Ohio Recount Laws

This information was updated in May 2014 using the Ohio Revised Code (0RC).

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 the randomly selected precincts with optical scan voting machines, the ballots will be hand counted and then run through the optical scan tabulator.  The electronic results of this retabulation are compared with the hand count tally. If the electronic results and the hand count tally are identical, the recount proceeds by retabulating “each ballot from each precinct on which the candidate contest, question or issue to be recounted appears…”  If there is a difference between the hand count tally and the electronic results, then election officials must complete a verification process to determine the source of this difference.  If, after three rounds of hand-tallying the ballots for each randomly selected precincts still do not match, all ballots on which the candidate contest, question or issue to be recounted appears shall be hand-tallied.” See the Ohio Secretary of State's Directive on Recount Procedures 2014-13, Section (B)(4).

In the randomly selected precincts with DREs, a hand count of the VVPATs  is compared to the electronic summary of the initial election results. . If there is a difference between the hand count and the electronic summary, election officials must complete a  verification process to determine the source of this difference.

“If, after three rounds of hand tallying, the voter verified paper audit trail for that DRE still does not match, the final hand tally of the voter verified paper audit trail for that DRE shall be the recounted tally for that candidate contest, question, or issue. “ See the Directive on Recount Procedures 2014-13, Section (C)(5).

When voters or candidates have requested a partial recount and have selected precincts equal to or less than 5% of the total number of voters who voted on the race to be recounted, election officials may disregard the requirement to randomly select precincts whose votes together equal 5%, and they may proceed to hand count the requested precincts. See the Directive on Recount Procedures 2014-13 (VI)(A)(7)(b). 

The hand count procedures to be used for recounts can be found in the Directive on Manual Hand Count Procedures 2008-34.

Initiating Mechanism: 

Close vote margin
Candidate-initiated
Voter-initiated

See the ORC 3515.01, “Eligibility for Recount” and ORC 3515.011, "Recounts ordered by board."

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 or equal to 0.5% of the total vote. For state-wide elections, this margin must be less than or equal to 0.25%. See ORC 3515.011. Details on calculating the close vote margin can also be found in Directive 2014-13, Section II.

Timing: See ORC 3515.03. Separate timing requirements are set out for recounting votes for presidential electors, to comply with federal law. See 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. In addition, any person for whom votes were cast in a primary election for election to an office and who was not declared nominated may file for a recount. See  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 ORC 3515.06.

Timing: See ORC 3515.02 and 3515.06.

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 ORC 3515.01. 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 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 Directive 2014-13, Section III (B-C).  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 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 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 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 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 ORC 3515.03(4).  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 ORC 3515.13. Ohio does not require that recounts be conducted publicly, and instead limits those able to observe to persons identified in ORC 3515.03. Interpretation of Section 3515.03 is provided in Directive 2012-11 (IV) (B).

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

Statutory guidance provided

Guidelines for determining voter intent on optical scan ballots can be found in ORC 3506.21.

Audit Laws: 

State does not have audit laws

Ohio does not have audit laws however special directives from the Secretary of State require post-election audits.  See Directive 2012-56.