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 8/4/2018.

Voting System Used

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method

Mix of hand count, retabulation and electronic review
Counting method chosen by election official

Instructions for the counting method to be used in  primary elections for court-ordered recounts and close-vote-margin recounts can be found in the Missouri Revised Statutes (MO Rev Stat), Title IX, “Suffrage and Elections,” Section 115.541. Instructions for the counting method to be used in court-ordered recounts and close-vote-margin recounts for general elections can be found in MO Rev Stat § 115.585.  These statutes allow the courts to order hand counts, retabulations or electronic reviews.

The counting instructions listed on pages 2-4 of the Official Recount Procedures and Timeline for the 2014 Constitutional Amendment provide details on how recounts are conducted on optical scan and DRE voting equipment.

Initiating Mechanisms

Close-vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated
Election official-initiated
Court-or
dered 

Election Official-Initiated Recounts:
Election authorities may petition the circuit court for a recount if they believe there to be “errors of omission or commission” that have occurred on the part of the election authority, election judges or any election personnel in the conduct of the election. MO Rev Stat § 115.600

Timing: We found no timing requirement in the Missouri statutes specific to recounts requested by election officials.

Court-Ordered Recounts: 
Voters and candidates may assert that “irregularities occurred in the election” and may challenge the “correctness of the returns” in any election by filing a petition in the appropriate court or legislative body. The court or legislative body will then hold hearings may order a recount. MO Rev Stat § 115.527, 115.537, 115.553, 115.565 & 115.583.

Timing: MO Rev Stat § 115.531, 115,557, 115.565, 115.577.

Close Vote Margin Options

Varies by election contest
Initiated by request

When a candidate filed or ballot question was filed with the county clerk or the county board of election commissioners, any contestant in a primary or other election contest, as well as any person whose position on a question was  defeated, “shall have a right to a recount” if the candidate or ballot question was defeated by less than one percent of the votes.  In cases where the candidate filed, or the ballot question was filed  with the secretary of state, the close-vote margin is 0.5%.  MO Rev Stat § 115.601(3)

Candidates and voters must first request or petition for a recount. Where the candidate filed or the ballot question was originally filed with the secretary of state, these recounts are initiated by filing a request with the secretary of state.  MO Rev Stat § 115.601(3).  Where the candidate filed or the ballot question was originally filed with other election authorities, these recounts are initiated by petition to the appropriate court.  MO Rev Stat § 115.601(2)

Timing:  MO Rev Stat § 115.601(2) & (3)

Candidate-Initiated Options

Contested election

Any candidate for election to any office may challenge the correctness of the returns for the office charging that irregularities occurred in the election.  MO Rev Stat § 115.553.  These election contests are initiated by petition to the appropriate court or legislative body (MO Rev Stat § 115.531, 115.555, 115.563, 115.565 and 115.575). If the court or legislative body hearing a contest finds there is sufficient evidence showing irregularities which would place the result of any contested election in doubt, the court or legislative body shall order a recount of all votes brought in question by the petition or its answer. MO Rev Stat § 115.583, & 115.539.

Timing: MO Rev Stat § 115.531 and 115.577.

Voter-Initiated Options

Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

The result of any election on any question may be contested by one or more registered voters from the area in which the election was held. MO Rev Stat § 115.553.  These contests are initiated by petition to the appropriate court (MO Rev Stat § 115.555 and 115.575). If the court hearing a contest finds there is a sufficient evidence showing irregularities which would place the result of any contested election in doubt, the court or legislative body shall order a recount of all votes brought in question by the petition or its answer. MO Rev Stat § 115.583.

Timing:  MO Rev Stat § 115.577, 115.557.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts

Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount. 

For recounts conducted at the order of the court during an election contest, contestants may be required to post a bond, and “the costs and expenses of any election contest, including the cost and expense of a recount, may be adjudged against the unsuccessful party.” MO Rev Stat § 115.547 and 115.591

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts

Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount

For recounts conducted at the order of the court during an election contest, contestants may be required to post a bond, and “the costs and expenses of any election contest, including the cost and expense of a recount, may be adjudged against the unsuccessful party.” MO Rev Stat § 115.547 and 115.591

Challengers and Observers

For close-vote-margin recounts initiated under MO Rev Stat § 115.601(3), "no one other than the secretary of state, the election authorities involved, the contestant and the other witnesses described in this subsection, their attorneys, and those specifically appointed by the secretary of state to assist with the recount shall be present during any recount...."  MO Rev Stat § 115.601(4)

For any recount ordered under MO Rev Stat § 115.539, 115.583 and 115.601(1) & (2), no one other than the election authority, representatives of the court or legislative body, the contestant and contestee, their attorneys, and those specifically appointed by the court or legislative body to assist with the recount shall be present during any recount. MO Rev Stat § 115.543 & 115.587.  

For all recounts, the the persons to assist with the recount are appointed equally from lists submitted by the contestant and contestee. MO Rev Stat § 115.543115.587 & 115.601.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Statutory guidance provided

Statutory guidance on determining voter intent, and defining a valid vote, can be found in MO Rev Stat § 115.456.  Further guidance is provided in the Code of State Regulations, Title 15,  Division 30, Chapter 9, Uniform Counting Standards. 

State Has Audit Laws
Yes
Revision Notes

Links reviewed for currency, July 2020.

This information was updated 8/4/2018 using the 2017 Missouri Revised Statutes and the Missouri Code of State Regulations revised to 7/31/2018.