This information was updated 10/29/2020
The New York State Election Law and Rules may be downloaded here.
Paper ballot (hand marked paper ballots, ballot marking devices for accessibility)
For more details, visit Verified Voting.
No statutory guidance provided for counting method (note the exceptions for hand counts below)
For most elections, New York does not have close vote-margin recounts or candidate-initiated recounts (note the limited exceptions in the candidate and election official sections below). However, after every general, primary, special or village election in which ballot scanners are used, New York conducts a recanvass. Although a recanvas may involve some hand counting of ballots, it is primarily a review of the voting machine results tapes to compare them to the numbers recorded on the canvass returns. A recanvass is also done for any election day paper ballots that have not been scanned and were hand counted on election night and for write-in votes on ballots which were otherwise scanned and canvassed at polling places on election night; these recanvasses may involve some hand counting of ballots. New York Election Law (NY Elec L) § 9-208(1).
Note that the “county boards of elections, as well as the courts, retain the authority to order manual counts of those records [voter verifiable paper audit trail] in whole or in part under such other and additional circumstances as they deem warranted.” Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York, Title 9, Subtitle V (9 CRR-NY) § 6210.18(h).
See also the ballot counting references in the election-official and audit-initiated recounts below.
Close vote margin
Election Official-Initated Recounts:
If upon the recanvass of an election district a discrepancy exists between the number of voters who cast a vote in the district and the number of votes recorded on the tabulated results tape, the board of elections must thoroughly to examine all the election day paper ballots in that election district to determine the result. NY Elec L § 9-208(3).
"Whenever the total number of votes tallied (including blank and void votes) for any office or party position… or tallied for any ballot proposal, does not exactly equal the number of ballots cast (including blank and void ballots), a recanvass must be made immediately in order to correct the error.” NY Elec L § 9-116(2).
Note that in 2017, election officials in some counties and cities decided to initiate full hand count audits as well as close-vote-margin recounts. See pages 24-25 of the minutes of the New York State Board of Elections Commissioners Meeting, August 02, 2017.
Audit Initiated Recounts:
New York's audit law can lead to a full recount. These audit results are binding upon the official results only when a “complete audit” (full recount) has been conducted. NY Elec L § 9-211(4). See 9 CRR-NY § 6210.18 for the escalation protocol for expanding the audit up to a full recount.
“The court may direct a recanvass or the correction of an error, or the performance of any duty imposed by law on such a state, county, city, town or village board of inspectors, or canvassers.” NY Elec L § 16-106(4). See also court ordered manual audits. NY Elec L § 16-113.
Timing: No statutory guidance for court ordered recounts.
Effective January 1, 2021, the board of elections or a bipartisan committee appointed by the board shall conduct a full manual recount of all ballots for a particular contest: where the margin of victory is twenty votes or less; or where the margin of victory is 0.5% or less; or in a contest where one million or more ballots have been cast and the margin of victory is less than 5,000 votes. NY Elec L § 9-208 (4).
No statutory guidance provided
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers
No statutory guidance for recount challengers
Political parties and candidates may appoint “watchers” to be present both during voter registration and at the polls. NY Elec L § 5-206 and § 8-500. While these statutes do not state that watchers have the right to observe during recanvassing, according to the New York State Board of Elections, they "always allow watchers to be present at recanvases," and "the City Board allows watchers to be present for all aspects of canvasses and recavasses."
Note that at the recanvasses, each “candidate whose name appears on the official ballot, or his or her representative, shall have the right personally to examine and make a record of the vote recorded on the tabulated result tape and any ballots which were hand counted.” NY Elec L § 9-208(1).
We found no rule or statute requiring that recanvasses to be open to the public.
This information was updated 10/29/2020 using the 2019 New York Law--Election Law, the Election Law Update 2020, and the Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York current through March 15, 2020.