Georgia Recount Laws

This information was updated 6/8/2020. 

Voting System Used: 

Paper ballot (ballot marking devices for all in-person voting)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method : 

Retabulation only

The recount shall be conducted by tabulating all ballots utilizing ballot scanners. See the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia (Rule) 183-1-15-.03(1)(b)[Revision note 11/11/2020:  The Georgia Secretary of State has authorized a hand count of the ballots for the 2020 presidential election.]

Prior to the retabulation, the ballot scanners will be tested for accuracy, and will not be authorized for use during the recount if there are discrepancies in the test results that cannot be resolved.  When there are unresolved discrepancies in the testing, the recount will be conducted by manual hand count. Rule 183-1-15-.03(1)(c).  The only other mechanism for a recount by hand is by court order.  Rule 183-1-15-.03(2)(a).

Initiating Mechanisms: 

Election official-initiated
Close vote margin

Election-Official Initiated Recounts

In precincts where paper ballots or scanning ballots have been used, the superintendent of elections may, at his or her discretion, order a recount of the ballots whenever there appears to be any discrepancy or error in the returns. See the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A) § 21-2-495(a) & (b)

“Whenever the difference between the number of votes for approval or rejection of a constitutional amendment or binding referendum question shall be not more than one-half of 1 percent of the total votes which were cast on such amendment or question therein, within a period of two business days following the certification of the election results, the Constitutional Amendments Publication Board shall be authorized in its discretion to call for a recount of the votes cast with regard to such amendment or question.” O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(c)(2).

Timing:  O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(a) & (c)(2).

Close Vote Margin Options: 

Less than or equal to 0.5%
Initiated by request

A candidate has a right to a taxpayer-funded recount “whenever the difference between the number of votes received by a candidate who has been declared nominated for an office in a primary election or who has been declared elected to an office in an election or who has been declared eligible for a run-off primary or election and the number of votes received by any other candidate or candidates not declared so nominated or elected or eligible for a runoff shall be not more than one-half of 1 percent of the total votes which were cast for such office….” The recount requires a petition. O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(c)(1).

Timing: O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(c)(1).

Candidate-Initiated Options : 

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

In precincts where paper ballots have been used, the superintendent may upon petition of any candidate or political party order the recount of all the ballots for a particular precinct or precincts for one or more offices in which it shall appear that a discrepancy or error has been made.  O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(a).

A candidate for a federal or state office voted upon by the electors of more than one county may petition the Secretary of State for a recount or recanvass of votes when it appears that a discrepancy or error has been made. The petition shall set forth the discrepancies or errors and any evidence in support of the petitioner's request for a recount or recanvass and shall be verified. O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(d).

Timing: O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(a) & (d).

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

No statutory guidance provided

According to the Office of the Georgia Secretary of State, for recounts authorized under Title 21, the petitioners are not responsible for any of the costs incurred by election officials.

Challengers and Observers : 

Statutes specify that the recount must be public
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers
No statutory guidance for recount challengers

The recount will be open to the view of the public. Rule 183-1-15-.03(1)(d).

Each candidate “may be present in person or by representative,” and each party “may send two representatives to be present....” There is no reference to the right of these representatives to challenge  ballots. O.C.G.A § 21-2-495(a) and (b)

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

Rules for determining voter intent can be found in O.C.G.A. §§ 21-2-43721-2-435(b), and Rule 183-1-15-.02.  

State Has Audit Laws: 

See O.C.G.A. § 21-2-498(b). "As soon as possible, but no later than the November, 2020, general election, the local election superintendents shall conduct precertification tabulation audits for any federal or state general election in accordance with requirements set forth by rule or regulation of the State Election Board. Audits performed under this Code section shall be conducted by manual inspection of random samples of the paper official ballots."

Revision Notes: 

This information was updated on 6/8/2020 using the Official Code of Georgia Annotated current through the 2019 Regular Session of the General Assembly and HB 276 and HB 444 of the 2020 Regular Session of the General Assembly, and the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, current through rules and regulations filed through May 13, 2020.  

The Counting Methods section was revised 11/11/2020.