Recount Guidelines

A recount is triggered by elections officials, courts, or on request from a voter. In rare circumstances, the Governor may order a recount for a statewide office or initiative. 

This page provides a quick reference for voter-requested recounts, California Elections Code Sections 15620 through 15634.

Request for Recount

Locally, a voter may provide a written request a recount up to five days after the Elections Office certifies an election. If the contest affects more than one county, then a voter may make a written request to the relevant elections offices up to five days after the 31st day after the election. 

The request should be in writing and include the following information:

  • Must specify the contest to be recounted
  • Must state on behalf of which candidate, slate of electors, or position (pro or con) on a measure 
  • Must specify the method of counting (machine, manual, or both)
  • May specify any other relevant material to be examined 
  • For statewide contest, may specify in which county or counties the recount is sought 

To request a recount for a statewide contest, please also contact the California Secretary of State Elections Division

Recount Costs

The requester is responsible for all costs related to the recount. The costs includes preparation time, staff time, and the cost of any materials, labor, or other work needed to conduct the recount. Requesters must provide a daily deposit at the start of the business day before the recount process starts for that day. Requesters may recover the costs if the recount shows that a different result than what was originally certified. Requesters may also recover any funds deposited in excess of the actual cost of the recount.

Failure to pay puts an end to the recount process.

Notice of Recount

A notice stating the date and place of the recount will be posted by the elections official at least one day prior to the recount. The following people are notified in person or by any federally regulated overnight mail service: 

  • All candidates for the office being recounted.
  • Authorized representatives for presidential candidates, if the race for presidential delegates is to be recounted.
  • Proponents of any initiative or referendum or persons filing ballot arguments for or against any initiative, referendum or measure to be recounted.
  • Secretary of State if the recount is for candidates for any state or federal office, delegates to a national convention, or any state measure.

Process of Recount

  • The recount is open to the public. 
  • Recount must start no later than seven calendar days following the receipt of the request and shall be continued daily, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays excepted, for not less than six hours each day until completed. 
  • No results or running tallies will be released to observers or the media during the recount. Observers may keep their own notes if they wish; however, any numbers they release are not official if they have not been confirmed by the elections official.

Personnel Requirements

If a manual recount is requested, it must be conducted under the supervision of the elections official by recount boards, consisting of four voters of the county, appointed by the elections official. Recount board members are paid the same as precinct board members. 

All actual costs of the recount are directly recoverable from the requester. This includes supervision, security guards, personnel used to review relevant material, computer personnel, and administrative costs.

Result of Recount

The results of a recount are declared null and void unless every vote in which the contest appeared is recounted. Upon completion of a recount, if a different candidate, slate of electors, or position on a measure receives a plurality of votes, the results of the official canvass will be changed and the election results re-certified.

A copy of the results of any recount shall be posted conspicuously in the office of the elections official.