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An election recount is a repeat tabulation of votes cast in an election that is used to determine the correctness of an initial count. Recounts will often take place if the initial vote tally during an election is extremely close. Election recounts will often result in changes in contest tallies. Errors can be found or introduced from human factors, such as transcription errors, or machine errors, such as misreads of paper ballots.

Australia

Australian elections use instant-runoff voting and single transferable vote at the federal level to determine representatives for the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively. Tabulating votes for both houses involves automatic recounts known as "fresh scrutiny." For the House, this process occurs the Monday after a general election.[1] The process in the Senate occurs shortly after the election, but only first preferences are recounted. A voter's full preferences for the Senate are not counted until after fresh scrutiny occurs.[2] Candidates for either house may also request recounts, though such a request may be refused by the Electoral Commission.[3]

Similar processes occur at the state and territorial level.[4] As in federal elections, candidates may request recounts subject to the discretion of electoral authorities.[5]

Canada

Recounts in Canadian elections are known as "judicial recounts" because a superior court judge oversees them. In federal elections, tied elections or races with a difference of .001% result in automatic recounts. Electors (including candidates) may also petition for recounts within four days of the final vote count under certain conditions.[6] Each province and territory has its own regulations regarding provincial or territorial elections.

Rules for election recounts in Canadian provinces and territories
Province/Territory Automatic Requested
 Alberta None Available within eight days of the final tally[7]
 British Columbia When difference is less than 1/500[8] Available[8]
 Manitoba When difference is less than 50 votes[9] Available[9]
 New Brunswick None Available within four days of the final tally[10]
 Newfoundland and Labrador When tied[11] Available[11]
 Northwest Territories When difference is less than 2%[12] Available[12]
 Nova Scotia When difference is less than 10 votes[13] Available within four days of the final tally[13]
 Nunavut When difference is less than 2%[14] Available within eight days of the final tally[15]
 Ontario When difference is less than 25 votes[16] Available[16]
 Prince Edward Island When difference is less than 10 votes (or 15 votes at the request of a candidate)[17] Available[17]
 Quebec None Available, if difference is less than 0.001%[18]
 Saskatchewan When difference is less than the number of unopened ballots[19] Available within ten days of the final tally[19]
 Yukon When difference is less than 10 votes[20] Available within six days of the final tally[20]

Ireland

In Irish presidential elections, recounts occur only at the approval of the High Court. Candidates or the Director of Public Prosecutions may petition for a recount within seven days of the election. In the event of a recount, the High Court's decision is final.[21] An identical process is available for elections to the Oireachtas.[22]

New Zealand

New Zealand uses a mixed-member proportional representation system for elections to its Parliament. As in Australia, an official count takes place shortly after the election day involving a recount of all of the ballots in electorates. Judicial recounts are also available in electorate and party list races.[23] No threshold is needed for a recount to occur.[24]

United States

In the United States recounts rarely reverse election results. Of the 4,687 statewide general elections held from 2000 to 2015, 27 were followed by a recount, and only three resulted in a change of outcome from the original count: 2004 Washington gubernatorial election, 2006 Vermont Auditor of Accounts election, and 2008 United States Senate election in Minnesota.[25] Recounts are conducted at the state level rather than the federal level, even for federal offices.

Recount methods

Recounting optical-scan ballots by hand in the United States Senate election in Minnesota, 2008.

Machine recount

A machine recount is a retabulation of ballots cast during the election. This can be done using an optical scan voting system, punched card system or direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine. With document-based Ballot Voting Systems, ballots are counted a second time by some form of machine. With Non-document-based Ballot Voting Systems officials will recollect vote data from each voting machine which will be combined by a central tabulation system.

Manual recount

A manual or "hand" recount involves each individual physical representation of voter intent being reviewed for voter intent by one or more individuals.

With DRE voting machines, a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is examined from each voter. For some DREs that do not generate a VVPAT, images can be printed for each ballot cast and counted individually.[clarification needed]

Legal requirements

Recounts can be mandatory or optional. In some jurisdictions, recounts are mandatory in the event the difference between the top two candidates is less than a percentage of votes cast or of a fixed number.[26] Mandatory recounts are paid for by the elections official, or the state. Mandatory recounts can usually be waived by the apparent losing candidate. The winning side will usually encourage the loser to waive the recount in a show of unity and to avoid spending taxpayer money.

