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The Recount Rules Guide for 2014

recount rules
recount rules

After the polls close Tuesday, it’s likely at least a handful of House and Senate races will be too close to call .  

What would happen next for these tight contests? In most cases, once all the votes are collected and counted, it’s a pesky procedure that keeps candidates and canvassers up at night for days or weeks: the recount.  

Recount laws vary by state, so we’ve rounded up what triggers one and any notable fine print in states with anticipated close contests.  

Sen. Mark Begich (D) vs. Dan Sullivan (R)
Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Rating: Tilts Republican
Trigger: Only an exact tie triggers a recount in the El Dorado of the North. But if the race does not end in a tie, a losing candidate or 10 qualified voters can still request a recount.

Fine Print:  In a statewide election, the recount requestor must deposit $15,000 with the recount application, unless the margin is less than 0.5 percent, at which point the state covers the cost. The deposit is refunded if the recount changes the election results.  


1st District: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) vs. state Speaker Andy Tobin (R)
Race Rating: Tossup
2nd District: Rep. Ron Barber (D) vs. retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally (R)
Race Rating: Tossup
Trigger: An automatic recount occurs when, after results are verified, the margin is less than or equal to 0.1 percent of votes cast.  

Fine Print:
The state government is responsible for paying for the recount. A candidate cannot request a recount.  

7th District: Rep. Ami Bera (D) vs. former Rep. Doug Ose (R)
Race Rating: Tossup
Trigger: There is no mechanism for an automatic recount. But a voter can request a recount, thus a candidate can request one if he or she is a registered voter in the district.  

Fine Print:
The voter who requests the recount is responsible for paying a deposit on the estimated cost of counting the votes again and foots the bill for the recount if the outcome does not change.  

Sen. Mark Udall (D) vs. Rep. Cory Gardner (R)
Race Rating: Tilts Republican 6th District: Rep. Mike Coffman (R) vs. former state Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D)
Race Rating: Tilts Republican .  

Trigger: A margin of 0.5 percent or less triggers an automatic recount. A candidate can also request a recount at any margin.  

Fine Print: A candidate must pay for the cost of the recount unless the recount changes the results.  

Senate: David Perdue (R) vs. Michelle Nunn (D)
Race Rating: Tossup
Trigger: There is no provision for an automatic recount, but there are avenues where votes can be recounted before and after the results are certified. Before certification the superintendent of elections, a candidate, or political party can request a recount in certain precincts if there appears to be an error. After certification, a losing candidate can request a recount if the margin is equal to or less than 1 percent of total votes cast.  

Fine Print: The losing candidate must request a recount within two business days after the results are certified. Georgia election code does not indicate who is responsible for the cost of a recount, and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office did not respond to inquiries regarding who would pay.  

10th District: Rep. Brad Schneider (D) vs. former Rep. Bob Dold (R)
Race Rating: Tossup
Trigger: There are no automatic recounts in Illinois, but a losing candidate can ask for a discovery recount if the margin is within 5 percent. 

Fine Print:
The discovery recount only involves 25 percent of the precincts and is non-binding, meaning the result will not officially change if the recount shows the losing candidate actually won. The only avenue to change a result is by filing an election contest through the court system. The discovery recount results can be used as evidence in the case. The candidate who requests a discovery recount pays a fee of $10 per precinct.  

Senate: Rep. Bruce Braley (D) vs. state Sen. Joni Ernst (R)
Race Rating: Tossup 1st District: state Rep. Pat Murphy (D) vs. businessman Rod Blum (R)
Race Rating: Tossup 3rd District: former Capitol Hill aide David Young (R) vs. state Sen. Staci Appel (D)
Race Rating: Tossup
Trigger: Any candidate can request a recount in Iowa. There are no provisions for an automatic recount in the event of a close race.  

Fine Print:
The candidate requesting the recount must pay a fee for the recount unless the margin is less than 1 percent.  

Sen. Pat Roberts (R) vs. businessman Greg Orman (I)
Race Rating: Tossup
Trigger: There is no trigger for an automatic recount in the Sunflower State. But the board of canvassers, a candidate or a voter can request a recount.  

Fine Print:  The recount requestor pays a fee for the recount in a general election unless the margin is 0.5 percent.  

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D) vs. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R)
Race Rating: Tilts Republican
Trigger: There is no automatic trigger for a recount. A candidate can request a recount of early and absentee ballots if those ballots could change the final result, and the candidate is responsible for the cost.  

Fine Print:  A full recount of every ballot is only possible if a losing candidate or a voter contests the election results in court and a judge orders that the votes be recounted.  

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) vs. former Sen. Scott P. Brown (R)
Race Rating: Tilts Democratic

1st District: Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) vs. former Rep. Frank Guinta (R)
Tilts Democratic
Trigger: For statewide general elections, a losing candidate can request a recount if the margin is less than 20 percent of the total votes cast.  

Fine Print:  The candidate must pay $500 for the recount and apply no later than the Friday after the general election.  

1st District: Rep. Timothy H. Bishop (D) vs. state Sen. Lee Zeldin (R)
Race Rating: Tossup
Trigger:  There are no official provisions for an election recount in the Empire State. A candidate can ask the courts to intervene during the initial certification process if the race is close, allowing a bipartisan review board can supervise the process.  

Fine Print:
Intervening in the initial counting process with bipartisan oversight could significantly slow down the process, meaning the counting could take months. Each county board of election incurs the cost of the extended counting process.  

Senate: Sen. Kay Hagan (D) vs. state Speaker Thom Tillis
Race Rating: Tossup
Trigger: The State Board of Elections can order a recount if a recount is necessary to complete canvassing. In a statewide election, a candidate can request a recount if the margin between the two candidates is 0.5 percent or 10,000 votes, whichever is less.  

Fine Print:
If the recount does not change the results of the original count, the candidate can file for a second recount within 24 hours.  



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