Florida Vote Recounts – Key Dates and Steps

Key dates

Saturday, Nov. 10, noon ET (all times Eastern)Canvassing boards' unofficial returns are due in Tallahassee. The Secretary of State then determines which races meet the less than 0.5 percent victory margin threshold requiring a machine recount.

Saturday, Nov. 10, 3 p.m.: State-wide machine recount begins.

Thursday, Nov. 15: Results of machine recounts due in Tallahassee.

Thursday, Nov. 15, 3 p.m.: Second unofficial returns are due in Tallahassee and the Secretary of State determines which races meet the less than a 0.25 percent victory margin threshold to order a hand recount of overvote and undervote ballots.

Friday, Nov. 16: Count begins for military and overseas ballots post-marked Nov. 6 or earlier.

Sunday, Nov. 18, noon: County canvassing boards hand count results due in Tallahassee.

Tuesday, November 20, 9 a.m.: The Elections Canvassing Commission, consisting of the governor and two cabinet members, meets to certify the Nov. 6 election official returns.

Friday, Nov. 30: Deadline for any candidate, voter or taxpayer to contest election results in circuit court.

Provisional ballots: A ballot is marked provisional by a county election official if there are questions about a voter's eligibility. If a voter doesn't have a photo ID when they arrive at a polling place, if there is confusion over where a voter is supposed to cast a ballot, or if an absentee ballot is mailed without a signature, the ballot can be identified as provisional and reviewed by local election officials before that vote is added to the total count. Republicans are concerned that some provisional ballots are being counted that don't qualify.  Voters must correct their ballot within 2 days (Ended at 5 pm Thursday Nov 8. 2018)
Recount: Florida law provides for an automatic recount when a race is particularly close. When the margin between the candidates is equal to or less than 0.5 percent, the laws provides for an automatic machine recount of the ballots, where county election officials run all the ballots through voting machines again. If the margin in races fall below 0.25 percent, the law provides for an automatic manual count of ballots where undervotes or overvotes are identified.

Canvassing board: Each of Florida's 67 counties has a canvassing board made up of the supervisor of elections, a county court judge and county commission chair. Each board examines provisional ballots and outstanding absentee ballots to determine whether they should be counted.

Unofficial results: Each county election office submits counts to the Florida Secretary of State's office from an election showing the number of ballots cast in each race. These results are considered unofficial and continue through the recount process, which means there can be more than one unofficial result reported after each step in the machine and by-hand recounts.

Undervote: Not every voter marks a selection in every race on their ballot. So when one race is skipped or no mark is recorded when the ballot goes through the machine, that's an undervote. But sometimes the machine doesn't properly read the voter's selection because it may not have been clear. The result, as was seen in Florida's Senate race, is that fewer votes are cast in a race than others in the same election. If a review of the ballot identifies a mark the voter made as a selection and the voter's intent can be determined, then it's counted. Democrats now are concerned that a large undervote in the Senate race is the result of machine errors.

Overvote: Some races receive more votes than the actual number of ballots cast in an election, and that creates an overvote. This often happens when voters, either intentionally or accidentally, mark multiple selections in the same race on their ballot. If a voter marks two or more selections in one race, that "true" overvote won't be counted for either selection.


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