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 1/21/2020.

All of the statute citations refer to the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA), Title LXIII, Elections.

Voting System Used

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

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method

Hand count only

Recounts in New Hampshire must be conducted by hand. All of the relevant statutes provide that “No mechanical, optical, or electronic device shall be used for the counting of ballots.”  See the provisions governing general elections (RSA § 660:5), state and presidential primaries (RSA § 660:8), constitutional amendments (RSA § 660:11), county referendums (RSA § 660:12), local questions recounts ( RSA § 660:14), and board of recount procedures (RSA § 669:32). Moderators may choose the system of hand counting to be used and supervise the counting (RSA § 659:60) . Procedures for the hand recounting of ballots are described in detail in Chapter XXI (p. 248+) of the New Hampshire Election Procedure Manual: 2018-2019

Initiating Mechanisms

Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

Candidate-Initiated Options

Close vote margin required

Any candidate receiving votes in a state general election may apply for a recount. However, there is a close vote margin requirement: “the difference between the votes cast for the applying candidate and a candidate declared elected” must be “less than 20 percent of the total votes cast in the towns which comprise the office to be recounted.” RSA § 660:1.  If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the recount is binding, unless this outcome is challenged and changed as of a result of an appeal. RSA § 660.3 & 660.6.

For presidential primaries, “Any person receiving at least 9 percent of the votes…may apply for a recount.” RSA § 660:7(II).  If the recount changes the outcome of the election of delegates, the outcome is binding unless changed as of a result of an appeal. RSA § 660:9-a.

For state primaries, “Any person for whom a vote was cast for any nomination of any party at a state primary may apply for a recount, provided that the difference between the votes cast for the applying candidate and a candidate of that party declared nominated is less than 10 votes or less than 1.5 percent of the total ballots cast in the primary for that party in the towns which comprise the office to be recounted.” RSA § 660:7(I).  If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the result of the recount is binding unless changed as of a result of an appeal. RSA § 660:9

General procedures for conducting recounts in village district elections are referenced in RSA § 670:11;  for town elections, see RSA § 669:30-36; for school district elections, see RSA § 671:32. Note that there is no close vote margin requirement for school district, village district and town elections, and recounts for all types of local elections are generally governed by one set of provisions.

Timing:  For state general elections see RSA § 660.1660:4. For state and presidential primaries, see RSA § 660.7660:8. For town elections, see RSA § 669:30 & 669.31. For village elections, see RSA § 670:11. For school district elections, see RSA § 671:32.

Voter-Initiated Options

Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions
Close vote margin required (for constitutional amendments)

Any question to amend the constitution shall be recounted upon the receipt of petitions of 100 voters and provided that the proposal was adopted or failed by no more than one percent of the vote cast.  RSA § 660:10.

County referendums do not have a close vote margin requirement but do require a written petition signed by at least 50 voters. RSA § 660:12.

Local questions do not have a close vote requirement but do require 5 voters to petition for the recount. RSA § 660.13.

Timing: For constitutional amendments, see RSA § 660:11.  For county referendums, see RSA § 660:12. For local questions, see RSA § 660:13.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts

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

For state general elections, the cost paid by the initiator varies by office and by vote margin; the cost increases as the vote margin increases. RSA § 660:2. The cost of the recount is refunded to the person applying for the recount if the recount shows them to be the actual winner. A partial refund of fees may be available if the recount shows the inititator lost by a margin of less than one percent. RSA § 660:6.

For state and presidential primaries, the cost is paid by the initiator and varies by office and vote margin, and the fee schedule in RSA § 660:2 is applied.  RSA § 660:7. The cost of the recount is refunded to the person applying for the recount if the recount shows them to be the actual winner, or to be qualified to receive at least one more delegate, or to be entitled to federal funding. RSA § 660:9 and RSA § 660:9-a.

The cost paid by the petitioner for town, school district, and village district elections is uniform for all offices, but varies by the vote margin; the cost increases as the vote margin increases. A partial refund of fees may be available if the petitioner is found to have lost by a margin of less than one percent, and a full refund of all fees is paid if they are found to be the actual winner of the election. RSA § 669:31.

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts

Paid entirely by state or county (for constitutional amendments)
Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee (town and county)

There is no fee for recounts on state constitutional amendments that pass or fail by no more than one percent of the votes cast. For county referendums, the cost is a flat $25. For recounts on local questions, the cost is $10 for each 1,000 ballots or fraction thereof cast in the town, not to exceed $50. RSA § 660:10, 660:12, and 660:13.  If the recount changes the outcome of the ballot measure, there is no fee rembursement for voter initiated recounts.

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

RSA § 660:5 states that for state general election recounts the ballots shall be recounted at a “public facility.”  RSA § 660:11 and 660:14 state that for constitutional amendments and local question recounts the “ballots shall be open to the inspection of the petitioners…and other interested persons under such suitable rules as the secretary of state may prescribe.”

For state general election recounts the “candidates, their counsel, and assistants shall have the right to inspect the ballots and participate in the recount under such suitable rules as the secretary of state may adopt.” Furthermore, each candidate or his or her counsel or designee “shall have the right to protest the counting of or failure to count any ballot.”  RSA § 660:5.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Statutory guidance provided

The New Hampshire Election Procedure Manual: 2018-2019 (pp.66-70) contains a description of valid voter marks.  Instructions for resolving disputes between election officers over how a given ballot should be counted are found in RSA § 659:64.

State Has Audit Laws
No
Revision Notes

This information was updated 1/21/2020 using the New Hampshire Revised Statutes including all changes and updates made up to October 2019.