New Hampshire Recount Laws

This information was initially released on October 21, 2010 and updated in October 2012.

Voting System Used: 

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

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method: 

Recount only

Allrecounts in New Hampshire must be conducted by hand. Each of the following sections states, for the recount of the election contest in question, that “No mechanical, optical, or electronic device shall be used for the counting of ballots.” See the New Hampshire Election Laws: Section 660:5, “Conduct of Recount”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-5.htm Section 660:8, “Notice of Conduct”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-8.htm Section 660:11, “Conduct”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-11.htm Section 660:12, “County Referendum”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-12.htm Section 660:14, “Conduct”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-14.htm Section 669:32, “Board of Recount”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/669/669-32.htm.

Initiating Mechanism: 

Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

Candidate-Initiated Options: 

Close vote margin required

There are numerous sections of law pertaining to candidate recounts in New Hampshire's statutes, one each for state general elections, state and presidential primaries, town, school district, and village district elections. Recounts for the latter three all abide by the statutes for recounts established for towns, differing only in the makeup of the recount board and the overseeing election official. State recounts, however, follow a separate set of statutes. See the New Hampshire Election Laws: Chapter 660, “Post-Election Procedure: State General Election Recounts”: http://sos.nh.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=25707, Section 660:7: “State or Presidential Primary Recounts, Application”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-7.htm Chapter 669, Town Elections, Section 669:30, “Recounts”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/669/669-30.htm Chapter 670, Village District Elections, Section 670:11, “Recounts”: http://sos.nh.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=12398. Chapter 671, School District Elections, Section 671:32, “Recount; Tie Vote”:http://sos.nh.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=25705.

Any candidate receiving votes in a state general election may apply for a recount. However, there is a close vote margin requirement: “the difference between the votes cast for the applying candidate and a candidate declared elected” must be “less than 20 percent of the total votes cast in the towns which comprise the office to be recounted.” See Section 660:1, “Application”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-1.htm. The same close vote margin requirement applies to candidates seeking a recount for state primaries.

For presidential primaries, however, a candidate must have received at least nine percent of the votes cast in their party's primary in order to be eligible for a recount. See Section 660:7. There is no close vote margin requirement for town elections (and hence also for school district and village district elections). Any candidate for whom votes were cast in the election may request a recount. See Section 669:30. For statewide elections, while any candidate may apply for a recount, only one recount for a given office may take place; a second candidate may not request a second recount of the same ballots for that office. See Section 660:3, “Number of Recounts”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-3.htm.

Timing: For both state and town elections, candidates must file for a recount no later than 5 p.m on the Friday following the election. For state elections, the Secretary of State is required to begin the recount on the Wednesday following the Friday application deadline. There is no deadline for completing the recount, however. See Section 660:4, “Time and Notice”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-4.htm. The same timing requirements apply for state and presidential primaries. See Section 660:8, “Notice of Conduct”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-8.htm.

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

As for candidate recounts, there are separate sets of statutes governing the different initiatives for which voters may request recounts. See Chapter 660, “Post-Election Procedure” Section 660:10, “Constitutional Amendments Recount: Application”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-10.htm Section 660:12, “County Referendum”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-12.htm Section 660:13, “Local Questions Recounts: Application”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-13.htm While recounts for state constitutional amendments require a petition from at least 100 voters, recounts for county referendum requires only 50 voters, and local questions only five voters.

Timing: Requests for recounts must be received by the fourth Friday following the election on constitutional amendments, and by the second Friday following the election for county referendum and local questions.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

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

For state general elections, and state and presidential primaries, the cost paid by the initiator varies both by office and by the vote margin; the cost increases as the vote margin increases. See Section 660:2, “Fees”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-2.htm. For state elections and primaries, the cost of the recount is refunded to the candidate if the recount shows them to be the actual winner. A refund is also made if the recount shows them to have lost by a margin of less than one percent. See Section 660:6, “Declaration, Certificate”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-6.htm, and Section 660:9, “Declaration of Result, State Primary”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-9.htm. For presidential primaries, the fees paid for the recount are refunded to the candidate if the recount shows them to be eligible for federal election funding. See Section 660:9-a:, “Declaration of Result, Presidential Primary”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/660/660-9-a.htm. The cost paid by the initiator for town, school district, and village district elections is uniform for all offices, but varies by the vote margin; again, the cost increases as the vote margin increases. A partial refund of fees is paid if the initiator is found to have lost by a margin of less than one percent, and a full refund of all fees is paid if they are found to be the actual winner of the election. See Section 669:31, “Notice; Fee”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/669/669-31.htm.

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

Paid entirely by state or county (constitutional amendments)
Initiator pays set or per jurisdiction fee (town and county)

There does not appear to be a fee for recounts on state constitutional amendments. For county referendum, the cost is a flat $25. For recounts on local questions, the cost is $10 for each 1,000 ballots, not to exceed $50. See Sections 660:10, 660:12, and 660:13.

Challengers and Observers: 

Statutes specify that recount must be public
No statutory guidance for recount observers
Pary/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint challengers

Section 659:63, “Counting to be Public,” states that the counting of votes shall be public. While it does not explicitly mention recounts, as recounts clearly include counting of ballots, presumably this statute extends to recounts in addition to the initial counting process. See: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/659/659-63.htm. While there is no statutory authority regarding initiator-appointed observers or challengers, the Secretary of State's Elections Procedure Manual does state that initiators are allowed challengers during recounts, one for each two-person counting team. (However, the manual uses the word “observer” to describe a challenger.) There is no mention made of challengers for recounts initiated by voters. See “Recount Procedures,” pages 151-153: http://nhvotes.sos.nh.gov/file.php/1/EPM-5-NHVotes_Online08-09.pdf.

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

New Hampshire's statutes do not provide exact guidelines for interpreting voter marks but do provide instructions for resolving disputes between election officers over how a given ballot should be counted through a majority vote. See Section 659:64, “Determining Intention of Voter”: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/659/659-64.htm. The Secretary of State's Elections Procedure Manual also contains further description of valid voter marks. See “Valid Voting Marks,” on page 36: http://nhvotes.sos.nh.gov/file.php/1/EPM-5-NHVotes_Online08-09.pdf.

Audit Laws: 

State does not have audit laws

As of our most recent update (October 2012), New Hampshire does not have audit laws.