New Hampshire Recount Laws
This information was updated 1/21/2020.
All of the statute citations refer to the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA), Title LXIII, Elections.
Paper ballot (optical scanners, hand counted paper ballots, or a mix)
For more details, visit Verified Voting.
Hand count only
Recounts in New Hampshire must be conducted by hand. All of the relevant statutes provide that “No mechanical, optical, or electronic device shall be used for the counting of ballots.” See the provisions governing general elections (RSA § 660:5), state and presidential primaries (RSA § 660:8), constitutional amendments (RSA § 660:11), county referendums (RSA § 660:12), local questions recounts ( RSA § 660:14), and board of recount procedures (RSA § 669:32). Moderators may choose the system of hand counting to be used and supervise the counting (RSA § 659:60) . Procedures for the hand recounting of ballots are described in detail in Chapter XXI (p. 248+) of the New Hampshire Election Procedure Manual: 2018-2019.
Close vote margin required
Any candidate receiving votes in a state general election may apply for a recount. However, there is a close vote margin requirement: “the difference between the votes cast for the applying candidate and a candidate declared elected” must be “less than 20 percent of the total votes cast in the towns which comprise the office to be recounted.” RSA § 660:1. If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the recount is binding, unless this outcome is challenged and changed as of a result of an appeal. RSA § 660.3 & 660.6.
For presidential primaries, “Any person receiving at least 9 percent of the votes…may apply for a recount.” RSA § 660:7(II). If the recount changes the outcome of the election of delegates, the outcome is binding unless changed as of a result of an appeal. RSA § 660:9-a.
For state primaries, “Any person for whom a vote was cast for any nomination of any party at a state primary may apply for a recount, provided that the difference between the votes cast for the applying candidate and a candidate of that party declared nominated is less than 10 votes or less than 1.5 percent of the total ballots cast in the primary for that party in the towns which comprise the office to be recounted.” RSA § 660:7(I). If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the result of the recount is binding unless changed as of a result of an appeal. RSA § 660:9.
General procedures for conducting recounts in village district elections are referenced in RSA § 670:11; for town elections, see RSA § 669:30-36; for school district elections, see RSA § 671:32. Note that there is no close vote margin requirement for school district, village district and town elections, and recounts for all types of local elections are generally governed by one set of provisions.
Timing: For state general elections see RSA § 660.1 & 660:4. For state and presidential primaries, see RSA § 660.7 & 660:8. For town elections, see RSA § 669:30 & 669.31. For village elections, see RSA § 670:11. For school district elections, see RSA § 671:32.
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions
Close vote margin required (for constitutional amendments)
Any question to amend the constitution shall be recounted upon the receipt of petitions of 100 voters and provided that the proposal was adopted or failed by no more than one percent of the vote cast. RSA § 660:10.
County referendums do not have a close vote margin requirement but do require a written petition signed by at least 50 voters. RSA § 660:12.
Local questions do not have a close vote requirement but do require 5 voters to petition for the recount. RSA § 660.13.
Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee
Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount
For state general elections, the cost paid by the initiator varies by office and by vote margin; the cost increases as the vote margin increases. RSA § 660:2. The cost of the recount is refunded to the person applying for the recount if the recount shows them to be the actual winner. A partial refund of fees may be available if the recount shows the inititator lost by a margin of less than one percent. RSA § 660:6.
For state and presidential primaries, the cost is paid by the initiator and varies by office and vote margin, and the fee schedule in RSA § 660:2 is applied. RSA § 660:7. The cost of the recount is refunded to the person applying for the recount if the recount shows them to be the actual winner, or to be qualified to receive at least one more delegate, or to be entitled to federal funding. RSA § 660:9 and RSA § 660:9-a.
The cost paid by the petitioner for town, school district, and village district elections is uniform for all offices, but varies by the vote margin; the cost increases as the vote margin increases. A partial refund of fees may be available if the petitioner is found to have lost by a margin of less than one percent, and a full refund of all fees is paid if they are found to be the actual winner of the election. RSA § 669:31.
Paid entirely by state or county (for constitutional amendments)
Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee (town and county)
There is no fee for recounts on state constitutional amendments that pass or fail by no more than one percent of the votes cast. For county referendums, the cost is a flat $25. For recounts on local questions, the cost is $10 for each 1,000 ballots or fraction thereof cast in the town, not to exceed $50. RSA § 660:10, 660:12, and 660:13. If the recount changes the outcome of the ballot measure, there is no fee rembursement for voter initiated recounts.
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
RSA § 660:5 states that for state general election recounts the ballots shall be recounted at a “public facility.” RSA § 660:11 and 660:14 state that for constitutional amendments and local question recounts the “ballots shall be open to the inspection of the petitioners…and other interested persons under such suitable rules as the secretary of state may prescribe.”
For state general election recounts the “candidates, their counsel, and assistants shall have the right to inspect the ballots and participate in the recount under such suitable rules as the secretary of state may adopt.” Furthermore, each candidate or his or her counsel or designee “shall have the right to protest the counting of or failure to count any ballot.” RSA § 660:5.
Statutory guidance provided
The New Hampshire Election Procedure Manual: 2018-2019 (pp.66-70) contains a description of valid voter marks. Instructions for resolving disputes between election officers over how a given ballot should be counted are found in RSA § 659:64.
This information was updated 1/21/2020 using the New Hampshire Revised Statutes including all changes and updates made up to October 2019.