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 a "[r]etabulation of the votes cast in 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 challenge to election results based on the conduct of the election. 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:
- Federal Election Results: Frequently Asked Questions (R46565), Congressional Research Service
- Post Election: Audits and Recounts, U.S. Election Assistance Commission
- Explaining How Recounts and Contested Presidential Elections Work External, National Constitution Center
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