Idaho Recount Laws

This information was updated March 7, 2020.

The Idaho Code is available here See Title 34--Elections.

Voting System Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT (hand marked paper ballots and ballot marking devices)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method : 

Mix of hand count and retabulation

The Idaho Election Handbook (p. B23-2) states that “ballots are to be recounted in the same manner as election night.
 
Recounts of ballots originally counted by automatic tabulation systems require a partial manual count of the ballots “[t]o ensure the accuracy of automated vote tabulation systems.”  For statewide and federal offices or a statewide measure, the county clerk is required to randomly select and hand tally a number of ballots equal to at least two precincts of the ballots cast in each county.  For “all other offices or measures, the number of ballots to be tallied and tabulated shall be equal to the greater of one hundred (100) or five percent (5%) of the ballots cast for the office or measure, distributed by county where applicable.”   Whether or not the remainder of the ballots will be recounted by hand or by tabulator depends on the result of the initial sample hand count.  “For a statewide or federal office or a statewide measure, if the results of the hand-tally and the automated vote tally . . . differ by one-fourth of one percent (.25%) or less, the remaining ballots shall be recounted using automated vote tabulating systems. Otherwise, the remaining ballots shall be recounted by hand.” Idaho Code § 34-2313.

For non-statewide offices or ballot measures,  “if the results of the hand-tally and electronic . . . tabulation differ by less than one percent (1%), or two (2) votes, whichever is greater, the remaining ballots shall be recounted using automated vote tabulating systems. Otherwise, the remaining ballots shall be recounted by hand.” Idaho Code § 34-2313.  

All ballots are to be  recounted in plain view of the candidates or their representatives.” Idaho Code § 34-2305.

Initiating Mechanisms: 

Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

Close Vote Margin Options: 

Less than or equal to 0.1%
Vote count difference (not percentage based)
Initiated by request

“A losing candidate for nomination, or election or person supporting or opposing a ballot measure, may request a recount of the votes cast for the nomination or election to that office or passage or failure of a measure if the difference between the vote cast for that candidate and for the winning candidate for nomination or election, or the difference between the yes and no votes on a measure, is less than or equal to one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the total votes cast for that office or five (5) votes, whichever is greater.  All requests shall be in writing, and filed with the appropriate officer during the time mentioned in section 34-2301, Idaho Code. The state shall pay for the recount of a federal, state, or legislative district office, or state measure while the county shall pay for the recount of a county, city or district office or measure.” Idaho Code § 34-2309

Candidate-Initiated Options : 

Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount

Any candidate for federal, state, county or municipal office in both primaries and general elections may request a recount by applying to the attorney general. Candidates in all other elections may request a recount by applying to the county clerk. Idaho Code § 34-2301.

Candidates may initially specify a limited number of precincts to be recounted. Idaho Code § 34-2302. If the recount in these precincts suggests that the overall outcome of the election may be altered should a recount of all precincts be conducted, then “the attorney general, or the county prosecuting attorney for district offices, shall require a recount to be made in all the remaining precincts.” Idaho Code §§ 34-2307 and 34-2306.

Timing: Idaho Code §§ 34-2301, 34-2303 and 34-2304.

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voter determines how many/which precincts to recount

Any person supporting or opposing a state, county or city measure in an election may request a recount by applying to the attorney general.  Supporters and opponents to all other ballot measures may request a recount by applying to the county clerk. Idaho Code § 34-2301.

While the petitioner may initially specify a limited number of precincts to be recounted (Idaho Code § 34-2302), if the recount in these precincts suggests that the outcome of the election may be altered should a recount of all precincts be conducted (Idaho Code § 34-2306), “the attorney general, or the county prosecuting attorney for district offices, shall require a recount to be made in all the remaining precincts....” Idaho Code § 34-2307.

Timing:  Idaho Code §§  34-2301, 34-2303 and 34-2304.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

In most cases, candidates pay a $100 per precinct fee. Idaho Code § 34-2302. This fee is refunded, however, if the petitioner has requested a recount of at least the number of precincts required as a prerequisite for the refund and “if the results of the recount [in such precincts] indicate a difference, which if projected across all the precincts of the office in question would change the result of the election in favor of the candidate requesting the recount.” Idaho Code § 34-2306. If the petitioner is entitled to a refund as indicated above, a general recount of all the remaining precincts will be ordered, and the “state shall pay for a general recount of a federal, state, or legislative district office, while the county shall pay for a general recount of a county, city or district office.” Idaho Code § 34-2307.  

Note the other recounts that are available at no cost to candidates in the entry above for “Close Vote Margin” recounts. 

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

As in the case with candidate-initiated recounts, the petitioner for a voter initiated recount pays a $100 per precinct fee. Idaho Code § 34-2302. This fee is refunded if the petitioner has requested a recount of at least the number of precincts required as a prerequisite for the refund and “if the results of the recount [in such precincts] indicate a difference, which if projected across all the precincts of the office in question would change the result . . . in the measure being recounted.” Idaho Code § 34-2306. If the petitioner is entitled to a refund as indicated above, a general recount of all the remaining precincts will be ordered, and the costs shall be allocated to the applicable jurisdiction as set forth above. Idaho Code § 34-2307.

Note that if there is a close vote margin between the yes and no votes on a measure of less than or equal to one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the total votes cast or five (5) votes, whichever is greater, the petitioner is not responsible for the costs of the recount. Idaho Code § 34-2309.

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

Recounts are public. All candidates named on the ballot for the office contested, or a representative of either or all of them, may be present to watch the counting; and every other person interested may be present. Idaho Code § 34-2304

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Secretary of State or Election Board responsible for defining intent

Idaho Code § 34-1203 states that “[a]ny ballot or part of a ballot from which it is impossible to determine the elector’s choice, shall be void and shall not be counted,” provided that “[w]hen a ballot is sufficiently plain to determine therefrom a part of the voter's intention, it shall be the duty of the judges to count such part.” In addition, it states that the “secretary of state shall issue directives or promulgate administrative rules adopting standards that define what constitutes a vote and what will be counted as a vote for each category of voting system used in this state.” 

For detailed voter intent rules, see the Secretary’s Directives on pages J19-1 to J20-4 in the Idaho Election Handbook.   See also the “Guidelines for Counting Paper Ballots” on page 83 of the  Procedural Manual for Judges and Clerks of Elections: Paper Ballots—2017 Regular Elections.

State Has Audit Laws: 
No
Revision Notes: 

This information was updated 3/7/2020 using the Idaho Statutes current through the 2019 Legislative Session.