See also the publications Voter Turnout Since 1945: A Global Report and Voter Turnout in Western Europe since 1945: A Regional Report, which are based on the data in this database.

Vote Counting Methods

How do different countries count their votes in national elections? There are two main ways of counting votes: either manually or with the help of technology. Some countries count the votes manually at the polling station whereby polling officials count the votes cast physically by hand. Other countries choose to use different types of technology when counting, namely vote counting machines. However, it is not just a question of the simple presence or absence of vote counting machines in a country, as a combination of the two may be used. Some countries practice manual counting in most polling stations or regions but have experimented by using vote counting machines in elections during recent years. Please keep in mind that this list contains only a limited number of countries from where this information has been available.

Manual Counting*

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • Australia (might try using vote counting machines during upcoming elections but presently by hand)
  • Austria
  • Algeria
  • Bahamas
  • Belarus
  • Botswana
  • Canada
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Congo-Brazzaville
  • Costa Rica
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gabon
  • Greece
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Mozambique
  • Nauru
  • Philippines
  • Portugal (A pilot experiment with touch screens in Dec 1997 which went well. The technology was too expensive though)
  • Russia
  • Samoa
  • Senegal
  • Slovakia
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Tanzania
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu (might try using vote counting machines during upcoming elections but presently by hand)
  • Zimbabwe

*It is possible that some countries will count their ballot papers by hand at first, but then use computerised systems to aggregate the results. Particularly in proportional or alternative systems, computers can be used to produce faster and more accurate distributions of preferences or strikings of quota.

Countries that use technology - only or partly

  • Norway is partly experimenting with vote counting machines
  • Switzerland first count manually and then the votes are counted by a machine
  • UK (decentralized) some districts have now started to experiment with vote counting machines, but generally manual counting.
  • India (Vote counting machines are used in about 20% of the districts)
  • The Netherlands (Approximately half of the votes are counted by vote counting machines)
  • Belgium (Approximately half of the votes are counted by vote counting machines)
  • Germany
  • Turkey (Vote counting machines mainly)
  • Brazil (partly by hand, partly by machines)
  • Palau (use tabulating machines at most elections)
  • The United States
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina (some votes such as "out of country-votes" and absentee votes can be counted by scanners)
  • Canada has at municipal level started using some technology for voting and counting in some cities.

Source: The information above has been collected through interviews and/or short questionnaires from the Electoral Management Bodies in the different countries.

Read more about vote counting methods and practices at the website of the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network. There you can also find some examples and case studies on vote counting in different countries.

Please feel free to contact us for questions and further requests. See below for contact details.

International IDEA
The Voter Turnout Project / Adhy Aman
Phone: +46 8 698 37 00
Fax: +46 8 20 24 22

or the Information Division:
Phone: +46 8 698 37 00

Voter Turnout
Global database on elections and democracy

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