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 October 30, 2018.

Note: The website of the Oregon Secretary of State includes the elections statutes and allows one to link to individual chapters containing multiple statutes. The citations below will retrieve the entire text of the chapter. The Election Law of the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) election statutes is available here.

Voting System Used

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

Oregon votes by mail. For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method

Hand count only

The counting board is to conduct the recount by hand. ORS 258.211.

Initiating Mechanisms

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

Election Official-Initiated Recounts:
County clerks may request recounts for offices and ballot measures. The costs of these recounts are paid by the requesting county.  For these recounts as well as all other requested recounts, with the exception of those requested for electors for president and vice-president, the initiator may specify either a full or a partial recount. ORS Section 258.161(3) & (9).  Unlike other recounts, where a full recount is required to change the results, partial recounts initiated by county clerks may determine the official results. ORS 258.171.

The Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of State may direct county elections officials to conduct a recount of an office or ballot measure or portions of the votes cast for an office or measure. These administrative recounts are only ordered when unanticipated circumstances at the election put the accuracy of the vote tally equipment used in the county in question. All recounts ordered by the Elections Divison under this rule are conducted by hand, are limited to no more than 1,000 ballots in any one county, and cannot be used to alter the official result of the election. County elections officers may on their own inititative choose to conduct administrative recounts. See the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 165-007-0270

Timing: ORS 258.161(8) & (9), 258.221(1) and OAR 165-077-0270.

Close Vote Margin Options

Less than or equal to 0.2%
Initiated automatically

A full recount is initiated automatically in the case of a tie or when the close vote margin between the apparent winning candidate and the next candidate “is not more than one-fifth of one percent of the total votes for both candidates.” ORS 258.280. This same margin is used for automatic recounts for ballot measures; however, if a ballot measure is required by state law to have at least 50 percent registered voters vote on it and it does not meet that requirement, an automatic recount will not be triggered. ORS 258.290.

Timing: ORS 258.300.

Candidate-Initiated Options

Party official may petition for candidate
Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount

Candidates or an officer of a political party may request a recount for a limited number of precincts (partial recount) or for all precincts (full recount). If the first request was a partial recount, the same person may file a supplemental request for a full recount. For a recount of the electors for president and vice president only a full recount may be requested.  No restrictions are listed regarding the type of election in which a recount may be requested or limiting the eligibility of certain offices for a recount. ORS 258.161(1), (4) and (9). Only a full recount is binding and can alter the official election results; partial recounts conducted at the request of a candidate cannot change the official election results. ORS 258.171.

Timing:  ORS 258.161 (8) & (9) and 258.221(1).

Voter-Initiated Options

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

Any elector may request a full or partial recount for any measure on the ballot. ORS 258.161(2) & (4).  A full recount must be requested in order for the recount to alter the official election results. ORS 258.171. If one elector requests only a partial recount, another elector may file a request for the remaining precincts to be counted to complete a full recount. ORS 258.181(4).

Timing: ORS 258.161(8) & (9) and 258.221(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

The initiator must deposit a $15 per precinct fee, not to exceed $8000 total. However, if the actual cost of the recount exceeds the deposit and if the outcome of the election has not changed, the person who filed the request must pay the additional cost. ORS 258.161(5) and 258.250 (5). The deposit may be waived after the first demand recount if it appears that due to nondeliberate and material error by a local elections official or a county clerk, the outcome of the election will be changed. The county responsible for the error is then responsible for the cost of the recount. ORS 258.161(6).

If more than one recount occurs at the same time, the payment of the costs of the recount, where the same precinct or precincts are designated for recount by more than one person, shall be equitably apportioned among those persons. ORS 258.270. For full recounts only, the deposit is to be refunded if the outcome of the election is changed in favor of the initiator. ORS 258.250(1).

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

The initiator must deposit a $15 per precinct fee, not to exceed $8000 total. However, if the actual cost of the recount exceeds the deposit and if the outcome of the election has not changed, the person who filed the request must pay the additional cost.  ORS 258.161(5) and ORS 258.250 (5). The deposit may be waived after the first demand recount if it appears that due to nondeliberate and material error by a local elections official or a county clerk, the outcome of an election on a candidate or measure will be changed. The county responsible for the error is then responsible for the cost of the recount. ORS 258.161(6).

If more than one recount occurs at the same time, the payment of the costs of the recount, where the same precinct or precincts are designated for recount by more than one person shall be equitably apportioned among those persons. ORS 258.270. For full recounts only, the deposit is to be refunded if the outcome of the election is changed in favor of the initiator. ORS 258.250(1).

Challengers and Observers

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

For nominations and offices, an affected candidate or an elector authorized in writing by that candidate may observe the recount.  An elector authorized in writing representing each major or minor political party may also observe the recount.  For ballot measures, “one elector advocating and one elector opposing the measure” may observe the recount. ORS 258.211(2).  There are no statutes requiring the recount to be conducted publicly.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent

Statutory guidance provided

Oregon provides basic guidance on voter intent stating that any “vote from which it is impossible to determine the elector’s choice for the office or measure may not be counted.” See ORS 254.505. See also the “Ballot Inspection Process” (pages 35+) of the Vote by Mail Procedures Manual

State Has Audit Laws
Yes
Revision Notes

This information was updated 10/30/2018 using the Oregon Revised Statutes (2017) and the Oregon Administative Rules.