Ohio Recount Laws

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

Voting System Used: 

Mixed paper ballot and DREs with VVPAT

For direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines with a voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), the VVPAT serves as the official ballot to be used in recounts. See the Ohio Revised Code, Title 35, “Elections,” Section 3506.18: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3506.18. For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method: 

Required hand count of a sample of ballots in addition to other counting methods
Mix of recount and retabulation

Election officials are required to randomly select precincts whose votes together equal 5% of the total votes cast for the office. In these precincts, a hand count of all ballots is compared to the electronic summary of the initial election results. If the hand count and electronic summary match, ballots initially tabulated by optical scanner are to be retabulated only. If there is a difference between the hand count and the electronic summary, election officials must complete a longer verification process to determine the source of this difference. If the difference persists, both paper ballots and VVPATs are to be recounted by hand. See the Ohio Secretary of State's instructions on recount procedures for details on this process found here: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/elections/directives/2012/Dir2012-11.pdf

Initiating Mechanism: 

Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

See the Ohio Revised Code, Section 3515.01, “Eligibility for Recount”: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.01, and Section 3515.011, "Recounts ordered by board": http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.011.

Close Vote Margin: 

Less than or equal to .5%
Less than or equal to .25%
Varies by election contest

For county, municipal, or district elections, both primary and general, a recount is automatically initiated when the vote margin between the apparent winning candidate and the next leading candidate is less than 0.5% of the total vote. For state-wide elections, this margin must be less than 0.25%. See Section 3515.011: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.011. Details on calculating the close vote margin can also be found in Directive 2012-11, Section II, “Automatic Recount”: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/elections/directives/2012/Dir2012-11.pdf . Timing: Recounts are to begin not more than ten days after the appropriate county canvassing board or Secretary of State declares that the initial results are within the designated close vote margin. See Section 3515.03, “Contents of application for recount,” Paragraph 2: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.03. Separate timing requirements are set out for recounting votes for presidential electors, to comply with federal law. See Section 3515.041, “Recount for presidential electors”: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.041.

Candidate-Initiated Options: 

Candidate determines how many/which precincts to recount

Any candidate who received votes in a general, special, or primary election but was not declared the winner or nominee may request a recount, for any or all of the precincts in which their office was voted upon. See Section 3515.01: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.01.  The apparent winning candidate may also file for a recount for any precincts not included in the apparent defeated candidate's request, but only if the recount has altered the election results. See Section 3515.06, “Recount in precincts not recounted”: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.06. Timing: The application for a recount must be filed within five days after results are declared. See Section 3515.02, "Application for recount": http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.02.

Voter-Initiated Options: 

Voters determine how many/which precincts to recount
Voters may request recounts for initiatives/questions

Any five voters may together request a recount for either a ballot question or issue. Voters must state whether they voted "Yes" or "No" on the ballot question or issue. See Section 3515.01, "Eligibility for recount." Additional groups of five voters may request a recount for any precincts not included in the original request, if the recounting has altered the election result. See Section 3515.06. Timing: The application for a recount must be filed within five days after results are declared. See Section 3515.02, "Application for recount": http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.02.

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

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

Recount applications, whether initiated by voters or by candidates, are to be accompanied by a $55 per precinct deposit. Actual expenses are later calculated by election officials and deducted from this deposit. See Section 3515.03, "Contents of application for recount": http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.03. If a gain of 4% or more of the votes cast in a given precinct is made in favor of the recount applicant, the applicant will not be charged for that precinct. If the outcome of the election is decided in favor of the applicant, no costs for any precincts will be charged to the applicant. See Section 3515.07, "Charges for recounts": http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.07.

Cost for Voter-Initiated Recounts: 

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

Recount applications, whether initiated by voters or by candidates, are to be accompanied by a $55 per precinct deposit. Actual expenses are later calculated by election officials and deducted from this deposit. See Section 3515.03, "Contents of application for recount": http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.03. If a gain of 4% or more of the votes cast in a given precinct is made in favor of the recount applicant, the applicant will not be charged for that precinct. If the outcome of the election is decided in favor of the applicant, no costs for any precincts will be charged to the applicant. See Section 3515.07, "Charges for recounts": http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.07.

Challengers and Observers: 

No statutory guidance for recount challengers
Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers

Any applicant for a recount, and any candidate for whom votes were cast for such an office, is entitled both to “attend and observe the recount,” and to “have any person whom the candidate designates attend and observe the recount.” See 3515.03, Paragraph 3: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.03. Voters filing for a recount on a question or issue must designate a chairman to represent their group, and both the chairman and a designated attorney may request that they be allowed to attend and observe the recount. See 3515.03, Paragraph 4: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.03.  Ohio statute also specifies that recounts may arise during an election contest, and that both the contestor and contestee may appoint one observer to attend and view the recount. See Section 3515.13, “Contest of election involving recount”: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3515.13. Ohio does not require that recounts be conducted publicly, and instead limits those able to observe to persons identified in Section 3515.03. Interpretation of Section 3515.03 is provided in directive 2012-11, section IV B. http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/elections/directives/2012/Dir2012-...

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

Guidelines for determining voter intent on optical scan ballots can be found in Section 3506.21, "Optical scan ballot marking requirements": http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3506.21. While Ohio no longer uses punch card ballots, multiple statutes remain in the Revised Code, documenting the instructions for determining voter intent for punch card ballots. See Section 3515.04, "Recount procedure": http://66.161.141.185/orc/3515.04, as well as Section 3506.16, “Punch card ballots – chads”: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3506.16.

Audit Laws: 

State does not have audit laws

As of our most recent update (October 2012), Ohio does not have audit laws, though special directives from the Secretary of State have allowed for post-election audits of various contests. See, for instance, Directive 2012-12: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/elections/directives/2012/Dir2012-...