Who Can Request a Recount

Any registered voter of the State of California may file a written request for recount of any office or measure on the ballot in San Mateo County. (E.C. § 15620.)

If more than one voter requests a recount of the same office or measure, and at least one request is for a manual recount, the county elections official shall conduct only one manual recount of the ballots subject to recount. (E.C. § 15621.5.)

Any time during the recount and for 24 hours thereafter, any other voter may request the recount of any precincts in an election for the same office or measure not recounted as a result of the original request. (E.C. § 15623.)

Timing of Request

The request must be filed within five (5) calendar days, but not later than 5 p.m. on the fifth day, after the completion of the official canvass. The canvass is complete when the elections official signs the “Certification of the Election Results.” (E.C. §15620.) If the deadline falls on a Sunday or holiday, the deadline is moved to the next business day. (E.C. §15.)

Format of Request
  • The request must be in writing. (E.C. §15620.)
  • The request must specify the contest to be recounted. (E.C. §15620.)
  • The request must state on behalf of which candidate, slate of electors, or position on a measure (affirmative or negative) it is filed. (E.C. §15620.)
  • The request may specify the order in which precincts shall be recounted. (E.C. §15622.) If no order is specified in the request, the County’s Chief Elections Officer will determine the order. (Cal. Code Regs. § 20814.)
  • The request must specify the method of counting to be used (manually or by the voting system used originally.). (E.C. §15627.)
  • The request may specify any other relevant material to be examined. (E.C. §15630.)
Place of Filing
  • The request must be filed with the County’s Chief Elections Officer. For a municipal election in which the city has not consolidated with the county or requested the county to canvass the votes, the request must be filed with the city clerk. (E.C. §15620.)
  • If the election is conducted in more than one county, the request may be filed with the county elections official of, and the recount conducted within, any or all of the affected counties. (E.C. §15620.)
Notice of Recount

A notice stating the date and place of the recount will be posted by the Chief Elections Officer at least one day prior to the recount and the following persons will be notified in person or by federally regulated overnight mail service (E.C. §15628):

  • All candidates for the office being recounted;
  • Proponents of any initiative or referendum or persons filing ballot arguments for or against any initiative, referendum or measure to be recounted.
Process of Recount
  • The recount will take place at a location selected by the Chief Elections Officer. (Cal. Code Regs. § 20816.)
  • The recount is open to the public. (E.C. §15629.) Any person may observe the recount, subject to space limitations. (Cal. Code Regs. § 20820.)
  • All persons attending the recount may be required to log in to the recount location and wear an identifying badge. (Cal. Code Regs. § 20820.) No one shall interfere in any way with the conduct of the recount. (Id.) The Chief Elections Officers may deny entry to anyone who fails to comply with these requirements. (Id.)
  • No interviews shall be permitted in the location where the recount is being conducted. (Cal. Code Regs. § 20821.) Further, the media shall be allowed reasonable access to the recount location, but the use of cameras or audio or video recording devices in the recount location may only be used in a manner that will not interfere with the recount process, compromise the anonymity of any ballot, or record the signature of any voter. (Id.) Interested parties and observers shall be permitted the same access for use of cameras or audio or video recording devices as members of the media. (Id.)
  • The 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. The recount cannot commence until the first day following the notification. (E.C. §15626.)
  • The Chief Elections Officer will set the daily schedule for the recount, including hours of operation, approximate break and lunch times. The schedule shall be posted in a conspicuous place at the office of the elections official and at the location where the recount takes place, if different. (Cal. Code Regs. § 20819.)
  • During the recount, ballots may be challenged for incompleteness, ambiguity, or other defects, in accordance with the following procedure (E.C. § 15631):
    • The person challenging the ballot shall state the reason for the challenge.
    • The official counting the ballot shall count it as he or she believes proper and then set it aside with a notation as to how it was counted.
    • The elections official shall, before the recount is completed, determine whether the challenge is to be allowed. The decision of the Chief Elections Officer is final.
  • At the end of each day, the Chief Elections Officer or his or her designee shall post and announce publicly the following:
    • The results of the recount tally of each precinct recounted that day;
    • The certified election results tally for each precinct recounted that day;
    • A running tally of the total recount results for all precincts recounted to date; and
    • A running tally of the total certified election results for all precincts recounted to date. (Cal. Code Regs. § 20818.)
Personnel Requirements

A manual recount must be conducted by recount boards, consisting of four voters of the County, appointed and supervised by the Chief Elections Officer, unless that office is the subject of the recount. Recount board members are paid the same as precinct board clerks (not inspectors). (E.C. §15625.)

Results of Recount

The results of a recount are declared null and void unless every vote in which the contest appeared is recounted. (E.C. §15632.)

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. (E.C. §15632.)

A copy of the results of any recount conducted shall be posted conspicuously in the office of the Chief Elections Officer. (E.C. §15633.)

Cost and payment

The Chief Elections Officer shall determine the amount of deposit necessary to cover costs of the recount for each day. (E.C. §15624; Cal. Code Regs. § 20815.)

The voter filing the request for recount must deposit, before the recount commences and at the beginning of each day following, such sums as required by the election official to cover the cost of the recount for that day. (E.C. §15624.) At least one day prior to commencement of the recount, the Chief Elections Officer will determine the estimated cost for the first day of the recount, and then do the same for each subsequent day. (Cal. Code Regs. § 20815.) Daily estimates may vary. (Id.) If the requestor fails to pay the advance deposit(s), the recount will be terminated. (Id.)

The party requesting the recount is responsible for direct costs of the recount. Depending on the scope of the recount and other requests, as enumerated by the requesting party, there may be additional costs above and beyond the personnel costs listed in the table below. Any additional costs will be mutually agreed to by the requesting party and the County before the recount is commenced.

If upon completion of the recount, the results are such that the candidate or measure on whose behalf the recount was requested, receives a plurality of votes resulting in the election of the candidate or passage of the measure, the deposit shall be returned. (E.C. §15624.)