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How the Battlegrounds Recount How the Battlegrounds Recount

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Politics

How the Battlegrounds Recount

photo of Matt  Berman
October 29, 2012

Full election coverage

While Pres. Obama and Mitt Romney have fought over Bain Capital or the size of the Navy or 47%, a war over voting laws has taken place state to state. These state battles all lead up to an election day that is likely to be contested. The actors look very similar to past election day battles. Obama for America/DNC general counsel Robert Bauer and Romney atty. Ben Ginsburg have quietly played roles in this election and will likely be involved in whatever election day battles are to come. We'll be watching all the states election night and especially the battleground states for the possibility of a recount. Here's a guide to how battleground states each approach the possibility of a recount.

 

Ohio

Margin that triggers a recount

A recount in a statewide election is triggered if a candidate does not win the total vote by a margin of .25% or more. (Source)

 

Who recounts

Ballots are recounted by members of the board of elections (Source)

How they recount

Teams of election officials are equally divided between the two major parties. The board of elections will randomly select precincts whose vote totals for the race equal at least 5% of the total vote.

A hand count of the votes cast on optical scan paper ballots from the randomly selected precincts must be taken. The results of the electronic count and the tally from the hand count are then compared. If they are identical, each ballot from each precinct in which the candidate contest appears shall be run through the tabulator again using the electronic voting system. If the results are not identical after three rounds, all ballots shall be hand-tallied. (Source opens to PDF)

Recent Recount

There was a recount of the '04 presidential election in Ohio. The recount gave a similar margin of victory to George W. Bush as the initial vote, stripping him of only 300 votes (Salvato, New York Times, 12/29/04).

 

Florida

Margin that triggers a recount

A recount in a statewide election is triggered if a candidate does not win the total vote by a margin of over .5%. (Source, Stat 102.141(7))

A margin of .25% or less triggers a manual recount of over-votes and under-votes (below)

Who recounts

At least two members of the county canvassing board shall be present during all times a machine or manual recount is being conducted. The canvassing board may employ clerical help to assist with the work of the board as it deems necessary. (Source)

How they recount

Each canvassing board responsible for conducting a recount shall put each marksense (optical scan) ballot through automatic tabulating equipment and determine whether the returns correctly reflect the votes cast. Where touchscreen ballots were used, the canvasing board shall examine the counters on the precinct tabulators to ensure that the total of the returns on the tabulators equals the overall return. Counters on tabulators shall be presumed correct if there is a discrepancy. (Source)

If a candidate for any office is defeated by .25% of the vote or less, a manual recount of the over-votes and under-votes cast in the entire jurisdiction shall be ordered. This happens unless the total number of undervotes and overvotes is fewer than the number of votes needed to change the outcome of the election. (Source)

Recent recount

After three recounts, Palm Beach Co's canvassing board declared that challenger William Abramson had defeated Judge Richard Wennet by 61 votes in a race for judge. Abramson never got to take the bench, however. A complaint from Wennet about Abramson's courtroom behavior resulted in his law license being suspended.

 

Virginia

Margin that triggers a recount

If a candidate is defeated by 1% or less of the total vote, the candidate may appeal for a recount of the vote. (Source)

Who recounts

The court shall permit each candidate, or petitioner and governing body or chief exec officer, to select an equal number of the officers of election to be recount officials and to count ballots, or in the case of direct electronic voting devices to redetermine the vote. (Source)

How they recount

Votes cast on direct-recording electronic machines are reviewed by opening and examining printouts from the machines. For paper ballots, the recount officials shall hand count the ballots. (Source)

Recent recount

On 12/17/08,, VA officials ruled that now ex-Rep. Tom Perriello (D) had defeated ex-Rep. Virgil Goode (R) in a recount. Perriello initial lead of 745 votes decreased to 727 votes in the recount.

 

Colorado

Margin that triggers a recount

A recount of any election contest shall be held if the difference between the highest number of votes cast in that election contest and the next highest number of votes cast in that election contest is less than or equal to .5% of the highest vote cast in that election contest. (Source - 1-10.5-101 opens in PDF)

Who recounts

Secretary of state decides the method of recount (below)

How they recount

Before a recount, the canvass board randomly picks and tests voting devices used in the election. The board uses the selected voting devices to conduct a comparison with the machine ballot count. If the results of the comparison are not identical, the voter-verified paper records will be used in a final determination.

