Missouri Recount Laws

This information was updated 8/4/2018.

Voting System Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method : 

Mix of hand count, retabulation and electronic review
Counting method chosen by election official

Instructions for the counting method to be used in  primary elections for court-ordered recounts and close-vote-margin recounts can be found in the Missouri Revised Statutes (MO Rev Stat), Title IX, “Suffrage and Elections,” Section 115.541. Instructions for the counting method to be used in court-ordered recounts and close-vote-margin recounts for general elections can be found in MO Rev Stat § 115.585.  These statutes allow the courts to order hand counts, retabulations or electronic reviews.

The counting instructions listed on pages 2-4 of the Official Recount Procedures and Timeline for the 2014 Constitutional Amendment provide details on how recounts are conducted on optical scan and DRE voting equipment.

Initiating Mechanisms: 

Close-vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated
Election official-initiated
Court-or
dered 

Election Official-Initiated Recounts:
Election authorities may petition the circuit court for a recount if they believe there to be “errors of omission or commission” that have occurred on the part of the election authority, election judges or any election personnel in the conduct of the election. MO Rev Stat § 115.600

Timing: We found no timing requirement in the Missouri statutes specific to recounts requested by election officials.

Court-Ordered Recounts: 
Voters and candidates may assert that “irregularities occurred in the election” and may challenge the “correctness of the returns” in any election by filing a petition in the appropriate court or legislative body. The court or legislative body will then hold hearings may order a recount. MO Rev Stat § 115.527, 115.537, 115.553, 115.565 & 115.583.

Timing: MO Rev Stat § 115.531, 115,557, 115.565, 115.577.

Close Vote Margin Options: 

Varies by election contest
Initiated by request

When a candidate filed or ballot question was filed with the county clerk or the county board of election commissioners, any contestant in a primary or other election contest, as well as any person whose position on a question was  defeated, “shall have a right to a recount” if the candidate or ballot question was defeated by less than one percent of the votes.  In cases where the candidate filed, or the ballot question was filed  with the secretary of state, the close-vote margin is 0.5%.  MO Rev Stat § 115.601(3)

Candidates and voters must first request or petition for a recount. Where the candidate filed or the ballot question was originally filed with the secretary of state, these recounts are initiated by filing a request with the secretary of state.  MO Rev Stat § 115.601(3).  Where the candidate filed or the ballot question was originally filed with other election authorities, these recounts are initiated by petition to the appropriate court.  MO Rev Stat § 115.601(2)

Timing:  MO Rev Stat § 115.601(2) & (3)

Candidate-Initiated Options : 

Contested election

Any candidate for election to any office may challenge the correctness of the returns for the office charging that irregularities occurred in the election.  MO Rev Stat § 115.553.  These election contests are initiated by petition to the appropriate court or legislative body (MO Rev Stat § 115.531, 115.555, 115.563, 115.565 and 115.575). If the court or legislative body hearing a contest finds there is sufficient evidence showing irregularities which would place the result of any contested election in doubt, the court or legislative body shall order a recount of all votes brought in question by the petition or its answer. MO Rev Stat § 115.583, & 115.539.

Timing: MO Rev Stat § 115.531 and 115.577.

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

The result of any election on any question may be contested by one or more registered voters from the area in which the election was held. MO Rev Stat § 115.553.  These contests are initiated by petition to the appropriate court (MO Rev Stat § 115.555 and 115.575). If the court hearing a contest finds there is a sufficient evidence showing irregularities which would place the result of any contested election in doubt, the court or legislative body shall order a recount of all votes brought in question by the petition or its answer. MO Rev Stat § 115.583.

Timing:  MO Rev Stat § 115.577, 115.557.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount. 

For recounts conducted at the order of the court during an election contest, contestants may be required to post a bond, and “the costs and expenses of any election contest, including the cost and expense of a recount, may be adjudged against the unsuccessful party.” MO Rev Stat § 115.547 and 115.591

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount

For recounts conducted at the order of the court during an election contest, contestants may be required to post a bond, and “the costs and expenses of any election contest, including the cost and expense of a recount, may be adjudged against the unsuccessful party.” MO Rev Stat § 115.547 and 115.591

Challengers and Observers : 

For close-vote-margin recounts initiated under MO Rev Stat § 115.601(3), "no one other than the secretary of state, the election authorities involved, the contestant and the other witnesses described in this subsection, their attorneys, and those specifically appointed by the secretary of state to assist with the recount shall be present during any recount...."  MO Rev Stat § 115.601(4)

For any recount ordered under MO Rev Stat § 115.539, 115.583 and 115.601(1) & (2), no one other than the election authority, representatives of the court or legislative body, the contestant and contestee, their attorneys, and those specifically appointed by the court or legislative body to assist with the recount shall be present during any recount. MO Rev Stat § 115.543 & 115.587.  

For all recounts, the the persons to assist with the recount are appointed equally from lists submitted by the contestant and contestee. MO Rev Stat § 115.543115.587 & 115.601.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

Statutory guidance on determining voter intent, and defining a valid vote, can be found in MO Rev Stat § 115.456.  Further guidance is provided in the Code of State Regulations, Title 15,  Division 30, Chapter 9, Uniform Counting Standards. 

State Has Audit Laws: 
Yes
Revision Notes: 

This information was updated 8/4/2018 using the 2017 Missouri Revised Statutes and the Missouri Code of State Regulations revised to 7/31/2018.