Arkansas Recount Laws
This information was updated February 2016 using the Arkansas Code current through the 2015 Regular Session and First Extraordinary Session.
The Arkansas Code is available at: http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/arcode/Default.asp. See Title 7, Chapter 5.
Mixed paper ballot and DREs with and without VVPAT
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. See Sections 7-5-319(d) and 7-5-529.
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. See Section 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. See Section 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.” See in Section 7-1-101(3). Consequently, 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. 83). See also Section 7-5-319(b).
Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount
"Any candidate voted for who may be dissatisfied with the returns from any precinct” may petition for a recount and "shall have a recount" in the requested precincts upon the submission of the petition in accordance with the applicable statutory requirements. There are no restrictions regarding the type of election in which a recount may be requested. See Section 7-5-319, Subsection (a)(1).
Timing: See 7-5-319, (a)(2) and (a)(3).
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount
The county board of election commissioners determines an appropriate amount to collect as a depost before the recount begins. If the recount alters the outcome of the election, the petitioners deposit is refunded. See Section 7-5-319(g).
If the outcome is not altered, the candidate bears the actual cost of the recount. The total amount is not to exceed $0.25 per vote cast in each precinct where the recount is requested, or a total of $2500 for the entire county, whichever is less. The county board also determines an appropriate amount to collect as a deposit before the recount begins. See 7-5-319(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 they are subject to the public meeting requirements of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. See Section 7-5-319.
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
Statutory guidance for determing voter intent in Arkansas can be found in the Arkansas Code, Section 7-5-603(2)(B), as well as in the State Board of Election Commissioners' document, “Rules for Voter Intent.”