County SealSanta Cruz County Election Department

Procedural Guidelines for Voter Requested Recounts
updated November 2014




Santa Cruz County conducts every election as if it will be recounted. Public perception is vital in conducting a recount. Providing information and forms in an organized manner strengthens the perception of the overall integrity of the process.

A recount is conducted by the elections official for the purpose of verifying the number of votes counted for any office or measure in an election. California Elections Code Chapter 12, Sections 15620 through 15634 govern voter requested recounts.

The purpose of the manual recount is to verify the machine count by viewing each ballot, determining how it was voted, and manually tallying those votes.

Who can Request

Any registered voter of the State of California may file a request. The person does not need to be a resident of the district in which the recount is requested. (E.C. §15620)

Timing of Request

The request must be filed within five (5) calendar days 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 weekend or holiday, the deadline is moved to the next business day. (E.C. §15)

Exceptions: For statewide contests, the request must be filed within five (5) calendar days beginning on the 29th day after the election.

Format of request

Place of filing

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 and the following persons will be notified in person or by overnight mail: (E.C. §15628)

Process of Recount

Observers Appoint a Spokesperson

Observers/Representatives for each party of interest shall appoint a spokesperson for their group. This person can be in addition to the observers and will have access to all parts of the recount area when escorted by election office personnel. A different person may be appointed periodically upon notification to the election official. Such persons shall be authorized by the parties of interest to make final decisions in their behalf.

Personnel Requirements



Questions concerning the specifics of the recount, other than challenges, are to be routed through the spokesperson who will then direct the question to the designated election office personnel. Observers and spokespersons are not to direct questions to the members of the recount boards. Resolution of questions shall include representatives of all parties of interest.


Ballots may be challenged for incompleteness, ambiguity or other defects.

To challenge a ballot the following procedure shall be used:

Resolutions of Challenges

Challenges shall be resolved at the end of each day, or more often if necessary, at the challenge resolution table. The challenge resolution table may consist of the elections official and/or designee, county counsel, and no more than two representatives from each party of interest. The determination of the elections official at the challenge resolution table shall be final.


Request for Research of Additional Materials



Santa Cruz County follows post-canvass ballot and voting machine security requirements that include two-person rule for all ballots and voting equipment, chain-of-custody documentation, security seals and air gapping of all vote recording devices for the scanners and touch screens, and ballot box sealing and recording device storage provisions. The chain of custody documentation and tamper-evident seals apply to all voted ballots, unvoted ballots, voter-verified paper audit trails, spoiled ballots, vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots, voting equipment, and rosters. These logs are audited during the canvass to document security of election materials and are available for review during any recount.

Security measures for voted ballots:

Security measures for unvoted and spoiled ballots:

Security measures for the voter-verified paper audit trail printers:

Security measures for relevant materials

Result 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 elections official. (E.C. §15633)

Cost and payment

The elections official shall determine the amount of deposit necessary to cover costs of the recount for each day. (E.C. §15624)

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 elections official to cover the cost of the recount for that day. (E.C. §15624)

If upon completion of the recount the results are reversed, the deposit shall be returned. (E.C. §15624)

The recount shall be conducted under the supervision of the elections official by special recount boards consisting of four voters of the county appointed by the elections official. Each member of a recount board shall receive the same pay as a poll worker, which is $75 per day.

If the office of the elections official is the subject of the recount, the governing body shall appoint an officer, other than the elections official, to appoint and supervise the special recount boards. (E.C. §15625)


No. of Boards

Board Costs

Supervisor Pay

Cost per Day














Automatic Manual Recount

By law, a random sample of ballots from every election must be recounted manually to verify the computer count. A minimum of all votes cast in one percent (1%) of the precincts is included in this process. This manual recount must be completed before the election is certified. The Automatic Manual Recount is open to the public (E.C. §15360)