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 10/29/2020.

Voting System Used

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

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method

Required hand count of a sample of ballots in addition to other counting methods
Mix of hand count and retabulation

New Mexico uses only paper ballots that are tabulated by optical scanners. Prior to a recount, a random sample of ballots is recounted by hand and then retabulated by machine to determine the counting method. See the New Mexico Statutes Annontated (NMSA) § 1-14-23(A) regarding the size of the sample, which varies depending on the office.

According to NMSA § 1-14-23 (B): “If the results of the hand tally and the electronic vote tabulating system tabulation do not differ, the remaining ballots shall be recounted using that electronic vote tabulating system. If the results of the hand tally and the electronic vote tabulating system differ, the electronic vote tabulating system shall not be used in the recount and the remaining ballots shall be recounted by hand or on a different electronic vote tabulating system in which the results did not differ.” 

“When using an electronic vote tabulating system for a recount, a county clerk may permit a visual inspection of the ballots prior to tabulation by the optical scan tabulating system for the purpose of permitting a representative of a candidate to identify individual ballots to be selected for hand tally by the precinct board.”  NMSA § 1-14-23(C).

In a bill that was passed in 2020, there was a revision regarding the use of ballot images rather than actual ballots. “Upon petition by the secretary of state or county clerk, the district court may permit a review of ballot images in place of paper ballots whenever there are defective or missing returns in an election and when the voting system technology captures an image of each ballot in an election”  NMSA § 1-14-22 (B).

Candidates can initiate not only recounts but also alternatively “rechecks,” which are electronic reviews of tabulator counts without any use of the ballots.  See the “candidate-initiated options” below.

Initiating Mechanisms

Election official-initiated
Audit-initiated
Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

Election Official-Initiated Recounts

“If it appears that defective returns cannot be corrected without a recount of the paper ballots, the county canvassing board shall immediately notify the district court…[which] shall fix a time and place… for a recount of the paper ballots from the precinct.”  NMSA § 1-12-68.

Timing: NMSA § 1-12-68.

Audit-Initiated Recounts:

A “voting system check” performed by an auditor is conducted for all federal offices, and for governor, as well as for that statewide office other than governor “for which the winning candidate won by the smallest percentage margin of all candidates for statewide office.” However, “The voting system check is waived for any office for which a recount is conducted.” NMSA § 1-14-13.2(A).  The audit process involves a hand recount for a given number of precincts for each office. Based on a comparison of this hand count with the initial vote count, the auditor shall establish an error rate. If the hand count decreases the margin of victory, and if the error rate is more than 90% of that margin, an additional sample of ballots is audited. If, after this second-round audit, the error rate is still more than 90% of the margin of victory, a full hand recount of all ballots for that office must be conducted. NMSA § 1-14-13.2(D).

Timing: NMSA § 1-14-13.2(B).

Close Vote Margin Options

Less than or equal to 0.25%
Less than or equal to 0.50%
Less than or equal to 1%
Initiated automatically

A close vote margin of one-fourth percent of the total votes cast in that election initiates an automatic, taxpayer-funded recount for a federal or statewide office, on a ballot question in the case of a state ballot question, or on a nonpartisan judicial retention election in the case of the supreme court or the court of appeals. NMSA § 1-14-24(A)(1).

A close vote margin of one-half percent of the total votes cast in that election initiates an automatic, taxayer-funded recount for “a public regulation commissioner, public education commissioner, district attorney, or any office elected countywide in a county with more than one hundred fifty thousand registered voters; on a local ballot question; or on a judicial retention election for district or metropolitan courts.” NMSA § 1-14-24(A)(2).

For all other offices, the close vote margin is one percent. NMSA § 1-14-24 (A)(3).

Timing: NMSA § 1-14-16.

Candidate-Initiated Options

Candidate determines how many/which precincts to be recounted

Any candidate who “believes that any error or fraud has been committed by any precinct board in counting or tallying the ballots, in the verification of the votes cast on the voting machines or in the certifying of the results of any election whereby the results of the election in the precinct have not been correctly determined, declared or certified” may file for a recount or recheck. NMSA § 1-14-14.

Timing: Requests must be made within six days after completion of the canvass (NMSA § 1-14-14), and election officials must begin the recount not more than ten days after a request is made (NMSA § 1-14-16).

Voter-Initiated Options

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

The only voter-initiated option is in connection to the Liquor Control Act. For the specific case of an election to adopt the local option of the Liquor Control Act, “Applications for contests, recounts or rechecks may be filed by any person who voted in the election.” NMSA § 60-5A-1(C).

Timing: NMSA § 60-5A-1(C) & 1-14-14.

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

The initiator pays a per-precinct or per-machine deposit before the recount or recheck. The deposit is refunded if the recount or recheck changes the outcome of the election. Otherwise, the initiator is responsible for the actual costs of the recount. NMSA § 1-14-15.

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

See NMSA §§ 60-5A-1(D) & 1-14-15 for information on the costs of a recount or recheck in an election to adopt the local option of the Liquor Control Act.

Challengers and Observers

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

For recounts that are initiated via an audit, NMSA § 1-14-13.2(F) states that designated county canvass observers may observe the hand recounting initiated by the voting system check. Candidates, political parties, and “election-related organizations,” may each appoint observers. NMSA § 1-2-31.

For recounts initiated by a candidate or close vote margin, NMSA § 1-14-16(C) states that the recount shall be conducted “in the presence of the county clerk, district judge and any other person who may desire to be present.”

Section 1.10.23.8 of the New Mexico Administrative Code provides rules governing the observers.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Statutory guidance provided
Secretary of State or Election Board responsible for defining intent

Rules for determining voter intent can be found in NMSA § 1-1-5.2.

The Secretary of State is required to issue rules for reviewing “the qualification of provisional ballot envelopes, [and] absentee and other paper ballots” for recounts. NMSA § 1-14-22

State Has Audit Laws
Yes
Revision Notes

This information was updated 10/29/2020 using the New Mexico Statutes Annotated (current through the First Special Session of the Fifty-Fourth Legislature--2020), and using the New Mexico Administrative Rules (accessed 10/29/2020 here). 

In 2019 and 2020, a number of updates were made to New Mexico’s election laws, primarily through its “Election Laws 50-year Tune-up” which was signed into law on March 12, 2010 with additional changes made in April 2020. In terms of recounts, a key change is that the close-vote margin that automatically initiates a recount was revised.