Maine Recount Laws

This information was updated March 1, 2020.

The Maine Revised Statutes (ME Rev Stat) are available here. The Code of Maine Rules (C.M.R.) is available here

Voting System Used: 

Paper ballot (hand marked paper ballots, ballot marking devices for accessibility)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method : 

Hand count only

Ballots that are machine tabulated or hand-counted on election night will be recounted by hand.  29-250 C.M.R. ch. 502 § 3(5)(C).

Candidates provide the prepresentatives who count the ballots under the supervision of the Secretary of State, the recount supervisors, and the assistants designated by the Secretary of State. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A, and 29-250 C.M.R. ch 502 § 2(1) & 5(B).

See the ranked choice rules for counting in  29-250 C.M.R. ch. 536

Initiating Mechanisms: 

Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated 
Voter-initiated

Close Vote Margin Options: 

Vote count difference (not percentage-based--for statewide and muticounty office recounts)
Varies by number of votes cast (municipal)

Varies by election contest (municipal differs from state)
Initiated by request

For election for the office of state senator or state representative or for a county office that does not encompass more than one county, a taxpayer funded recount is available and a deposit is not required if the percentage difference between the leading candidate and the requesting candidate is 1.5% or less of the total votes cast for that office. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A(1)(A)

For statewide or multicounty recounts, if the difference shown by the official tabulation between the leading candidate and the requesting candidate is 1% or less of the total votes cast for that office or not more than 1,000 votes, whichever is less, the requesting candidate is entitled to a taxpayer funded recount.  21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A(1-A).

For township and municipal candidates, no deposit is required and the candidates may not be charged for the costs of recounts in certain situations. The eligibility for these recounts is based on the percentage difference between candidates. The percentages, specified in statute, will vary according to the combined vote totals for the candidates. These recounts require a written request. 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B(4) & B(8).

Timing: 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A and 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B.

Candidate-Initiated Options : 

The apparent losing candidate in an election may request a recount for all offices for general and primary elections. In an election determined by ranked‑choice voting, only a candidate who received one of the top 3 rankings at the end of the penultimate round of ranked‑choice counting may request a recount.  21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A , 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B, 20-A ME Rev Stat § 1253(2)(B)(7), and 20-A ME Rev Stat § 1473(2)(C)(7).

Timing: See 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A and 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B(4).

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

To request a recount of a statewide referendum, a petition signed by 200 or more registered voters must be submitted to the Secretary of State within 8 business days after the election.  Within two days of receiving the request, the Secretary of State shall provide a petition form for this purpose to any registered voter in the state. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 738(1).

For town, city or school district ballot questions, a recount must be granted upon written application of 10% or 100, whichever is less, of the registered voters in the municipality (or in some cases the “persons whose names were checked on the voting list”).  30-A ME Rev Stat § 2532, § 2354(5) and § 2556
 
Timing: See 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A, § 738, 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B, and § 2532.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

Paid entirely by initiator (for municipal and township elections)
Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee (for state and federal elections)
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

For recounts in state legislative or single county elections, candidates pay a set fee for the recount when the percentage difference shown by the official tabulation between the leading candidate and the requesting candidate is more than 1.5%. This set fee increases as the percentage difference increases.  If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the deposit is refunded to the petitioner. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A(1).

For recounts in statewide or multicounty offices, if the difference shown by the official tabulation between the leading candidate and the requesting candidate is more than 1% of the total votes cast for that office or more than 1,000 votes, whichever is less, the deposit is $5,000 or 10% of the reasonable estimate of the cost to the State of performing the first stage of the recount, whichever is greater. If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the deposit is refunded to the petitioner. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 737-A(1-A).

For recounts in any election for municipal office, a deposit is required when the percentage difference between candidates exceeds one of three percentages: 1.5%, 2.0% or 2.5%.  The applicable percentage is based on the combined vote for the candidates. For these recounts, “percentage difference" is defined as “the difference between the percentage of the total votes for an office received by the candidate requesting a recount and the percentage of the total votes for that office received by the nearest winning candidate.” 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B.

The deposit is determined by the clerk of the municipality and must be at least 50% of the reasonable estimate of the cost to the municipality performing the recount.  If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the deposit is refunded to the petitioner.  If the recount doesn’t change the result of the election, the municipality calculates the actual cost of the recount and refunds to the candidate any overpayment. If the actual cost was greater than the deposit, the candidate shall pay the remainder of the actual cost to the municipality.  30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B(7) & (9)
 
Note that candidates do not need to pay a deposit and are not charged for requesting recounts that are described in the close-vote-margin section above. 

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

Paid entirely by initiator (for municipal and township elections)
Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee (for state and federal elections)
Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount 
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount

For a statewide referendum, if “the difference shown by the official tabulation between the yes and the no votes is more than 1% of the total votes cast for that question or more than 1,000 votes, whichever is less, the deposit is $5,000 or 10% of the reasonable estimate of the cost to the State of performing the first stage of the recount, whichever is greater. After the completion of the recount, if the recount has not changed the result of the election, the Secretary of State shall calculate the cost of the procedure, which must be paid by the petitioners. If the deposit is greater than the actual cost, the overpayment must be refunded to the petitioners. If the actual cost is greater than the deposit, the petitioners shall pay to the State the remainder of the actual cost…. If a recount reverses the result of the election, the deposit must be returned to the petitioners."  21-A ME Rev Stat § 738.

For recounts of municipal referenda, the deposit requirements that apply to candidates under section 2531-B are used, except that provisions in section 2531 B "applicable to the candidate requesting the recount and candidates not requesting the recount apply, for purposes of this section, to the official representative of the referendum recount and the official representative, if any, of the voters opposed to the recount, respectively."  30-A ME Rev Stat § 2532.

Note that voters do not need to pay a deposit and are not charged for initiating recounts that are described in the close-vote-margin section above. 

Challengers and Observers : 

Statutes specify that recount must be public
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint challengers

Recounts are public proceedings although space may be limited. 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 502 § 2(2) & 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B(5).

Candidates may have their representatives or counsel inside the secure recount area.  The candidate's representatives conduct the counting for the recount. These representatives may also dispute the validity of particular ballots. Candidates and the public must remain outside the secure recount area. 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 502 § 2(5)(B), 30-A ME Rev Stat § 2531-B(11) and 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 502 § 3(1) & (6)

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Secretary of State or Election Board responsible for defining intent

The secretary is authorized to adopt rules for determining voter intent. 21-A ME Rev Stat § 696(6).  See 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 550 for rules for determining voter intent, and see 29-250 C.M.R. ch. 535(4)(2)(B) for skipped rankings for ranked choice voting.

State Has Audit Laws: 
No
Revision Notes: 

This information was revised 3/1/2020 using the Maine Revised Statutes (ME Rev Stat) including changes made through the First Regular Session of the 129th Maine Legislature and is current through October 1, 2019. The Code of Maine Rules (C.M.R.) was viewed on the website of the Department of the Secretary of State on 3/1/2020.