Election Laws


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Section 17-16-20

Recounts generally.

(a) When, in a general election, the election returns for any public office, including a judicial office, reflect that a candidate is defeated or any ballot statewide measure is defeated by not more than one half of one percent of the votes cast for the office, or the ballot measure, as certified by the appropriate election officer, a recount shall be held unless the defeated candidate submits a written waiver for the recount as provided herein:

(1) In the case of an election for any federal, state, circuit, or district office, or the state Senate, state House of Representatives, or any other office that is not a county office, a written waiver for a recount may be submitted to the Secretary of State within 24 hours after the certification of the results of the election. Upon receipt of the waiver, the Secretary of State shall immediately order the recount to be cancelled.

(2) In the case of an election for any county office, a written waiver for a recount may be submitted to the judge of probate within 24 hours after the certification of the results of the election. Upon receipt of the waiver, the judge of probate shall immediately order the recount to be cancelled.

(b) Any recount held pursuant to subsection (a) shall be commenced within 72 hours after certification of the results of a county election by the county canvassing board and within 72 hours after certification of the results of a state election by the state canvassing board.

(c) The canvassing board shall obtain the polling officials necessary to conduct the recount as required by this section to perform a recount of the vote. The polling officials shall be compensated in the same manner and at the same rate as provided by law for vote tabulation activities in an election that does not result in a recount.

(d) The expenses of a recount conducted pursuant to subsection (a) shall be a state charge if the recount is held for an election for a federal, state, circuit, or district office, or the state Senate, state House of Representatives, or any other office that is not a county office. The expenses of a recount conducted pursuant to subsection (a) shall be a county charge if the recount is held for an election for county office.

(e) If a recount is conducted pursuant to subsection (a), the appropriate canvassing board or authority shall amend the initial certification of the election to reflect the results of the recount. The results of the recount shall be posted as the initial count and transmitted to the Secretary of State within 24 hours.

(f) If a recount is conducted pursuant to subsection (a), the time limit for contesting the election shall be suspended until the vote is recertified, reflecting the results of the recount.

(g) Costs shall be kept to a minimum by using county personnel or volunteer workers whenever possible. The recount shall be conducted under the supervision of a trained and certified poll official. Representatives of opposing interests shall be given at least 24 hours' notice and shall be invited to participate in the recount.

(h) The recount shall be conducted as simply as the type of equipment and local conditions permit provided that the following minimum safeguards are observed. The voted ballot container or envelope holding the ballots shall be delivered unopened, and still sealed in the original container, to the inspector in charge of the recount. A representative of the authority having custody of the ballots shall be present during the recount. The recount shall consist of reading the ballots through the counter. Any ballot that was counted in the original election, but is rejected by the counter in the recount, shall be counted by hand. Representatives of opposing interests may participate in the hand recount, and any unresolved disputes over the interpretation of the intent of the voter may be appealed to the canvassing board.

(i) When the recount has been completed, the ballots shall be returned to their container along with a printout of the recount results. The ballot container shall be sealed and signed by the inspector conducting the recount and by the representative of the authority having custody of the ballots.

(j) If the results of a recount conducted under subsection (a) name as a winner a person other than the person initially certified, the outcome shall constitute grounds for an election contest as now prescribed by law.

(Act 2003-339, p. 846, §1; §17-13-12; amended and renumbered by Act 2006-570, p. 1331, §80.)
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