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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Florida is facing an unprecedented three possible statewide recounts, in the races for United States Senator, Governor, and agricultural commissioner. While no recounts have been declared yet, top political campaigns are getting ready.
Races for U.S. Senate, Florida Governor and Florida Agriculture Commissioner may end up in lengthy vote recounts due to razor-thin and narrowing margins. If any of the races go to a recount, here’s a timeline on how the process works.
Thursday, Nov. 8:
5:00 p.m. is the deadline for people who voted a provisional ballot to provide evidence to their local election supervisor that they were eligible to cast the ballot. (A provisional ballot is an alternative voting method for a voter whose eligibility is in question or cannot be verified at their polling site on Election Day.)
Saturday, Nov. 10:
The first unofficial returns are due to the state Division of Elections by noon Saturday from all counties.
This is the total of early vote, vote-by-mail, Election Day, and provisional ballots. If the margin in a statewide race is less than 0.5 percent, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, is required to order a machine recount. The losing candidate can refuse a recount.
Thursday, Nov. 15:
If machine recounts are ordered, they must be completed by 3:00 p.m. Nov. 15.
County canvassing boards are in charge of recounting votes. They are comprised of the county Supervisor of Elections, a circuit court judge and the Chair of the County Commission. This group is tasked with testing voting machines for technical errors and reporting any problems to the Department of State within 11 days.
A machine recount means damaged ballots are duplicated, all ballots are re-scanned and then the number of total votes cast according to the machines are compared with the number of votes the county initially reported.
If the numbers match up, the vote was reported accurately in the eyes of the county. If the margin in the race is larger than 0.25 percent, the results will be considered official.
If the threshold after this second round of returns drops below 0.25 percent, however, then the state can order a manual recount for federal and state races. For all other races, county canvassing boards are responsible for ordering a recount.
In a manual recount, canvassing boards examine “undervotes” and “overvotes” on ballots rejected by voting machines. An “undervote” means the voter made no choice or fewer than the number of allowable choices on the ballot. An “overvote” means the voter picked more choices than allowed on their ballot. The county canvassing board has to try and determine the voter’s intent.
This process can take days.
Like with the machine recount, the losing candidate can request the recount be canceled. Additionally, the recount can be canceled if the number of overvotes and undervotes is less than the number of votes needed to change the election outcome.
Florida has one of the largest military populations in the country. And while most vote-by-mail ballots must be returned by Election Day, ballots cast by active on-duty military and their spouses can arrive until Nov. 16.
Results from manual recount and overseas ballots are due from each county canvassing board by noon.
Official results from counties are certified by the state. The Florida Elections Canvassing Commission, comprised of Gov. Rick Scott and two Cabinet members, is slated to meet 9 a.m. Nov. 20 to certify the election results.
By the way, machine and manual recounts are open to the public.