upon like notice as in other civil cases.” 10 ILCS 5/23-1.8a.

Initiating Mechanisms

Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated
Court-ordered

Court-Ordered Recounts:
For an office, a candidate or a voter may initiate an election contest by submitting a petition to the court.  For a ballot measure, a group of five voters may initiate an election contest by submitting a petition to the court. The court will hold a hearing in which it will  identify those election jurisdictions, if any, for which a recount is appropriate. 10 ILCS 5/23-1.2a, 5/23 1.7a and 5/ 23-23.2.  In addition to other requirements, the petitions must include a statement “declaring that, as a consequence of the mistake, fraud or irregularity alleged, the result of the election, as officially proclaimed, was incorrect.” 10 ILCS 5/23-1.3a.

For court-ordered recounts in state-wide races the court can “issue procedural orders or interim rulings regarding the recount or hearing, either upon motion of a party or upon its own motion.” 10 ILCS 5/23-1.8a.   See also the powers of the court are set out in 10 ILCS 5/23-23.

Timing: 10 ILCS 5/23‑1.2a.

Candidate-Initiated Options

Close vote margin required
Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount
Contested election

Candidates “nominated, elected, or declared eligible for a runoff election” for any office may petition for a recount. However, a close vote margin is required: candidates must have received “at least 95% of the number of votes cast for any successful candidate for the same office” to be eligible for a recount. 10 ICSL 5/22‑9.1.  These recounts are considered “discovery recounts,” and the results are explicitly not binding on the outcome of the election. The statutes require that the results of the examination and count shall not be certified, used to amend or change the abstracts of the votes previously completed, used to deny the successful candidate for the same office his certificate of nomination or election, nor used to change the previously declared result of the vote on a question of public policy.

Neither candidates nor voters may petition to recount precincts “exceeding 25% of the total number of precincts within the jurisdiction of the election authority.”  10 ILCS 5/22-9.1.

As noted above in “Court-Ordered Recounts,” candidates may also initiate a recount through the election contest process, in which the judge overseeing the contest may hold a hearing to determine if a recount is warranted. 

For election contests, any candidate on the ballot and any write-in candidate in any election may contest the election. Candidates may also specifically request an “examination of records and equipment” as part of the contest. Unlike “discovery recounts,” the ruling resulting from an election contest is binding upon the election results. 10 ILCS 5/23 1.6a, 5/23 1.2a, 5/23-1.10a, 5/23-26 and 5/23-28.

Timing: 10 ILCS 5/23‑1.2a and 5/23‑20.

Voter-Initiated Options

Close vote margin required
Voters determine how many/which precincts to recount
Voters may request recounts for offices
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

A group of five registered voters eligible to vote on a question of public policy may petition for a discovery recount on a question of public policy. As with candidate-initiated recounts, the process is not binding and is limited in scope. (See “Candidate-Initiated Options” above for more details.) Similarly, there is a close vote margin requirement of 5% or less of the total number of votes cast on the question. 10 ILCS 5/22 9.1b.
 
Voters may also initiate election contests for offices, constitutional amendments, and questions of public policy. For some offices, voter initiated contests require petitions supported by verified signatures. A recount in this process is not guaranteed, but the court will hold a hearing to determine the necessity of a recount. 10 ILCS 5/23-1.2a, 5/23 19 and 5/23-24.

Timing: 10 ILCS 5/22‑9.1 and 5/23-20.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount

Initiators pay a set $10 per precinct fee for discovery recounts. 10 ILCS 5/22 9.1

For state-wide election contests, petitions for an examination of records and equipment (to be filed after the initial contest proceedings are initiated) must be accompanied by a bond of $50 per precinct to be examined, or $75,000, whichever is less. 10 ILCS 5/23 1.6a. The original petition to initiate the election contest in a state-wide race must also be accompanied by a filing fee of $10,000.  10 ILCS 5/23 1.2a.  For additional information on costs assessed for election contests see, 10 ILCS 5/23-1.8a, 5/23-1.11.a, 5/23-22 and 5/23-23

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount

Initiators pay a set $10 per precinct fee for discovery recounts. 10 ILCS 5/22 9.1.

The costs petitioning for an examination of records and equipment in voter-initiated election contests of offices are the same as the costs listed in the section above, “Cost for Candidate Initiated Recounts.” 

See also the cost information in ILCS 5/23-1.8a, 5/23-1.11.a , 5/23-22 and 5/23-25.

Challengers and Observers

No statutory guidance for recount observers
No statutory guidance for recount challengers

Candidates or their representatives are allowed to attend the recount. For recounts on ballot questions, equal numbers of  “acknowledged proponents and acknowledged opponents” are allowed to attend. 10 ILCS 5/22-9.1. We found no further details on observers or challengers for the recount process, and no statute requiring that the recount be conducted publicly.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Statutory guidance provided

10 ILCS 5/23-50 serves as a reference to all other statutes that pertain to definition of valid votes and voter intent.

State Has Audit Laws
Yes
Revision Notes

This information was updated 10/19/2018 using the 2017 Illinois Compiled Statutes.