When Arizona Election Races Are Close - What You Need To Know

November 13, 2018


This year’s mid-term General election has been one for this history books with a record number of races that have been too close to call, or whose results have shocked many. When it comes to these types of races, or any close races, what happens? We have all heard about vote recounts, but when are they done in Arizona? Many people are upset by the outcome of some of these races, what can they do?


Here are the two things that can be done in Arizona:


Automatic Recount

In Arizona, Arizona Revised Statutes Section 16, Chapter 4 Article 12 lists all the information and procedures required for a recount.


For automatic, or close-vote-margin recounts, ARS §16-661 stipulates the requirements and the exemptions.


A recount of votes is automatically initiated when the canvass of the votes in a primary or general election is equal to or less than:

~ One-tenth of one percent (0.1%) or less of the total number of votes cast for both top candidates, the measure, or proposal; or


~ 200 votes for statewide or federal offices where the total number of votes cast surpassed 25,000


~ 50 votes for statewide or federal offices where the total number of votes cast was 25,000 or less


~ 200 votes for a measure or proposal to amend the constitution


~ 50 votes for state legislative office


~ 10 votes for city, town, or county office or subdivision thereof


When an automatic recount is required, they must be ordered by the appropriate court after election officials certify the facts requiring the recount as per ARS §16-662.


Candidate & Voter Requested Recounts

Arizona does not permit a losing candidate, a voter, a group of voters, or other concerned parties to petition for a recount. Arizona is one of seven states that do not permit this practice. The only remedy for a candidate or other interested party is to legally challenge or contest the result of the election in court. Which is costly; the party challenging the result of the election must pay for the legal fees incurred for this.


Also, those challenging the results must have more than a belief that something during the election or the count was wrong.  The laws governing contesting election results allow for claims of fraud or irregularities changed the outcome or put the results in doubt through either not counting votes that should have been counted or counting votes that should be discounted. Possible allegations include improperly programmed voting machines, ballots were cast by those who weren’t qualified to vote, or ballots were incorrectly counted.


It does not appear that any race here in Arizona qualifies for an automatic recount as of yet. However, with the outcome of some of the races, there may be some races that are contested. It’s just a matter of wait and see.




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