The Sec/State shall decide which method of recount is used in each case, subject to judicial review for abuse of discretion. (Source - 1-10/5-102)

 

Nevada

Margin that triggers a recount

Any defeated candidate may apply for a recount. The request is filed with the election official with whom they filed their declaration of candidacy. This process occurs once the vote is canvassed by the state Supreme Court. (Source)

Who recounts

The county clerk of each county affected by the recount shall employ a recount board to conduct the recount in the county, and shall act as chair of the recount board (Source).

How they recount

The person who demanded the recount shall select the ballots for the statewide office affected from 5% of the total number of precincts for that particular office or ballot question after notification to each candidate for the office or the candidate's representative. The Sec/State shall notify the county clerks of the 5% of statewide precincts selected by the person who demanded the recount to examine the ballots in accordance with the provisions of this section and to notify the Sec/State of the results of the recount in their respective precincts. If the separate examinations, when combined, show a total discrepancy equal to or greater than 1% for the candidate demanding the recount or the candidate who won the election, according to the original canvass of the returns, or in favor of or against a ballot question, according to the original canvass of the returns, the Sec/State shall determine whether the person who demanded the recount is entitled to a recount and, if so, shall order the county or city clerk, as applicable, to recount all the ballots for that office (Source).

Recent recount

North Las Vegas City Councilman Wade Wagner (R) won a recount on 7/22/11 in a 6/7 general election against Richard Cherchio (D). No votes were changed in the recount, where Wagner won by one vote.

 

Iowa

Margin that triggers a recount

Any candidate can request a recount (Source).

Who recounts

The recount is conducted by a board that consists of a designee of the candidate requesting the recount, a designee of the apparent winning candidate, a person chosen jointly by the candidates (Source).

How they recount

In each county, a three-person board (described above) determines whether ballots are counted by hand or re-tabulated.

Recent recount

On 11/26/11, a recount confirmed that Evansdale Mayor Chad Deutsch had won reelection by one vote, 368-367. The recount results were unchanged from the electronic voting machine results on election night. The recount board counted all ballots in the recount.

 

Wisconsin

Margin that triggers a recount

Any candidate may petition for a recount (Source).

Who recounts

Board of canvassers (Source)

How they recount

Initiators can petition for a hand recount. Otherwise, paper ballots are counted by hand and optical scan ballots are re-tabulated. WI's recount process is highly detailed and laid out here (Source).

Recent recount

State Sen. Van Wangaard (R) requested a recount on 6/15/12 in a recall election against Dem challenger John Lehman. Lehman won the initial vote by 834 votes. Wagner stopped the recall and conceded on 7/12/12.

 

New Hampshire

Margin that triggers a recount

Any candidate can petition for a recount as long as the margin of victory is less that 20% of the total votes cast. (NH Sec/State)

Who recounts

The Sec/State and such assistants that the secretary may require (NH Sec/State)

How they recount

The Sec/State or his or her assistants shall visually inspect each ballot. No mechanical, optical, or electronic device shall be used. (NH Sec/State)

Recent recount

In Jan. '08, a recount was conducted in the Dem presidential primary, after a request from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). 40% of the ballots in the primary were recounted, and little change was found - primary winner Hillary Clinton lost just 25 votes.

 

North Carolina

Margin that triggers a recount

Any candidate can demand a recount if the difference between the votes for that candidate and the winning candidate is not more than .5% of the total votes cast or 10,000 votes, whichever is less. (Source)

Who recounts

Precinct officials with supervision of board of election members (Source)

How they recount

In the first recount, all ballots originally counted by optical scan equipment are again counted by machine. Any ballots rejected by the machine are then counted by hand. Additionally, all ballots cast on direct record electronic and lever voting machines are retabulated. If the results of the election change at the end of the first recount, then the candidates have the right to request a second recount by hand. (Source opens to PDF)

Recent recount

In '10, now ex-Rep. Bob Etheridge (D) requested a recount when he lost the initial vote by 1,489 votes. Etheridge conceded to now Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) on 11/19/10 when the expected recount results came up short.

 

 

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