skip to main content


King County Elections

King County Elections
919 Southwest Grady Way
Renton, WA 98057-2906

206-296-VOTE (8683)
TTY: Relay: 711
FAX: 206-296-0108

Weekdays 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Reference: special circumstances

What triggers a recount?

Recounts occur periodically in King County and help ensure election result accuracy. Some recounts are required by law, and some are requested. In addition, there are two types of recountsa machine recount and a manual recount. After all ballots have been recounted, the Canvassing Board reviews and approves the amended results.

Required (mandatory) recounts

Recounts are mandated by law when votes for offices or statewide measures fall within a certain range. State law does not provide for a mandatory recount of local issues.

Mandatory machine recount

Any office or state measure must be recounted by machine when the difference between two candidates or choices is:

  • Less than 2,000 votes difference AND
  • Less than ½ of one percent

Mandatory manual recount

Statewide offices or measures must be recounted by hand when the difference between two candidates or choices is:

  • Less than 1,000 votes AND
  • Less than ¼ of one percent

For all other offices, ballots must be recounted by hand if the difference between the two candidates is:

  • Less than 150 votes AND
  • Less than ¼ of one percent

Requesting a recount

An application for a recount of an elective office or ballot measure must be filed within two business days after certification of the election results. Download the recount application form (pdf).

  • In a race for an office, a candidate or political party may request a recount. For an issue or proposition, a group of five or more voters may request a recount.

A race or measure may be recounted only twice.

Cost of a recount

The person or group requesting the recount is responsible for the entire cost of the recount and must make a deposit toward the cost of the recount:

  • Machine recount deposit - $0.15 for each ballot cast
  • Manual recount deposit - $0.25 for each ballot cast

If a full recount reverses the outcome of the race, the deposit is refunded.

Types of recounts

During a recount, only the race or measure in question will be examined, and only ballots including that race or measure will be pulled for the recount. Observers from political parties are invited to observe all recounts.

  • Machine Recounts – The tabulating equipment is programmed to examine votes for the specific office or race being recounted. Some ballots are identified for closer inspection by Elections staff to confirm that the original results were correct.
  • Manual or By-Hand Recounts – Teams of two trained Elections employees examine the ballots and agree on the voter’s choice. They then hand count and tally the votes.

Primary elections

In a primary, the second and third highest vote getters can be recounted. The highest vote getter automatically advances to the General.