Each jurisdiction has different criteria for optional recounts. Some areas permit recounts for any office or measure, while others require that the margin of victory be less than a certain percentage before a recount is allowed. In all instances, optional recounts are paid for by the candidate, their political party, or, in some instances, by any interested voter. The person paying for the recount has the option to stop the recount at any time. If the recount reverses the election, the jurisdiction will then pay for the recount.

Rules for election recounts in U.S. states
State Automatic Requested
 Alabama When difference is less than 0.5% Available to both candidates and voters; an election contest must be filed if the recount changes the result
 Alaska When tied Available to both candidates and voters
 Arizona When difference is less than 0.1%[27] Not available[27]
 Arkansas None Available; the election commission may also initiate a recount
 California None Available to voters; the governor may initiate a recount if difference is less than 1,000 votes or 0.1%
 Colorado When difference is less than 0.5% Available
 Connecticut When difference is less than 20 votes OR less than 2000 votes when said difference is less than 0.5% Available; election officials may initiate recounts
 Delaware When difference is less than 1,000 votes OR less than 0.5% (whichever is smaller) (municipal elections - only if difference is less than 0.5%) Available, if difference is less than 1,000 votes OR less than 0.5% (whichever is smaller); voters can initiate in school board elections only
 Florida When difference is less than 0.5% Available
 Georgia None[27] Available, if difference is less than 0.5%[27]
 Hawaii None Available through the Supreme Court
 Idaho None Available, if difference is less than 0.1% or 5 votes (whichever is larger)
 Illinois None Available, if difference is less than 5% (non-binding unless court-ordered); voters can initiate on ballot measures only
 Indiana None Available
 Iowa None Available, if difference is less than 1% or 50 votes (whichever is larger)
 Kansas None Available, if difference is less than 0.5%
 Kentucky None Available, unless an election for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or General Assembly member
 Louisiana None Available, if difference is less than the total number of absentee and early ballots
 Maine None Available, if difference is less than 1.5% (legislative races) OR less than 1% OR 1,000 votes (whichever is smaller) (statewide races)
 Maryland None Available, if difference is less than 0.1%
 Massachusetts None Available, if difference is less than 0.5%
 Michigan When difference is less than 2000 votes[27] Available[27]
 Minnesota None Available, if difference is less than 0.25% (federal, statewide, and judicial races) OR less than 0.5% (legislative races) OR less than 10 votes (when total number is less than 400 votes)
 Mississippi None Not available
 Missouri None Available, if difference is less than 0.5% (state and federal races) OR less than 1% (local races)
 Montana When tied Available, if difference less than 0.25%; state pays costs
 Nebraska When difference is less than 1% (if more than 500 total votes) OR less than 2% (if 500 total votes or less) Available
 Nevada None[27] Available[27]
 New Hampshire None Available, if difference is less than 20%
 New Jersey None Available
 New Mexico When difference is less than 0.25% (federal and statewide races) OR less than 0.5% (judicial races and certain local races) OR less than 1% (all other races) Available (voters may initiate only under the Liquor Control Act)
 New York When difference is less than 20 votes OR less than 0.5% OR less than 5,000 votes (if more than 1 million votes) Available for local races only
 North Carolina None Available, if difference is less than 0.5% OR less than 10,000 votes (whichever is less) (statewide races) OR less than 1% (all other races)
 North Dakota When difference is less than 1% (primaries) OR less than 0.5% (general elections) Available, if difference is less than 2%
 Ohio When difference is less than 0.25% (statewide races) OR less than 0.5% (all other races) Available
 Oklahoma None Available
 Oregon When difference is less than 0.2% Available
 Pennsylvania When difference is less than 0.5%[27] Available[27]
 Rhode Island None Available (margin dependent on total number of votes cast)[28]
 South Carolina When difference is less than 1% Not available
 South Dakota When tied Available, if difference is less than 0.25% (statewide races) OR less than 2% (all other races)
 Tennessee None Available by court order only
 Texas When tied Available, if difference is less than 10%
 Utah None Available, if difference less than 0.25% OR if difference is only one (when <400 total votes were cast)
 Vermont When tied Available, if difference is less than 2% OR less than 5% (municipal and state representative races)
 Virginia None Available, if difference is less than 1%; if difference is less than 0.5%, state pays costs
 Washington When difference is less than 2,000 votes OR less than 0.5% Available
 West Virginia None Available
 Wisconsin None[27] Available; if difference is less than 0.25%, state pays costs[27]
 Wyoming When difference is less than 1% Available

