Illinois Recount Laws

This information was updated October 19, 2018.

Note: Illinois allows “discovery recounts.” Discovery recounts are limited in scope and will not change the results of an election, but they may be used as a basis for an election contest.

Voting System Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method : 

No statutory guidance provided for counting method

For discovery recounts, the statute requires that the “ballots, voting machines, or ballot cards – as the case may be – shall be examined, that any automatic tabulating equipment shall be tested, and that ballots, recorded votes, or ballot cards – as the case may be – shall be counted.” The language here is unclear as to whether ballot cards are to be retabulated on the automatic tabulating equipment or if they are to be recounted by hand. See the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 10 (10 ILCS), Section 5/22-9.1

For election contests, there is no guidance on counting methods for recounts ordered through the court. The statute requires that the State Supreme Court may order a “recount or partial recount of the ballots” and that they shall appoint a Circuit Court judge to “supervise the examination of the records or equipment” and to “take evidence in the same manner and upon like notice as in other civil cases.” 10 ILCS 5/23-1.8a.

Initiating Mechanisms: 

Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated
Court-ordered

Court-Ordered Recounts:
For an office, a candidate or a voter may initiate an election contest by submitting a petition to the court.  For a ballot measure, a group of five voters may initiate an election contest by submitting a petition to the court. The court will hold a hearing in which it will  identify those election jurisdictions, if any, for which a recount is appropriate. 10 ILCS 5/23-1.2a, 5/23 1.7a and 5/ 23-23.2.  In addition to other requirements, the petitions must include a statement “declaring that, as a consequence of the mistake, fraud or irregularity alleged, the result of the election, as officially proclaimed, was incorrect.” 10 ILCS 5/23-1.3a.

For court-ordered recounts in state-wide races the court can “issue procedural orders or interim rulings regarding the recount or hearing, either upon motion of a party or upon its own motion.” 10 ILCS 5/23-1.8a.   See also the powers of the court are set out in 10 ILCS 5/23-23.

Timing: 10 ILCS 5/23‑1.2a.

Candidate-Initiated Options : 

Close vote margin required
Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount
Contested election

Candidates “nominated, elected, or declared eligible for a runoff election” for any office may petition for a recount. However, a close vote margin is required: candidates must have received “at least 95% of the number of votes cast for any successful candidate for the same office” to be eligible for a recount. 10 ICSL 5/22‑9.1.  These recounts are considered “discovery recounts,” and the results are explicitly not binding on the outcome of the election. The statutes require that the results of the examination and count shall not be certified, used to amend or change the abstracts of the votes previously completed, used to deny the successful candidate for the same office his certificate of nomination or election, nor used to change the previously declared result of the vote on a question of public policy.

Neither candidates nor voters may petition to recount precincts “exceeding 25% of the total number of precincts within the jurisdiction of the election authority.”  10 ILCS 5/22-9.1.

As noted above in “Court-Ordered Recounts,” candidates may also initiate a recount through the election contest process, in which the judge overseeing the contest may hold a hearing to determine if a recount is warranted. 

For election contests, any candidate on the ballot and any write-in candidate in any election may contest the election. Candidates may also specifically request an “examination of records and equipment” as part of the contest. Unlike “discovery recounts,” the ruling resulting from an election contest is binding upon the election results. 10 ILCS 5/23 1.6a, 5/23 1.2a, 5/23-1.10a, 5/23-26 and 5/23-28.

Timing: 10 ILCS 5/23‑1.2a and 5/23‑20.

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Close vote margin required
Voters determine how many/which precincts to recount
Voters may request recounts for offices
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

A group of five registered voters eligible to vote on a question of public policy may petition for a discovery recount on a question of public policy. As with candidate-initiated recounts, the process is not binding and is limited in scope. (See “Candidate-Initiated Options” above for more details.) Similarly, there is a close vote margin requirement of 5% or less of the total number of votes cast on the question. 10 ILCS 5/22 9.1b.
 
Voters may also initiate election contests for offices, constitutional amendments, and questions of public policy. For some offices, voter initiated contests require petitions supported by verified signatures. A recount in this process is not guaranteed, but the court will hold a hearing to determine the necessity of a recount. 10 ILCS 5/23-1.2a, 5/23 19 and 5/23-24.

Timing: 10 ILCS 5/22‑9.1 and 5/23-20.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount

Initiators pay a set $10 per precinct fee for discovery recounts. 10 ILCS 5/22 9.1

For state-wide election contests, petitions for an examination of records and equipment (to be filed after the initial contest proceedings are initiated) must be accompanied by a bond of $50 per precinct to be examined, or $75,000, whichever is less. 10 ILCS 5/23 1.6a. The original petition to initiate the election contest in a state-wide race must also be accompanied by a filing fee of $10,000.  10 ILCS 5/23 1.2a.  For additional information on costs assessed for election contests see, 10 ILCS 5/23-1.8a, 5/23-1.11.a, 5/23-22 and 5/23-23

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount

Initiators pay a set $10 per precinct fee for discovery recounts. 10 ILCS 5/22 9.1.

The costs petitioning for an examination of records and equipment in voter-initiated election contests of offices are the same as the costs listed in the section above, “Cost for Candidate Initiated Recounts.” 

See also the cost information in ILCS 5/23-1.8a, 5/23-1.11.a , 5/23-22 and 5/23-25.

Challengers and Observers : 

No statutory guidance for recount observers
No statutory guidance for recount challengers

Candidates or their representatives are allowed to attend the recount. For recounts on ballot questions, equal numbers of  “acknowledged proponents and acknowledged opponents” are allowed to attend. 10 ILCS 5/22-9.1. We found no further details on observers or challengers for the recount process, and no statute requiring that the recount be conducted publicly.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

10 ILCS 5/23-50 serves as a reference to all other statutes that pertain to definition of valid votes and voter intent.

State Has Audit Laws: 
Yes
Revision Notes: 

This information was updated 10/19/2018 using the 2017 Illinois Compiled Statutes.