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 11/2/2020.

Voting System Used

Mixed paper ballot and DREs without VVPAT  (hand marked paper ballots, ballot marking devices and DREs without VVPAT)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method

Mix of retabulation and electronic review

For most of its polling place voting equipment, New Jersey uses direct-recording electronic machines (DREs) without a voter-verified paper audit trail: therefore, only an electronic review of initial returns is possible for most votes cast throughout the state. New Jersey calls this electronic review a "recheck" and it involves rechecking the DRE counters against the election officers' returns.  See the New Jersey Revised Statutes (N.J. Rev. Stat. 19:52-6.1.)

Paper ballots are to be retabulated following the guidelines in section 19:53A-8; however, the Superior Court has the ability to choose the counting method for paper ballots and may choose a hand recount. Section 19:53A-14.  In addition, the county board of elections may do a hand count if a retabulation is "impracticable."  Section 19:53A-8(d).

Initiating Mechanisms

Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

Candidate-Initiated Options

Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount

In any election, any candidate who believes that an error has been made in the counting of the votes for that election may apply for a recount of the votes cast in any "district or districts."  Candidates apply to the Superior Court assigned to the county in which the districts to be recounted are located.  Section 19:28-1.

Timing:  Section 19:28-1.

Voter-Initiated Options

Voters determine how many/which precincts to recount
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

Voters who believe that an error has been made in the counting of votes upon a public question may apply to a judge of the Superior Court for a recount. A minimum of ten voters is required to file the request. Section 19:28-1.

Timing: Section 19:28-1.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts

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

Each application for a recount must be accompanied by a deposit for each district to be recounted. The deposit amount is set by election officials but may not exceed $25 per district. The deposit is refunded if the recount alters the result of the election or changes the outcome in any district by more than 10 votes or 10%, whichever is greater. Section 19:28-2.

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts

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

Each application for a recount must be accompanied by a deposit for each district to be recounted. The deposit amount is set by election officials but may not exceed $25 per district. The deposit is refunded if the recount alters the result of the election or changes the outcome in any district by more than 10 votes or 10%, whichever is greater. Section 19:28-2.

Challengers and Observers

Statutes specify that recount must be public
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint challengers
No statutory guidance for recount observers

All counting “shall be conducted under the observation of the public.” Section 19:53A-8(b). In addition, section 19:28-3 require that recounts are to be conducted publicly. 

Candidates and the chairman of the county committee of a political party have the ability to appoint two challengers who shall have "the right and power to challenge the counting or rejecting of any ballot or part of any ballot."  Sections 19:7-17-2, 7-5 and 19:53A-12. The appointment of or application for challengers needs to be filed with the county board not later than the second Tuesday preceding any election. Section 19:7-3.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Statutory guidance provided

See sections 19:16-3 and 19:53:C-15.

State Has Audit Laws
Yes
Revision Notes

This information was revised 11/2/2020 using the 2019 New Jersey Revised Statutes.