Source: [29]

Notable recounts

United Kingdom

More than one recount is allowed if a candidate or their agent requests one and the returning officer deems it appropriate.[33] It is possible for a defeated candidate denied a recount by the Returning Officer, to request one from the court by means of an election petition. There are several cases where a Parliamentary election has been the subject of a court-ordered recount.

See also

References

  1. ^ Australian Electoral Commission (August 25, 2021). "House of Representatives count". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  2. ^ Australian Electoral Commission (August 25, 2021). "The Senate counting process". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  3. ^ Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) s 278 and 279
  4. ^ Elections ACT (July 30, 2020). "Scanning of ballot papers". Elections ACT. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  5. ^ Electoral Act 1992 (ACT) s 187A
  6. ^ Elections Canada (August 2019). "Results, Validation, Recounts, and Contested Elections: What Happens After Voting in a Federal Election". Elections Canada. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  7. ^ Election Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. E-1, s. 144
  8. ^ a b Elections BC (2022). "Glossary of Provincial Elections". Elections BC. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Elections Act, C.C.S.M. 2006, c. E30, s. 165
  10. ^ Elections NB. "Prospective Candidates Information". Elections NB. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  11. ^ a b Elections Act, 1991, SNL 1992, c. E-3.1, s. 157, 165
  12. ^ a b Elections and Plebiscites Act, SNWT 2006, c. 15, Div. F
  13. ^ a b Elections Nova Scotia Candidates’ Handbook (non-financial) (PDF). Halifax: Chief Electoral Officer. June 2021. p. 38.
  14. ^ Guide for Candidates To elect Members of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly (PDF). Rankin Inlet: Elections Nunavut. 2021. p. 29.
  15. ^ Nunavut Elections Act, C.S.Nu. 2003, c. N-60, s. 141
  16. ^ a b Candidate's Guide (PDF). Toronto: Elections Ontario. 2021. p. 16.
  17. ^ a b "Election Act". Act of 2022 (PDF). Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly. pp. 56–57.
  18. ^ Election Act, R.S.Q. 2022, c. E-3.3, Div. V
  19. ^ a b Elections Act, S.S. 1996, c. E-6.01, s. 155, 156
  20. ^ a b Elections Act, RSY 2002, c. 63, s. 280, 286
  21. ^ Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (January 29, 2016). How the President is Elected (PDF). Dublin: Government of Ireland. pp. 10–11.
  22. ^ Electoral Act 1923, 3rd Sch.: Proportional Representation Election Rules (No. 12 of 1923, 3rd Sch.). Act of the Oireachtas. Irish Statute Book.
  23. ^ Scrutineer Handbook - By-Elections (PDF). Wellington: New Zealand Electoral Commission. 2022. pp. 11–12.
  24. ^ "Electoral Act". Section 180, Act No. 87 of 1993. New Zealand Parliament.
  25. ^ Bialik, Carl (2016-11-27). "Recounts Rarely Reverse Election Results". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  26. ^ "Automatic Recounts". National Conference of State Legislatures. October 26, 2016. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Recounts: What are the rules in key contested states?". www.aljazeera.com.
  28. ^ Rhode Island Board of Elections (2020). Guide to Election Recounts (PDF). Cranston: Rhode Island Board of Elections. p. 3.
  29. ^ "State Recount Laws Searchable Database". Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota. Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  30. ^ Vozzella, Laura (November 25, 2013). "Herring wins Virginia attorney general race, elections board announces" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
  31. ^ See http://www.gregpalast.com/ for an investigative journalist's report of what the "recount" uncovered.
  32. ^ "Clinton campaign counsel: We'll participate in recount". www.msn.com. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  33. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-12-04. Retrieved 2019-11-15.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)