Organization Suggests Best Practices for Election Recounts

Organization Suggests Best Practices for Election Recounts

Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota released a guide, “Recount Principles and Best Practices,” written by a bipartisan group that includes the Minnesota secretary of state and a former Washington secretary of state. Among other recommendations, the authors suggest a threshold for the vote margin that would trigger a taxpayer-funded recount.

Their review of state laws revealed that the margin of victory for initiating a publicly funded recount ranged from 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent of ballots cast, with an average of 0.4 percent. Other states base their triggers on a specific number of ballots rather than a percentage of the total, and when those numbers were converted to percentages, they ranged from 0.06 percent to 1 percent of all ballots.

The guide recommends setting the margin of victory necessary for a taxpayer-funded recount in congressional and statewide races well below the 0.4 percent average. For local and single-county recounts, however, a higher threshold would be appropriate.

Previous Pew research reviewed the costs incurred by local election offices for statewide recounts:

  • The 2008 U.S. Senate recount in Minnesota between Al Franken and Norm Coleman cost counties an estimated $460,000. The state reimbursed almost 20 percent of those expenses.
  • The 2004 gubernatorial recount in Washington cost counties approximately $1,160,000. The state reimbursed nearly 40 percent of the recount costs.

Follow us on Twitter using #electiondata and get the latest data dispatches, research, and news by subscribing today. 

The front facade of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC.

Agenda for America

A collection of resources to help federal, state, and local decision-makers set an achievable agenda for all Americans

Quick View

Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for emerging challenges, it makes government more effective and better able to serve the public interest. In the coming months, President Joe Biden and the 117th Congress will tackle a number of environmental, health, public safety, and fiscal and economic issues—nearly all of them complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help solve specific, systemic problems in a nonpartisan fashion, Pew has compiled a series of briefings and recommendations based on our research, technical assistance, and advocacy work across America.


States of Innovation

Data-driven state policy innovations across America

Quick View

Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for difficult challenges. When states serve their traditional role as laboratories of innovation, they increase the American people’s confidence that the government they choose—no matter the size—can be effective, responsive, and in the public interest.