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Close ups of Lauren Boebert on the left and Adam Frisch on the right.
Rep. Lauren Boebert and challenger Adam Frisch are seen at their various watch parties.

When are the results of a Colorado election automatically recounted? 

Given the very close race between Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert and Democrat Adam Frisch, a former Aspen city councilman, in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, a lot of people are asking that question.

We have answers.

Under Colorado law, a mandatory recount occurs when the number of votes separating the leading two candidates is less than 0.5% of the number of votes cast for the leading candidate. 

So, for instance: If Ronald McDonald had 1,000 votes and the Burger King had 999 votes, the one-vote difference represents 0.1% of McDonald’s votes. Thus, a recount is triggered.

With the results in the Boebert-Frisch race still changing, we can’t say for sure whether there will be a recount in the contest once all ballots are counted. (You can do the math yourself now at any given moment: votes separating the candidates ÷ the total for the leader = percentage difference.)

As of 10 a.m. Friday, Boebert was leading Frisch by 551 votes, or less than 1 percentage point. That’s within the mandatory recount margin. All ballots must be counted by the end of Friday. 

And here’s something you should keep in mind: Past recounts in Colorado haven’t dramatically shifted vote tallies.

If a mandatory recount isn’t triggered, Colorado candidates also have the option to pay for a recount. That’s what happened in the Republican primary for secretary of state this year. However the recount must be conducted in the same manner in which the original vote tabulation was completed.

(The recount in the Republican secretary of state primary did not change the outcome of the race. Not even close.)

Candidates must request a recount within 28 days of the election, or Dec. 6. A candidate-requested recount must be completed by Dec. 15. 

If there is a mandatory recount, it must be completed by Dec. 13.

Elliott Wenzler is a reporter for the Colorado Sun, covering local politics, the state legislature and other topics. She also assists with The Unaffiliated newsletter. Previously, she was a community reporter in Douglas County for Colorado Community Media. She has won awards for her reporting and photography. Elliott graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in editorial journalism and minors in both business and Spanish. She is also an avid rock climber, snowboarder and hiker. Twitter: @ElliottWenzler