There is a new report just out from electionline.org, providing the results of a survey of state election directors of their ballot recounting procedures. As the report correctly notes, understanding ballot recounting procedures is increasingly important — as ballot recounts are becoming more complicated (as there are a multiplicity of voting methods now used in most states, most typically early, absentee, provisional, and precinct voting) and more common.
One of the more interesting findings in the report is that ballot recounts appear to be very common in local level elections: “In responding to electionline.org, eight states described how recounts at the local level happen on a fairly regular basis” (page 5). For example, the report provided an estimate that there may be between 50 and 100 recounts after spring elections every year in local-level elections.
Additionally, the report found that some important differences across states in how voter-verified paper audit trails may be used in recounts:
In states that specifically use electronic voting machines with a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, (VVPAT) most but not all will use the paper ballot in a recount. Fourteen states have specified in their VVPAT laws that if there is a recount, the paper ballot, not the computer record, shall be used. In three states, California, Idaho and Nevada, the electronic record, not the paper ballot, will be used in a recount. Two states — Maine and Missouri — reported regulations are still in development. The remaining states have rules about paper ballots but do not use DREs or in the case of Hawaii do not have recount procedures in place.
Last, in addition to Hawaii, the report states that Mississippi appears to have no provisions for ballot recounts.
There is a lot more in this report about recounts … thanks again to electionline for providing valuable data like this for those interested in election procedures and election reform!