Oregon Recount Laws

This information was updated October 30, 2018.

Note: The website of the Oregon Secretary of State includes the elections statutes and allows one to link to individual chapters containing multiple statutes. The citations below will retrieve the entire text of the chapter. The Election Law of the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) election statutes is available here.

Voting System Used: 

Paper ballot (optical scanners, hand counted paper ballots, or a mix)

Oregon votes by mail. For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method : 

Hand count only

The counting board is to conduct the recount by hand. ORS 258.211.

Initiating Mechanisms: 

Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated
Election official-initiated

Election Official-Initiated Recounts:
County clerks may request recounts for offices and ballot measures. The costs of these recounts are paid by the requesting county.  For these recounts as well as all other requested recounts, with the exception of those requested for electors for president and vice-president, the initiator may specify either a full or a partial recount. ORS Section 258.161(3) & (9).  Unlike other recounts, where a full recount is required to change the results, partial recounts initiated by county clerks may determine the official results. ORS 258.171.

The Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of State may direct county elections officials to conduct a recount of an office or ballot measure or portions of the votes cast for an office or measure. These administrative recounts are only ordered when unanticipated circumstances at the election put the accuracy of the vote tally equipment used in the county in question. All recounts ordered by the Elections Divison under this rule are conducted by hand, are limited to no more than 1,000 ballots in any one county, and cannot be used to alter the official result of the election. County elections officers may on their own inititative choose to conduct administrative recounts. See the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 165-007-0270

Timing: ORS 258.161(8) & (9), 258.221(1) and OAR 165-077-0270.

Close Vote Margin Options: 

Less than or equal to 0.2%
Initiated automatically

A full recount is initiated automatically in the case of a tie or when the close vote margin between the apparent winning candidate and the next candidate “is not more than one-fifth of one percent of the total votes for both candidates.” ORS 258.280. This same margin is used for automatic recounts for ballot measures; however, if a ballot measure is required by state law to have at least 50 percent registered voters vote on it and it does not meet that requirement, an automatic recount will not be triggered. ORS 258.290.

Timing: ORS 258.300.

Candidate-Initiated Options : 

Party official may petition for candidate
Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount

Candidates or an officer of a political party may request a recount for a limited number of precincts (partial recount) or for all precincts (full recount). If the first request was a partial recount, the same person may file a supplemental request for a full recount. For a recount of the electors for president and vice president only a full recount may be requested.  No restrictions are listed regarding the type of election in which a recount may be requested or limiting the eligibility of certain offices for a recount. ORS 258.161(1), (4) and (9). Only a full recount is binding and can alter the official election results; partial recounts conducted at the request of a candidate cannot change the official election results. ORS 258.171.

Timing:  ORS 258.161 (8) & (9) and 258.221(1).

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters determine how many/which precincts to recount
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

Any elector may request a full or partial recount for any measure on the ballot. ORS 258.161(2) & (4).  A full recount must be requested in order for the recount to alter the official election results. ORS 258.171. If one elector requests only a partial recount, another elector may file a request for the remaining precincts to be counted to complete a full recount. ORS 258.181(4).

Timing: ORS 258.161(8) & (9) and 258.221(1).

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

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

The initiator must deposit a $15 per precinct fee, not to exceed $8000 total. However, if the actual cost of the recount exceeds the deposit and if the outcome of the election has not changed, the person who filed the request must pay the additional cost. ORS 258.161(5) and 258.250 (5). The deposit may be waived after the first demand recount if it appears that due to nondeliberate and material error by a local elections official or a county clerk, the outcome of the election will be changed. The county responsible for the error is then responsible for the cost of the recount. ORS 258.161(6).

If more than one recount occurs at the same time, the payment of the costs of the recount, where the same precinct or precincts are designated for recount by more than one person, shall be equitably apportioned among those persons. ORS 258.270. For full recounts only, the deposit is to be refunded if the outcome of the election is changed in favor of the initiator. ORS 258.250(1).

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

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

The initiator must deposit a $15 per precinct fee, not to exceed $8000 total. However, if the actual cost of the recount exceeds the deposit and if the outcome of the election has not changed, the person who filed the request must pay the additional cost.  ORS 258.161(5) and ORS 258.250 (5). The deposit may be waived after the first demand recount if it appears that due to nondeliberate and material error by a local elections official or a county clerk, the outcome of an election on a candidate or measure will be changed. The county responsible for the error is then responsible for the cost of the recount. ORS 258.161(6).

If more than one recount occurs at the same time, the payment of the costs of the recount, where the same precinct or precincts are designated for recount by more than one person shall be equitably apportioned among those persons. ORS 258.270. For full recounts only, the deposit is to be refunded if the outcome of the election is changed in favor of the initiator. ORS 258.250(1).

Challengers and Observers : 

Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers
No statutory guidance for recount challengers

For nominations and offices, an affected candidate or an elector authorized in writing by that candidate may observe the recount.  An elector authorized in writing representing each major or minor political party may also observe the recount.  For ballot measures, “one elector advocating and one elector opposing the measure” may observe the recount. ORS 258.211(2).  There are no statutes requiring the recount to be conducted publicly.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

Oregon provides basic guidance on voter intent stating that any “vote from which it is impossible to determine the elector’s choice for the office or measure may not be counted.” See ORS 254.505. See also the “Ballot Inspection Process” (pages 35+) of the Vote by Mail Procedures Manual

State Has Audit Laws: 
Yes
Revision Notes: 

This information was updated 10/30/2018 using the Oregon Revised Statutes (2017) and the Oregon Administative Rules.