Arizona Recount Laws

This information was updated October 21, 2020. 

Voting System Used: 

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

In a state primary, state general or state special elections, ballots from the race to be recounted will be retabulated.   Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 16-664.

However, for close vote margin recounts, 5% of the precincts for the recounted race shall be randomly selected for a hand count audit of the paper ballots. If the results from the hand count differ from the retabulation, and if that difference falls outside a set margin, an expanded number of votes will be hand counted. If the difference persists, the count will eventually be expanded to the entire jurisdiction for the office being recounted. A.R.S. § 16-663 (B).

Initiating Mechanisms: 

Close vote margin

Close Vote Margin Options: 

Less than or equal to 0.1%
Vote count difference (not percentage-based)
Varies by election contest
Initiated automatically

"A recount of the vote is required when the canvass of returns in a primary or general election shows that the margin between the two candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for a particular office, or between the number of votes cast for and against initiated or referred measures or proposals to amend the Constitution of Arizona, is less than or equal to the lesser of the following:

1. One-tenth of one per cent of the number of votes cast for both such candidates or upon such measures or proposals.
2. Two hundred votes in the case of an office to be filled by state electors and for which the total number of votes cast is more than twenty-five thousand.
3. Fifty votes in the case of an office to be filled by state electors and for which the total number of votes cast is twenty-five thousand or less.
4. Two hundred votes in the case of an initiated or referred measure or proposal to amend the constitution.
5. Fifty votes in the case of a member of the legislature.
6. Ten votes in the case of an office to be filled by the electors of a city or town or a county or subdivision of a city, town or county."   A.R.S. § 16-661(A).

Close-vote-margin recounts must be ordered by the appropriate court after election officials certify to the court the facts requiring the recount.  A.R.S. § 16-662.

Timing: A.R.S. § 16-663.  “The superior court …shall forthwith make and enter an order requiring a recount of the votes….” 

Candidate-Initiated Options : 


There are no provisions for candidate-initiated recounts in Arizona law.

Voter-Initiated Options: 


There are no provisions for voter-initiated recounts in Arizona law.

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

According to the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State, the counting center rules that apply to hand count audits also apply to those hand counts that occur after every close-vote-margin recount.

The county chairman of each political party shall designate and provide the required number of election board members who shall perform the hand count under the supervision of the county officer in charge of elections. A.R.S. § 16-602(B)(7).  If the election board members are unable to reach a unanimous decision regarding a voter’s intent, the officer in charge of elections must make the final determination in regards to the voter’s intent. Arizona Elections Procedures Manual, Chap. 11, Section IV, page 233.

According to A.R.S. § 16-621(A);  All proceedings at the counting center shall be …. under the observation of representatives of each political party and the public.  

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

See the Arizona Elections Procedures Manual, Chap. 11, Section IV, page 233.

State Has Audit Laws: 
Revision Notes: 

This information was updated 10/21/2020 using the Arizona Revised Statutes, including the revised sections from the 54th Legislature (2019-2020), 2nd Regular Session.