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 6/5/2020.  

Voting System Used

Paper ballot (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

According to the North Dakota Recount Guidelines, recounts may involve hand-counting or machine retabulation.  If the ballots are to be retabulated, a sample hand count must be conducted to verify the accuracy of the voting machines. During a retabulation, ballots containing undervotes for the office recounted and ballots rejected as uncountable by the voting machine will be manually checked for voter intent.  Recount Guidelines, p. 14.

Initiating Mechanisms

Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated

Close Vote Margin Options

Less than or equal to 1%
Less than or equal to 0.5%
Less than or equal to 0.25%
Varies by election contest
Inititated automatically

Recount are automatic for primaries, general & special elections, and ballot measures when: 

“a. Any individual failed to be nominated in a primary election by one percent or less of the highest vote cast for a candidate for the office sought.

 b. Any individual failed to be elected in a general or special election by one-half of one percent or less of the highest vote cast for a candidate for that office.

c. A question, measure, or bond issue submitted to the qualified electors has been decided by a margin not exceeding one-fourth of one percent of the total vote cast for and against the question at any election.”

North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) § 16.1-16-01(1)

Timing:  NDCC § 16.1-16-01(4).

Candidate-Initiated Options

Close vote margin required

For primary elections, candidates may petition for a recount if they are defeated by a margin that is greater than 1% but less than 2% of the vote cast for the candidate receiving the most votes for the office. For general and special elections, the margin of defeat must be more than 0.5% and less than 2% of the highest vote cast for a candidate for that office. NDCC § 16.1-16-01(2).  Voters may not initiate recounts for ballot measures in North Dakota. 

Timing: NDCC § 16.1-16-01(3) & (4).

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts

Paid entirely by initiator
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount

When filing an application for a recount, candidates must pay a bond in an amount determined by the county auditor and sufficient to pay the actual cost of the recount. There is no provision for this bond to be returned if the recount alters the outcome of the election. NDCC § 16.1-16-01(3).

Challengers and Observers

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

“The individuals entitled to participate at the recount are: (1) Each candidate involved in the recount, either personally or by a representative. (2) A qualified elector favoring each side of a question if the recount involves a question or proposition submitted to a vote of the electorate.”  These participants “may challenge the acceptance or exclusion of any ballot.”  NDCC § 16.1-16-01(6).

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Secretary of State or Election Board responsible for defining intent

The Secretary of State may adopt rules for determining voter intent.  NDCC §16.1-06-26(3)

“A voting mark that touches the oval on an optical scan ballot used as a part of an electronic voting system shall be counted as if it were in the oval. Except as provided in North Dakota Century Code section 16.1-13-25, if the voting mark does not touch the oval and is not in the oval, the vote may not be counted.”  North Dakota Administrative Code 72-06-01-05.

See NDCC § 16.1-15-19 for determining voter intent on write-in votes. 

The recount board decides by majority vote how to count the challenged ballots. NDCC § 16.1-16-01(7).

State Has Audit Laws
No
Revision Notes

This information was updated 6/5/2020 using the North Dakota Century Code (NDCC) current through the changes approved by the 66th Legislative Assembly (2019).