What is the law on disputing presidential election results?

One of the major features of the Electoral College is that states, for the most part, control the process by which electors cast their votes for President and Vice President. Similarly, the processes for disputing election results are largely governed by state law. Many states provide state laws related to elections on the website of their election office. Researchers can find links to state and local election offices using the USA.gov tool, Find My State or Local Election Office Website.

A recount is an "additional count of the votes cast in an election...that is used to determine the accuracy of the reported results of an election." A recount can be initiated either automatically or at the request of a person or group with legal standing. Each state has its own laws for conducting recounts.

A contest is a "legal challenge of an election outcome." Generally, contests are resolved through litigation, which can potentially take place in state and/or federal court, depending on the issue. Each state has its own laws regarding the process of election contests.

For further information about election results disputes, researchers can consult these online resources:

For additional resources and information about the Electoral College, visit the Law Library's research guide, The Law of the Electoral College.


Last Updated: Jan 11, 2023
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