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 4/20/2020.

Voting System Used

Paper ballot (optical scanners, hand counted paper ballots, or a mix)

Approximately 12 counties vote by mail.
For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method

Mix of hand count and retabulation

Nebraska requires that most recounts be conducted using the same procedures “as those used for the counting of ballots on election day,” and that where vote counting devices (optical scanners) were used on election day, the counting may take place where the voting devices are stored. See Nebraska Revised statutes (Neb. Rev. Stat.) §§ 32-1119(6) & 32-1121.  All counties in Nebraska currently use optical scan voting equipment, and consequently, ballots are retabulated by machine.

In the case of recounts for Legislative offices, the counting procedure is not specified: “[a]fter the ballot boxes have been received at the designated office, they shall be opened and the ballots for member of the Legislature shall be recounted under the supervision of the Secretary of State.” Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1118(3).

Initiating Mechanisms

Election official initiated
Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated

Election Official Initiated
“If in the process of canvassing the votes for any candidate or measure in any precinct the election commissioner or county clerk or the canvassing board determines that there is an obvious error in the certification of the votes, the error shall be corrected. The county canvassing board may open the ballots-cast container and recount the ballots for any candidate or any measure which appears to be in error.”  Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1031(1).

Close Vote Margin Options

Varies by number of votes cast
Initiated automatically

A close-vote margin may initiate an automatic, taxpayer-funded recount for both primary and general elections. There are two different close vote margin requirements for candidates. For any candidate that fails to be nominated or elected in elections in which more than five hundred votes are cast, the margin is “one percent or less of the votes received by the candidate who received the highest number of votes for the office.”  For elections in which five hundred or fewer votes are cast, the margin is “two percent or less of the votes received by the candidate who received the highest number of votes.”  Recounts take place automatically unless the losing candidate waives his or her right to have the recount conducted.  Neb. Rev. Stat.§ 32-1119(1).  There are no automatic recounts for ballot questions.

Additionally, Nebraska has specific provisions should a recount (either automatic or candidate-initiated) end in a tie. For most offices, the winner is chosen by lot.  Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1122.  However, for Governor and other offices in executive departments, the Legislature chooses the winner in a tie. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1122(4).

Timing: Neb. Rev. Stat.§ Section 32-1119(3) & (4)

Candidate-Initiated Options

Any apparently defeated candidate may petition for a recount in a primary or general election in which the margin of victory exceeds the margin that would result in an automatic recount on close vote. Neb. Rev. Stat. §§  32-1121 & 32-1118.    

Timing: For candidates for the Legislature, see Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 32-1118(1) & (4). For all other candidates, see Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1121.   

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts

Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

The Election Commissioner or County Clerk determines an estimate of the recount costs, and in the case of recounts to be conducted in more than one county, certifies the estimated cost to the Secretary of State.  The petitioning candidate must pay the costs before the recount is scheduled to begin. If after the recount, the petitioner is determined to be the winner of the election, all costs paid will be refunded. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1121

In the case of recounts for Legislative office, the recount petition is required to be “accompanied by a corporate surety bond in the penal sum of two thousand five hundred dollars conditioned for the payment of costs ...."  If it becomes apparent during the recount that the initial bond is inadequate to cover the costs, the Secretary of State may order an increase in the amount of the bond.  If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the bond is refunded.  Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1118(1)

Challengers and Observers

Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers
No statutory guidance for recount challengers

In the case of automatic recounts on a close vote and most candidate initated recounts, candidates whose ballots will be recounted may be present or be represented by an agent appointed by the candidate. Neb. Rev. Stat.§ 32-1119(5).  The statute governing Legislative recounts is silent on the subject of who may be present for the recount.  Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 32-1118.

Although the statutes do not require that the public be allowed to observe recounts, according to the Office of the Nebraska Secretary of State, local election officials may, at their discretion, allow public observers and set limitations on their proximity to the ballots.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Statutory guidance provided

The following statutes briefly define what constitutes a valid vote: Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-901, pertaining to authorized methods for marking a ballot; and Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 32-1003 & 32-1004, pertaining to the processing of ballots containing undervotes and overvotes. 

In addition, “[a]ny issue as to the legality of a vote shall be resolved unanimously by the [ballot counting] resolution board. If a unanimous decision cannot be obtained, the ballot shall be rejected as to the vote in question.” Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1015.

State Has Audit Laws
No
Revision Notes

This information was updated on 4/20/2020 using the Nebraska Revised Statutes current to July 18, 2019.  There were no relevant administrative rules for recounts.