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 1, 2020.

The Maine Revised Statutes (ME Rev Stat) are available here. The Code of Maine Rules (C.M.R.) is available here

Voting System Used

Paper ballot (hand marked paper ballots, ballot marking devices for accessibility)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method

Hand count only

Ballots that are machine tabulated or hand-counted on election night will be recounted by hand.  29-250 C.M.R. ch. 502 § 3(5)(C).

Candidates provide the prepresentatives who count the ballots under the supervision of the Secretary of State, the recount supervisors, and the assistants designated by the Secretary of State. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A, and 29-250 C.M.R. ch 502 § 2(1) & 5(B).

See the ranked choice rules for counting in  29-250 C.M.R. ch. 536

Initiating Mechanisms

Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated 
Voter-initiated

Close Vote Margin Options

Vote count difference (not percentage-based--for statewide and muticounty office recounts)
Varies by number of votes cast (municipal)

Varies by election contest (municipal differs from state)
Initiated by request

For election for the office of state senator or state representative or for a county office that does not encompass more than one county, a taxpayer funded recount is available and a deposit is not required if the percentage difference between the leading candidate and the requesting candidate is 1.5% or less of the total votes cast for that office. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A(1)(A)

For statewide or multicounty recounts, if the difference shown by the official tabulation between the leading candidate and the requesting candidate is 1% or less of the total votes cast for that office or not more than 1,000 votes, whichever is less, the requesting candidate is entitled to a taxpayer funded recount.  21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A(1-A).

For township and municipal candidates, no deposit is required and the candidates may not be charged for the costs of recounts in certain situations. The eligibility for these recounts is based on the percentage difference between candidates. The percentages, specified in statute, will vary according to the combined vote totals for the candidates. These recounts require a written request. 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B(4) & B(8).

Timing: 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A and 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B.

Candidate-Initiated Options

The apparent losing candidate in an election may request a recount for all offices for general and primary elections. In an election determined by ranked‑choice voting, only a candidate who received one of the top 3 rankings at the end of the penultimate round of ranked‑choice counting may request a recount.  21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A , 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B, 20-A ME Rev Stat § 1253(2)(B)(7), and 20-A ME Rev Stat § 1473(2)(C)(7).

Timing: See 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A and 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B(4).

Voter-Initiated Options

Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

To request a recount of a statewide referendum, a petition signed by 200 or more registered voters must be submitted to the Secretary of State within 8 business days after the election.  Within two days of receiving the request, the Secretary of State shall provide a petition form for this purpose to any registered voter in the state. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 738(1).

For town, city or school district ballot questions, a recount must be granted upon written application of 10% or 100, whichever is less, of the registered voters in the municipality (or in some cases the “persons whose names were checked on the voting list”).  30-A ME Rev Stat § 2532, § 2354(5) and § 2556
 
Timing: See 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A, § 738, 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B, and § 2532.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts

Paid entirely by initiator (for municipal and township elections)
Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee (for state and federal elections)
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

For recounts in state legislative or single county elections, candidates pay a set fee for the recount when the percentage difference shown by the official tabulation between the leading candidate and the requesting candidate is more than 1.5%. This set fee increases as the percentage difference increases.  If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the deposit is refunded to the petitioner. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A(1).

For recounts in statewide or multicounty offices, if the difference shown by the official tabulation between the leading candidate and the requesting candidate is more than 1% of the total votes cast for that office or more than 1,000 votes, whichever is less, the deposit is $5,000 or 10% of the reasonable estimate of the cost to the State of performing the first stage of the recount, whichever is greater. If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the deposit is refunded to the petitioner. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A(1-A).

For recounts in any election for municipal office, a deposit is required when the percentage difference between candidates exceeds one of three percentages: 1.5%, 2.0% or 2.5%.  The applicable percentage is based on the combined vote for the candidates. For these recounts, “percentage difference" is defined as “the difference between the percentage of the total votes for an office received by the candidate requesting a recount and the percentage of the total votes for that office received by the nearest winning candidate.” 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B.

The deposit is determined by the clerk of the municipality and must be at least 50% of the reasonable estimate of the cost to the municipality performing the recount.  If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the deposit is refunded to the petitioner.  If the recount doesn’t change the result of the election, the municipality calculates the actual cost of the recount and refunds to the candidate any overpayment. If the actual cost was greater than the deposit, the candidate shall pay the remainder of the actual cost to the municipality.  30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B(7) & (9)
 
Note that candidates do not need to pay a deposit and are not charged for requesting recounts that are described in the close-vote-margin section above. 

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts

Paid entirely by initiator (for municipal and township elections)
Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee (for state and federal elections)
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount 
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

For a statewide referendum, if “the difference shown by the official tabulation between the yes and the no votes is more than 1% of the total votes cast for that question or more than 1,000 votes, whichever is less, the deposit is $5,000 or 10% of the reasonable estimate of the cost to the State of performing the first stage of the recount, whichever is greater. After the completion of the recount, if the recount has not changed the result of the election, the Secretary of State shall calculate the cost of the procedure, which must be paid by the petitioners. If the deposit is greater than the actual cost, the overpayment must be refunded to the petitioners. If the actual cost is greater than the deposit, the petitioners shall pay to the State the remainder of the actual cost…. If a recount reverses the result of the election, the deposit must be returned to the petitioners."  21-A ME Rev Stat § 738.

For recounts of municipal referenda, the deposit requirements that apply to candidates under section 2531-B are used, except that provisions in section 2531 B "applicable to the candidate requesting the recount and candidates not requesting the recount apply, for purposes of this section, to the official representative of the referendum recount and the official representative, if any, of the voters opposed to the recount, respectively."  30-A ME Rev Stat § 2532.

Note that voters do not need to pay a deposit and are not charged for initiating recounts that are described in the close-vote-margin section above. 

Challengers and Observers

Statutes specify that recount must be public
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint challengers

Recounts are public proceedings although space may be limited. 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 502 § 2(2) & 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B(5).

Candidates may have their representatives or counsel inside the secure recount area.  The candidate's representatives conduct the counting for the recount. These representatives may also dispute the validity of particular ballots. Candidates and the public must remain outside the secure recount area. 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 502 § 2(5)(B), 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B(11) and 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 502 § 3(1) & (6)

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Secretary of State or Election Board responsible for defining intent

The secretary is authorized to adopt rules for determining voter intent. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 696(6).  See 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 550 for rules for determining voter intent, and see 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 535(4)(2)(B) for skipped rankings for ranked choice voting.

State Has Audit Laws
No
Revision Notes

This information was revised 3/1/2020 using the Maine Revised Statutes (ME Rev Stat) including changes made through the First Regular Session of the 129th Maine Legislature and is current through October 1, 2019. The Code of Maine Rules (C.M.R.) was viewed on the website of the Department of the Secretary of State on 3/1/2020.