Arkansas Recount Laws
This information was updated 2/17/2020.
The Arkansas Code Annotated (A.C.A) is available at: http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/arcode/Default.asp. See Title 7.
Mixed paper ballot and DREs with and without VVPAT
Most counties in Arkansas use ballot marking devices. For more details, visit Verified Voting.
Mix of hand count, retabulation and electronic review
For a recount of an election in which paper ballots are used, the county board will recount the ballots in the same manner as the initial count. This will normally be a retabulation of the ballots unless there is a determination by the county board that the voting machine or electronic vote tabulating device may be malfunctioning, in which case it may recount the ballots by any manner prescribed by law. A.C.A. § 7-5-319(d).
For any recount of an election in which ballots are cast using a DRE with a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), votes may be recounted by manually summing the vote totals on the VVPAT for each candidate involved in the recount or by hand counting the votes for each candidate involved in the recount using the VVPAT. A.C.A. § 7-5-319(c)(2).
For DREs without a VVPAT, the paper record produced by the machine for the manual audit shall be the official ballot to be recounted. A.C.A. § 7-5-319(c)(4). The paper record produced for the manual audit is a paper reproduction of the audit log, which is “an electronically stored record of events and ballot images.” A.C.A. § 7-1-101(3). In the absence of a VVPAT a hand recount of the votes cannot be conducted, and only a review of the electronically tabulated results is possible.
Election Official-Initiated Recounts:
“The election commission may decide to conduct a recount on its own motion, without a request from a candidate. For example, when an advocate for or against a measure requests a recount, the board may, at its discretion conduct the recount. In this instance, the county would bear the cost of the recount because the law requires only candidates for office to pay the cost of recounts.” See the County Board of Election Commissioners Procedures Manual (p. 88). See also A.C.A. § 7-5-319(b).
Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount
Any candidate who received votes in the election who may be dissatisfied with the returns from any precinct may obtain a recount in the requested precincts upon the submission of the petition requesting the recount. There are no restrictions regarding the type of election in which a recount may be requested. A.C.A. § 7-5-319(a)(1).
Timing: A.C.A. § 7-5-319, (a)(2) & (a)(3).
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount
Prior to the recount, the petitioner pays a deposit that is based on the actual costs of the recount as determined by the county board; however, these costs cannot exceed $0.25 per vote cast in the precincts where the recount is requested, or a total of $2500 for the entire county, whichever is less. If the recount alters the outcome of the election, the petitioner's deposit is refunded. A.C.A. § 7-5-319(g) & (h).
Statutes specify that recount must be public
No statutory guidance for recount challengers
No statutory guidance for recount observers
The county board of election commissioners conducts the recount, and these meetings are subject to the public meeting requirements of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. A.C.A. § 7-4-105(b).
See also the County Board of Election Commissioners Procedures Manual (p19) where it states: “When official business is conducted in any meeting of two (2) or more members of the county board of election commissioners, the meeting must be public and held pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act of 1967…. Public meetings as defined under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act include without limitation…[the] Canvassing and certification of a recount.”
Statutory guidance provided
See the summary of rules for determining voter intent in the County Board of Election Commissioners Procedures Manual (pp. 85-86). See also the State Board of Election Commissioners' document, “Rules for Voter Intent.”
This information was updated 2/17/2020 using the Arkansas Code Annotated current through all legislation of the 2019 Regular Session (including corrections and edits by the Arkansas Code Revision Commission).